MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW.
"I liked it," Walter White says in the series finale of Breaking Bad.
It was the final puzzle piece snapped into place. It was one last kitchen-table showdown between Walt and his wife Skyler, except so much had changed. Skyler was living in a down-sized townhouse, smoking while her daughter Holly napped nearby. We saw the toys and other signs of life, but not the usual detritus of domesticity that surrounded the Whites when we started this journey five years ago.
In the end, Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan and his posse of writers gave fans almost everything we could have asked for: that last meeting between Skyler and Walt, Jesse freed from his waking hell, revenge on Psycho Todd. The Whites will have trouble-free access to Walt's millions, courtesy of the cowed Schwartz pair and we were even treated to one last glimpse of Skinny Pete and Badger. Short of a zombie tap dance from Mike and Gus, it's just about the best case scenario a BB diehard could hope for.
Of course, there were some limits to Gilligan's generosity. We never quite got the details of how Walt was double-crossed by Gretchen and Elliot Schwartz at Gray Matter. Presumably, Walt Jr. will spend his life thinking his father killed Uncle Hank.
But the details are not as important as the finale's great moments: the terrified and guilty look as Gretchen eyed Walt or the latter's silent look of sorrow as he spies his son come home.
For an episode that many expected to be a bloodbath, Breaking Bad's finale was for the most part quiet, with a sense of dread hanging in the air like a gathering storm. Overall, the episode Felina (which was written and directed by series showrunner Gilligan), retained the bone-dry sense of humour that helped set his show apart. A perfect example was Walter's rasped comment as Elliot waved a paring knife at him: "Elliot, if we're going to go that way, you'll need a bigger knife."
In the end, we were left with a story about a man who finally found his purpose, one that let his demons out and curdled his pride into rage. After watching what Walt had become, I expected something darker for the ending, perhaps the criminal mastermind forced to witness the consequences of his actions. Suffer. Something akin to Prometheus being chained to that rock, bound forever in agony.
But the man we met Sunday night was Walt in post-Heisenberg mode: he'd gone from breaking bad to broken. There was a note of resignation in the air and a sense of calm as well, as he whistled a happy tune while constructing one last murder machine in the desert. Walt left us alone and at peace. Was that a hint of a smile as he died in the same kind of laboratory that forged him?
As we adjust to world without Walt, it's illuminating to check out the song playing in the car that sent Mr. White off on his final journey. Listen closely.
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