September 30, 2013

TPG's Chemistry Class: Series Finale - Felina - Breaking Bad Recap

That was a good finale when it needed to be excellent. All in all it was a fantastic, well written, expertly directed episode. I just thought it was a little too neat and because of that it exposed some wonderful questions about the show, but also some flaws about the final season. But let's just get right into it and since this is the last time I get to do this, they're won't just be ten points.

1. The opening image of this episode was snowy car window. I like to call it a blank slate. Fitting because this episode was a redemption tour for Walter White.

2. Vince Gilligan really proved himself as a director this episode. I particularly enjoyed all the ways that Walt was framed. The first time I noticed it was when he broke into Gretchen and Eliot's house. His face, full of calm threats haunting the innocent couple. This device was used multiple times in the episode and I'll point it out as we go along.

3. The scene with Gretchen and Eliot was the first indicator that this finale was going not going to be as dark and intense as I hoped. Let me ask you, who were you rooting for in that scene? Were you fearing for the Schwartzs' life? Or were you all like "yeah Walt, make em do what you say, taunt them with a promise of future death in European cities." I imagine you were probably rooting for Walt. That's the problem, this is a dude who's done a ton of really bad shit over the course of the show and we really shouldn't be rooting for him. Remember just how creepy you felt when Walt went to visit Andrea and Brock? Thought so. How about when he gave up Jesse to be killed? Now you're rooting for him again which is a deft stroke by the writers but feels somewhat false in the scope of the entire show. Also why didn't he just knock on their door? Isn't he the one who....ok...lame joke.

4. I did love seeing Badger and Skinny Pete back in action. Hopefully they start a Star Trek inspired band with those earnings.

5. The ricin, something had to happen with it. Yet I'm not going to lie it's very convenient storytelling that he was able to sneak it into the sweetener packet. Keep in mind the last time the ricin was used, it involved a complicated swap with fast hands Huell and now we don't even see how he got it there. It's not nitpicking if they've already established these complex ricin rules in the show before. Just a little too convenient.

6. So in the end Marie ends up with a nice home as a lonely widow. Skyler ends up a chain smoking mess with bizarre plastic surgery lips. Rough ending for Skyler.

8. The best part of the finale and probably the entire final season was the "I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. I was alive" line. Short, powerful, and perfect. Also a nice little shout-out to my persona liberty theory from yonder year.

9. We got another great framing shot of Walt the Father looking through the window at Flynn coming home. Heartbreaking.

10. Still find it hard to believe that the DEA wouldn't be able to spot Walt at the house. Also while I'm at it. Gus Fring had Walt cooking UNDERGROUND. This skin-head lab was out in the open at a time when one of the best agents was gunned down in a drug-related crime. How did the DEA not find that compound in the entire year Jesse was cooking? I guess once Steve Gomez died the entire DEA went to shit.

11. Nice to see Todd get his but I didn't really feel that much when Jesse did it. I always saw Jesse as a much more sympathetic character than Walt. I mean he was a mess after he killed Gale. Seeing him brutally murder Todd was satisfying, but also made me sad because the ultimately morally sound Jesse seemed to have finally disappeared.

12. Oh I didn't even mention that I thought the machine gun contraption was cool but a little too much. Walt was a chemist! He was not an an electrical and mechanical engineer. When has he ever made something that complex before? Every badass stunt he pulled involved some level of chemistry. Maybe the train robbery but he had help with that!  That was one serious contraption for him to make, not to mention all the intangibles involving parking logistics.

14. Loved how when Jesse was going to kill Walt it was the exact same imagery as when he killed Gale. Also was very into the fact that he didn't kill Walt.

15. Was Jesse yelling because he was released or because he had been through so much he was finally lost his mind once and for all. I prefer the second option. Also

16. MIND MELT In the end in that final brilliant shot while Walt is lying on the floor of the lab, did you catch how Walt's body was divided up the beams. A powerful final shot for the series. Walt was a man of many different parts. Father. Husband. Chemist. Meth Dealer. Genius. The list is endless. A powerful visual metaphor for all the things that make us who we are.

17. When it comes to finales, it's always hard to balance what you personally want with the judgement made by the people who actually make the show. I wanted Walt to answer for his sins in a more brutal way. But for me, this episode was WAYYY too much of a happy ending. Don't try to tell me it wasn't, here are the things that work out for Walt:

  • Establishes a fund for Flynn & Holly
  • Scares the shit out of his old nemesis and the woman that scorned him
  • Got to show some love for Badger and Skinny Pete
  • Make relative peace with Skyler and Holly
  • Killed Lydia
  • Killed all the nazis who killed his brother in law.
  • Specifically blew the head off the dude who specifically killed his brother in law.
  • Made relative peace with Jesse his true son.
  • Died in the only place that really made him feel alive - the lab.
Yeah I'd say that it was a happy ending for Walt the sociopathic drug lord. Not what I would prefer but I guess in the end he wasn't really a bad guy. Just a down on his luck cancer patient trying to provide for his family. Right?

18. Ultimately though I'm satisfied with it, I just wish that it took some more risks. Vince Gilligan said there is a much darker and rougher ending that they considered but opted to go for it. I just wished that they didn't feel that Walt needed his happily ever after.

It's  been a real  blast writing these recaps. Thanks for reading and be sure to stay tuned as Game of Thrones returns next year!


  1. Thanks for the effort you put into this blog, Tim. I enjoyed reading it every week.

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