And so, it all came to an end. Breaking Bad Season 5, Episode 16: "Felina" brought Walter White's journey to a close, and it was pretty spectacular. It wasn't as flashy as the last few episodes, but it gave us definitive closure, while still leaving room for interpretation, which is all we could have asked for.
Did the key characters have appropriate final fates? After a short recap of the episode, I'll reflect on how the story ended for each main character, and whether or not it felt right. Sound good? Then read on for Wetpaint Entertainment's recap of Breaking Bad Season 5, Episode 16: "Felina."
We open on Walt, coughing, cold, bundled up, getting into a frozen car. Even getting the car to start is a challenge. As the blinking lights of a cop car flash by, he quietly mutters something akin to a prayer: "Just get me home. Just get me home, I'll do the rest." He finds the keys, and off he goes, triumphant.
In case you're wondering, yes, he brought his money with him. In his trunk. Because he's Walter White, bitch. From a payphone at a desolate gas station, he pulls off a clever trick, pretending to be a reporter to gather info on the Schwartzes. As Elliot and Gretchen return home, they are followed inside by Walter, who observes their huge, beautiful home as they chatter, oblivious to the threat.
Finally, Gretchen spots Walter and screams. He nonchalantly compliments their house as they tremble in fear. "I'm here to give you something," he explains, asking them to take a walk. Elliot futilely threatens him with a knife, but his reputation as a crazy meth killer is enough to scare him into dropping it. It must make Walter feel good to have his reputation mean something, still.
What does he want to give his former partners? If you think the answer is murder, you're wrong. He gives them his piles of money, actually. 9 million dollars. He declares that he earned it, and he wants Elliot and Gretchen to give it to Walter Jr. at Walter Jr.'s eighteenth birthday. It's a smart plan: If they give the money, people might actually believe that it's just an extension of their charitable impulses, and not Walt's drug money. He makes it clear he only wants them to spend his money. He doesn't want charity from them, of course. He still has his pride.
Of course, he doesn't actually trust them to follow through. Before he leaves he shows them, quite dramatically, that he has an insurance policy: If they don't do what he wants, there are hitmen following them who will murder them. So, they should probably do what he says. Except, in an awesome touch, it turns out that there are no hitmen: It was just Badger and Skinny Pete with laser pointers. Amazing. I missed you guys. They also let Walt know there is still some primo blue meth on the streets, and Walter realizes Jesse is still out there, cooking.
Speaking of, we catch up on Jesse, who is daydreaming of making a wooden box; a reminder of one of his most famous speeches from his rehab days. In reality, he is still a meth making slave. That is messed up.
We have a quick catch up on all the scenes that had been flashforwards in past episodes: At the diner, with his guns, getting the ricin. He flashes back to Hank being alive.
Lydia and Todd are having another one of their lunch meetings when Walter pays them a surprise visit. He points out that they're running out of methylamine, and claims to have a new method that doesn't require methylamine. Yeah, right. I don't know much about science, but that doesn't sound very plausible. He claims he just wants money, and Lydia pretends to be interested. Of course, all she really wants is to kill him. But as she pours some of her favorite sweetener (Stevia, duh) into her tea, it's obvious that Walter is one step ahead. That's what the ricin was for. Cool. That explains why there was so much focus on her damn tea all the time.
Walt's meticulous murder spree continues out in the desert, where he sings to himself while setting up a helicopter/gun combo that harkens back to his mad inventor ways of yesteryear. What's that for? We'll find out soon.
Meanwhile, we check in with Skyler, who is sitting apparently alone in a depressing house. Marie, who appears to be in some sort of guarded house, calls her to explain that Walt is in town. The feds are all over it, and Marie promises they are going to get him, and Skyler is safe. She doesn't seem convinced, probably because Walter is already in her home. She gives him "five minutes" as she puffs on her cigarette.
"It's over," he tells her. "And I needed a proper goodbye." Does that mean he's going to the police? "They'll be coming for me," he cryptically replies. She's terrified Todd and co. will come back, but Walt promises they won't be a problem. He hands her a lottery ticket with the GPS coordinates of Hank and Gomez's graves and tells her to trade it for a deal with the prosecutor. His final words to her? "I did it for me." He admits that he liked the meth biz, he was good at it, it made him feel alive. About time. Skyler tearfully accepts the ticket, and even allows him to say goodbye to Holly.
It turns out Marie is right: The feds are watching over the Whites closely, as we see when Walter Jr. gets off his school bus. You know who else is watching him? Walter. But he doesn't approach his son, instead, he just sadly turns away.
OK. Now it's neo-nazi time. He pulls up to their hideaway, and they let him in, because Lydia's plot to kill him is clearly still in action. They pat him down for what feels like ever. Seriously, the tension in this episode is killing me. They take his keys. He's finally let in to see Jack, who ain't interested in Walter's newfangled method. Walt appeals to Todd, who is like, nah man, shoulda stayed gone.
