Tag Archives: Aaron Paul

5 Incredible Moments From The Breaking Bad Finale

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How did Vince Gilligan and his team of geniuses do it? How is it that the Breaking Bad finale was so dramatic and so muted at the same time? Dramatic because, well shit, look what happened. Muted because, now that we think about it, we expected it all along. It’s over. It couldn’t be more definitive.

So I won’t go into it. I don’t need to. Suffice to say:

Here’s 5 of my personal best moments from the Breaking Bad finale.

5. Schwartz’s House

How ominous was Walt in the first moments in Gretchen and Elliott’s house?! Meandering calmly around while they unsuspectingly chit-chatted in the kitchen. When he closed the door, I presumed that Gretchen and Elliott would certainly never see Charlie Rose again. It’s a testament to how far Breaking Bad has taken Walter that he doesn’t ever have to say or do anything anymore to instil fear. Just his presence and his silence is enough to make us, and whoever he happens to be looming over, quiver in our boots.

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Dare I say that the best part of this scene was not the surprise of Walt’s reason for being there, but Badger and Skinny Pete putting in a final appearance as his “assassins”. It was a) a welcome sprinkling of comedy, b) nice to say goodbye to them too, and c) a good way for Walt to make sure his family gets the money whilst not letting the Schwartz’s off the hook for belittling his role in Grey Matter Technologies.

4. “Five minutes”

Wait… What? Five minutes? Who is she talking to? OH CHRIST, WALT’S ALREADY THERE!

I was glad to see Walt return to see Skyler. Like him, I was troubled by his last phone call with her. I didn’t want them to end like that. Skyler, now a chain-smoker, seemed very hardened. Or perhaps just accepting, defeated, out of fight. She wasn’t afraid of Walt. She knew he wasn’t staying. After breaking down upon the realisation that he was giving her closure on Hank, she let him say goodbye to Holly. And suddenly she looked soft again, like she was looking at her husband, Walter White and not at Heisenberg, the callous drug lord saying goodbye one final time. The look on her face spoke ten gazillion words. Among them, “I hate you”, “I love you”, “I’m sorry”, “I understand”, and “goodbye”.

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3. Did he just poison her?

Walt’s deceit of Lydia and Todd in the quaint little café was obvious. At least it was obvious to everyone but Todd and Lydia who hilariously assumed they’d outwitted him. We, on the other hand, assumed that was just manipulating his way into the Nazi stronghold to unleash hell. And, while we weren’t wrong, the moment Lydia poured her beloved Stevia into the tea and we realised that she’d just become one of Heisenberg’s final victims, was all kinds of brilliant.

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2. The Big Finale

We saw Walt assembling his contraption in the desert a few scenes previously. He hummed peacefully to himself as the M60 instruction manual flapped in the wind and he used the car key to activate the oscillating thingy. We had a fair idea of who the effort was being made for. We just didn’t fully understand his method.

I can just barely comprehend the feeling of triumph that swelled over me when Walt hit the button and the rounds started tearing through the nazi club house. It was spectacular and felt like it went on forever. It continued long after everyone was down. Walt was clearly taking no chances. It would have been foolish, even for Heisenberg, to think that he could have taken on Jack and his merry band of white supremacists without the aid of a remote activated, oscillating M60 machine gun.

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Most beautiful? He saved Jesse.

According to Vince Gilligan in an ‘Inside the Episode’ clip, “right up to the cusp of that moment, he was going to kill Jesse.” Walt was genuinely pretty irked when he realised that Jesse was still alive and making the blue meth. He went to the Nazi compound intending to kill everybody. Then they brought Jesse in, shackled, small and broken, too dead to even react to Walt’s presence. And we saw Walt see Jesse; his partner, his student, his friend, the one who bought him that watch that he left on the payphone outside the diner, now a shadow of himself, someone’s property. There was no redemption in killing Jesse. Even though part of me thought that, like a sick dog, it would have been kinder to just put him out of his misery, it was emotionally unburdening to see Walt do good and set him free.

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1. Walt’s Death

It was always going to happen really, wasn’t it?

After R.J Mitte (Walt Jr./Flynn) said in an interview that the ending was “inevitable”, I thought that maybe the cancer would get Walt after all. Even going into ‘Felina’, as he coughed in the car, I wondered if he would just collapse at any moment.

But Walter White stayed with us to the very end. It would have been uncouth for him to die of cancer. He’s Heisenberg and he calls the shots. And so it was with his death. Struck in the gut by a bullet of his own orchestration whilst saving his partner, they exchanged that look that there are actually no words to describe but we all still implicitly understood, Jesse took his freedom and Walter went to die, on his own terms, in the one place where he had always been at peace; in the lab.

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And he really did look at peace didn’t he? Looking at the meth equipment as the police rushed to the scene, he looked serene and nostalgic. He seemed proud. He seemed contentedly resigned to this ending. His time had come and his ducks were in a row. His family would get the money. His meth empire was no more at the hands of Lydia and the Nazis. And Jesse Pinkman had taken his own life back (“Then do it yourself.”). There were no more ends to tie. There was no other way to say goodbye to Walter. He was ready to die and we were ready to watch.

