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Breaking Bad Finale Recap and Reaction: That’s All, Folks!

Breaking Bad Finale Recap and Reaction: That’s All, Folks!

Breaking Bad promo pic S05E16, "Felina"

Breaking Bad is finally over. It’s been a long, emotional six (or for contractual reasons, five) seasons, from a goofy-looking guy driving an RV through the desert in his tighty-whiteys to tonight, but here we are. *Deep breath* Okay guys, let’s do this thing.

We start inside the car Walt steals in New Hampsire, actually kicking off before the end of “Granite State”. Walt fumbles inside the car and starts trying to hotwire it (carjacking is clearly not his strong suit) when police lights reflect off the snow coating the windows of the car- he’s likely just outside the bar while it’s being raided by officers looking for him. We sit for several painstaking minutes with a motionless Walt, who mutters, “Just get me home”- seriously, we know he isn’t caught here, and yet it’s still mega tense. How does this show do that? Anyways, after several beats, the lights recede and Walt pops down the sun visor, dropping keys into his lap, almost fate. We’re off.

Walt pulls up to a gas station, his New Hampshire license plate full frame (I’m tempted to think Gilligan chose New Hampshire just for the “Live Free or Die” motto). After filling up, and getting some water, he makes a call on what must be one of the few remaining pay phones in existence- he’s posing as a reporter from the New York Times and he’s headed to the Schwarz’s. We watch them come home and turn off their security system, Walt just out of their eyeline. With painstaking deliberation, we watch Gretchen and Elliot make themselves at home, unaware of Walt’s quiet, but not overly sneaky entrance. He’s not trying to hide- he knows they’ll notice him eventually, and he really doesn’t care when they do. Gretchen jumps (and we do too!), and Walt invites the two of them out to his car- he has a gift for them. Elliot tries brandishing a knife, but as Walt says, in his most Mike-like tone, “If we’re going to go that way, you’ll need a bigger knife.”

Walt’s car is pulled up to the house- turns out the gift is Walt’s barrel money, over $9 million. He wants them to give it to Jr. on his 18th birthday, as a trust. There’s a little friction at first, from Gretchen, but Elliot is more pliable. He just wants Walt out of his home. They shake on it, and then there are lasers pointed at Elliot and Gretchen- Walt’s hired hitmen, he claims, to take them out, regardless of what happens to him, should the money not find its way to them. Walt revels in their fear, and then leaves. Back in his (stolen) car, we find out the identities of the two hitmen- it’s Badger and Skinny Pete, armed with laser pointers. Walt gets some info from them (particularly, that Jesse must still be alive, cooking his blue meth), then drives off a determined, perhaps angry?, look on his face.

When we come back from commercial (a lot of them this week!), we’re watching a beautiful, peaceful scene of Jesse carving a wood box. The air all but glows with soft orange light and utterly serene music plays in the background. Until we hard cut back to Jesse in a different shop, carrying aluminum and pulling on his meth-slave chain. We see scenes from earlier flashbacks- Walt at the diner, the gun, the ricin, and then Walt flashes back to the pilot, Hank inviting Walt on that fateful ridealong (though I’m pretty sure he’d still have found his way somewhere like here anyways- Heisenberg was always lurking within). Regret etched on his face, Walt leaves his now derelict house and we cut to Lydia at the coffee shop.

Lydia orders her Chamomile tea with soy milk and a stevia packet, Todd stammers at her, and then Walt joins them at the table. He would be intimidating, but he’s playing helpful and desperate (and of course, it helps that he looks like crap. Well done, makeup crew!). Walt offers to sell them a new formula that doesn’t require methylamine for no less than one million. Todd starts to hem and/or haw, but Lydia wants in. They arrange to talk it over with Jack at his compound that evening, and, when the waiter brings Lydia’s tea, Walt leaves. Todd’s unsure of doing business with Walt at this point, as much as he respects the man, but Lydia corrects the ever-naïve Todd (when he isn’t killing people). Todd is less than happy, but doesn’t disagree when Lydia says they’d, “be doing him a favor”, as she dumps her first packet of stevia into her tea (or more accurately, delicious, delicious ricin).

Breaking Bad promo pic, S05E16, "Felina"

When we’re back, Walt’s out in the desert (more beautiful shots of rust-red earth, dark green plants, and deep blue skies. Have I mentioned how much I love the cinematography and color timing on this show?), putting together a rig, presumably for the machine gun. His ring slips out from under his shirt, on the twine. Next we’re in Skyler’s new home, Marie’s voice on the answering machine. She calls a truce to get Skyler to answer, and lets her know Walt’s in town. Despite everything that’s happened, it’s nice to see that Marie is still worried about her sister. Skyler hangs up and the camera pans over, revealing that Walt’s already there.

He had to see Skyler once more, to not leave things between them on that painful phone call from, “Ozymandias”. He can give her one thing- the lotto ticket with the coordinates to Hank and Steve Gomez’s bodies. Walt’s still trying to scheme, but Skyler (who also looks terrible, btw- again, well done, makeup people!) isn’t having any of it- she doesn’t want to hear that it’s “for the family” one more time. Thankfully, Walt’s through pretending. “I did it for me”, he says. “I was… alive”. He agrees to leave before Flynn gets home, but asks to see Holly one more time. She’s sleeping peacefully, and he cups her head in his palm before leaving, staying just long enough to see Flynn get home from school. (Quick aside- how are all these people sneaking past the cops watching Skyler and the kids? The Albuquerque PD need to up their game.)

Walt pulls up to the Nazi compound that night, Kenny getting into the passenger seat. Walt positions the car, which has been rigged with the contraption we saw him assemble in the desert. It’s reliant upon Walt’s car key, though which is taken from him, along with his wallet, when he leaves. To buy time, when Jack’s about to have him killed, Walt accuses Jack of partnering with Jesse, rather than killing him, as promised. Todd brings Jesse in from the lab, still manacled, and Walt has to see what’s become of him. Feigning rage, he tackles Jesse, then presses the magic button, popping the trunk and filling the room with bullets. Jesse, Todd, and Walt are unhurt, but not for long. Jesse seizes his opportunity and strangles Todd with his chains. It’s not the Gale 2.0 many predicted, but it’ll work. Walt, meanwhile, takes care of Jack, who gets one more puff of his cigarette, but not much more. Walt kills him before he can even finish trying to bribe him.

Our final showdown is what it had to be- Jesse and Walt. Walt kicks the gun over to him- he wants to die. Jesse won’t put him out of his misery, though. He drops the gun and walks away. Walt, in the meanwhile, answers Todd’s phone when it rings- it’s Lydia. We get our official answer about the ricin, and then, after a final look between Jesse and Walt, Jesse busts out of the compound, tears rolling down his face as he laughs. Walt, now alone, looks at his stomach- he’s been shot. He walks to the Nazi’s lab, wandering through it as the police pull up. The series ends as camera pulls up away from a collapsed and dying Walt, thankfully posed legs about as far apart as could possibly be natural (no Christ symbolism here, guys!), as the police come walk through the lab. And there, appropriately, with a wimper, not a bang, is where we leave Breaking Bad.

Kate Kulzick