Spolier alert: the epic conclusion
Published: Sunday, September 29, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 29, 2013 23:09
Carmela Soprano, in another famous drama, once famously stated, in an argument with her mafia boss husband, Tony Soprano, “Everything comes to an end.” It ended up being true for Tony (although some might argue otherwise) and now it is true for Walter White, also known as Heisenberg. After five seasons over the course of nearly six years, “Breaking Bad” has come to a powerful end. So, with naught but a warning that MAJOR SPOILERS (seriously, if you ever intend to watch this show, STOP HERE!) lie ahead, let’s delve into the final episode of this Emmy-winning drama, and say goodbye to Walt and Jesse.
The show began where the very beginning of the series, in a yearlong flash-forward, ended. Walt has returned home from his self-imposed exile in New Hampshire on a vendetta to kill the Neo-Nazi gang and reclaim his money for his children.
Walt, who throughout the episode seems to know that death is approaching, makes haste to cover all bases before the inevitable. First on the list is going to see Elliot and Gretchen, his former friends, to make sure that they will get his money to Walter Jr. when he turns 18. After all, it’s a lot less suspicious than any other method of getting his family the money. Of course, in true Heisenberg fashion, this is done with more than a few death threats. He sneaks back home for one last conversation with Skyler, and in one of the most powerfully charged moments of all time, tells her the truth about his motivations at last, “It was all for me…I was alive.”
Finally, once all else is taken care of, he heads to the neo-Nazi hideout whereupon he manages to kill every last one of them with science (and an M60). Does he get his money back? No, but then again, by the end it had stopped being about the money. After saving, and freeing Jesse, the two part ways at last, Jesse driving off into the night, laughing and crying like a madman finally free to live his life as he wants to, while Walt dies of a gunshot wound, surrounded by the machinery he loved in the meth lab.
So we finally have the answers to the question we’ve been asking since the show started, and it’s that Jesse lives and Walt dies. Some might be upset that it ended that way, but could it really have gone any other path? We know from the very beginning that Walt is going to die. From halfway through the very first episode, it’s a given that his life is coming to an end, and Walt himself says that it would be shocking if he lives past a year. Jesse’s survival, on the other hand, was a little less secured, but I couldn’t really see it going any other way. He’s the series’ redemptive character. Walt, who gave up everything to get where he ended up, might have been the protagonist, but he was certainly no hero. Jesse held onto his morality, and in the end, survived for it.
I could go on and on about the ending, analyzing every last detail, and I’m sure others will be doing that, but for now all I can tell you is that it was perfect. Walt died how he wanted to (and technically at his own hand) as the meth kingpin of the world, and not as an unaccomplished high school chemistry teacher. Never did the police catch him and never did his enemies best him. It was the greatest ending to any TV show ever made, and when the day comes that it loses that title to another show, I will be shocked.
In some ways, it feels like “Breaking Bad” is leaving us too soon, but in others I’m quite glad the writers chose to end it on a high note. Not to use a severely overused quote, but in the television world it’s quite true that you either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself a villain, and “Breaking Bad” is certainly dying as the hero. It’s quite possible, though I would say probable, that the show will go down in history as one of the greatest television epics ever recorded on film. So we shall now bid a fond farewell to “Breaking Bad,” and allow it to end knowing that Vince Gilligan has accomplished what he set out to do: write an incredible story. Heisenberg will be missed.