So the award-winning drama has finally finished its incredible five-year run and it did the show — and its characters — justice. Let’s recap and analyze last night’s historic episode, "Felina," with series-ending spoilers to follow.
Though a number of loose ends were wrapped up in the preceding episodes, there were some major issues still left to resolve, including the fate of Walter’s money, the ongoing collaboration between Todd and Lydia, and the grim situation between Jack’s gang and Jesse Pinkman.
And of course, there was the ultimate fate of Walter White to consider.
That was a lot to cover in an episode featuring an air-time of 75 minutes, but the writers got it right. It never felt rushed, nor did it get mired down in pure narrative. The episode still managed to pack an emotional punch as things finally reached a satisfying and fitting climax — one that didn’t insult the intelligence of the show or its audience.
Mercifully, there was no bizarre twist ending or deus ex machina turn of events. Rather, it was a subdued and tasteful finish that, if anything, could be considered a happy ending (all things considered — excepting the death of Hank and Andrea and all the misery that came before). There was a kind of justice to it all, regardless of where one sits on the whole Walt thing.
No doubt, not everyone will be happy with this ending, with some people perhaps holding out for a darker, more violent end to it all. Walt’s relatively peaceful and introspective death is understandably infuriating given his crimes. But it was also touching and highly personal; it would have been insulting — and even inconsistent — to have had the episode end on a different tone given the intimate journey we took with Walt over the past five seasons.
“You’re going to make sure it gets to my children”
The episode opens with a rather major issue getting resolved: What should Walt do with his $9 million?
And it’s here — by having the Schwartzes hold the money in an irrevocable trust under the false threat of death — that we can say Walt has truly “won.” Barring something unforeseen, Walt has successfully found a way to extend his middle finger to his former business partner while also ensuring that his money will eventually find its way to his family.
“Cheer up beautiful people, this is where you get to make it right,” he tells the Schwartzes.
In the end, given Walt’s terminal illness, wasn’t this the whole point of it all? It's largely mission accomplished.
It was also good to see Badger and Pete in the final episode — laser pointers and all. A nice final tip of the cap to those two.
The Lydia situation
Walt, now officially separated from his money, then sets upon the task of wrapping things up. Violently.
First up is Lydia, who he tracks to a cafe owing to her “schedule oriented” ways. With Todd also present, Walt presents a scheme about cooking meth without methylamine — a plot that eventually gets him into Jack’s compound. But it also affords him the opportunity to slip some ricin into Lydia’s tea.
Which was a very Heisenberg thing to do. Walt really didn’t need to kill Lydia. Certainly not when you consider his plans for Jack’s gang of Neo Nazi thugs. Her meth supply would have stopped, and by consequence, her venture in Europe. This was just Walt being nasty.
"I was alive"
We also caught a bit of Marie in this episode, now widowed. She seemed surprisingly upbeat. Sure, it’s been several months since Hank’s death, but it’s clear that she’s moving on.
Walt and Skyler then have their final conversation.
“It’s over and I needed a proper goodbye — not our last phone call,” he tells her, referring to the tapped call that largely exonerated her. He then gives Skyler the coordinates to the location where Hank and Steve are buried, telling her that this information might help her to strike a deal with the prosecutors. More loose-end tying.
Skyler, in an effort to reach some semblance of understanding about the whole thing, asks Walt to tell her once again that he did it all for the family. And somewhat surprisingly, that’s not how he replies.
“I did it for me,” he says. “I liked it. I was good at it...and I was really....I was alive.”
So finally the truth comes out. While a good portion of his motives were certainly geared to help the family, it’s clear that Walt — or more accurately, Heisenberg — was very much into the thrill and challenge of the meth operation — an important piece of insight that makes the Walt character all the more insufferable.
After taking his last look at Holly and Junior (from a distance), Walt sets off on his final mission.
“Does this look like a partner to you?”
Walt manages to enter the Neo Nazi compound — and he does so rather conveniently. They let him drive his car right up to the main office and he’s checked for weapons. The gang doesn’t think to search Walt’s car, but they do take away his keys.
Walt, convinced that Jesse has partnered with the gang, is shocked to discover that he’s being forced to cook. Jesse is escorted into the room — shackles and all — as proof. At this point, Walt grabs the keys, throws himself on top of Jesse (a move deliberately made to save his life), and unleashes a torrent of fury onto the compound: An automated sentry gun pops out of the trunk spraying a hail of bullets all over the place. The gang goes down.
Jesse — in a moment reminiscent of the jailbreak scene from No Country For Old Men — then kills Todd by strangling him with his cuffs. It’s a deeply satisfying moment. No one other than Jesse deserved this revenge.
Walt shoots Jack. Again, a fitting revenge for Hank's death. Especially as Jack was trying to weasel his way out of the situation, saying, “You want your money back you pull that trigger and you’ll never...” Bang. Followed by blood splattered on the screen. An absolutely awesome moment. And it was similar to Hank's death in that Jack was killed mid-sentence.
But now it’s time for Jesse to shoot Walt — or at least this is what Walt is expecting. But he refrains, saying, “...do it yourself”. Jesse sees that Walt has been shot, deciding that it’s not for him to end it all.
This was an interesting decision by the writers — to not have Jesse kill Walt. Indeed, having him shoot Walter would have diminished the Jesse character. Instead, we’re reminded that Jesse has a good heart — and that his spirit has somehow, miraculously survived this ordeal. He doesn’t have to kill Walt in order to move on. Moreover, if Walter is truly experiencing remorse, then he should be the one to turn the gun on himself and not have someone else do him the favor.
Jesse storms out of the compound in Walt’s car — emitting a scream that’s half joy, half grief.
Perhaps unnecessarily, we do have a final conversation between Lydia and Walt where we officially learn that she’s been poisoned. But that was pretty much assumed from the earlier cafe scene. But at least we got to see a bedridden Lydia.
Then, as Walt looks over the lab equipment, he collapses and dies of the gunshot wound. So in a way, it can be said that Walt did in fact shoot himself.
Great episode — and a great finish to a fantastic series.