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'Breaking Bad,' Season 5, Episode 16, 'Felina': review - Boing Boing

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Kevin McFarland on the final, magnificent episode of Breaking Bad, which by any calculation was a 100% pure, crystal-blue cook. Spoilers.

“I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And…I was…really…I was alive.”

Thanks for the best Breaking Bad stashes ever.  Thanks for the memories.

You are very welcome! I keep finding more. The show may be over but the stashing isn't!

the final season-—the last 16 episodes—-methodically chipped away at Walt’s ascendance after destroying Gus’ operation, slowly stripping everything away, until only Walt was left, and he made the choice to engineer one final day to intercept everyone and go out on his own terms. It’s possible to call that misstep, allowing such a vile and black-hearted man control of his own destiny instead of crumbling as his world falls all around him, leaving him lost and alone with nothing to show for his efforts. But what all-around nice guy Vince Gillian has said all along is that he sees just a hint of himself in Walt. And by intervening to write and direct Walt’s final rodeo, he seems to be saying that even the most morally bankrupt can snatch a bit of agency and humanity.

“Just get me home.”

Structurally, “Felina” breaks down almost too neatly—-a sentiment we’ll revisit at least a few times here—- into three segments that run just over 18 minutes. The first settles Walt’s distant past dating back to Grey Matter and the point at which his life deviated from his potential; the second allows him to be a spectral journeyman revisiting various partnerships throughout Albuquerque; and the third gives all the “Face Off” fans one last glimpse at Walt the master tinkerer.

The cold-open prologue is as close to religious devotion as Walter White gets. Freezing in an unlocked car caked in snow, police lights flash in the background, and he utters what amounts to a prayer, that he be allowed this final act to set up the dominos one last time. And just like that, the lights fade, Walt tips the sun visor, and Vince Gilligan drops the car keys into Walt’s hands, reward him for his supplication. This is the strongest indicator in the finale of something that has been clear all along: Gilligan has no interest in telling a fundamentally realistic story. Breaking Bad employed consultants on every aspect of the production, but from a narrative perspective, this is Shakespearean tragedy, where convenient twists of fate conspire to make a crucial letter miss the intended recipient resulting in star-cross’d suicide.


Walt Gretchen Elliott meme Breaking Bad finale Felina 516

10 million people watched the finale on television:

That doesn't include DVR people, people who downloaded, etc. Amazing.

Still smaller than the biggest Walking Dead episode (12 million viewers).

By the way, this analysis is just plain awesome:

The plan is simple: give them his remaining money, to be transferred to Flynn—-permanently I hope, the change now a grim foreshadowing of how ashamed it would eventually make anyone to call him his father’s name—-in the form of a trust activated on his 18th birthday in 10 months. A sign of charity, given to the innocent victims of a “monstrous father.” But unlike Robert Forster’s vacuum cleaner repair man, Walt takes extra precaution to scare his former business partners into obeying his command when two laser sights appear in the most frightening music cue in the episode. Having struck an appropriately lasting fear into severely effete, white-bread people, he departs and reveals the ruse: Badger and Skinny Pete held the sights. (“The whole thing felt kinda shady, like, morality-wise?”) It’s a brilliant throwback to the kind of intimidation Walt believed himself an expert at in all situations-—and it’s the first sign of reflexive fan service, extending a popular aspect of Walt’s evil side to scare the living hell of the “beautiful people.” Walt’s final words to the first pair he blamed for his lot in life other than himself: “This is where you get to make it right.” As though they’ve wronged him so egregiously that he now enacts this demand as a form of punishment for enjoying success so much.

However, I read that moment as both Walt exacting the kind of vengeance he’s desired for his entire life on Gretchen and Elliott, but also doubling down on faith in the inherent good of people who ended up surpassing him in every way. He gives all of his money to the two people who succeeded where he was too proud to coexist; makes a powerful but empty threat against them to follow his wishes or else risk their lives looking over their shoulders as vanilla, fearful scientists; allows his life’s work, the money he “earned” to be subsumed by Grey Matter, trusting his professional enemies with providing for his family, even when restricting them from spending a single cent of their own money; and remaining the private, uncredited man behind a public display of charity, with a precious few knowing the truth. Of all the satisfying and cathartic moments in the finale, this is one that represented the most to me how deeply rooted Walt’s darkness had always been, for its duality as both Walt’s cunning triumph and his foolish Hail Mary.