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It was so gruesome and so beautiful. It was so sad but such a relief. It left us feeling empty and liberated at the same time. And it was, as Vince Gilligan had promised us all along, conclusive.

Somehow ‘Felina’ managed to be both everything and nothing I expected it to be. As sad as it is to say goodbye to the best thing to happen to television thus far in my lifetime, the ending was horrendously satisfying. I feel released. It’s over and I have no more questions.

Except whether or not Saul is managing that Cinnabon in Omaha.

A couple of other good moments:

Jesse’s wood-working dream

It was in Season 3 when Jesse told the story at his NA meeting about how he made the wooden box in high school.
“I built it out of Peruvian walnut with inlaid zebrawood . It was fitted with pegas, no screws. I sanded it for days, until it was as smooth as glass. Then I rubbed all the wood with tung oil so it was rich and dark. It even smelled good. It was perfect.”

The group leader had told him that it wasn’t too late, that he could take adult woodworking classes at the university. Jesse then admitted that he hadn’t given the box to his mom like he told them but had traded it for an ounce of weed. That scene showed us what Jesse could have been, or might have been, if he could have, or would have made better choices. And this scene in ‘Felina’ did the same. It reminded us that Jesse could have been a different person. He cared once. He had passion for something. Alas, we were jolted from the hazy woodworking fantasy back to the reality of Jesse’s lessons unlearned, to his prison meth lab, where his decisions had put him.

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I just thought it was a poignant scene; pretty and affecting.
Marie still caring about Skyler

Poor Marie.

Remember in season one when she was just Skyler’s crazy, kleptomaniac, compulsive liar sister? Yeah, just barely, right?

Marie has been there for Skyler through everything. She was there for Walt’s cancer. She stood by her through the gambling lie. She was even somewhat sympathetic for her sister when the truth came out, offering her a bone at the carwash when she thought Hank was booking Walt.

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And now we saw her again, reaching out to Skyler, warning her that Walt was back in town and pleading with her to “be on the lookout, okay?”. As far as Marie was concerned, Walt killed Hank. Skyler knew what Walt was and what he was capable of. Marie could have been forgiven for never speaking to her sister again. She could have been forgiven for wanting her sister to burn for her part in all the devastation. But she didn’t. She was the one doing all the forgiving. She still cared. She was still kind and soft, looking out for her family.

Poor Marie.

 

Sorry Skyler…

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About two years ago, all excited and enthusiastic about the discovery of this amazing TV show, I wanted to write a piece about Skyler White from Breaking Bad. Played by Anna Gunn (Emmy Award-winning Anna Gunn, that is), Skyler has always been a source of fascination for me. In those first couple of seasons, back when we were still naïve, before we knew what lay ahead, before everything went so mind-bendingly wrong, Skyler was just Walt’s irritating, meddlesome wife. She was the character we all loved to hate. We were, after all, very much team Walt. We found ourselves gullibly corrupted by his intent. We rooted for him. His reasons were good, after all. He was just a poor cancer-stricken chemistry teacher, awaiting his impending death and desperate to leave something behind for his family. And so we got behind him, okayed ourselves with his actions. He had to kill Krazy 8 that time. It was eat or be eaten, right?

Meanwhile, Skyler was there, consistently sticking her oar in and generally irritating the crap out of everyone. She was so full of questions, comments and accusations. “What’s going on?”, “Where have you been?”, “Who’s this Jesse Pinkman?”. She was so confrontational and we didn’t have the patience for it. We were trying to run a successful meth business. All for her benefit. And she wouldn’t ever just leave her long-suffering and loving husband alone.

How blind we were. They say hindsight is 20/20 and now, in the aftermath of Breaking Bad’s penultimate episode, hindsight is drenched with remorse. While Walt hides away in his New Hampshire shack, receiving his back-alley chemotherapy from “Max Cherry, Cherry Bail Bonds“, Skyler is left to face the music for his sins. How can we loathe her now? Look what Walt has done to her. How cowardly of him to run away. How selfish. How demonstrative of the monster he has become.

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We feel foolish now for not predicting all this. It was never going to work out. We were never going to get a fairytale ending with Breaking Bad. We should have known that Krazy 8’s death was the start of the mudslide that would swoop us up and carry us from blithe support of our beloved Heisenberg to utter horror at this callous and frightening drug lord.

Skyler was always the moral centre of Breaking Bad. In seasons one and two, when we hated her the most, it’s now blindingly obvious that she might as well have been wearing a halo. She was a middle-aged, pregnant woman whose husband was stricken with lung cancer and secretly cooking methamphetamine. She was just as worried for her family as Walt. He shut her out, he grew distant, he wasn’t even there when Holly was born. And still, for five seasons, we’ve watched her stand by her husband in the most graceful manner. We’ve watched her consistently, in her own famous words, “protect this family from the man who protects this family.” We’ve watched her instill logic into some of the show’s most ominous situations. And most of all, we’ve seen her desperately ache to be free from it all. “I can’t remember the last time I was happy,” she told Walt in ‘Buried’. And she meant it. Skyler never asked for any of this. She was never okay with it. She was just too loyal to walk away.