Walter declares Jack owes him for not killing Jesse, implying Jack partnered with Jesse now. Jack takes offense to the implication that he's a liar, so has Todd fetch Jesse, so he can prove that he's really very, very evil. This is good for Walt, because it gives him time to get to his car keys, which are clearly linked to some sort of automatic weapon situation.
Jesse, chained, bearded, broken, is brought in. He still has enough spirit to stare defiantly at Walter... and then leap foward to attempt to attack him. With Jesse and himself on the ground, Walt unleashes his final fury: An automatic shotgun in his trunk. It's effective, except for one thing: Todd survives, and Walter is hit.
Jesse jumps up and strangles Todd to death with his handcuffs. Nice. Jack is hit but not dead. He lights a cigarette, tries to tempt Walter with money, but nope. Walter shoots him in the head.
That leaves two people standing: Walter and Jesse. Walter slides his gun over to his former partner and Jesse snatches it up, raising it. "Do it," Walter says. "You want this." Jesse tells him to say he wants it. Walter does. Jesse drops the gun. "Then do it yourself." He walks away.
As Walter stands there in the empty room, Todd's phone starts to ring. It's Lydia, who wants to know if "it's done." Walter tells her yeah, it is. They're all gone, and she's dying of ricin poison. "Well, goodbye Lydia." Oh snap.
He walks outside during this conversation, for one last exchange of glances with Jesse. Then Jesse gets in a car and drives away, sobbing and screaming in hysterical, desperate joy. Amazing. Thank you, Vince Gilligan.
Reminder, in case you've forgotten: Yes, Walter was hit. But he's not dead yet: He still has time to say goodbye to the meth cooking apparatus before collapsing on the floor as the cops surround his prone body.
And thus ends the great Walter White. Damn.
Where Our Characters Ended
Walter White: "I Did It For Me"
Final fate: Well, Walter died, as I knew he had to. What I loved about his ending is that it leaves the final interpretation of his moral state up to the viewer. He accomplished everything he wanted to. He gave his family money. He took down the bad guys. He even made some sort of peace with Skyler and Jesse. He died surrounded by meth, seemingly at peace.
But he also admitted what we've known all along: He wasn't doing this for his family, he was doing it for him. Yes, in many ways he cleaned up the mess, but it was his mess, and was anyone ultimately better off? No, not really. His family has been emotionally decimated. Jesse was a freaking slave. Walter's soul was destroyed.
So, what's the final take on Walter? It's up to you to decide. And that's perfect.
Jesse Pinkman: "Then Do It Yourself"
Final fate: Jesse lives! That is so, so wonderful. But it's more than that. I love that Jesse had the chance to kill Walter — which is how many people thought the show would end — but he walked away. Jesse has always been averse to killing; murdering Gale almost destroyed him. Killing Walter — I don't think he would survive it. (Todd is different; he's a clear psychopath who had literally enslaved Jesse; even the sweetest person would probably strangled him to death.)
This was one more ending Breaking Bad offered, and then turned away from, and that was the right choice. I'm perfectly happy with Jesse's final scene.
Skyler White: "Five Minutes"
Final fate: Skyler lives, and will actually have a chance to put her life together. This is the ending I'm least sold on. Prior to the beginning of this season, this is what I wanted for Skyler, but after she aligned herself so closely with Walter in the first few episodes of the summer, I'm not sure how I feel about her getting away with it all. Of course, she lost her home and her family is in tatters, so maybe it works out. Thoughts?
Walter White, Jr.
Final fate: He lives. And will have 9 million dollars. It's nice that the purest person on the show got a reward. I wonder how he'll react? Interesting to think about.
Other Thoughts and Notable Scenes
- The music in the cold open was on point, as always. So was the closing song.
- A nice moment: Walter taking off the watch Jesse had given him at the gas station
- "Hello Gretchen, Elliott. I really like your new house." "Elliot, if we go that way, you'll need a bigger knife." "Cheer up, beautiful people, this is where you get to make it right." This scene was great. Badass Walter was back, and there was a lot of nice humor.
- "The whole thing felt kind of shady, morality wise." I love you forever, Badger and Skinny Pete.
- The color scheme of this episode was perfect. The dullness in Skyler's house — so spot on.
- There were an amazing number of parallels to past episodes. My favorites included Jesse and Walt's face off, which harkened back to their face off at the end of Season 4; Jesse strangling Todd, which reminded me of the first murder on the show: Walter strangling Krazy 8; and Jesse driving away while shouting, which was shot to remind us of his go-karting days.
- A surprising number of characters made it out of this show alive, all things considered.
What did you think of this episode? Sound off in the comments below!