In his recap of this week’s Breaking Bad series finale, Matt Zoller Seitz described the final episode as not “just a finale, but a comment on finales, and the finale’s creative and marketplace need to satisfy as many viewers as possible, whether they saw a show’s main character as a super-cool antihero, a pathetic scumbag, something in between, or none of the above.” He concludes: “It was satisfying in one sense yet weirdly anticlimactic in another.” Here’s our recap of your comments on the show’s final episode:
You reacted to Walt’s death …
“He died alone in a sterile meth lab that was last inhabited by his former adopted son turned mutant meth slave cook. Now, some may counter: Walt died with his great love. No, he didn’t. If any intangible was his great love, it was recognition. Cooking meth was one of several means to reach that desired end game, but as smart as Walt was, it wasn’t his only possible path to carving out a legacy. Walt’s great love, throughout the entirety of the series, was his family.” –brokeboredandlazy
“There was no way for Walt to completely acquit himself of all his actions, and dying by himself in a mega-lab that was basically designed by him was a fitting way to go. And I agree, so much of the major action happened in earlier episodes. The crying, screaming, and lying had already been laid out there, so there wasn’t much more to say. His wife didn’t touch him, nonetheless hug him, his goodbye to his son was yards away through a window, and his daughter’s goodbye was a pat on the head. Everyone was prepared to let go, or they already had.” –jackisadullboy
“Walter absolutely died on his own terms. He knew he wasn’t going to make it out of the compound without dying or getting arrested. He evaded arrest across the entire country so he could go back to avenge Hank’s death, kill Jack’s crew, and save Jesse. He did all three after seeing his family for the last time. He knew it was the last time. He went out on his terms, no doubt.” –Everlast81
… and argued about whether or not he came out victorious in the end.
“Everything around him completely fell apart, but somehow he stayed one small step ahead; somehow he maintained a tiny modicum of control. He made it back to New Mexico despite being one of the most wanted men in America. He still managed to get the money to his family, even though they said they didn’t want it. He still got to give Skyler and Holly a ‘proper goodbye,’ even though he didn’t deserve it. He still got to terminate the people responsible for continuing to manufacture HIS product, meaning the blue sky meth lived and died with him. And he still got to die on his terms. Not saying he meant to catch that bullet ricochet (obvs), but he didn’t die of cancer, even though he easily could have. It was ravaging his body. But he instead went out almost quietly, and quickly, surrounded by what he loved most, by the one thing that had never ‘wronged’ him. He got to die in a chemistry lab, after gently caressing the lab equipment. And the world knew he was Heisenberg, and his name – and product – got to remain legend. And his family did end up provided for, in a weird, backwards way thanks to his threat against Gretchen and Elliott. And his enemies paid for wronging him, and Jesse – hypothetically – got a new lease on life. And Walter evaded the police and died knowing ALL of this. And yes, he died. But even when he DIED, he still, somehow, won. Even though he shouldn’t have. And because of that, I thought it was a truly perfect finale.” –sarakat
“Walt’s impending death is palpable in this episode, which makes his isolation that much more gut-wrenching. The only consensual human touch that he has is with Holly - as Seitz mentioned, Gretchen and Elliot treat his handshake as leprous. His interactions with his family achieve closure but not intimacy - he speaks to an emotionally distant Skyler through a cinematographic pillar, and silently watches Flynn for the last time from behind a pane of glass. The M-60 scene seemed to be a combination of two dramatic actions - an act of violence and an act that approached love. The noisy, bloody action at eye level served as a distraction from the real catharsis happening on the floor below: Walt is physically locked with Jesse on the ground, finally achieving some semblance of intimacy and sustained human contact, however encumbered it may be. Even though the interaction that followed was not a wholly positive one, it was one of understanding - and although Jesse departed the scene, I felt relief in the fact that Walt did not truly die alone.” –islandia
“Walt won, because he got what he wanted. He didn’t really care what his family thought, or what anybody else thought. He got lots of money to his family, kept them safe, killed his enemies, and did it all on his own terms and his own way. He didn’t rely on the sympathy or charity of anyone.” –TNRrefugee
“But AS WRITTEN, Walt did ‘win’ in many ways. The point wasn’t finally that his love affair was with his intellect and nothing else. It was that, having been broken as much as he broke (or having become a ghost, to use your analogy), he finally used his intellect at least partially in service of those he had used so selfishly. That his insane plans (the shootout, the ricin, the money) end up seemingly working says something about how Gilligan et al. wanted to end the show, which was and has always been something of a cartoon western. Walt wins - and doesn’t - because he can and does act out of love the people in his life. By admitting who he’s been to Skyler. By going to kill Jesse, but sparing him.” –marynmax
