“Chemistry is the study of transformation.”
And so it ends, the AMC drama that started as gradually gestating cult hit turned last minute pop culture explosion: Breaking Bad. The final episode of the hit series, entitled “Felina,” brings every loose thread of plot to a definitive, poetic end. Walter White is dead, dragging Lydia, Uncle Jack and his gang to the many circles of hell with him. Jesse is free not only of Todd but of Walt as well. Crystal Blue remains, as far as the public knows, a product of Heisenberg’s genius and Walter’s family, at last, is provided for.
Bryan Cranston delivers one last powerhouse performance as the Modern Greek tragedy that is Walter White, the legendary Heisenberg. The character returns to ABQ in an eerie , reserved calm. There is no desperation, no panic, at last there is an end in sight: The ever- calculating Heisenberg has one more plan up his sleeve, and as usual it involves the scientific and tactical genius that blew Gustavo Fring half way to hell. But then it ends. The reign of Heisenberg comes to a close with Walter White bleeding on the ground surrounded by the tools and equipment by which he forged his legacy. Cranston’s final turn in the role is so elemental in force that should be declared a natural wonder of the world, showcased wonderfully in the last scene shared with his wife Skylar, played by Anna Gunn in a brief but poignant appearance. Walt says his goodbyes and finally tells her the truth behind his Meth empire: “I did it for me, I liked it. I was good at it.” Gone is the facade of the suburban milquetoast dad, or of the snarling monster from the end “Ozymandias.” At last Bryan Cranston reveals the true face of Walter White, that of a talented, prideful, and beaten man with a pathological need for validation.
Aaron Paul is beautifully tragic to watch as Jesse Pinkman, Walter White’s old partner in crime now held captive as a meth cooking slave to Todd Alquist and his neo-nazi Uncle Jack. We, as an audience, are finally treated to the violent revenge fantasy that has been cultivating in our twisted imaginations for weeks as Jesse chokes the life out of Todd with the chains that have bound him for months. But Jesse’s emancipation manifests not only in unlocking of his chains, but in his decision to not honor Walter’s wishes by killing him. Jesse finally breaks free of the control of “the great Heisenberg” and drives off into uncertainty.
The final star of this episode, and of this show really, is Vince Gilligan, creator of the show and the writer/ director of the finale. The directing in this episode if wonderfully tense and emotional. Numerous shots are downright Kubrickian in the way the shots are framed from far off wide angle distances accompanied by stretches of nerve-wracking silence. Walter lurking around the Shwartz’s mansion was like something out of John Capenter’s “Halloween”. Even something as basic as Walter trying to inch his hand a few inches forward so as to grab his keys without Jack’s thugs noticing becomes laborious to watch thanks to Gilligan’s mastery of tension. It’s almost pointless to praise the writing as by now the names ‘Vince Gilligan’ and ‘Breaking Bad’ have become synonymous with terms like ‘brilliant writing’ and ‘master storytelling,’and the finale is no different. The symbolism, the dialogue, the foreshadowing followed by the payoff, every factor and every variable adds together into the chemical equation for a perfect series finale to one of the greatest television dramas of all time. As the TV promos say, “all bad things must come to an end,” and what an ending it was. We’ll see you in the history books, Heisenberg.