'Breaking Bad' series finale review

Sunday, 29 September 2013 11:59 PM Written by 

breaking bad finale

In the end, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) saw his plan through to a fruition of sorts and "Breaking Bad" came to a conclusion worthy of one of the few TV series that never jumped the shark.

Written and directed by series creator Vince Gilligan, "Breaking Bad" was surprising and smart to the end, even if some of the pieces were a little too easy to predict. It wasn't a finale for the ages -- like "Newhart" or "St. Elsewhere" or "Six Feet Under" or "The Sopranos" -- but the final 75 minutes of "Breaking Bad" offered a satisfactory wrap-up to the show, one of the few in TV history to never make a serious misstep.

If TV Guide hadn't bought and then stopped updating JumpTheShark.com three years ago, "Breaking Bad" would be added to the glorious "never jumped" category that included "Police Squad," "The Tick," "Freaks and Geeks" and my all-time favorite series, "Homefront."

Read more -- SPOILERS! included -- after the jump. ...

Walt finally makes it back to New Mexico from New Hampshire, a turn of events foreshadowed in the fifth season premiere last summer.

At the start, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) visits his former science collaborators Elliott and Gretchen, breaking into their home and forcing them to take his $9 million to give to Walter Jr. (R.J. Mitte) and Skyler (Anna Gunn) in a trust after he's dead to avoid the feds getting the money.

At first, Elliott and Gretchen think Walt is there to hurt them. Elliott pulls what appears to be a butter knife.

"Elliott, if we're gonna go that way, you'll need a bigger knife," Walt says, sounding much like the late Mike (Jonathan Banks).

Eventually, the wealthy pair agree to Walt's scheme, his last-ditch effort to provide for his family. Then Walt has hit men target the pair, threatening them that if Walt's family doesn't get the money, they will be targeted and taken out. (Turns out it was just Jesse's lowlife friends, who question the shadyness of the situation, "morality-wise," in a hilarious moment.)

Jesse (Aaron Paul) dreams of working as a carpenter but it turns out he's still being held captive to make meth by the greediest Nazi thugs in New Mexico, who weren't content to take Walt's millions and kept making blue meth.

Meanwhile Lydia (Laura Fraser) meets with Todd (Jesse Plemons) and Walt shows up, freaking them both out, especially the easily-spooked Lydia. Then Lydia uses a packet of Stevia, as usual, but it turns out Walt filled it with poison.

Walt visits Skyler and gives her the coordinates to the gravesite of Hank (Dean Norris) and his partner, telling her to trade that for a deal with the prosecutor.

"If I have to hear one more time that you did this for the family..." Skyler says.

"I did it for me," Walt replies. "I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really -- I was alive."

Skyler allows Walt to see his infant daughter, Holly, before he leaves just as Walter Jr. returns home from school. Walt watches his son approach the blocky, lower-class apartment where the boy now lives. Walt looks like a man who is utterly defeated.

Walt goes to visit Todd and his Nazi crew, the same team that murdered Hank and his partner against Walt's wishes. Walt accuses the leader of being a liar about working with Jesse, so they bring Jesse to Walt and Walt knocks Jesse to the ground in an effort to save him from what comes next.

Walt's plan comes to fruition with a machine gun that he activates by remote control, killing off the whole crew, except Todd and the leader Jack. After the bullets stop flying, Jesse finishes Todd off. Walt shoots and kills Jack.

Walt gives his gun to Jesse.

"Do it," Walt says. "You want this."

Jesse refuses to do Walt's bidding. Finally. Jesse also notices Walt has been shot by one of his own bullets.

Lydia calls Todd's cell; Walt answers and tells Lydia he put ricin in her Stevia packet. She is dying.

Jesse speeds away with an expression of maniacal glee on his face.

Meanwhile, Walt wanders into the cook lab, stares at his creation and succumbs to his wound as the police arrive. "Baby Blue" by Badfinger plays as the series fades to black.

If I have any regrets about this series finale, it's that I wish we knew where some of the characters ended up after the series. What became of Jesse? Did Gretchen and Elliott follow through? Did Skyler and Walt Jr. end up OK?

But it's easy to imagine what happened in each of these cases; the show probably didn't need to spell that out. "Breaking Bad" is over; it's been a fun ride.

If you want still more "Breaking Bad" goodness, enjoy this middle school musical re-telling of the story:


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