“A great episode, though not the finish I wanted. It felt like far too much of a victory and absolution for Walt. I may just tack on an extra scene in my head where we cut from Walt on the floor of the meth lab to a shot of him shoveling wood into the stove, and discover that the whole masterfully executed revenge/vindication plan was just a fantasy of a broken, impotent man dying alone.” –PicnicLighting
You continued to wonder about what is in store for Jesse …
“I loved the closure for the finale, wrapping up all the storylines and such but I’m a little worried for Jesse still. Yes, he escaped and is free but his fingerprints are all over that meth lab and the police and feds will probably still be looking for him. I want to believe that all will work out but, like MZS wrote, Walt’s family will still have to live with the consequences of his actions and notoriety hanging over them for the rest of their lives.” –waldorf_rose
“I’m glad that I’m now free to imagine an epilogue wherein Jesse moves to Pawnee, IN and becomes a carpentry apprentice to Ron Swanson.” –pennywise
“I like tidy endings like this. I also really liked the redemption for Jesse: him with the box, and when he told the story about it, in rehab or group, or wherever, how he made a box at first that was quick and crappy, but realized he could do better, and he put all this effort into it and was so proud of it, and then he said he traded it for marijuana. The scene with the completion of the box was like, the first real turn Jesse made into screwing up his life and wasting his potential. Then he was freed, and could start again, free. He could start again.” –Lawyermama
“It was a finale obsessed with closure, all except for my beloved Jesse. I wish that scene with him making the box was a flash forward rather than a dream sequence so we could know he was going to be at least partially ok. But he’s a wanted criminal exposed to so much horror, how could he be?” –imagemoved
… but didn’t shed any tears over Lydia.
“I really wished that somehow Todd suffered with the knowledge that Lydia was going to die. While it was very satisfying to see Jesse murder his torturer with the same chains he was bound by, I think it would’ve been even sweeter if the audience got to see Todd’s reaction when he finds out that his love interest would be dying a slow and painful death. The question is, besides the viewers, Jack and the other Nazis, did anybody know about Todd’s love interest? Could Walt have surmised Todd’s attraction to Lydia just by seeing their meeting in the coffee shop? Either way, I would’ve liked to have seen the heartless Todd heartbroken.” –RobP313
“I like how the ricin was used - and it seemed fitting for Lydia. The only problem, IMO, was that it was completely predictable where and how it would be used 7 episodes too early. The mistake was revealing Walt going back to get it in epsiode 9 (plus a little too much emphasis on Stevia) - if we saw Walt getting the ricin in the finale, even if we guessed how he would use it, it would have only been a scene or two before he used it.” –marmad
“I saw Walt’s pride as the reason why Lydia and the blue meth empire had to go. Walt wouldn’t allow Lydia and the distribution to continue without him. It was his legacy and no one else was allowed to take credit for it.”–waldorf_rose
You pointed out places where the ending was predictable …
“I pretty much had this pegged as the ending from the beginning of the season, when we saw Walt buying those guns from Jim Beaver. Didn’t know the details, but yeah, I had that exact closing shot in mind for a while. I knew he was either going to die or turn himself in, and either way he knew he was in for a suicide mission. I have to admit I was a little disappointed. I was hoping to be a little more surprised.” –MegP
“Beautiful ending, nothing surprising. I knew Jesse would make it, I knew no one else would, including Walt. I knew Skylar and the kids would somehow get his money. These things were things that deep down, we all knew would happen. But I wanted to SEE it happen. I wanted Walt to do the right thing, in his own effed up way. If he’s going to turn into a monster and turn himself in, at least do it in a way that liberates others from your poison (at least what’s left of them). It was a goodbye and a beautiful one at that.” –lpycb
“The finale turned out to be pretty much what was expected, and that was a surprise. So, in that sense, it was a surprise after all. Pretty funny how VG and BB have created something that allows them to do whatever they want and get away with it, even when they just do what is predictable. I thought ricin in Lydia’s sweetener would be too predictable. I thought machine gunning the nazis would be too predictable. I thought doing anything at all to Walt’s former Gray Matter partners would be too predictable. I thought getting any cash to Skyler et al would be too predictable. I thought Jesse and Walt pointing a pistol at each other would be too predictable. I thought Walt dying or living would be too predictable. There was no way out of this. And that’s the story, after all.” –Charles_Mitchell
… but were satisfied with it nonetheless.