I never wrote anything about Skyler two years ago. Anything I would have composed would have been nothing more than a scathing release of annoyance on my part anyway. I would have regretted it. I didn’t know what was to come.

The promo just released for ‘Felina’ opens with a flash-back to Walt in his classroom, telling his students that “chemistry is the study of transformation.” That man seems now to be just a vague memory. Walter’s transformation from lame teacher to terrifying criminal is almost unfathomable. It’s difficult, even, to try and pinpoint where we lost him. When did we start to lose faith in his “reasons”? We were behind him after Jane’s death. We were behind him still after Gale Boetticher’s death. We were behind him after he bombed the nursing home. We even found some crazy logic in his poisoning of Brock with the Lily of the Valley.

It has only been recently that we have truly started to see the light about Walt’s character. We didn’t like it when he killed Mike. We didn’t like it when he told Hank to “tread lightly”. Or when he made the incriminating tape for Hank and Marie.

The final nails in the coffin of Walt’s supposed decent character have hit hard and heavy in the last number of episodes, most notably his giving the go-ahead for Jack to murder Jesse. It was then we realized irrevocably that our old friend Walter, who just wanted ensure his family’s security after his death, had actually died long ago and in his place now stood a cold, calculating and merciless criminal, who could so calmly and ruthlessly surrender his “family”, his partner and the only true friend he ever had to his certain death. Despite his attempt to beg Jack for Hank’s life at the desert stand-off, we were finished rooting for Walt. He had taken us for a ride and now, like Jesse and Skyler and everybody else that’s ever stood in his path, we had run out of empathy for his cause.

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Sunday night’s penultimate episode, ‘Granite Slate’, was almost an hour long and, following the stress of last week’s episode, felt somewhat anticlimactic. That’s with the exception of the harrowing scenes involving poor Jesse. Not that that a lull in the action is a bad thing. We needed this break from the distress and the stomach-churning moments to compose ourselves and prepare for the carnage that is sure to come in next week’s finale.

The theories on how it’s all going to go down on Sunday night are abundant, wide-ranging and all purely speculative. No one really knows what’s going to happen. It all seems to come back to the opening scene of ‘Blood Money’ when, in a flash-forward, we saw Walt arriving at his house in Albuquerque, now dilapidated, fenced-off and vandalised. He opened the trunk of his car, revealing a very serious looking gun. He then broke into the house, went into the bedroom and retrieved a vial of ricin from behind a socket. And so, we deduce two things: 1) that he abandoned his ‘Dr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium’ DVDs and, 2) Heisenberg’s got a plan.

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So who is the ricin for? Who will face the barrel of that gun? The very fact that Walt has returned to Albuquerque at all implies that he is ready to end things. Ed, Saul’s extractor guy, told him in no uncertain terms, “if you leave this place, you WILL get caught.” Walt is the subject of a police manhunt. There is no slipping in and out. If he’s back, he’s back with intentions. Beyond that, we can only theorize.

I’d love to see Walt save Jesse. Who wouldn’t? Walt said himself that he considers Jesse “family” (said while he was arranging Jack’s hit on him) and we’ve always rooted for their relationship. Alas, I’m not optimistic for that outcome. In fact, I’m not optimistic for Jesse at all anymore. Regardless of the fact that I don’t believe he will ever forgive Walt, I don’t believe that he will ever recover himself. Jesse is a broken man, a shadow of the comical kid with the “Yo! Yo! Yo!” answering machine. He has always struggled with the morality of his crimes and now, with the revelation of Walt’s presence when Jane died and the cold-blooded shooting of Andrea by Todd, it’s not illogical to assume that the Jesse we once knew is gone forever.

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My personal hypothesis is still in progress. I can’t make a call on Jesse’s fate. But I’ve decided that, while we know that Walt must have his last stand, so too must Skyler. She has been supportive, rational, careful, soft and strong. She has kept Walt afloat in many ways with her sound mind and intelligence. But that makes her his accomplice, and, despite Walt’s spineless and cruel phone call where he attempted to exonerate her in the eyes of the police, Skyler’s going to have to face consequences. I’m thinking something along the lines of her and Walt coming together and deciding that, ultimately, the best thing for their family now, is to be without them, ensued by a possible suicide pact and Marie getting what she’s desperately craved from the start – the children.

About the season finale, show creator, Vince Gilligan, had this to say, “Rightly or wrongly there will be a conclusive ending. Our story from the beginning has been designed to be close-ended. It’s very much designed to have a beginning, a middle, an end and then to exist no more.”
Gilligan has previously spoken about his belief in justice and the prevalence of good over evil. Whatever that means for Walter, for Skyler, for Jesse, for Walt Jr. and Holly and for poor, innocent and widowed Marie, we’ll know soon enough.

It’s time for a battle-weary Walter White to put on his pyjamas and climb into the bed he has been making for himself for the past five years.

Are you ready?