“Just get me home. I’ll do the rest.”
All bad things must come to an end. It’s a bit unfair that a show’s legacy will be determined by its final hour, but it’s like taking a roadtrip. You’re not going to remember how fun the journey was if at the end you get into a car accident. Luckily for us, Breaking Bad caps off its glorious run with a completely satisfying and fulfilling ending. I don’t think I’ve ever watched a show that was this consistently good throughout its entire run and managed to tie everything up by the end. This is how you end a show.
Oh Walt you lucky, lucky man. Just how close was Walt to being caught by law enforcement? He wasn’t even finished hijacking a car before the siren lights showed up, and utters a prayer before the keys magically appear in his hand. (Okay not magically but seriously does anyone outside of tv/movies actually leave their keys behind their sun visor?) And the police don’t even bother checking the car because, well like I said Walt’s a lucky man. A lucky man with terminal lung cancer who becomes a meth kingpin.
But I digress. Off Walt goes in his stolen Volvo. First stop on Heisenberg’s Roadtrip of Vengeance? Elliott and Gretchen Schwartz. That’s what you get for dissing him on Charlie Rose! He calls I assume their secretary and pretends to be from the New York Times doing an article about them, and gets their new address. Before he steps in the car though he takes off the watch that Jesse gave him for his 51st birthday and leaves it on top of the phone booth. I guess the bromance is over.
Cut to Elliott and Gretchen strolling into their house talking about their billionaire rich people issues. And then we see Walt waiting for them in the shadows outside their house. They don’t notice him and continue inside and Walt just strolls into the house, which is so large and modern they don’t hear or see Walt breaking in. Holy hell. Is he really going to do it that easily? Finally Gretchen notices him and screams. “I really like your new house,” he tells them. They stand there paralyzed until Walt tells them he needs them to get something out of his trunk. Yeah so he can stuff their bodies in there. Elliott pulls out a tiny knife in defense and Walt gives him a patronizing look in Mike-life fashion.
“Elliott, if we’re gonna go that way you’re going to need a bigger knife.”
I’d feel more sorry if the Schwartzes weren’t so ridiculously annoying in their first joint introduction. Walt gets them to stack $9 million in cash on the coffee table. So Walt was able to roll his barrel of money into his Volvo into the car before he left his cabin. Walt tells them that they are going to give Walt Jr. the money on his 18th birthday into a trust fund. And only his money. They aren’t to add a single dollar because it was his money, never theirs. He makes them shake on the deal like he shook Jack’s hand after Hank died, but of course he can’t believe that they’ll do what he says based on that alone. With a point at the window outside, two laser sights pinpoint themselves on the couple. Oh Walt you cunning bastard. Walt threatens them and tells them he hired two hitmen who will kill them if they don’t do exactly what he says. A cruel but somewhat humorous threat. I found this highly skeptical and was thinking he rigged some mirrors or hired a couple of kids.
“My children are helpless victims of their monstrous father.”
But they’re not kids, they’re comic-relief duo Badger and Skinny Pete! How did I not see that coming? They run into his car and give him back his laser pointers. Walt gives them their money and then asks about the blue meth still out there. Skinny Pete and Badger thought it was him because the purity is high as ever, if not better. Uh oh, someone is making Walt’s product. And as good as it was before. And with that Walt knows Jesse is alive and cooking meth. I’m not sure if he felt rage that Jesse was still alive or some residual fatherly feelings, but we know that Walt is going to look Jesse in the face one last time. And if Walt’s going to go down, he’s gonna be damn sure everyone knows it was him and him alone that was the mighty Heisenberg.
“Cheer up beautiful people. This is where you get to make it right.”
Let’s see if Jesse is any better after watching his ex-girlfriend get helplessly gunned down due to his escape attempt. Jesse is woodworking and making a beautiful box. Fans of the show know that this has to be a flashback to when he was talking in rehab about how he applied himself and made a beautiful wooden box with layers and layers of varnish. And how he sold that box for weed. His apron catches on the bench, and we see that Jesse is still a dog on a leash, as his chain catches on the ceiling while he’s still held hostage cooking meth for Todd.
And now the pieces of the timeline come together as we briefly revisit Walt celebrating his 52nd birthday by himself and picking up the ricin from the house. As Walt stands there in his family room we flashback to the pilot episode to Walt’s 50th birthday party where Hank tells Walt he can come along for a ride-along. But Hank is dead and Walt’s family is no longer with him. Walt then leaves his house forever.
Lydia is waiting to meet up with Todd. Exactly why do they need to meet up so often? Is there really that much to say other than, “Cooked another batch of meth today.” Or is Todd arranging these meetings becaues he thinks they’re dates? I suppose we’ll never know as Walt has been waiting for them unrecognized until he finally saunters over and pulls up a chair as a third wheel to their date. He tells them both to listen before they say anything but Lydia wants to know how he knew where they were, and then orders her chamomile tea with soymilk as usual. He tells her she has a schedule (no kidding) and then says he has a new method for cooking meth that doesn’t require methylamine. Walt says he needs money and acts desperate, which cues the audience in as Walt spinning his web for another trap. They arrange a meeting and Walt leaves but Todd doesn’t think it’s a good idea. Lydia says of course they’re not doing business with him, and that Todd will be “doing him a favor” when they kill him. Lydia has never seemed so confident, and then pours her Stevia into her tea. And the camera angle changes to her mug, and we have now solved the mystery of the ricin. Everyone else was right after all! Walt is cleaning up his mess, and that means no more blue meth for anyone. He must have switched out the packet before she arrived and was lucky no one else sat at that table. On a side note I’m bringing my own sugar to restaurants from now on.
