Fear not — Matt Zoller Seitz is furiously composing his thoughts about the Breaking Bad series finale, so check back for his longer reflection soon. [Ed. note: It’s here!] But that doesn’t mean you can’t get the discussion rolling now. And there is a lot — a lot, a lot — to discuss. Including:
1. Remember cassette tapes? They were the best. Right off the bat, when the cassette tape falls out of the glove compartment of Walt’s stolen vehicle, we discover that the “Felina” referred to by the episode title is in fact an homage to Marty Robbins’s classic Western tale “El Paso.” The song is about a cowboy in the Wild West who, after killing another man who’d made advances toward the wrong woman (her name is spelled “Feleena” in the song, but that doesn’t anagram to “finale” …), hides out in New Mexico, where he is eventually killed by a vengeful posse.
2. Going back to ‘querque. To get home to Albuquerque, Walt is driving a Volvo with license plate number 327 2153. I will be much obliged to anyone who has a good theory about why that particular plate number is used. (And if that theory is, ultimately, “just a coincidence?” then so be it … )
3. Canoncito is a real ghost town. Walt places the phone call posing as a reporter named David Lynn from the New York Times at a station called Canoncito Gas. Canoncito lies outside Santa Fe and is now a ghost town. Foreshadowing much? Okay, maybe it isn’t foreshadowing! But it is a fun fact. Anyway, that phone call to Susan, presumably the Schwartzes’ assistant, was a riot, especially that final line, “Should make one hell of a story.” Do you believe that the Schwartzes will actually give the money to Walter Jr. on his 18th birthday? Or does it not matter in the end? (And now’s the time for a final shout-out to two of the show’s greatest minor characters, Badger and Skinny Pete.)
4. Walt goes full MacGyver. I’m skipping over the bulk of the episode, which Seitz will surely touch on, to marvel over that contraption Walt rigged in the trunk of his car. Yes, it was totally ridiculous that he managed to deploy it, and so effectively at that. It felt like it was straight out of The A-Team or MacGyver, didn’t it? But it did the job — as did Mr. Vince Gilligan in tying up all the loose ends in a way that didn’t feel like a cop-out. I can’t think of much that I still have questions about, other than, “How much longer do we have to wait for the Jesse Pinkman spin-off?” But what are your questions? And also: Did you think Gilligan stuck the landing, and if so, where would you rank this in the canon of other great drama finales?