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‘Breaking Bad’ Series Finale: Everything Goes According to Plan

by on September 30, 2013

No more twists. No more shockers. This time, everything played out exactly the way Walter White had intended.

His plans and Vince Gilligan’s plans finally matched up.

Gilligan’s had always gone exactly how he wanted them to. Walt’s plans, even when they seemingly worked, always had an obstruction, some unforeseen effect. But each man finally had everything go perfectly at the same time. They went out on their own terms. And that’s what an artist deserves. To go out how they want to go out. And they each did just that.

“Felina,” written and directed by Gilligan himself,  was as brilliant an episode as any the series has ever produced. It was well-written, well-directed, well-acted. Loose ends were tied, tears were shed, and remarkable machine-gun contraptions were created. And finally, Walter White’s best-laid plans were executed flawlessly. For him, at least, there would be no more repercussions, no more effects, no more consequences. Walt may have ruined the lives of everyone around him during the show’s five-season run, and he may have lost control of everything he thought he had in his grip, but he went out on his own terms. You have to respect that.

He died happy. He had been trying to hide his selfish motives for the entire run of the series. And finally, he indulged in his selfishness. He let it wash over him. He wanted to be in the empire business. He wanted to make up for what Gray Matter had (presumably) stolen from him. He wanted to feel like a powerful man in control of his own fate. And in his final moments, all of the backlash — all of the blood spilt — was worth it. Walking around the makeshift meth lab, it was clear: Walt was right where he wanted to be. He may have been on his way to hell, but he died in his own personal heaven. And he couldn’t ask for anything more.

And his death could not have been so poignant had it not been for Walt’s final moments with Skyler, when he finally looked in the mirror and realized he was looking right at the person he loved all along.  For once, he didn’t lie about his motives. He stopped hiding behind the shield of “the family.” He was well past the point of the ends justifying the means.

Walt didn’t want to provide for his family. He just wanted to be known as the man who provides for his family. It was always a matter of personal pride. And for him to put down the shield, and let the woman he loved face the truth was heart-breakingly touching. At least Skyler could move on knowing that Walt came clean in the end.

But wow, that ending. Walt realized Jesse must still be the one cooking, and the endgame kicked into high gear. I believe he went to Nazi New Mexico believing that Jesse really had partnered up with Uncle Jack, and he was going to kill all of them. Once he realized Jesse was a slave, though, he decided to save the closest person in the world he had to a son. And his machine-gun device worked quite effectively. And in a way, taking a shot from his own machine gun, Walt died protecting Jesse. He may have died basking in his own glory, admiring the beauty of his own plan, reveling in the final moments of full control. But he died doing the most selfless thing he has ever done.

It was clear that Jesse couldn’t handle any more killing, the emotional wreck that he was, but Todd was an exception. He took one of the last people Jesse cared about away from him, and he had to pay. And, for once, as Walt watched someone die in Jesse’s arms, it seemed like the right thing to do to let it happen. Todd may have never been a Nazi like his Uncle Jack, but he was undoubtedly as heartless and cold-blooded.

Once Todd was gone, all bets were off. I thought for an instant that Walt might pull the trigger, but after saving his only true son, it quickly became clear he wanted to see how his closest partner felt about him. He was going out anyways, so he gave Jesse the chance to get closure and slid the gun across the floor. But Jesse didn’t have to kill Walt. Although Walt was responsible for everything bad to ever happen in Jesse’s life, Jesse realized he was finally free. The Nazis were dead, and it was clear from the gunshot wound that Walt soon would be as well. And Jesse was free because Walt had rescued him. Walt had protected him. So Jesse ran for the hills, after a two-year period that certainly convinced him something in his life had to change. You can only hope he would go raise Brock, become a woodworker and finally turn his life around. But we’ll never know.

And Walt, who began the series surrounded by people who loved him, was all alone. He would die all alone on the ground of the only place in the world he felt alive in. Meth may have taken everything from him, but it also gave him life and the excitement that he had so desperately craved.

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So, what does it all mean? Sixty-two episodes in the books, Vince Gilligan’s statement out for the world to see. Is it a commentary on the U.S. health care system? The study of change?

Maybe it was just a story about a man looking for love and adoration his whole life, someone who knew he was always the smartest guy in the room but could never get other people to realize it. He wasn’t happy in his “perfect” little life with his beautiful wife and son. And once he learned it was all coming to an end, he decided he wanted to be remembered. For what he could have been and not what he was. He didn’t want to just lie down and die. He wanted to take control of his final days. He wanted to be someone who provided for his family. And he went about it the only way he knew how.

And he found happiness. Like a drug addict finds happiness in their next hit. When he was cooking, executing one of his elaborate plans or raking in the cash, Walter White was alive. And with one last breath, looking at the machines that brought him true bliss, Walter White fell away. He died in peace. But, like a drug addict, his actions will affect the people he loved for the rest of their lives. Hank is dead. Marie is alone. Skyler is trying to make ends meet. Flynn has to live without a father, knowing his was a monster. Jesse lost everyone he ever loved.

Walt may have died in heaven, but he made everyone else’s lives hell.

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