I'm also loving this duality:

Walter White crawl space Felina meme Breaking Bad finale 516

By the way, it's also worth reading Kevin MacFarland's review of all of Breaking Bad season 5:

Brace yourselves. Here come many more finale reviews:

Favorites included below.

"The final episode of 'Breaking Bad' had a lot of business to take care of in a short time... 'Felina,' the last episode ever of the magnificent series 'Breaking Bad', was a kind of machine gun of narrative, knocking down all of those questions with auto-fire efficiency.

'Felina' was - as effective, satisfying series finales are - true. It was true to the five seasons that preceded it, true to Walter White’s obsessions and pride, and true to what 'Breaking Bad' is at heart: a Western."

James Poniewozik, Time.

"Gilligan and his writers spent the last two episodes pulling Walt up from 'Ozymandias’s' rock bottom... And this is where the finale is not quite so satisfying: After everything, after five seasons in which the writers were clocking Walt’s every misdeed, at the very end, they turned out to be Team Walt."

Willa Paskin, Slate.

"There was a lot of closure in 'Breaking Bad'. You can say that Gilligan gave most of the viewers what they wanted (and, impressively, he did that by staying true to himself and the story without selling out or becoming unrecognizably saccharine as he tied the bow)."

Tim Goodman, Hollywood Reporter.

"There just isn’t a weak season of 'Breaking Bad.' There’s just superior work, a sprint toward evil that turned into a marathon. But like all big-talker shows that bring their heavy cargo in for a rough and breathlessly observed landing, 'Breaking Bad' didn’t quite leave itself enough runway to satisfactorily end some of its better story lines, especially once the chronology gap closed up between the flash-forwards from last year’s episodes and Sunday night’s conclusion. One could easily argue that there was just too much left to do in this one episode."

Hank Stuever, Washington Post.

"Perhaps the best thing about the finale of 'Breaking Bad' is that it actually ended. So many shows, notably 'The Sopranos' and 'Lost,' have gone dark without anything approaching finality. Here, the writers were so determined to not leave unfinished business that the last episode was called 'Felina,' an anagram of finale. And almost every loose end was tied. In some cases, a little too tightly, and in others, not quite as much."

Alessandra Stanley, New York Times.

"After the heart-in-the-throat violence and suspense of the last few episodes, tonight’s finale is quiet. It doesn’t try to impress... Over and over again in this last appearance, Walt remains in the background while his legend does the work for him."

Donna Bowman, AV Club.

"In what may be the first recorded (and distinctly over-tweeted) perfect finale in television history, AMC's 'Breaking Bad' came to a close Sunday night. Not only did Vince Gilligan's five-season, hyper-violent prose poem to midlife male frustration tie up virtually every loose end in sight, it contained the Holy Grail of all storytelling: an Actual Moment of Truth."

Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times.

"Tense, witty, violent, oddly tender and, in its own strange way, as close to a 'happy' ending as a story this dark could hope, this last episode brought the story to a straightforward, definitive conclusion, without the spirituality of 'Lost' or the ambiguity of 'Sopranos'."

Robert Bianco, USA Today.

From the first frame to the last on a series that absolutely belongs in the conversation of the best ever, Vince Gilligan knew what he was doing. The plan wasn’t always evident — indeed, 'Breaking Bad' consistently wrote itself into corners with no apparent exit, before devising an ingenious one — but as Sunday’s finale made eminently clear, this was a show whose narrative fearlessness was only matched by its boundless creativity and unpredictability... The only real error Gilligan made was in his 'Mr. Chips becomes Scarface' analogy. Actually, Michael Corleone is a much better point of reference. Because like the end of 'The Godfather,' all accounts were squared, all debts settled."

Brian Lowry, Variety.

"For the finale, 'Breaking Bad' let viewers feast on a particular ingredient show’s appeal: Seeing one frail man subvert expectations and get out of impossible situations through cunning and know-how. It was a parade of 'Yeah, science!' moments, though that science was sometimes a mere understanding of human nature".

Spencer Kornhaber,

"Maybe one of the finer parts of this series is how Walt is the only character that changed so directly in personality traits from start to finish. It was his journey all along...And yet, in the end, Walt was as humanizing as he was in the beginning of the series."

Seth Amitin, IGN.

Wow!!  Thanks for compiling all these!!

My favorite:  

"For the finale, 'Breaking Bad' let viewers feast on a particular ingredient show’s appeal: Seeing one frail man subvert expectations and get out of impossible situations through cunning and know-how. It was a parade of 'Yeah, science!' moments, though that science was sometimes a mere understanding of human nature".

Spencer Kornhaber,

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