If you haven’t watched the series finale, stop now. This is a major spoiler alert.
If you’ve seen the season finale, Felina then you would have had time to gather your breath, wipe away tears and sit back and allow your over-driven mind to begin processing that fierce yet emotional series finale of the critically acclaimed, Breaking Bad.
Vince Gilligan, the series creator of a show which saw the rise and fall of the meth mastermind king-pin Walter White (Bryan Cranston). Gilligan proudly stated “I think in that last scene, [Walt] is with his “precious”, in Lord of the Rings terms. He’s with that meth lab that he and Jesse designed, his baby so to speak, and the lyrics to the song, Baby Blue by Badfinger, back that up. And I think he is at peace with himself. He has screwed up his life tremendously and I think he knows that, but he has accomplished the thing he has set out to accomplish.”
…the ending satisfies me and that’s something that I’m happy about…
In order to wrap up such a masterful, beloved and obsessed-over drama is an extremely huge challenge and to do so in a way that gives its viewers an exciting climax is beyond difficult. Gilligan was acutely aware of it as he and his writers slogged and sweated away for endless hours, days and weeks in search of the perfect ending, knowing full well, it might not be the perfect ending for some. He goes on to say “I think plenty of people out there will have had a different ending for this show in their mind’s eye and therefore we’re bound to disappoint a certain number of folks,” he says, “but I really think I can say with confidence that we made ourselves happy and that was not remotely a sure thing for the better part of a year. I feel that the ending satisfies me and that’s something that I’m happy about.”
Gilligan spoke with Entertainment Weekly about the overall fates for both Walt and Jesse and the reason why he didn’t have Walt kill him. “We think that’s his intent, to kill him, then he sees him and sees what terrible shape he’s in, and instinct takes over; that fondness he’s felt for him – although he hasn’t shown it very well over the years, I have to admit.” When we look at Walt throughout the episodes of Breaking Bad we notice the somewhat blossoming relationship between the two men. Jesse, from the start, has this wary view of Walt because Walt was his teacher, his reason for not succeeding and the pure fact that he is so much older and so different to the usual meth dealer perhaps difficult to trust. There is this sense of resentment that Jesse has for Walt, kind of like a son has for a father that hasn’t been there for him, but they build up a relationship of some kind and we see this as each episode goes on. They save each other, protect each other and this is noticed by Walt saving Jesse’s life, putting him in rehab, giving him money and acting like a father figure, even though he is the reason for all of the above. But ultimately, in a line of meth dealing, there is no happy ending and gradually we see their relationship break down and it breaks down because Walt is primarily too selfish to realise how much he has affected those around him, including Jesse.
…lying on the floor, alone and content…
Walt, throughout Breaking Bad has wanted to be known. He wants to be remembered. He had his opportunity years ago when he had the opportunity to earn millions with Gretchen and Elliot. He had the opportunity but he threw it away, he messed his own success up and he never got over it. He never realised that having a loving wife, a brilliant son and a baby on the way was success, because to Walt, success was money. When Walt discovered he had cancer and he approached Jesse to get his hands stuck into the meth business, he saw then a chance to make money, to make a career using his science and to make a career bigger and better than the original one he would have succeeded in. In a way, it was justified because it was science but not once did he realise he was the downfall of his own success until the very end, when he walked around that meth lab looking at equipment he and his prodigy built up. It was a very emotional moment and it was the moment that made Walt realise everything he had lost for this. Gilligan continues “you want your work to be remembered. You want it to outlive you.” And the sad realisation was, in the end, that it did outlive him and it also killed him but more importantly, it ruined his families’ lives.
In terms of Walt’s death, I think it was very poignant and very clever. In my heart, I knew he would never be captured by the DEA, he was too clever, he was too cunning and getting caught by the DEA would mean everything he had built would have been destroyed because getting captured would ruin everything. His plans, his life work. It would all be ruined. The only death suitable for Walt was that of a lonely death. Not a murder or a suicide but a wound, much like his wounded ego that would ultimately lead to his own death as not even cancer could stop him. He would have to bleed slowly, as if each drop of blood was a bit of his ego leaving his body until it all gets too much and he succumbs to it. Before Walt dies he calls Lydia, a woman technically close to him in terms of success-eating personalities and tells her, almost smugly, a last attempt to have the upper hand that the reason she is sweating, struggling to breathe and feeling limp on a bed is because she has been poisoned by ricin. For five whole seasons we have seen Walter White use, abuse, snarl, smirk, leer and lie and as he fell to the dirt, leaving a bloody handprint on the equipment he once used, there is no more fighting, no more lying, no more arguments, no more feuds, no more bitter endings. It is just Walt – evading the DEA one last time – lying on the floor, alone and content.