Felina (Breaking Bad)

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"Felina"
Breaking Bad episode
Episode no. Season 5
Episode 16
Directed by Vince Gilligan
Written by Vince Gilligan
Featured music "El Paso" by Marty Robbins
"Baby Blue" by Badfinger
Original air date September 29, 2013 (2013-09-29)
Running time 55 minutes
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Granite State"
Next →
Breaking Bad (season 5)
List of Breaking Bad episodes

"Felina" is the series finale of the American drama television series Breaking Bad. It is the sixteenth episode of season five and the 62nd overall episode of the series. Written and directed by series creator Vince Gilligan, it aired on AMC in the United States and Canada on September 29, 2013.

The plot involves Walt evading a nationwide manhunt for him in order to return to New Mexico and deliver the remaining profits from his illegal methamphetamine empire to his family. He also avenges upon the neo-Nazi gang who double-crossed him, killed his brother-in-law Hank, took Jesse captive and presented a threat to his family. Knowing the cancer will soon kill him, Walt revisits his former acquaintances to settle his affairs and prepare himself for the conflict and his death.

Upon airing, "Felina" was met with widespread acclaim from critics. Several critics have called it one of the greatest series finales of all time.[1]

Plot[edit]

After leaving the bar, Walt (Bryan Cranston) leaves New Hampshire in a Volvo, with Marty Robbins' song "El Paso" playing on the tape deck. He returns to New Mexico and tracks down Gretchen and Elliott Schwartz (Jessica Hecht and Adam Godley) at their new house in Santa Fe, after posing as a reporter for The New York Times. To circumvent the suspicions of the DEA and his family, he orders them to give his remaining $9.72 million to Walt Jr.. He will inherit it upon turning eighteen, saying this is their chance to "make things right". Walt reveals there are snipers waiting outside, aiming at the Schwartzes after Walt tells them they will always be watched to ensure they keep to his instructions. They agree to his terms and Walt leaves, paying Badger Mayhew (Matt L. Jones) and Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) for aiming red laser pointers at the Schwartzes and posing as hitmen. Walt learns from Badger and Skinny Pete that Jack Welker's (Michael Bowen) gang has been cooking and distributing blue meth and realizes Jesse (Aaron Paul) is still alive.

On his 52nd birthday, Walt purchases an M60 machine gun and retrieves the ricin from his abandoned house, connecting the machine gun to a pivoting turret rigged to the car-key's unlock button. He intercepts Todd (Jesse Plemons) and Lydia's (Laura Fraser) meeting at a coffee shop and makes a business proposal, offering a new formula for methylamine-free meth. Todd turns him down, but Lydia feigns interest to lure Walt into getting killed by Jack. Later, Skyler (Anna Gunn) receives a phone call from Marie (Betsy Brandt), who informs her Walt has returned, but Walt is already with Skyler. He leaves her with the lottery ticket on which the coordinates of Hank (Dean Norris) and Steve's (Steven Michael Quezada) grave is printed and advises her to use it to negotiate a plea bargain with the authorities. Assuming the phone is tapped, Walt tells Skyler his life as a drug kingpin was for himself rather than his family, stating that he did it because he enjoyed it, was good at it, and made him feel alive. Skyler allows Walt to see Holly one last time while she sleeps. After leaving, Walt watches Walter Jr. (RJ Mitte) arrive home from school from afar.

Walt meets with Jack and his men at their hideout, where Jesse is still performing slave labor for the gang in an adjacent Quonset hut. Jack refuses Walt's meth offer and orders him killed. Walt diverts Jack's attention by accusing him of partnering with Jesse; to which Jack responds by ordering that Jesse join them. Upon seeing Jesse, Walt tackles him and uses his car keys to remote-fire the machine gun from his car. Everybody except Jack, Todd, Jesse and Walt are dead. As Todd stares out the window in amazement at the now-empty machine gun pivoting in its turret, Jesse strangles and kills Todd with the chain attached to his handcuffs, and then frees himself by taking a key from Todd's pocket. After Walt picks up a dropped handgun, Jack attempts to bargain with the location of the stolen money, but Walt coldly kills him as Jack pleads. Walt gives the gun to Jesse and asks Jesse to kill him. Jesse notices Walt's wound from the gunfire and refuses, telling Walt to kill himself. As Jesse and Walt leave Jack's house, Walt answers a call on Todd's phone from an audibly ill Lydia. He informs her that her business partners are dead and reveals that he had put ricin in her stevia at the coffee shop. Jesse and Walt exchange a farewell glance before Jesse flees in Todd's El Camino. He crashes through the gates, screaming and crying with joy.