And we get one final spot of engineering brilliance from Walt. He’s training with his M60, but not in the normal boring way of practicing his aim. He’s going full Heisenberg and making his M60 automatic FULLY automatic. Rigged to his car remote. Now I don’t condone violence, but in a fictional world where a meth kingpin needs to take out a band of neo-nazis, hell yes.
Marie calls and tells Skyler Walt’s back in town and looking exactly like the Unabomber. And there are rumors of him doing bad things. Skyler sounds like she’s given up but assures Marie that she’ll be on the look-out. Oh but Walt is there already. Damn you clever camera angles! And also Marie, your advice was pointless and too late but thanks for playing and making some last attempts at humor. Walt is wearing a green shirt – a strikingly similar shirt to what he wore in the very first episode. They speak in husky voices and Walt finally comes clean. He gives Skyler his lotto ticket, with the GPS coordinates for Hank and Gomie’s burial site. Skyler thinks that the family will still be in danger if he turns himself in, but as we know Walt isn’t turning himself in. He’s going to take care of two birds with one stone.
“It’s over and I needed a proper goodbye. Not our last phone call.”
Then he starts confessing as to why he did all of this, and Skyler interrupts before he starts talking about how he did it all for his family. But he says the truth of what we’ve known all along. It wasn’t for his family, it was for him. He finally comes clean to Skyler and to himself. Honestly if he had lied to Skyler one last time I would have been annoyed, but Walt has nothing left to lose. He’s finally honest with himself. Then he asks to see Holly one last time, and it’s a heartbreaking scene where we know Walt still loves his family but has lost them all, and Skyler seems to be thinking of what they’ve lost and what kind of family they could have been if Walt had never gotten into the drug business.
It’s a sad ending to that could have been such a normal family.
“I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really… I was alive.”
Walt arrives at the meet-up and they peek into his backseat but don’t bother checking into his trunk because it’s not like he could have a hidden person or a self-rotating automatic rifle. He backs his car into the spot and they strip search him but keep his wallet and most importantly his car keys. He goes inside, meets Jack who doesn’t even want to talk and wants him dead. They start to take Walt outside but quick-thinking Walt tells them that Jack reneged on his deal: Jesse is still alive and his partner even though Walt paid for his death. Jack takes offense at this (of all the things to get offended by) and tells Todd to bring Jesse and show Walt just exactly how much of a partner Jesse is. Poor shackled-up Jesse makes his way there and Walt slowly and carefully retrieves his keys.
Walt gives Jesse one good, long look which Jesse returns. Jesse seems to have a mixture of fear, rage and maybe the slightest hint of relief to see Walt again. Walt’s face goes quickly from anger to pure sympathy as he realizes that Jesse’s been up to this whole time, and how it’s his fault. We know he’s not going to kill Jesse, whatever his original intent was for finding him again. He tackles Jesse to the ground and the gang laughs at what they think is a pitiful fight, with Todd assigned to break them up. But then Walt locks his car and his homemade fully automatic gun ramps up and fires. And fires. And fires. Those nazis never had a chance, and Heisenberg gets his Scarface moment without ever having to manually fire his gun.
Not all the gang is dead though. Todd is alive and unharmed as I figured he would be. and sees the gun in Walt’s trunk and starts to say, “Hey Mr. White, there’s a spinning automatic rifle in your trunk that must have misfired,” but then Jesse strangles him with his handcuffs. While they’re rolling around on the ground, Walt slowly picks up a handgun and walks to Jack who is somehow still alive. Jack tells him if he kills him he’ll never know where the rest of his money is. But it’s over and Walt doesn’t care about the rest of the money and blows Jack’s brains out. He turns to face Jesse, and Jesse seems to be awaiting his bullet but if Walt didn’t let him die earlier he’s not going to kill him now. He slides the gun over to Jesse who picks up the gun and aims it at Walt. I know people were hoping that Jesse would kill Walt in some sort of poetic justice for all the things Walt has done to him, but I wouldn’t feel right if Jesse pulled the trigger. It’s not who Jesse is. Walt tells Jesse, “You want this.” But Jesse wants Walt to say it. “I want this,” Walt says, and Jesse seems convinced but then sees Walt has been gravely injured in saving his life. And then he finally lets it go and walks away. Yes Jesse, move on! Todd’s phone rings with a creepy Lydia song and Walt picks up the phone and says it’s finished, and Lydia realizes Walt isn’t dead like she wanted. Just the opposite. Oh and by the way, Walt adds, I poisoned you with ricin and you’ll be dead soon. That humidifier won’t help you now, Lydia. Walt and Jesse exchange one last glance and nod as Jesse peels out and drives away to star in Need for Speed forever.
Finally Walt goes to his true love, the meth lab. He holds a gas mask nostalgically and takes one good last look around before he finally collapses from his gun wounds. We pan out similarly to season 4’s Crawlspace. But this time he’s at peace and the police arrive too late. Walter White goes out on his own terms.
And in a bit of meta-dialogue, if anything can sum up the experience of this show it’s this exchange:
Badger: “I don’t know exactly how to feel about this.”
Skinny Pete: “The whole thing felt kind of shady, morality-wise.”