Unless you were really excited for the completely unwelcome return of Eastbound & Down, you were probably watching the series finale of Breaking Bad. This last episode was the kind of finale that tied up loose ends and came to satisfying character conclusions that most audiences would appreciate.
Breaking Bad’s final hour (plus 15 minutes) began with Walter White wiping the snow off of his stolen car, dusting off the old life that he was preparing to return to. He utters the phrase “Just get me home…just get me home and I’ll do the rest.” This is a man who knows he’s at the end of his road; and he’s ready to atone for what he has done. Walt finds a Marty Robbins cassette in the glove box and plays the song El Paso; a song which itself is about a fugitive returning to the town that he escaped from. (*Editor’s note*: “Felina” is the name of the woman referenced in the song.)
The first order of (empire) business for Walt is to track down Elliot and Gretchen Schwartz; a feat that he accomplishes quite simply. Walt lies in wait outside their ritzy yuppie villa; he strolls around their home like a phantom, unconcerned with hiding. It’s staged like the moments before the killer strikes in a horror film, but we soon discover that Heisenberg has something else in mind for his former associates. Walt presents them with the task of giving his hard-earned money to Walt Jr., in an attempt to ward off any federal suspicion of where it came from. (Possible Breaking Bad spin-off idea -Gretchen and Elliot: Money Mules!) Just when it looks like Walt trusts the Schwartzs on handshake alone, he gives the signal and lasers zero in on the two money mules. Walt insures their money donation with a threat on their lives. Of course we later find out that this threat is completely empty; no hit men, just Badger and Skinny Pete with laser pointers! Dumb and dumber then inform Walt that blue meth is indeed still on the streets, leading Walt to realize that Jesse is alive and kicking/cooking.
Breaking Bad then gives us a nice little fake-out in the form of the Jesse seemingly realizing his one-time dream of carpentry. NOPE! He was just day-dreaming while he was (literally) slaving away in the Nazi’s meth lab. Cut to our previously seen “flash-forwards” or Walt receiving his assault rifle and recovering the ricin. Thus begins phase 2 of Walter White’s final master plan.
Walt tracks down Lydia and resident sociopath Todd to the spot where he had once met Lydia on a regular basis. Making claims of a “new formula,” Walt tries to get his way into the Nazi’s compound. After Walt calls Lydia a “creature of habit,” she later dismisses Heisenberg and goes about pouring her stevia into her tea. I wonder what could be in there…
Out in the desert land, Walt is a-humming his new favorite Marty Robbins song El Paso as he creates a DIY rotating turret for his recently-purchased assault rifle. Our meth-dealing cowboy has no cadre of his own, so he has to make one instead, activated by his car keys.
Next we see some very shoddy White family portraits in Skyler’s new apartment. The White matriarch is smoking a cigarette (indicating that she’s stressed-out Skyler!) and lets Marie’s phone call go to the answering machine (per usual) before picking up. Marie recaps her sister on what Walt has been up to. On top of that is a very interesting bit of information that we can’t be certain is true or not. Multiple “Heisenbergs” have been calling in from across town: threatening City Hall, announcing his “manifesto” and demanding to be on the six o’clock news. It’s a curious series of Joker-style misinformation that even Marie comments on possibly being an attempt to confuse. After Skyler ends the call, the camera zooms in and we see that Walt was there all along – it would seem that he’s skinny enough to hide behind a banister at the right angle.
Walt gives Skylar the GPS coordinates of the one-time burial site of his money, and the current location of Hank and Gomez’s bodies. He convinces Skylar to use this as a bargaining chip with the feds to get a better deal. Then it happens. This is the scene. This is the scene that brings out all of the honesty that Walter White has been concealing since he started his descent all those years ago. Walt starts to explain himself and in a perfect moment of character strength, Skyler cuts him off, tired of hearing his BS about “doing it for his family.” But Walt stops her and says “I did it for me.” He finally comes clean that he did all of this not for money, not for his family, but because it felt good. “I was alive.” After Walt gets the chance to see his now toddler daughter Holly, Flynn comes home from school and Walt watches from a nearby window. He walks into the distance, fading to (Walter) White. It’s the kind of visual that Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan loves.
With only 20 minutes of Breaking Bad remaining, it’s time to enact the final phase of Heisenberg’s piece de resistance. He arrives at the Nazi compound and defies the parking parameters of Nazi Jack’s mustachioed sidekick. Walt gets padded down and his turret keys get lifted. Nazi Jack calls Walt on his “new formula” BS; both men are here for one reason: to kill the other guy. Before mustachioed sidekick takes Walt out to pasture however, Walt accuses Nazi Jack of being a liar and partnering up with Jesse to cook the blue meth. Apparently the honor of a white power neo-Nazi is not to be tested. Todd brings slave Jesse into the room as Walt makes a dangerous move for his confiscated keys – and he gets them! YAY!
Nazi Jack wants Walt to know that Jesse is no partner of his, just a servant. Walt tackles Jesse to get him out of the line of fire and activates his trunk turret. (Meanwhile, one of the Nazis makes a gay joke about Todd, Walt and Jesse that you probably missed.) It’s a Godfather finale bloodbath at the Nazi home, hitting mostly everyone except for Todd. (Even Walt got hit!) And then, in a righteous moment of slave Leia vs. Jabba the Hutt, Jesse uses his own shackles to strangle Todd to death.
Nazi Jack coughs up blood and makes a final plea, for which Heisenberg has no care for- BAM! blood-soaked camera lens. Now it’s just our two boys, face-to-face for the first time in nearly a year. Walt passes his gun to Jesse, wanting him to kill him. Here we have a visual flashback to Jesse’s hesitation of killing Gail at the end of season 3. Jesse wants Walt to tell him that he wants Jesse to kill him. Walt obliges. Jesse notices that Walt was hit by gunfire and decides that it’s time to stop being Walter White’s errand boy. “Then do it yourself.” By getting hit by his own gunfire, Walt essentially died saving Jesse.
Next we have confirmation that Walt indeed poisoned Lydia with the ricin, for those of you who just can’t stand unambiguous ambiguity. There are no more words between the former meth partners Walt and Jesse, just a head nod and a very Breaking Bad moment where it looks like Jesse most definitely could have ran Walt over with his car. Jesse breaks through the compound fence he scaled last episode and screams a laugh of elation.
Bleeding out, Walt goes to the Nazi lab to see how his pseudo-son Jesse was cooking without him, looking mighty proud. He lovingly touches a vat, alone with the one thing that made him feel truly alive: his “Baby Blue.” The once and future Heisenberg then falls to the floor and dies, staring towards the ceiling, probably past it, with a look of elation on his face. The cops roll in, rush past the dead King Walt, marking the end of Breaking Bad. And then you cried.