September 29, 2013 will mark one of the saddest days in television history: The conclusion of Vince Gilligan’s game-changing dramatic series, Breaking Bad.
Truly, few samples of film, standalone or episodic, can match the skillful pacing or narrative flair of this show. And for that reason, I will pay my personal homage through the blogosphere: Episode-by-episode critiques and recaps of the final 8 installments of the series.
Be warned, there will likely be spoilers abound. This is primarily for fans who crave a post-viewing play-by-play. Comments are encouraged.
So without further ado:
Season 5 Episode 16 (Original Air Date: September 29, 2013)
It’s over my friends. One of the greatest shows that’s ever been on TV is done.
I’m writing this in the hope that I can get everything out before I’m assaulted by any internet chatter on the matter. Because right now, I’m sad. But I’m also remarkably satisfied.
I wanna get sappy with y’all. And I will. But first, a run through. I’ll include details, but this time around, I wanna make it quick. So here we go:
We start with Walt in NH. He slithers into a car that ain’t his. Under cover of snow, he panics over a passing police cruiser. Then, by pure luck, finds the keys. He’s off.
Our lovable hero is on the hunt for Gretchen and Elliott. His in: Journalism! Because duh! Why not?
After a weirdly casual break-and-entry, Walt bargains with his estranged business partners. You put $9million into an irrevocable trust account for my children, and I call off my “hit-men”. Fair enough. It’s a deal!
Cut to a beautiful scene of Jesse building a box. A warm glow about it. It’s peaceful, sure, but don’t get used to it. His leash snags and we’re right back to his depressing meth-filled present.
10am on Tuesday. Walt intervenes during Meth D and Lydia’s meeting. Ricin handy, Walt’s got a plan to sabotage the stevia. Silly Rabbit. Ain’t you know not to put shit in your chamomile when Walt’s in the room?
They arrange a meeting so Walt can offer a new cooking method and disband.
In the desert, Walt gets busy building like, a propeller or some shit. Who knows? It’s probably not important.
Onto more relevant matters: Marie has some dirt about Walt, so she calls Sky. He’s been sighted. Good to know. Thanks Marie. Oh, and by the way, He’s at my house.
5 minutes. That’s all it takes for Walt to tell her the first honest thing, like ever.
“I did it for me.” That’s right, he liked it. He would like it. That sexy little rattlesnake.
He gives her coordinates to the buried bodies of Hank and Gomez, which just might help her in court. Then it’s a final good-bye to Baby and he’s on his merry way.
Night time. Hangin’ with the Nazis. He parks his car next to the clubhouse. He’s searched and enters.
Once inside, Uncle Jack determines that this situation would be far more dramatic if Jesse were present, so he brings him in.
The pieces are set. Walt reclaims his confiscated car keys, pounces on Jesse, and activates his desert-made robot machine gun thing. M.D. is the last man standing. Jesse’s on it.
That’s right – chains to the throat. Revenge is sweet.
Now it’s just Jesse and Walt. Papa tells Son to shoot. He knows that Jesse wants it.
No way dude, you want it. Admit it.
Walt fesses up. He’s ready to go. But Jesse’s done with that shit.
“Then do it yourself.”
Jesse bolts. A man in pursuit of a life building wooden boxes. A life of self-made boundaries. One of order. Comfort. Creativity. And above all, new beginnings.
Thank you Vince. It’s exactly what I wanted for the misguided lil’ scamp.
Walt’s now alone. And he’s hit. A bullet to the head won’t be necessary. He’ll just bleed out. Peacefully. He enters the lab. Admires, quietly, the work that once consumed him. His art.
He falls to the ground.
Badfinger’s “Baby Blue” sends us off.
And we’re out.
It’s perfect. Lydia and the Nazis are eliminated. Jesse gets his tear-filled freedom. Skyler is absolved. And Walt attains his peace in the only possible way he can: Through death.
Melancholic, yes. But so wonderfully poetic.
The story told in the course of the series was excellent. Unpredictable. Exciting. Meditative. Puzzling. But also purposeful. Always alive. And the resolution was so pitch perfect. The writers never lost their balance.
As someone who would love more than anything to be a career writer, I am absolutely inspired. In many ways, Breaking Bad is the new standard. A compelling argument for the cultural significance of serialized storytelling. There’s a reason that comic book franchises have invaded film and TV in recent years. We all want good stories. We need those familiar characters. And we’ve got an insatiable hunger for the complexities of an alternate universe.
Gilligan and the gang labored over this story with so much love and an undeniable sense of adventure. Modern storytellers can embrace the idea that good drama never changes. But that the situations – the characters, the premises – are ever-evolving.
We need to believe in new concepts. Many thought Breaking Bad would have no chance at success. And look at it now. It’s a legacy we won’t soon be forgetting.
To review last week’s episode, click here.