Well, that’s a wrap for “Breaking Bad.” The series finale delivered the goods in terms of tying up loose ends and giving viewers a sense of satisfaction. So many shows end with yet more questions and vagueness, and that’s not the case at all with “Breaking Bad.” Good job to all involved.
And we’ve still got that gorgeous Breaking Bad: The Complete Series (+UltraViolet Digital Copy) [Blu-ray], available on Nov. 26, 2013, to look forward to. Just in time for Christmas!
This final episode begins with Walter climbing into a car with his box of money. He rifles through the glove box looking for keys, and then tries to hotwire the car with a screwdriver. Then a lightbulb goes off, so he checks the visor and the keys fall into his lap.
Oh yeah, and there’s a Marty Robbins cassette tape cover in the glove box, and when he starts the car, Robbins’ song “El Paso” is playing. Here are the lyrics, which is where the episode title originated:
Out in the West Texas town of El Paso
I fell in love with a Mexican girl.
Night-time would find me in Rosa’s Cantina;
Music would play and Felina would whirl.
In his Volvo with the “Live Free or Die” New Hampshire plates, Walt stops for gas and opens the trunk, which is housing a large pile of money. But did I just dream that he took a swig from the gas hose to wash down his pills? Did that really happen?
Anyway, he makes a call on the payphone, pretending to be a New York Times reporter doing a story on the Schwartz couple. And wow, I guess all you need to do to get someone’s address is pretend to be a New York Times reporter.
Then … Walt leaves his watch there by the phone. In the “Talking Bad” segment afterwards, Vince Gilligan said there were a couple of reasons for this. The first was continuity issues. When they shot the flash-forward sequence, Walt wasn’t wearing a watch in the upcoming scene.
The second idea – more artsy – was that Walt looked at the watch, remembered that his arch nemesis Jesse had given it to him, and realized that he doesn’t need it anymore. I like the first one better. Because later, we see that Walt actually protected Jesse.
At the Schwartz home, Walter waits for Gretchen and Elliott to come home, and then follows them into the house. Really secure for such a high-class house, huh? As they’re chatting in the kitchen, Walt sort of wanders around, checking out all the photos and walls and such.
I kept thinking, you could have had a nice house like that and still had your family together in said nice house, but no. You had to ruin it all by pushing and pushing and breaking bad until you had nothing left. Nothing.
Anyway, Gretchen finally notices Walt and screams, and Elliott points a tiny knife at Walt. “Elliott, if we’re gonna go that way, you’ll need a bigger knife.” No doubt about it.
Then the three of them get the money – $9 million-plus – out of Walt’s car and stack it up in the living room. “On my son’s 18th birthday, you will give him this money in the form of an irrevocable trust,” explains Walt.
Why us? they ask. Because “my wife and son hate me,” says Walt. “They wouldn’t take my money. But two rich benefactors known for their charitable causes … I have to think your money would be very welcome.”
They shake on it and Walt leaves, but not before explaining that he’s got two hitmen watching them from outside. If for any reason his family doesn’t get the money, things will not go well for them. “Cheer up, beautiful people,” he says. “This is where you get to make it right.”
Back in the car, we learn it’s all a big facade, and the two hitmen are just a couple kids Walt paid to throw red laser-lights on the Schwartzes. Here’s where Walt also learns that Jesse is the one cooking the blue meth.
Cut to Jesse, in a serene, beautifully-lit woodworking shop, and he’s finishing up a gorgeous wooden box. All is right with the world, and … then we see it’s all been a daydream. He’s still chained to that meth lab.
And we finally get to see that flash-forward scene from way back when. Walter’s celebrating his birthday with bacon and eggs. Awww…
At his abandoned house, Walt gets the Ricin cigarette out of the wall socket. Who will be the lucky recipient?
Then a flashback to Hank talking about Walt doing a ride-along with him. Big crowd. Laughs all around.
Cut to Lydia and Todd doing their 10 a.m. Tuesday morning meeting at a restaurant. She’s a creature of habit, Walt explains, referencing THEIR 10 a.m. meetings, after he pulls up a chair and sits down with the stunned twosome. Walt breaks into a coughing fit and says he needs some cash. Maybe they could work out a deal for him to cook?
SIDE NOTE: A commercial for Aaron Paul’s upcoming 2014 movie “The Need for Speed” airs, and it’s a little weird. Like seeing Jesse Pinkman in a movie.
Cut to Walt out in the desert building something. It looks interesting, but I can’t quite make out what it’s supposed to be. I do notice, however, that his wedding ring is still on a string around his neck. I really do think he loved and still loves Skyler. I’m sad about them.
Marie calls Skyler and warns her that Walt’s been spotted in town. People are getting calls that he might be blowing up the city hall or something. Which, quite frankly, doesn’t sound like Walt. How would that further his cause? He’s all about furthering his cause.
Walt goes to see Skyler, and it just breaks my heart to see the two of them standing in her bleak little house. They’re both shadows of their former selves.
Skyler: “You look terrible.”
Walt: “Yeah, but I feel good.”
