Warning: This article contains spoilers.
“You either run from things or you face them Mr. White,” said Jesse, capturing the theme of the final episode of “Breaking Bad”.
This last episode felt much like Walt’s last mission, to right all the wrongs he had committed and face up to the consequences of the choices he had made. Going into the last episode, all hell had broken loose as Walt’s worst nightmares came true: his money had been stolen; Hank was dead; and even his family turned their backs on him. Walt had even given up Jesse to Uncle Jack and Todd, knowing that he would be tortured and killed.
Having Walt force his old co-workers Gretchen and Elliot to donate his remaining money to his children when they came-of-age was a clever move by the writers. It was a great way to reintroduce characters who had played major roles in Walt’s history and motivation earlier in the series. While it was disappointing not to get a bit more back story on what really transpired between these characters all those years ago, the scene was still nail-bitingly tense. The brief cameo of Skinny Pete and Badger was also a funny add-in and a great way to show these two characters one last time.
Although the show excelled in its action and violence, it has always been the emotional moments that have really made the show compelling. These are characters we care about, ones we’ve watched develop over the course of five seasons, and our emotional investment in them paid off in the finale. It was heartbreaking to see Walt stroke Holly’s hair for what would be the last time and to watch him only able to look at his son Walt Jr. from afar.
These quiet moments remind us how much Walt had really lost. His conversation with Skylar was also heartrending: he confessed that he had cooked meth for himself because it made him feel alive. We knew this all along, but it was poignant to hear him finally admit it.
The final conflict was exhilarating. The sharp back-and-forth banter between Walter and Uncle Jack was nerve-wracking. Walter brutally shooting Jack without hesitation even when Jack offered him back his money portrayed perfectly Walt’s sense of tiredness and finality.
Having Jesse kill Todd was also satisfying: he finally got revenge for the torture he had been through. Even better was Jesse’s refusal to shoot Walter, which showed how much Jesse was tired of being manipulated by everyone around him, and his desire for redemption for all the wrong things he had done. The nod between the pair was a touching end to their character arcs.
In the end, Breaking Bad was about a man who started out with a noble cause but was destroyed by his own hubris. From the beginning we knew Walter was destined to fail but we couldn’t help but root for him, and to see the show come to such a grand finale was perfect.