The finale of Breaking Bad was critically acclaimed, and some have even referred to it as one of the greatest series finales in television history. Unlike a lot of TV dramas that sort of just petered out as they went on before finishing in disappointment, Breaking Bad remained quite consistent and steady all the way through.
But as good as the final episode was, it certainly wasn’t perfect. There were some issues, some more major than others. But issues are issues, and we are here to address them. These are five things we loved about the finale, and five things we hated.
Love: The Inclusion Of Gretchen And Elliott
Vince Gilligan often claimed that he made Breaking Bad up as he went, but no one would ever know it with the dexterous writing he and his team so often employ.
It was a brilliant move bringing Gretchen and Elliott back for the finale. It gave Walt a place to store his millions, it financially secured Walt Jr. for life (hopefully, at least!), and it gave Walt some closure regarding his bitter exit from Gray Matter.
Hate: A Little Too Safe
If there’s one criticism that is often aimed at Felina, it’s the overall “safety” of the episode. And by that, people mean that the episode didn’t really take a lot of narrative risks.
Most of the thrilling action occurred in Ozymandias, and Felina was mostly concerned with concluding the story in as predictable and safe a manner as possible. Nothing really happened that we didn’t expect, and it was a little disappointing.
Loved: Connections To Past Episodes
Breaking Bad employed flash forward techniques from the very beginning, and that continued into the fifth and final season. In the finale, Walt purchases the machine gun we saw in the cold opening of the season premiere, Live Free or Die.
He also retrieves the ricin that he had stashed in his house, which was shown as a flashforward in the season’s ninth episode, Blood Money. It’s details like these that make the storytelling feel complete and well thought out.
Hated: Lydia Being Poisoned
It’s not Lydia being taken out so much as it is the method in which it occurred.
When Walt meets Lydia at the coffee shop on the pretense of discussing a new business proposal, he sneaks ricin into her sealed packet of Stevia. Now how he did this is a mystery. Did he make his own packet? This is a common question within the fandom, and while there are numerous theories regarding the method, no one really knows for sure.
Loved: His Admission To Skyler
While the finale was suitably bloody and action-packed, one of the greatest scenes has to be the morose confrontation between Walt and Skyler.
Walt reveals the location of Steve and Hank’s bodies, but more importantly, he admits to her (and himself) that everything he did he did for himself. It was never really about the money – it was about the power and the feelings of accomplishment. It’s a fantastic character moment and a stirring conclusion to Walt’s arc.
Hated: Jack As Final Boss
This one isn’t really about the finale per se, but the entire final season. Most of the finale concerns Walt’s attempts with freeing Jesse from Jack’s captivity and disposing of Jack’s crew.
Unfortunately, Jack and his gang never really made for intriguing or engrossing villains, especially after the absorbing escapades with Gus and Mike. Jack was a very anti-climactic “final boss,” but his death was quite rewarding…
Loved: The Demise Of Jack & Todd
It was quite rewarding owing to the method in which Jack was disposed.
In an attempt to bargain for his life, Jack tries revealing the location of the money to Walt, but Walt shoots him before he can finish his sentence. Meanwhile, Jesse strangles Todd with his handcuffs. Both are very symbolic deaths – Walt never cared about the money, and Jesse disposed of his captor with the very device by which he was held captive.
Hated: Walt Asking Jesse To Kill Him
This was a good idea in theory, but it’s a little too “on the nose” for Breaking Bad. Walt asks Jesse to kill him – his journey is complete and he’s dying anyway. But Jesse finally stands up for himself and refuses, telling Walt to do it himself.
It’s hard to buy Walt asking Jesse to outright kill him, and it seems manufactured for the sole purpose of concluding Jesse’s character arc. The intention was clear, but there was probably a more natural way to work it into the story.
Loved: Walt & Jesse’s Goodbye
As awkward as that was, there’s no denying the power of Walt and Jesse’s final goodbye. It’s not some grand, picturesque goodbye – if anything, it’s intensely bitter. But then again, there was no other way for this relationship to end.
Jesse doesn’t forgive Walt, and Walt doesn’t really expect him to – but they do share a storied history, and that is acknowledged in their brief but mutually respected head nods. It’s a very beautiful sentiment and a very realistic way for their storyline to conclude.
Hated: Walt Dying In The Lab
Walt’s death in the meth lab is another decent idea in theory, but it comes across as kind of cheesy within the episode itself. The symbolism is evident and rather obvious, and we suppose there was no other way for Walt to go.
But having him die with a smile on his face while admiring meth tanks was a little too “clean” of an ending, a little too obvious.