Skyler: “So talk. Why are you here?”
Walt: “It’s over, and I needed a proper goodbye. Not our last phone call.”
Sigh. She’s worried that the bad guys will come back for her and the kids, and he assures her that won’t happen, especially after tonight. He gives her the GPS coordinates for where Hank and Gomez are buried. Says Jack’s thugs shot them. He thinks she’ll be able to trade the info for a deal with the prosecutor.
He starts to say that he did it for… but she stops him, and says she doesn’t want to hear it. “I did it for me,” Walt confesses. “I liked it. I was good at it. And it was really … I was alive…”
Then he goes to see baby Holly, and the look on Skyler’s face makes it seem like she still loves him, even after everything that’s happened. Another heartbreaking scene when Walt Junior gets off the bus and Walt watches him walk into the house from a distance. Double Sigh.
Walt heads over to the compound to see Jack et al. Jack says he’s not really in the market for another cooker, but Walt says he owes him. “You were supposed to kill Jesse Pinkman and you didn’t!” Jack tells Todd to go get Pinkman and bring him here.
When poor, pathetic Jesse walks into the house in chains, you can see a tiny spark of that old father-son relationship between them – which is both neat and heartbreaking. Walt looks at Jesse, and you feel like he’s sorry that it’s come to this.
Then, Walt – who’s been eyeing his keys on the pool table since Jack tossed them there – finally grabs the keys and presses a button. The trunk pops open on the car (which he specifically parked in front of the building earlier), and a Rube Goldberg-type machine gun starts spraying bullets everywhere.
Walt tackles Jesse and covers him with his body on the floor, protecting him from the bullets, but taking a bullet himself in the process. Yes, Walt’s end will be, ironically enough, from his very own bullet, while he was shielding Jesse. Vince Gilligan said he actually stole this idea from the classic movie “The Searchers.” John Wayne was going to kill the girl when he found her; instead, he saves her.
And seriously, that cobbled-together remote-controlled machine gun is like something out of Batman. And (nearly) everyone dies. Jack is still alive, but grabs a cigarette and tells Walt not to kill him; otherwise, he’ll never know where the money is. Walt doesn’t care at this point. He’s already secured his family’s future with the $9 million-plus he left with the Schwartzes. He promptly shoots Jack and kills him.
And really?!! That dope Todd is still alive?!! Well, there’s a reason for that madness. It’s so that Jesse could grab him, wrap that stupid chain around Todd’s neck, and strangle him to death. I know I shouldn’t cheer whenever a human life is taken, and yet, I’m so glad Jesse had the chance to take revenge on Todd, for all the torture Todd put him through.
Then, we have a stand-off with Walt and Jesse. Walt slides a gun over to Jesse, who picks it up and points it at his former mentor. “Do it,” says Walt. “You want this.”
But Jesse says, “Say the words! Say you want this! Nothing happens until I hear you say it!”
“I want this,” says Walter.
“Then do it yourself,” says Jesse, throwing the gun down and walking out. Remember a few episodes back in “Rabid Dog,” where Jesse called Walt on the payphone and said, “I’m never doing what you tell me to again.” I guess he was right on that score.
When Todd’s ringtone goes off – “Lydia, oh Lydia, say have you met Lydia” – Walt picks it up and answers it. First, she thinks it’s Todd. Then Walter reveals that it’s him. And by the way, how are you feeling, Lydia? Feeling like you’ve got the flu? Turns out, Walt slipped the Ricin into that “Stevia crap you’re always putting into your tea.” Buh-bye, Lydia.
There’s one final stand-off between Jesse and Walt outside, then Jesse hops into a Ranchero and drives off, nearly running over Walt, then crashing through the front gate and laughing maniacally over his freedom. I think Walt, in giving Jesse the opportunity to kill him, was also giving the kid the opportunity to do whatever he felt was best for him. Kill or not kill – that was up to Jesse.
Walt, his mechanical gun still going back and forth in the trunk, stumbles into the lab and starts caressing the equipment. His one true love. He’s been shot, and as the song “Baby Blue” by Badfinger plays, he drops to the floor as the cops come in. Walter White is dead.
As mentioned, I’m so glad they wrapped things up in this series finale and didn’t leave viewers hanging with yet more unanswered questions. Everything was tied up nicely. Todd is dead. Jesse is free. Walter was able to leave the money to his family. And Walter essentially killed himself.
As a side note: Vince Gilligan said he wrote an unshot 4-page scene at the gas station. A former student of Walt’s is there and recognizes him. Walt pays him off and then asks the kid what kind of teacher he was. To which the kid replies something about how Walt was always doing cool stuff, making brightly colored smoke happen and whatnot. The scene was never shot, but if you buy the “Breaking Bad” series through that link above, it’ll include the transcript of that scene.
And hey, I know we’ve got the “Just Call Saul” spinoff happening, but who else was cheering for a Jesse Pinkman spinoff when Jess barreled through that gate at the end? I think he probably went to get Brock and maybe make a life with him.
Any final thoughts on “Breaking Bad” or the series finale? Are you happy with how it ended?