‘Breaking Bad’ Finale Recap: Walt Dies In Revenge Plot; Jesse Runs Free; Lydia Poisoned With Ricin
Breaking Bad’s series finale, “Felina,” began with Walt (Bryan Cranston) sitting inside an unlocked car, his breath making clouds within the snow covered vehicle as blue and white police lights unknowingly pass by the wanted fugitive. “Just get me home. I’ll do the rest,” he pleads – to the car, to a higher power, to fate. After the police cars pass, he locates a set of keys tucked into the driver’s side visor. Turning the key in the ignition, the radio begins to play: “Tomorrow, a bullet may find me; tonight, nothing’s worse than this pain in my heart,” and he begins his journey to New Mexico with the New Hampshire license plate that reads “Live Free or Die.”
Once Walt arrives in the desert lands of the southwestern U.S., he puts a phone call into Elliot (Adam Godley) and Gretchen (Jessica Hecht), Schwartz’s publicist posing as a New York Times reporter. From the call, he learns that his one-time partners in Gray Matter are due home that evening from their appearance on the Charlie Rose Show in New York and the address of their current residence. After he hangs up, he removes the watch Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) gave him for his 51st birthday and leaves it atop the payphone.
As Elliot and Gretchen debate about the finer things in life and set about uncorking a premium bottle of wine and lighting their electronic fireplace, Walt lurks just around the corner. Having snuck in undetected, he’s peering at their photos and oddments. With a photo held gingerly in his hand, he’s spotted by Gretchen who screams. Bounding over to his wife, Elliot wields a cheese knife, much to Walt’s amusement. “Elliot, if we’re going to go that way, you’re going to need a bigger knife.”
Instead of killing the Schwartz’s, who not only tricked him out of a third of Gray Matter but publicly dismissed his role in the company, Walt puts in motion a plan to use them to get money to his family. He gives them the roughly $9 million he has left, and orders them to put it in a trust for Flynn (RJ Mitte) that he’s to receive at 18. It is to be presented as their own personal generosity. They shake on it, but Walt, of course needed more assurance. With a flick of his fingers, two sniper dots appear on the chests of the Schwartzs. He threatens them that if they should fail to follow through, it’ll mean their ends.
As it turns out, the two “snipers” were just Badger (Matt Jones) and Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) armed with high-powered laser pointers. Walt gives them a stack of cash each for their services. He then learns from Jesse’s hapless former lackeys, that the infamous blue meth is still on the streets, which prompts Walt to realize that his partner is still cooking – and to believe that Jesse managed to win over Uncle Jack (Michael Bowen) and his crew to partner with him.
Jesse is far from a partner, however, working as an indentured servant cooking meth while chained to the ceiling by Todd (Jesse Plemons). His hair is greasy and straggly and he’s daydreaming about better days – more specifically, about when he built a beautiful wooden box in woodshop in high school.
After a brief recap of the first episode of the season – Walt making a "52" with his bacon at the diner, closing his trunk with the M60 inside it, picking up the ricin in the light socket of his abandoned house and calling out a spine-tingling greeting to his neighbor Carol – he’s at Lydia (Laura Fraser) and Todd’s meeting restaurant. Walt pulls a table up and urges them to let him speak for two minutes. He insists, with an air of desperation, that he could teach them a way to cook meth without the costly methylamine. Todd is clearly opposed, Lydia appears interested but she’s only trying to lure Walt into Uncle Jack’s compound for execution. As she empties her Stevia packet into her chamomile tea with soy milk, the camera watches as it swirls and disintegrates.
Sklyer (Anna Gunn), chain-smoking at a kitchen table in a dingy apartment, gets a call from her newly widowed sister Marie (Betsy Brandt). Marie reports that Walt’s been spotted in town and warns her that her drug lord estranged husband might come knocking. As the camera angle shifts, it’s revealed that Walt is leaning on the kitchen counter. With a tone that implies residual marital affection and concern, Skyler tells Walt, “You look terrible.” Walt replies that he feels good and just wanted to have a real goodbye – not the phone call by Heisenberg used to outwit the police. He then gives Skyler the lottery ticket so that Hank (Dean Norris) and Gomez’s bodies can be recovered at the coordinates.
Holding back tears, Skyler accepts the ticket and listens as Walt tells her she can use the information to get herself out of it. When Walt begins to speak again, she cuts him off, telling him she doesn’t want to hear him say one more time he did all of this for the family. “I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it,” he admits. “And I was really… I was alive.” She then lets him see Holly one last time, before he leaves and catches a glimpse of his son from a distance.
When Walt arrives at the gated compound of the Neo-Nazis, he pulls up outside the clubhouse where he’s patted down. They take his keys and wallet and put them on the pool table as he begins his standoff with Jack. When Jack tells his men to kill him, Walt gets at Jack’s pride, accusing him of partnering with Jesse – a rat he was supposed to kill. The stalling tactic works – as they pull Jesse out of his dungeon, Walt gets his hand on his keys. When Jesse arrives, Walt tackles him to the ground, simultaneously hitting the key clicker, which activates the oscillating machine gun he’d rigged in the truck of his car. Bullets spray the clubhouse, hitting everyone but Jesse and Todd. Jack is wounded, but still alive. Jesse chokes Todd out with the chains he’d locked him in, before getting the keys from his pocket. Meanwhile, Walt lets Jack put a cigarette in his mouth before finishing him off.
Walt drops the gun and kicks it over to Jesse, who’s now standing free of the chains that bound him. He tells Jesse to shoot him, but his former protégé refuses, refuses to let himself do what Walt says again. Jesse tells him to do it himself before getting into a car and peeling out the compound at top speed, laughing and crying simultaneously. Walt, after telling Lydia who thinks she’s suffering from the flu that she’s dying from ricin poisoning, shuffles over to the meth lab with his stomach bleeding from a gunshot wound. He lovingly caresses the chemistry instruments that enlivened him, before he collapses on the ground dead, with the faintest hint of a smile on his face while Badfinger’s “Baby Blue” plays in the background and the police descend upon Heisenberg’s last stand.
– Chelsea Regan
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