A Perfect, Bad Finale

Breaking Bad's last episode satisfies fans, critics

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 30, 2013 7:54 AM CDT

(Newser) – "Guess I got what I deserve." That's the lyric that played when (SPOILER ALERT) Walter White fell over dead in Breaking Bad's finale last night, and while it's a point of contention whether Heisenberg actually did get what he deserved, most critics agree that the audience did. Here's what people are saying—and again, spoiler warning in effect:

  • The Felina episode "closed out a great series in style, with visual flair, action, and a thorough lack of phony redemption," writes James Poiewozik at Time. It wasn't the best or most ambitious episode, but "that's OK. Because what 'Felina' was—as effective, satisfying series finales are—was true." True to the show's heart, and true to Walter White's journey. While it gives Walt a victory it "is also conscious of what Walt cannot engineer. He cannot get his family to love him again."

  • It "may be the first recorded (and distinctly over-tweeted) perfect finale in television history," writes Mary McNamara at the LA Times. "It contained the Holy Grail of all storytelling: an Actual Moment of Truth." When Walt admitted to Skyler that he had done all of this for himself, he was "speaking for every mobster, criminal, dictator, and king … who has ever used love of family or God or country as an excuse." The rest of the episode "was just routine cleanup," albeit "splendidly accomplished."
  • But Willa Paskins at Slate is annoyed that after all his misdeeds "Walt was rewarded with a death on his own terms," protecting the audience from dealing with the ramifications of rooting for this monster. This does nicely prevent the audience from being "gleeful and bloodthirsty about his death," but our bloodlust is just redirected to the neo-Nazis, "as if we needed Breaking Bad to tell us Nazis are the worst."
  • Alan Sepinwall has a different qualm: "Was it ultimately too neat?" he asks. Throughout the series, Walt's plans invariably go awry, so it felt wrong that everything went perfectly. Last week's penultimate episode "suggested a world in which Heisenberg was dead and useless, but 'Felina' brought him back to life." Still, give it this: "In an era where the great dramas so often overreach, obfuscate, or stumble in their conclusions, this was definitive. These were the final, unmistakable steps on the path Walter White put us on nearly six years ago."

This image released by AMC shows Bryan Cranston, as Walter White, in the final scene from "Breaking Bad."   (AP Photo/AMC, Ursula Coyote)
Walter White, played by Bryan Cranston, left, and drug kingpin Gus Fring, played by Giancarlo Esposito in a scene from the third season of "Breaking Bad."   (AP Photo/AMC, Ursula Coyote)
Walter White, played by Bryan Cranston, hides out in the woods of New Hampshire, in a scene from season five of "Breaking Bad."   (AP Photo/AMC, Ursula Coyote)
Walter White, played by Bryan Cranston in a scene from the fifth season of "Breaking Bad." The series finale aired on Sunday, Sept. 29.   (AP Photo/AMC, Ursula Coyote)
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