Published on September 30th, 2013 | by Chris Scott0
Breaking Back and Forth: Felina
Warning: Breaking Back and Forth is a weekly feature where Chris and Jeff discuss the latest episode of Breaking Bad in detail. So if you haven’t seen the episode yet, you should probably hold off on reading any further.
Jeff: Going into the finale, I wondered how on Earth they would wrap up the show in 75 minutes, and whether they could somehow top the “Ozymandius” episode, or the finale of season four, for that matter. How do you think they wrapped it up?
Chris: Pretty well, although I was worried there for a bit. The last 150 minutes of the series were a lot of wrap-up and set-up for the final 10. But overall, I think it turned out pretty well, they “did” it and delivered a great finale to a show that has thoroughly engaged viewers over the last few years.
Jeff: I thought it was perfection. I was surprised by how well it turned out, and the amount of closure it gave fans. So many things were wrapped in roughly an hour. Which is strange, because they spent nearly half of that hour with Walt traveling back to New Mexico and figuring out what to do with the money. But that was just one among many things they wrapped up. He got to say goodbye to Skyler (no hug, no kiss). He got to see Walt Jr. one last time. He got to see Holly one last time. He saw his house again (with a flashback to the pilot). And of course, he got to take those Nazi fuckers out and save Jesse one last time. Am I missing anything?
Chris: Well he also took care of Lydia, and what a great touch that was as well. For me though it was all wrapped up when he stood over Holly one last time. He has no control over what anyone ever says about him to her, she won’t remember him, but there was love there and no one can take that away. I also liked that he finally admitted to Skyler that it was never really about them, he kept doing it for himself.
Jeff: Such a great moment. And such succinct dialogue. “I did it for myself. I liked it, and I was good at it. I felt alive.” (That could be slightly off, but that was the gist of it.) I think we always knew it was about him, but for him to finally say it to Skyler was another very satisfying moment. And yeah, I loved that he used the ricin on Lydia. Loved it. I was so sure he would use it on himself, that was another nice surprise.
Chris: Yeah, and played perfectly off of Marie’s comment that Walt wasn’t some criminal mastermind. No Marie, he was and he was always one step ahead of everybody, even at the end.
Jeff: Well, there were moments when he went to the Nazis’ compound where it seemed like he wasn’t really ahead of the ball, but of course, he’s Walter White. And goddamn, he pulled off strokes of genius in this episode, from start to finish. When he went to the Schwartz’ (his old Gray Matter colleagues) at the beginning of the episode, I thought he was gonna kill them. Nope. He had a plan. Force them to take the money and donate it to his family. The fact that he used Jesse’s buddies was a nice touch.
Chris: The finale somehow got everyone still around, sans Saul, into the mix in one way or the other. Somehow though, it never felt gratuitous. It all fit into the overall Breaking Bad puzzle quite well. I mean using Jesse’s pals could have come off as really cheesy but instead it felt just right, like something that not only they would have done but what Walter would have done as well.
Jeff: Yeah, this episode had a lot of that. A lot of fan service and saying goodbye, but it never felt forced. I left feeling like Gilligan and company did me good, and I really needed an after-sex cigarette.
Chris: I agree, they did right by their fans. I just wish AMC had laid off of the back-slapping a bit during the commercial breaks. “Send your Thank You message to the show” and such, it was a bit overwhelming and tiring. But that wasn’t the show, so not much to complain about.
Jeff: I just wish there were less commercials in general. It was driving me nuts. My only complaint about the episode itself is that Jesse didn’t scream, “Yeah, bitch!” as he drove off. Although, that might have felt cheesy as time went on. But in the moment, don’t tell me you wouldn’t have loved a “Yeah, bitch!”
Chris: It would have been fitting but I do think that maybe if you were to come back to it in a year, a “Yeah, bitch!” probably would have been a touch cheesy. So much to like about the episode in general though, they really hit it out of the park.
Jeff: Yes, they did. Best conclusion to a show since The Shield. I was really worried about Jesse, and it was so great that the writers decided he had been through enough punishment and that he deserved a moment of happiness. Really, it never hit a false note. As a huge fan since the beginning, I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. And I think it will stand the test of time.
Chris: It certainly was a fantastic show. And I have to give them credit for breaking it off when they did. Some shows just go on and on with no real end in sight and here, everything just felt right.
Jeff: The show had the advantage of a story it knew it wanted to tell in a finite time frame, and that worked to its advantage like no other show ever. Even The Shield and The Wire had moments of meandering. Not Breaking Bad. Gilligan had an envisioned arc from the beginning, and that made it special.
Chris: Well, it certainly showed and as someone that came on late, I appreciated that vision. It never felt like I was trying to catch up to filler and a question mark of an ending. In the end, I think it paid off for fans of all types and it deserves the praise it has gotten.
Jeff: Yeah, bitch!