“This show, like the entire series itself held multitudes of emotions, and layers of meaning which has been so fun to interpret and debate with everyone on here and in my life, but for once, I don’t even know what to say. But I felt seriously satisfied. Jesse and Skyler were Walt’s biggest victims because they were the closest to him, and his partners in all of this. Like his true partners, voluntary and involuntary, and emotionally and literally in different ways. And to see the episode give them both some kind of closure was deeply satisfying.” –thewindyapple
“All in all, it was a deeply satisfying finale. It was tense (Walt in his car with the cop’s lights flashing through his windshield, Walt in Gretchen and Elliot’s house with his clever laser pointer ploy, Walt’s admission to Skyler, and Walt with his car keys at the Nazi compound), and I got what I was, perhaps unwittingly, hoping for (Walt admitting his reason for cooking meth, Walt’s financial security passed on to his family, Walt killing Lydia and the Nazis, Jesse killing Todd and getting away alive). For me it put a neat bow on one of my favorite shows of all time.” –RobP313
“I do think it is painfully obvious that Ozymandias was the climax of the story and I don’t understand how so many people were expecting some super-finale. This finale was perfect. And the M60 ending was not a Hollywood ending, it was perfectly in character with Walt. He has done a similar thing multiple times, it had echoes of Tuco and the fulminated mercury scene. There was nothing aberrant about it.” –DrSteevo
“Definitely one of those few and far between endings that leave you with a content smile on your face, thinking to yourself, ‘This was exactly how it had to end.’ Such a great feeling of closure! Thank you to the writers for throwing the fans a bone, and taking into consideration what we’d want to see in the end. Thank you for not killing Jesse! That last shot of him screaming in relief was amazing. I feel like it reflected what the characters within the show were feeling as well as the audience. This has definitely been an edge-of-your seat, quietly stressful ride, and we needed that final release.” –JeSuisLaTV
And, of course, you lamented the end of a great show.
“There were holes (why didn’t the Nazis look in the trunk? how did Walt rig that thing to work so efficiently?), but I don’t care. I LOVED IT. I’m happy that Jesse got away (YAY), happy that Walt finally, FINALLY owned up to why he did what he did, happy that he at last found some peace, happy that we saw Skinny Pete and Badger one last time, happy that B***h Lydia and F***wad Todd got what they SO richly deserved. Just happy… And YET. I am DEVASTATED that it’s over. No show has affected me as much as this one. I love it beyond reason. I don’t own a box set of any show, but you better believe I will be buying this series. And the Blu-Ray player on which to watch it.” —Sharron
“Thoroughly satisfied. The show will go down as perhaps the most consistent series from start to finish. Also: we finally hear from Walt himself that cooking meth was never about his family — as ‘team Walt’ proponents absurdly contended — but about him and his wounded ego. This made his redemptive actions much more convincing as a result. We live in a post-BB world now. Sigh!” –ed68
“Where do we go from here? This was the absolute best thing on TV ever! I’m a little sad because I will probably not live to see anything better but at least I can say I saw Breaking Bad. And I’m glad I didn’t binge watch it. I watched it every week, episode by episode for 6 years, almost like a holy ritual. I will miss it.”—triniman65