Breaking Bad: A Review of Felina
Last week, as I watched my beloved Dexter sail headlong into a hurricane, a single tear fell out of my eye and clumsily made it’s way to the stubble on my chin. It’s not unusual for me to cry, in fact I make quite a habit of it when watching television, but this slither of saline was not one of joy or sadness; it was a tear of titanic disappointment that seven years of my life had ended in such a drab and dreary way.
So when I tuned into Netflix to watch the final episode of Breaking Bad, to say I was skeptical is the understatement of the year. I was bricking it. I had my fingers and toes crossed in hope that Vince Gilligan would not disappoint me in the same way Dexter had, and to his credit he surpassed my wildest imagination.
Felina is an anagram of Finale, and what a finale it was. Gilligan never does anything at pace, and everything he does is remembered and has meaning, and Walter White’s swansong was no different. Heisenberg rolled back the seasons as he reminded us what he does best – destroying peoples lives.
I was a later bloomer. The shot of Walter White standing in the desert in his dirty white y-fronts didn’t have the pull needed to drag me into the show. Instead, I picked it up like most people have – the ravings of friends and foes alike. Yet, it took me three seasons to really get into it. At the beginning I used to bemoan Gilligan’s snail like pace, but in the end I grew to view it as mastery.
The final episode was tension personified as Walter White pulled out his bucket list and started ticking off his actions as he walked right into a hurricane of his own. At the beginning of the show White’s bucket list may have included a trip to the moon and a meeting with Stephen Hawking, but the one Heisenberg was holding was killer.
All of the loose ends were tied with an efficiency you would consider unfathomable considering Gilligan only had 60-minutes to get the job done, and yet, unlike Dexter, it was done at a pristine pace. Nothing hurried. Nothing rushed. Nothing left underneath that stone nobody likes to turn.
The last words that Hank Schrader said to White just seconds before Jack Welker put a bullet through his head in the Ozymandias episode was: “Your the smartest guy I ever met and you are too stupid to see he made his mind up ten minutes ago,” and he was right. He may have started out in the underworld as a bumbling idiot, but he ended it a mastermind.
The plan he hatched to blackmail Gretchen and Elliot Schwartz into paying his son $9m at the time of his 18th birthday was genius. It was also a nice touch to see Skinny Pete and Badger give us one last hurrah. I suppose the point of the show is that crime doesn’t pay, but someone tell that to Walter Junior when he turns 18.
Jack and the boys got their comeuppance in a scene that crossed James Bond’s M with the vision of Quentin Tarantino; Jesse Pinkman was saved before exacting the ultimate revenge on Todd Alquist, White admitted to Skyler that he did it all for ego; got to stroke his baby girl one last time before watching his son lovingly from afar; and even the hidden ricin burst back into the storyline with the superlative eradication of the bitchy-bitch Lydia.
All that was left was the final fate of Walter White: chemistry teacher, cancer victim, father, husband, Heisenberg, methamphetamine drug lord, killer, villain and hero.
There was only one way to bow out and it was fitting that the Badfinger tune ‘Baby Blue’ was playing as his heart stopped beating for the final time.
‘Guess I got what I deserved.’ Sang Pete Ham
Then came the tears.