Walt enters the lab and smiles nostalgically as he admires the equipment, holding a gas mask and rubbing a kettle. His fingers leave a bloody trail on the kettle as he falls to the floor, collapsing from the wound. Police rush in with guns drawn as he lies motionless with slight satisfaction. An officer takes Walt's pulse.

Production[edit]

Gilligan at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con International
Series creator Vince Gilligan wrote and directed "Felina"

On September 18, 2013, it was announced that both "Granite State" and "Felina" would run 75 minutes, including commercials.[2] The actual runtime of the episodes is 55 minutes.[3] The episode was written and directed by series creator Vince Gilligan.

Title reference and music[edit]

The episode title, "Felina", is inspired by the character Feleena from the song "El Paso" by Marty Robbins, which plays a major role during the episode.[4] The writers changed the name from Feleena to Felina so that it would also be an anagram of Finale.[5][6] Moreover, the word Felina can also be broken up into three different symbols of chemical elements found in the periodic table: iron (Fe), lithium (Li), and sodium (Na). Since iron is a predominant element in blood, lithium is sometimes used in methamphetamine production, and sodium is a component of tears, the title was interpreted by some as "blood, meth and tears".[7] According to Eric Brown of International Business Times:

"In its pure form ... methamphetamine is composed solely of carbon (C), hydrogen (H) and nitrogen (N), no lithium involved. However, there are multiple ways to synthesize meth from other ingredients, and several involve lithium. The Birch reduction, also called the "Nazi method," mixes lithium and ammonia to create a reaction. Another, called the "Shake 'n' Bake" method, involved throwing lithium and several other ingredients into a single pot to create the drug. Both methods are extremely dangerous, as lithium is a highly volatile element. Unfortunately, there's a big hole in this theory: Walt never uses a lithium-based synthesis in the show. ... Walt uses two methods throughout the show: first the Nagai method involving red phosphorus and later a methylamine P2P reaction resulting in the famous blue meth. Neither one uses lithium at any point, shooting a big hole in this theory."[7][8][9]

Another theory is that "Felina" is a reference to Schrödinger's cat. Erwin Schrödinger was a pioneering developer of quantum theory whose approach stood in opposition to Werner Heisenberg, whose surname Walt used as his alias. Felinae is a subfamily of the cat family which includes the domestic cat. In Schrödinger's thought experiment, a cat trapped in a sealed box is killed by a flask of hydrocyanic acid, but by the principles of quantum mechanics is considered to be both alive and dead at the same time.[8]

Badfinger's "Baby Blue" is played during the final scene. According to series creator Vince Gilligan, this is reference to the high-quality blue meth Walt had produced over the previous seasons and his life as a drug kingpin which the main character at last recognizes he had enjoyed.[5] According to Rolling Stone, the music supervisors on the show disagreed with Gilligan's choice for the final song;[5] however, music supervisor Thomas Golubić stated that "journalists sometimes try to create drama where there isn't any" and that his quotes were "mis-represented".[10] "Baby Blue" became an obvious choice as the editing came closer to completion with Golubić describing the process of finalizing the song:

Before I saw the scene, I pulled together a number of ideas – one which I thought worked pretty beautifully against picture: The Bees' "No More Excuses" – but once I saw that beautiful shot, and saw the scene in context, I realized why Vince was so strongly attached to the Badfinger song. It's tricky for us as music supervisors in that we keep pulling together ideas and revising them. None of us know the right answer until we are at the very end of that process and have cut and locked picture to work with. Vince is just really talented at knowing what the final effect he is looking for, and knew early on that Badfinger's "Baby Blue" was the right choice for what he was looking to do. It took until the final picture was assembled that I was able to also see what a fantastic choice it was.[10]

