Breaking Bad Recap 5×16, “Felina”
Time to say Goodbyesenberg.
Let’s not waste any time and just get into it.
We open on white — we’re in the inside of a car with snow covered windows. That doesn’t last long, however, as Walter brushes off enough of the snow to see that the door is unlocked– White disturbing white, it would seem. He sits in the car and waits as the police descend on the bar. “Just get me home. I’ll do the rest,” he mutters as he looks through the glove compartment for something that he can use to jam into the ignition and start the car. You know, until he pulls the overhead mirror down and the keys just fall in his lap. Jesus, New Hampshire. Just because it’s so cold you can barely move doesn’t mean it’s okay to make your car so easy to steal.
The police give up, and once they’re out of sight, he fires up the engine. Marty Robbin’s “El Paso” is playing in the tapedeck. The song is about a cowboy who falls in love with a Mexican girl, kills another man out of jealousy, and gets gunned down while trying to find his young maiden again. The girl’s name? Felina. I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE, SHOW.
Now we’re back in the Southwest — we see the New Hampshire motto, “Live Free or Die,” in an intense close-up as Walt pulls up to a gas station. He goes to the pay phone at the side of the station and makes a call to “Susan,” saying that he’s “David Lin” from The New York Times and that he wants to arrange for an interview with Gretchen and Elliot Schwartz at their home. He even gets the address from this secretary lady. “Should make for one hell of a story,” he says. AAAH.
(He also sets his watch on the phonebooth and walks away– supposedly it’s a symbolic gesture, as Jesse gave Walt that watch for his 51st birthday and he’s been wearing it ever since, but now it’s time to give it up. Really, it’s because they filmed the 52-bacon sequence early on as a teaser and realized that Walt’s not wearing it in the shot, so they had him take it off for continuity’s sake. Ohhh, Vince. Even your mistakes are poignant.)
Later that night, Gretchen and Elliot are arriving home — and Walt is waiting for them in the shadows. They walk right past him sitting on a bench outside as they talk to each other about whatever the hell it is rich people talk about. Meanwhile, Walt is slowly closing the outside gate to their house, slowly opening their front door, and walking right into their giant-ass mansion. AAAAAAH.
As oblivious as the Schwartzes are in this scene, they do eventually figure out that Walt is there when Gretchen turns around and suddenly sees him eyeing the family photos on their mantle. “Hello Gretchen. Elliot. I really like your new house. Are we looking east? You must have one great view.” This is officially the most out-and-out villainous we’ve ever seen Walt. He’s here to give them something, he says — but it’s in his car. As the audience, we know that all he’s really got is the money. The Schwartzes do not know this, however, so they’re clearly fearing the worst. Elliot even brandishes the tiniest of cheese knives at Walt as a defense, but Walt is completely unfazed. “If we’re going to go that way, you’ll need a bigger knife,” he says. Yeah, the one Skyler had two weeks back was at least three times that size.
After the longest commercial break of our lives, we’re back at the Schwartzes’ home — as per his instructions, they’ve taken all Walt’s money out of the car. 9 million and 720 thousand dollars of Walt’s money, to be exact, which he totally earned and made and it’s his. Did we mention it’s his money? He hasn’t said that enough times during this scene.We get it, Walt. You got made fun of on Charlie Rose and you’ve got something to prove.
Once we’ve established exactly whose money this is (quick reminder: it’s Walt’s), he tells them what he wants them to do with it — they are to give it to Flynn the exact second he turns 18 so that he can use it however he deems fit. Neither Skyler or Flynn will accept Walt’s money from him directly, he explains, and the Feds would probably scoop it up anyway once they got wind of it, but “two rich benefactors known for their charitable endeavors” could get away with giving money to the children of a monster they once knew well. But he’s insistent that they not spend a dime of their own money on anything like lawyer fees, because it’s HIS money. Seriously, he stops just short of saying, “MINE MINE MINE.”
The Schwartzes agree, reluctantly, and shake Walt’s hand — which he then waves at the window, and two red sniper dots appear on his old college buddies. Wait, WHAT.
He says to them that he hired two hitmen to watch them even after he’s died, so that if they don’t get the money to Flynn and instead choose to keep it, they will get shot to death when they’re least expecting it. What are you, Walt, Moriarty? Nobody actually hires time-delay hitmen for real. “Cheer up, beautiful people,” he says as he leaves.”This is where you get to make it right.”
Outside, Walt is flashing his taillights in the darkness. Two men jump out of the bushes and YES IT’S BADGER AND SKINNY PETE. They’ve both got laser pointers. Oh my gosh, you giant dorks, I knew that hitman thing was too contrived to be real. Badger and Skinny Pete feel weird about what just happened — “the whole thing felt kinda shady, morality wise?” Pete says. Then Walt throws a bunch of money at them, and they forget what they were just walking about.
