Breaking Bad’s finale was what we wanted, not necessarily what made sense
Though I was very satisfied with the ‘Breaking Bad’ series finale, there were two areas in particular I’d have liked tweaked. Then again, the outcome would have been different and probably not as satisfying.
I think it’s safe to say that the majority of fans of Breaking Bad are satisfied with how the series concluded. The final handful of episodes were some of the best must-watch television moments in recent years. Though the final episode itself didn’t necessarily culminate in a breathtaking final few minutes, it gave some very good closure to everyone we’ve cared about (and didn’t care about), and in a way that made sense.
Walt was able to find a way to get the final word with his ex-Gray Matter colleagues, while using them to funnel money to his family. It didn’t 100% work out the way I’d predicted (I said he’d blackmail them), but pretty darned close. But for Walt, the most important thing he came to grips with — and I daresay the best part of the entire final season — was admitting to himself and Skyler that he’d been doing the meth cooking for himself all along; the money he’d made while doing it was just a positive consequence of his actions, and one he had been able to latch onto as a righteous reason for “breaking bad.” Being parted from most of his money — and from his family — allowed him to realize that.
Walt may not have gone down in a hail of police gunfire or have us see him put behind bars, but it’s the ending to Walt I believe we all wanted or needed to see. He didn’t die a lonely death in prison with nothing to show for what he’d done. He didn’t simply go out gangster style while screaming like a crazed Scarface. He learned from this journey and paid for it in the end, though in a way befitting of someone who’d learned from what he’d done.
Jesse’s conclusion, though, is the one I’m having a hard time with. This is where the viewers were given “what they wanted” and not “what made sense.” I’m fine with Walt ultimately saving Jesse the way he did — it showed even more that he’d learned from his past. What bothers me is that I firmly believed Jesse to be unsavable in another sense. This young man had gone through more hell than anyone should ever have. He’s killed people, good and bad. He’s seen people killed, good and bad. He’s a rather hopeless junkie, locked up for months cooking meth for people he’d really like to kill. To me, Jesse was a completely broken man, one beyond saving. Seeing Jesse speed off into freedom at the end, laughing with relief, just seemed to throw all of that pain away. Perhaps we’re not meant to assume Jesse’s now truly “free” and is simply speeding off to kill himself in the night, but I can’t be the only one who doesn’t want that for him.
Some had theorized that Jesse’s end would come in a moment of sacrifice, blowing up the Nazi lab and all the baddies with it. That would have made sense for him, but, in the end, having Walt literally take the fall for Jesse there allowed for Walt — the true subject of this entire story — to complete the loop of his redemption. His death there on the floor would free Jesse from all suspicion of involvement, allowing the authorities to assume Walt was still cooking meth all along.
Someone had said that the finale reminded them of the ending of Reservoir Dogs, with Mr. Pink getting away and Mr. White taking the fall. Hmm … Could it be that creator Vince Gilligan had that in mind all along? PINKman and Walter WHITE? Anyway. …
There are a couple of other pieces I would have liked to have seen resolved. One was the reason behind Walter leaving Gray Matter, of course. The other: what the heck happened to Huell? Is he still waiting in that hotel room?
It’s a bit surreal that this is likely the last time I’ll write about one of my favorite shows on television. It’s one of very few shows I’d consider spending time to watch all over again from start to finish. Maybe ten years from now, when my son’s old enough to watch and understand it, we’ll catch it together.