Breaking Bad Episode (5×16) Review – “Felina”

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Breaking Bad Says Good-Bye to Walter White in  a Jaw-Dropping Finale

For the past five seasons Breaking Bad has explored morality. Is it ok that an out of work high school chemistry teacher manufactures and sells meth, because he wants to leave money to his family after he dies of cancer? We’ve watched Walter White transform from mild mannered teacher into a murderous drug kingpin. Along the way he took a former student (Jesse) under his wing, ruined the man’s life, and tried to kill Jesse when the kid wanted out. Walter has threatened and manipulated those he claimed to love, double-crossed his business partners, killed friends, and lost a fortune. Even though Walter has done some very, very bad things, he still was an anti-hero worth rooting for. A man who felt powerless in his life who seized power for himself. A man who others tread upon that turned into someone who could claim to be “The One Who Knocks.”

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“Just get me home.” When we left off last week, Walter had decided to give himself up to the authorities after Jr. asked him, “Why don’t you just die, already?” Instead, Walter glimpsed his former friends Elliot and Gretchen Schwartz publicly distancing themselves and the company Walt help create from the man everyone now knows as Heisenberg. Seemingly filled with vengeance, Walter hotwired a car and drove to their home. What was great about this scene, other than Walter’s hit man fake-out, was that the writers managed to turn viewer’s expectations into a complete fail. Over the years we’ve watched as Walter turned on those who’ve betrayed him, and so it was expected that he’d do the same to the Schwartz. After all, it was them who had stolen the company the three of them had built together out from under his feet. They’ve been living high off the hog since college, while Walt was a struggling public school teacher barely making ends meet.

“Elliot, if we’re going to go that way, you’re going to need a bigger knife.”

Breaking Bad 5x16 - Felina

“My children are blameless victims of a monstrous father. A man you once knew.” Walter has always claimed he started his life of crime for his children. Instead of killing the Schwartz, he gives them all of his money in trust for his children. Then he proceeds to threaten them into believing he had hired two hit men to kill them if they try and keep the money for themselves. In the end it was just Skinny Pete and Badger, but it was an ingenious plan. Despite all of their protestations to the contrary, the Schwartz are greedy and without the threat would probably have done exactly what Walter feared they’d do. While Walter made sure to poison Lydia with the ricin we saw him retrieve in episode 5×09, “Blood Money,” and concoct a plan to kill Jesse for a believed slight, Walter did manage to pay a visit to the family he claims to do everything for.

I’ve thought for a long time that Walter was doing what he does for himself and not his family. All of his life Walter has felt powerless, and then he became Heisenberg. Giving up the power he has earned is too strong an allure to let go of. The scene between Skylar and Walter as he finally comes clean about his motives was brilliant, and you could definitely see how much they still cared for one another. That’s what made the scene so sad. You could see what he had, and just how much they’ve all lost because of Walter’s actions. At least Skylar knows the truth about how Hank died. Someone should.

“I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really… I was alive.”

Breaking Bad 5x16 - Felina 2

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings… As soon as Walter learned Jesse was still alive thanks to Todd’s Blue Meth popularity around town, the vengeful Walter began to rear his head. Knowing the lengths Walter will go to in order to get payback on a perceived enemy, I had a feeling the series would end like Hamlet – with all the main characters dead. Thank god for Jack’s “honor.” The moment Walter saw Jesse paraded out and discovered his old friend had been enslaved by the Aryan Brotherhood, all of Walter’s anger towards him fell away. Instead, the paternal instincts he has towards the kid resurfaced, and he gave his life to save Jesse from the hail of bullets Walter orchestrated to take out Jack and his men. This was poetic. Walter has done a lot to hurt Jesse over the past five seasons, and it was perfect how he decided to cash in his enormous IOU. Walt’s murder spree in this episode is second only to The Godfatheresque prison hits Walter ordered in “Gliding All Over.” As great as this scene was, nothing was better than Jesse deciding he wouldn’t murder Walter. Instead, he’d let his former partner die from the gun shot wound. Why should Jesse have Walt’s death on his hands? The two have always had a tempestuous relationship, so it wasn’t surprising that the two ended up saying good-bye with mutual nods before Jesse drove off into the desert, finally free from Walter and his machinations.

Breaking Bad has been a phenomenal ride these past six years, and it’s going to be hard to say good-bye to these characters. Well, maybe not Jack, Todd, and Lydia. We’ve watched Walter go from a caring family man to becoming a manipulative bastard thirsting for power. Walter battled cancer, won, and finally got taken out by a bullet. Jesse turned from a troubled, druggie young man and became the show’s moral center. In the end, the kid who could never catch a break ended up being the luckiest person by finale’s end. Creator/Executive producer Vince Gilligan and Co. have wowed and surprised viewers. Kept us guessing about what would happen next, theorizing how things would end, and managed to turn a show about chemistry into one of the most watched and popular shows of all time (at least in my opinion). Walter White may not have gone about it in the best way, but it would be a shame if all of Walter’s hopes for his family never came to fruition. He may now be dead, but I like to think the ones he left behind have moved on with their lives, and made them better in a way Walter never could.