Next Walt wants to know whether or not they’ve seen any blue meth still around on the streets. Confused, they tell him that of course they’ve seen it — it wasn’t from him? No, Walt says, which means that Jesse must still be alive. Badger and Skinny Pete don’t understand that this is actually a bad thing for Jesse and start talking about how amazing his product is “better than ever.” Except, wait, no it isn’t. They’re sorry, Walt. Please don’t hurt them.
Speaking of Jesse, he’s totally fine, you guys! He’s in a gorgeous wood shop bathed in golden light and ethereal music, as he lovingly sands and caresses the box he’s making. You guys remember how he likes to make boxes, right? From season 3? Anyway, he’s making wooden boxes and everything is okay!
Except no he isn’t. We snap back to reality as Jesse runs out of slack on his meth lab leash. Yup, he’s still making meth. He’s also got unfortunately floppy Singled-Out era Chris Hardwick hair. There are still scars all over his face. Everything sucks.
Once again we walk through the motions of Walt arranging the bacon, getting the guns, finding the ricin. It’s happening, you guys. It’s happening.
Lydia walks into her favorite diner with a bunch of suitcases. She’s also wearing her louboutins, because I guess some sneaky murder is about to happen (hey, which it totally is!). After requesting tea from the waitress and veeeery slooowly holding a packet of deus ex stevia over her cup, Todd sits down — actually across from her this time. He’s about to tell her something awkward about how he likes her shirt when Walt, who’s once again been wandering around in the background of the scene, grabs a chair and sits right down next to them. She knew they were going to be here because 10am on Tuesday is apparently the time that Lydia always has her secret meth deal meetings.”You’re rather schedule oriented,” he notes.
Anyway, Walt knows they’re about to run out of methylene and has a new way to cook without it that’ll be cheaper for them — or so he tells them. He also lays it on thick that he has no more money left and is desperate to meet with Uncle Jack and the Nazi gang again later that night. They reluctantly agree, but Lydia for sure doesn’t seem interested. What she’s really interested in her tea, and this stevia. You know, the very fine white powder that she’s currently pouring into her tea in an extremely uncomfortable close-up. Gee, you think maybe there’s something up with her stevia, you guys?
Back to the iconic New Mexico landscape. Walt is in the desert playing around with something mechanical. It’s pretty obvious that he’s looking to automate his M60 so that it goes off when he hits the button on his car keys. While he’s working, his wedding rings hangs in front of him on the string — he looks at it for a second, then returns it to the inside of his shirt
so that the Ringwraiths don’t get it.
At an unfamiliar house, the phone is ringing. The answering machine takes it — it’s Marie calling for Skyler and says it’s about Walt. We see Skyler from the back as she picks up the phone. Walt’s back in town, Marie says. They found the car he stole in New Hampshire, and his neighbor Carol also ratted him out to the police. Why Marie knows this and Skyler doesn’t, it’s bot clear. Presumably Marie’s overcompensating as a former law enforcement-wife and gets access to a lot more details from the detectives directly. Speaking of which, she’s wearing white for the first time all season.
She tells Skyler that they think Walt would only be in town to see Marie, Skyler, or Flynn, and he hasn’t shown up at any of those places yet. This sounds real stupid to us in the audience because clearly he’s here to scalp some Nazis, but then the camera pans in as Skyler hangs up and OH MAN WALT HAS BEEN THERE THE WHOLE TIME.
He needs a proper goodbye because tonight, something is going to happen to him. Skyler mentions that Todd threatened them, but Walt is pretty convinced that they won’t be a problem anymore. He also hands Skyler the lottery ticket, on which is printed the coordinates to Hank’s body — who, by the way, he super did not kill, as he explains to Skyler.He also admits that he did this–
“If I have to hear one more time that you did this for the family–” Skyler interrupts.
“I did it for me,” Walt finished. “I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really… I was alive.” As much as I hate Walt at this point, it seems like he means it, and it’s real satisfying to hear him actually say it out loud. This was never about his family, not really — and now, everybody knows it.
Skyler knows it, too, now. She lets Walt see Holly sleeping in her crib one last time, and then he leaves out the back and watches Flynn through the windows of the neighbor’s home.
Okay, this is it, guys. One more commercial break, and it’s on.
There’s a close up on the locked gang compound gate as Walt’s car slowly pulls up. Speaking of which, I’m gonna really miss these “intense focus on inconsequential object as something walks up to in in the background” shots that Breaking Bad loves so much, guys. The gang really likes his car, and they jump in so they can drive with him up to the house. There’s a big deal made of the fact that Walt is completely ignoring where they tell him to park, but they don’t really care. After patting him down and checking him for a wire, they take his keys and wallet, which they say they’ll give back to him. Good, too: we all know what’s going to happen now, so at least there’s some tension.
Once inside, Jack tells Walt that he likes his hair. It’s very awkward and weird — incredibly reminiscent of Walt’s very first run as Heisenberg back in season one, where he had just the one ace up his sleeve . He starts in on the bogus methylene proposal, but as it turns out, nobody in the gang gives a shit, and Walt is starting to panic. When he turns to Todd for back-up, the creep says sadly, “You really shouldn’t have come back, Mr White.”
