Netflix UK TV review: Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 16 (Felina)
ALL THE FEELINGS10
Andrew Jones | On 30, Sep 2013
Photo: © 2013 Sony Pictures Television Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Well, it’s over. Breaking Bad, the show no one wanted, then the show no one watched, now the show no one wants to finish, is finally over.
The story found a closing point much like it found an opening all those years ago, with Walt in the desert holding a gun and a camera. Finality has always been the show’s focal point. Cancer would one day destroy and corrupt Walt – and that’s what we’ve seen happen to so many people during the course of the show.
In Felina, we are offered one last hour with the characters we’ve loved – and, yes, hated – for years, as well as a conclusion to the season’s main arc of meth dealing in a post-Gus Fring world. Madrigal, while oddly off the beaten path throughout this last season, has been part of the core of the grand finale, as its rise and fall were aided by both globalisation and Walt’s own ability to network and delegate the dirty jobs.
After last week’s two-month hiatus in New Hampshire, we see Mr. Lambert make his way back home. His family gone, his house ransacked, his life and name destroyed, now his old friends Elliot and Gretchen Schwartz are wilfully destroying any legacy of him at chemical company Grey Matters. This is the tipping point of Walter White, not Heisenberg, and the ego that forced the moral human inside him to be manipulated and, eventually, destroyed.
Flash-forwards at the beginning of each part of the season have shown us where we’re heading. During these final few episodes, that fog of war has cleared. There’s nothing secret or surprising to Walt’s situation anymore: Felina isn’t about surprising or provoking the audience. Vince Gilligan may have started with a comedy that skews American suburbia, but the social commentary and more artistic tendencies are done with. This last hour doesn’t look at anything broader than satisfying the audience with pure entertainment – a farewell that can put a smile on your face as you wave the show off into the distance. The inevitability is still there, but most of that dread is turned into joy as the final few dominos are tipped and Chekhov’s Ricin comes into play.
Breaking Bad ends the show on wonderful terms, not perfect but well wrapped up. This is not Lost, it’s not about raising questions; all the necessary information is here and most characters get some form of send off.
Fans of Badger and Skinny Pete get more joy than Huell-Kuby-Saul fans, as the dynamic duo enjoy a brief appearance to bring that light-hearted comedy they do so well. Seeing where Marie, Skyler, Flynn and Jesse are, though, is a mix of hope and dismay. Jesse finds himself stuck in the bleakest story still, re-imagining his existence as something sun-kissed as he knows that if he were to escape, Brock would be next on the death list. Todd, of course, is a silly sod, a real piece of work, and his weekly meetings with Lydia still ooze of creepiness.
Thankfully, there’s Walt’s final bow to make you smile; he’s a sadistic, malicious creature but something about him keeps you watching, delighted as much as horrified. Gilligan may have lost sympathy for the character years ago, but he certainly hasn’t put that in the way of making Mr. White utterly riveting.
The writing, the direction, the music, the editing, the photography, the acting… Breaking Bad proved it was better than cinema in One Minute (Season 3, Episode 8) and over the last few years, we’ve seen moments that confirm the future of the small screen is in good hands. Naturally, the show’s ending is what will determine its legacy and with Felina, Gilligan has made sure that we will talk about Breaking Bad as one of, if not the, single greatest television show in a long while. It is conceivable, indeed, that in decades to come, people will discuss these past six years of broadcasting as the culmination of a century of work. Breaking Bad might well be considered the best show ever made for eternity.
Felina’s convenient tying up of loose ends may seem irritating to folks wanting more threat or drama, but that’s not what we as an audience need: a harsher ending would have torn people asunder. There’s no denying that for a show about minutiae, brutality, shock and bleakness, the ending has made every dark, hushed dinner between husband and wife, every Jesse and Walt argument, every Gustavo Fring threat worthwhile. This is a conclusion that is as satisfying as possible. Now, we can see where we are at the end of the ride and compare it to how we began. Now, we can smile, cry, laugh, think, gasp – and breathe.
Breaking Bad is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.