TV Recap: Breaking Bad ”Felina”

It’s just moments after Walter White left the bar. He climbs inside a snow-encased car. He tries to hot-wire it, just like they do in the movies. It doesn’t work. The cops are outside flashing their blue and red lights.

Walter White does something we’ve never seen him do before. Maybe he’s never done it before at all; he says a prayer. “Please, please just get me home…” God hears his prayer. The car keys fall from the visor, as if from heaven itself. And suddenly, everything’s coming up roses again for Walter White, in a way that we haven’t seen in quite some time.

The first order of business is to find Gretchen and Elliot Schwarz and put a little scare into them. This is easily the most thrilling, hand-over-your-mouth scene in the episode, as Walter goes all Micheal Myers on the Schwarzes, first seeming to pop up out of nowhere in their courtyard, and then casually following them into their home. They have a lengthy conversation about nothing while Walter stares at their photos, just waiting to be discovered. The suspense and dread is at To’hajiileelevels. Is he seriously just going to fucking kill them right here and now? No, he is not. He is going to use them to launder his remaining nine million dollars and have them give it to Flynn on his 18thbirthday, just 10 months from now. They agree to do this, but Walt adds some extra incentive, in the form of two hitmen who shine red sniper lights on them from outside the house. Walt says if they renege on this deal, one day, when they least expect it…BANG. The Schwarzes are sufficiently cowed. We have every reason to believe they’ll do what they’re told when the time comes.

Walt waits outside for his “hitmen” to come running. Happily, they are not hitmen at all, but America’s Favorite Methheads, Badger and Skinny Pete, armed with laser pointers. They confirm that the blue meth is back and better than ever, which infuriates Walt. He has every reason to believe Jesse is partnering with Uncle Jack and the other Nazis.

So he goes to the restaurant that he and Lydia used to meet at every week for entirety of the “Crystal Blue Persuasion” montage last season. This time, Lydia’s meeting with Todd. He hilariously attempts to fumble his way through complimenting her blouse, and then Walt sits down next to them. He tells them he has a new way of making the blue without methylamine, which they must be running out of by now. Todd says thanks but no thanks, while Lydia says sure, Walt can meet Jack at the clubhouse and show him how it’s done. Privately, she tells Todd there will be no deal with Walt and this will just be an opportunity to kill him. Then she busts open that Stevia and pours it into her tea. Unless you’re super dumb, you know what’s in that Stevia. Walt knew she’d be at this restaurant at this time. Perhaps he even had a good guess where she’d sit. He couldn’t know if someone else would sit there first, or if the Lydia would know the packet was tampered with, but God saw fit to make sure that it would all work out.

Next, Walter uses science, bitch to rig up a pop-up machine gun thingy on garage opener track or something. Yay, science!

Skyler’s alone in her small apartment. The phone rings. It’s Marie, calling for a truce because she has important news. Walt is in town. Many people have seen him. Anonymous people are calling in, saying Walt’s going to blow up City Hall and the like. Marie warns Skyler to be careful. Skyler says thanks and Marie says “you got it”. It’s kind of sweet. I take it as an encouraging sign that Marie will one day find it in her heart to forgive Skyler. Maybe a couple million dollars from Flynn’s trust fund will help.

Skyler hangs up the phone, and he discover Walt’s in the kitchen. He managed to slip past the cops outside, because there are things he has to do and God is making sure he does them. He tells Skyler the coordinates to locate Hank and Steve’s bodies. He’s confident this will be adequate to get the DEA off her back (especially after they find his dead body later tonight, but he doesn’t tell her that). Then my favorite moment of the episode happens. Walt says something like “you have to understand–” and Skyler cuts him off quickly, not wanting to hear again how he did it all for the family and he finally gives her the truth: he did it for himself. He liked it. He felt alive. Skyler is so grateful for his honesty, she allows him to see his daughter one last time. As he leaves, again unseen by the cops right outside, he sees Flynn walking off the bus and into the apartment. He knows he can’t say goodbye to Flynn the way he did to Skyler. Some things are just too unforgivable.

The last hurrah. Uncle Jack’s compound.

Breaking Bad has always existed in a heightened reality, and there are implausible things that I can go with and then there are ones where I simply cannot. My own line has turned out to be a lot more elastic than I previously thought andthe fact that I once complained about how low the chances are that two planes would crash directly over Walt’s house seems almost quaint, now. But a line is crossed here. Uncle Jack is about to kill Walt immediately, but Walt accuses him of lying about Jesse and partnering with him, and Jack needs to prove otherwise. This is silly. Very silly. But it leads to something pretty great.

We see Jesse, shackled and beaten and utterly broken. Walt’s anger immediately melts into pity. He dives onto Jesse, feigning anger, then ignites his gun booby-trap with the key fob. All the Nazis are brutally executed except for Todd, who had ducked down to pull apart Jesse and Walt. Walt is hit in the gut by aricochet.  Todd looks out the window for the would-be attackers, and is attacked from behind by Slave-Jesse and his chains. After a brief struggle, Jesse breaks his neck. He fishes out the keys from Todd’s pocket and frees himself. He stands. Walt is holding Jack’s gun. He puts it on the ground and passes it to Jesse.

“Do it”, he says.”You want this”.

Jesse picks up the gun. “SAY THE WORDS!  SAY YOU WANT THIS!”

“I want this.”

But Jesse doesn’t. He puts the gun down, and walks out. They exchange a nod that I can’t quite read. I guess one of mutual understanding? And then Jesse drives off to freedom. Walt wanders around the compound for a while, lovingly touching the lab equipment, his one true love. His baby blue. By the time the cops arrive, he is dead.

Now.  A lot of people have declared this a “happy ending” for Walt and expressed skepticism that this was even something that Walt deserved. I was one of those people, at first. The thing is, this isn’t really a happy ending for Walt. This is a happy ending for Jesse, Skyler, Marie, Flynn, and Holly. Or at least the happiest ending they could hope for. Consider the facts. Everything Walt did in this episode was in service to them, and not to himself. That’s why I believe he had such incredible luck in this episode, because God or the higher power or whatever heard his literal prayer and knew that Walter was on a mission to make it right. He tells Skyler the truth, that he did it for himself. He gives Marie the opportunity to bury her husband, and the opportunity for the sisters to eventually reconcile. He keeps his distance from Flynn because he knows that’s what he wants, but he also finds a way to provide for the family but in a way that their hands are completely clean.

Remember in season two when Saul came up with the idea to launder Walt’s money through Flynn’s “save my Dad” website? The Walter White of that time was furious at the idea that he wasn’t getting credit for providing for his family. It was the accolades that were more important to him than the actual help. Well now, he’ll never get that credit. His family will never know the money came from him. And that’s okay with Walt. And finally, at the end, did he really “want this”? Did he really want Jesse to kill him? He’d already been hit. He was already dying. He gave Jesse the chance to kill him if that’s what Jesse wanted. He even “said the words” Jesse told him to say, because that’s what Jesse wanted to hear. When Jesse refused to kill him, Walt didn’t react with disappointment. He accepted Jesse’s choice, because the offer had only been made for Jesse’s sake in the first place.

So does Walter White deserve a happy ending? No, and he didn’t get one. But he did manage to atone for many of the things he did that negatively impacted other people, and for that he deserves some degree of credit.