Somebody puts a gun to Walt’s head, and they prepare to take him out back and shoot him. Walt does not like this idea. “You still owe me,” he says. They said they would kill Jesse, after all, and now they’ve basically made him their meth cooking partner.
Weirdly, this sets Jack off way too much. “Him being alive is not him and me being partners,” he says, and he has Todd go and fetch Jesse so they can see how much not-a-partner he is in his chains and floppy hair (which now looks more like Vincent Kartheiser’s for some reason). Meanwhile, Walt takes this opportunity to slowly grab his key-trigger from the pool table behind him.
Finally, Walt and Jesse are face to face again. He’s not crying, but he’s pretty close to it, and he can’t meet Walt’s eyes.
It’s pretty gut-wrenching, and Walt’s clearly over the whole mad-at-Jesse thing, because he lunges at Jesse — and then hits the trigger on his keys.
SHOTS FIRING EVERYWHERE BULLETS AAH
Once the dust is settled, everyone’s dead. Well, almost everyone — Todd’s still alive because of course he is. He peers out the window to see what the heck just killed all of them and then JESSE STRANGLES HIM WITH HIS OWN CHAINS OH MAN.
Now, you can for sure point to this as a parallel to the first season again, where Walt strangles Krazy-8 with a bike lock. But if you’re like me, your very first thought was “this is just like that one scene in Return of the Jedi.” It’s perfect. I mean, Jesse is for sure the prettiest person on the show, and he is technically a slave. All he needs is the bikini. Please somebody draw me fan art of Jesse Pinkman in the Leia bikini, please. It’s all I want out of life.
Anyway, now Jabba the Todd is dead. Jack is still bleeding out on the couch, and Walt picks up a gun to finish the job. Jack thinks that Walt wants to know where his money is, but he can’t even finish the sentence before Walt shoots him in the head and his brains are splattered all over the camera lens. Fitting that this is the first headshot in three or four episodes where the camera didn’t pull away to a wide shot. Instead we all got vicariously covered in Nazi blood.
And now it’s just Walt and Jesse again. He slides the gun over to his former partner, who picks it up and points it at him. “Do it. You want this.” Walt says. “I want this.”
Jesse’s clearly broken up, but then he notices that Walt’s already been wounded — there’s a dark red spot on his iconic green shirt. So he drops the gun. “Then you do it yourself,” he replies. Yes! Stop letting Walt tell you what to do and get the heck out of there! Get a haircut and carve a box and be the best person ever!
There’s still one quick loose end to tie up, and we remember this when Todd’s cellphone goes off. It’s Lydia. We know this because Todd’s ringtone for her is “Lydia the Tattooed Lady.” Holy god, this show.
On the other end of the phone, Lydia wants to know if “it’s done” — meaning Walt’s death, of course. Walt tells her that actually, everyone else dead. Including her, because hey remember that stevia that we spent so much time talking about? That was ricin, and Lyida’s been poisoned, and now she will die. He tells her this, and then he hangs up. Really, it’s her own damn fault for putting sugar in chamomile tea, for chrissakes. And soy milk! Is that a thing people do? Just drink the tea, stop trying to put stuff in it! I just have a lot of tea feelings, you guys.
Her red pillow is a nice touch. Sneaky murder, anyone?
Meanwhile in the land of people-who-for-sure-don’t-care-about-tea, Jesse grabs the nearest car and drives the hell out of there, laugh-scream-crying the whole way. Bless his broken little heart. I love him so much that I’m not going to make the extremely obvious “He’s driving straight into the Need For Speed trailer!” joke. Jesse deserves better, you guys.
Which just leaves Walt. He decides that what he really wants to do, now that he’s mortally wounded and defeated all his enemies, is die. As his last action, he wanders into the meth lab and lovingly admires the equipment. Weirdly it reminds me of the end of David Tennant’s turn as the Doctor, where he’s alone with the TARDIS and having all these feelings. And really, it’s not an unusual parallel when you think about it — it’s the cooking that Walt really loved, more than anything else in his life. Sure, the TARDIS is full of space and time and wonder and magic and meth is… none of those things. But in the end, the meth is what started Walt on this path, and it’s all that’s left for him now, in his final moments.
The swat team finds his body lying on the floor of the meth lab. They walk right past it, as a matter of fact.
The rest is silence.
Err, well, Badfinger. The rest is Badfinger.
To be honest, I wasn’t swept up with as much emotion as I was anticipating. But make no mistake, this was a very narratively satisfying series finale. Sure, it wrapped up quite neatly, but it was neat in that way that Shakespearean or Greek tragedies are neat — the hero accomplishes his goals and sets the universe right again, but in doing so he falls victim to his own flaws and die. Rather than trying to predict something unpredictable, we were instead waiting for the inevitable, and that felt fitting for such a tightly woven series.
I’m going to leave you with one more thing that will make you want to punch show runner Vince Gilligan because you’re so amazed by him, and that one thing comes to us by way of this Tumblr post I saw just now:
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