Breaking Bad is finished, and what an ending it was. The short version is that I thought it was excellent, and totally appropriate for that show. To be fair, I should note that I absolutely adored the same Lost finale that a good chunk of Lost fans hated, so I have no way to gauge what the reaction will be to the Breaking Bad ending.
I loved that Walt nailed one last elaborate plan, incorporating both his technical know-how and Badger and Skinny Pete, no less! I loved that Walt wasn’t able to reconcile with his son, showing that his actions had permanent consequences. I loved that Walt, in the end, didn’t give a shit about his previously-all-important mountain of money (Bye, Jack).
Most of all, I loved that Walt finally came to grips with his motivation for everything he did: He felt that he hadn’t really “lived” life. He was a scientist-turned-science-teacher. An underachiever barely scraping by in a job—correction, two jobs—that were mundane, unrewarding, and beneath him. He found something that fulfilled every need he had in life. He felt like a man. He felt like a provider. It took discovering that he was dying for him to feel like he was alive.
In the end, he confesses that to Skyler. And to himself. It was a reconciliation of sorts, or at least to the extent possible under the circumstances.
With that all-too-brief take in mind, it’s time for the other purpose of this post—to recap my predictions and see how I did.
The thing I totally whiffed on was Todd’s jacket. I predicted early on in this season that Walt had killed Todd and taken his jacket (and was seen wearing it in the Denny’s), and I stuck by that prediction despite the fact that it began to make more sense as the season unfolded that Jesse would kill Todd once Todd became his “slave-master.”
The thing I got right was what I said two years ago, which was that that either Walt kills Walt, Jesse kills Walt, or nobody kills Walt. As it turns out, Walt dies by his own contraption, although cancer was about to do the job anyway. Also, Walt pulling off one final “Heisenberg” plan was something I discussed last week as well. I think that was a tip of the cap to the fans, and a welcome one. Lydia, as predicted, got the ricin.
Speaking of which, here’s that scorecard for the finale:
Walt: Dead, or in the process of dying when the final credits roll / Correct
Jesse: Probably Alive / Correct
Todd: Dead / Correct
Jack: Dead / Correct
Nazis: Dead / Correct
Lydia: Dead / Correct
Skyler: Probably Dead (If she dies, it likely comes early) / WRONG – Alive
Walt, Jr.: Coin Toss / Alive
Holly: Alive / Correct
Marie: Alive / Correct
Saul: Alive / Correct
Huell and Kuby: Alive / Correct
Schwartzes: Alive / Correct
Hank: Still Dead / NAILED IT!
So, there you have it. All in all, I did pretty well, with the prediction that Skyler probably dies being my only miss.
Even with most of the plot points clear (especially compared to how terrible many of my final-season Lost predictions were), I still felt like this episode delivered in a huge way. It gave fans an ending of which Vince Gilligan and the writing staff can be proud.
Television shows fall into three categories for me: 1. Shows I choose not to watch. 2. Shows I do watch, but need not revisit once they go off the air. 3. Shows that I not only watch, but love so much that I feel the desire to watch them again after the fact.
Category three is very small. I can probably count on two hands the number of shows that make that cut and still have fingers left over when I’m finished. Breaking Bad would have been on that list, even with a so-so finale. This finale was excellent. I owe a thanks to the folks who made this show possible (and another thanks to Joey Bland for getting me onboard the Breaking Bad train in the first place).
It was a finite story, not an open-ended one. And that’s rare in modern TV drama, especially for long-running series, with Sopranos being the most obvious example. But this was the tale of Walter White. And that tale had a concrete, spectacular, and satisfying conclusion.