Breaking Bad Review: Season 5, Episode 16 Felina

Posted on 7 October 2013
By Craig Kell
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“I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And, I was really… I was alive.”

These were the immortal words of Water Hartwell White, a man looking to redeem himself once and for all, as the stunning US television series Breaking Bad came to an epic conclusion on Sunday night.

Given that the finale’s title Felina, meant ‘blood, sweat and tears’, a lot of fans knew the series couldn’t end quietly especially after the breathtaking last couple of episodes that had previously kept them hooked. There was a possibility it would all end ambiguous like Lost and The Sopranos but ultimately, creator Vince Gilligan and his excellent team of writers decided to go down the straightforward route by tying up all the loose ends for the characters that we have come to love over the course of five series.

It all kicked off with the usual cold opening, which saw chief antagonist Walt (the superb Bryan Cranston) trying to jumpstart a car only to evade attention from the police. This was the new season’s latest nod to the show’s pilot, back when Mr White was just an innocent chemistry teacher wanting to make some money to provide for his family. He had come a long way since that day!

Initially, it looked as though former business partners Gretchen and Elliot would become victims of Walt’s quest for revenge but instead, he chose to seek their help in being charitable to his son Walt Jr (RJ Mitte) by giving them his remaining money to pass onto Jr once he went to college. Just to make sure the pair understood his instructions, he threatened them with a pair of professional hitmen to keep them in check if they tried to call the police. This produced a welcoming moment of humour (something that had been rare in recent episodes) when it emerged that buffoonish drug-dealers Badger and Skinny Pete had been drafted in by Walt to pose as these ‘contract-killers’. Quite a lot of us were very pleased to see the pair back for one last appearance!

We were then taken back to the two flash-forwards that occurred in previous episodes, firstly with Walt’s appearance in the diner and secondly his return to the decrepit White residence. During the latter scene, Walt wandered across his living room and stood on a particular spot. Once again, the pilot would end up being referenced as he recalled his 50th birthday party when he questioned recently deceased brother-in-law Hank (Dean Norris) about the amount of money meth-dealers made. THAT one moment would change the pair’s lives forever and made for a sad reminder to Walt about the severe consequences of his involvement with the meth business.

Back in the present and armed with both ricin and a machine gun, he then decided to interrupt a business rendezvous between former associates Todd (Jesse Plemons) and Lydia (Laura Fraser) by asking for a meet with Todd’s sinister Uncle Jack with regards to a new product. A deal was reluctantly set up but once he disappeared, Lydia assured Todd that she had no real interest in the proposal. Unbeknownst to her, Walt had done something to her coffee sugar that would affect her physically later on….

Our last moments with the White family saw purple-loving Marie (Betsy Brandt) phone Skyler (Anna Gunn) to inform her of Walt’s mysterious return. When the conversation ended, it turned out that husband and wife were in the same room for the first time in months. The pair’s bleak phone call in the final scenes of ‘Ozymandias’ could have been their last ever exchange but fortunately Gilligan gave them one more proper goodbye. Walt took advantage of these honest moments by admitting the real reason for his change of personality before handing Skyler the co-ordinates of where Hank and Gomez were buried. The great ‘Heisenberg’ had finally shown humanity and with that, he departed. After getting a brief glimpse of his children, he disappeared into the distance with the long shot cleverly depicting the closure of his former life and signalling the unfinished business he still had with Uncle Jack and co.

The breathtaking final 20 minutes of the entire show saw Walt driving up to the gang’s compound clearly intent on a major showdown.

But once he was escorted into the office unarmed, Jack (Michael Bowen) and his crew gave him a warm welcome but it became obvious that they had no intention of working with him again with guns being drawn.

However he picked the right moment to tease Jack about working with Jesse and giving word out on the street that the two were working together. Offended by the remark, Jack ordered his henchmen to bring an unrecognisable Jesse into the room with the intent of proving Walt wrong. But during the wait, Walt quietly picked up his car keys and then decided to launch himself at Jesse in what appeared to be an angry fight between the pair. But as they rolled on the floor, Walt pressed the key button with all hell breaking loose as the machine gun opened fire on the hut from inside the car bonnet.

For the next minute or so, we were left completely spell bound by this explosive turn of events as a majority of the gang members were gunned down quickly. Once the chaos came to an end, Jesse finally got the chance to avenge the deaths of Drew Carey and former lover Andrea by strangling Todd with his handcuffs in a nice homage to No Country for Old Men. Take that bitch!

Walt then resisted a wounded Jack’s desperate plea for bargain by shooting him in cold blood before throwing the gun to Jesse. The former student finally had a chance to kill the man who had destroyed his life but upon noticing blood coming from his opposite number’s shirt, he chose not to.

Instead, the pair walked out of the hut and exchanged one last look of acceptance before going their separate ways with Jesse deciding to drive away like a madman as he manically laughs about finally being a free man.

In stark contrast, Walt decided to save his final words for a very ill Lydia by ringing her up and teasing her about the ricin in her coffee. Again, another satisfying moment for fans who had detested the character throughout.

The concluding moments of the show saw a dying Walt wander into the compound’s warehouse to reveal the meth-making equipment that he and Jesse had worked with so extensively throughout the whole series. Upon placing his hand over a reflective machine, he slowly slumped to the floor.

After an eventful 62 episodes of intense and phenomenal television, the great Heisenberg was finally dead.

During that final scene, Gilligan decided to convey honesty and assurance to his fans through the usage of Badfinger’s ‘Baby especially with the lyrics “Did you really think I’d do you wrong?”. A lot of us were immensely pleased to see the creator take that honest approach rather then to try and leave it all open-ended. While it may have been a tad predictable to see certain characters perish, Gilligan had opted to end the show perfectly and with no more half-measures.

Through the commanding performance of Bryan Cranston throughout all five series, Walter White had embarked on such a remarkable journey but amidst all the deaths, lies and schemes, he had somehow atoned for his sins even if it came at the expensive of his own life. After all he had been through, there was no way he was getting out of the narrative alive, and he (and a large majority of us) knew it.

The huge hype surrounding the Breaking Bad had triggered a universal following from fans in the last few years and it came as no surprise to see that Felina was seen by over 10 million US viewers; triple the amount of people who watched the previous series finales.

It was always bound to be bittersweet for us Breaking Bad fans watching this excellent finale but thankfully Gilligan and his team delivered. It will be hard to break away from the characters we’ve come to love and some of the more iconic moments but we can be grateful that such a series like this one has existed and had us hooked from beginning to end.

The king may be dead but the show who knocks will live on!