— Thomas Golubić

Reception[edit]

Ratings[edit]

"Felina" had the highest ratings of any episode of Breaking Bad: 10.28 million in the United States, including 5.3 million adults aged 18–49.[11][12] The episode generated millions of online comments and Nielsen Holdings rankings established that it was the most-discussed episode on Twitter for that week.[13] The popularity of the episode resulted in a 2,981 percent increase of sales of the Badfinger song "Baby Blue" as well as a 9,000 percent increase in streaming over Spotify.[14]

Critical reception[edit]

Upon airing, the episode received nearly universal critical acclaim.[15][16] In her review of "Felina", Donna Bowman of The A.V. Club gave the episode an A rating, writing that "Walt's purpose is fulfilled, and he just stops".[4] Seth Amitin at IGN also praised the episode, calling it "fully satisfying" and awarding it a score of 9.8 out of 10.[17] Katey Rich agreed with these sentiments, calling the episode "a deeply satisfying and surprisingly emotional finale".[18] However, Emily Nussbaum, writing in the New Yorker, criticized the episode, claiming it so neatly wrapped up the series in Walt's favor that it seemed more like "the dying fantasy on the part of Walter White, not something that was actually happening".[19]

The MythBusters tested the machine-gun turret and proved that it was possible in real life.[20]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result
2014 American Cinema Editors Eddie Awards Best Edited One-Hour Series for Commercial Television Skip MacDonald Won
Art Directors Guild Award One-Hour Single Camera Television Series Mark Freeborn Nominated
Cinema Audio Society Awards Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Television Series – One Hour Darryl L. Frank Nominated
Directors Guild of America Award Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series Vince Gilligan Won
Golden Reel Awards Best Sound Editing in Television – Short Form: Sound Effects and Foley Nick Forshager Won
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series Vince Gilligan Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series Nominated
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Miniseries, Movie, or Special Tarra Day, Steve LaPorte, Greg Nicotero, Stephan Dupuis, and Howard Leigh Berger Nominated
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series Skip MacDonald Nominated
Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series Nominated
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One-Hour) Darryl L. Frank, Jeff Perkins, and Eric Justen Nominated

References[edit]

  1. ^  • "End Game: TV's Best and Worst Series Finales". Rolling Stone. May 12, 2015. Retrieved February 28, 2017. 
     • "THIS IS THE END: THE 13 BEST TV SERIES FINALES EVER". Digital Trends. September 3, 2016. Archived from the original on February 3, 2017. Retrieved February 3, 2017. 
     • "The 20 Greatest TV Finales of All Time". Screen Rant. September 18, 2016. Archived from the original on February 4, 2017. Retrieved February 3, 2017. 
  2. ^ Couch, Aaron (September 18, 2013). "Breaking Bad: Final Two Episodes Get Extended Run Times". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved September 30, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Breaking Bad, The Final Season". iTunes. Retrieved October 7, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Bowman, Donna (September 29, 2013). "Felina". The A.V. Club. Retrieved September 30, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c Knopper, Steve (October 1, 2013). "Why 'Breaking Bad' Chose Badfinger's 'Baby Blue'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 7, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Breaking Bad - Insider Podcast Season 5". AMC. Archived from the original on February 28, 2014. Retrieved October 7, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Dibdin, Emma (September 30, 2013). "'Breaking Bad' series finale recap: Blood, meth and tears in 'Felina'". Digital Spy. Retrieved May 5, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b "Decoding the 'Breaking Bad' finale". International Business Times. September 26, 2013. Retrieved June 16, 2014. 
  9. ^ Locker, Melissa (September 25, 2013). "Is "Felina" the Secret to the Breaking Bad Finale?". TIME. Retrieved May 5, 2014. 
  10. ^ a b "I am Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead music supervisor, Thomas Golubić, ASK ME ANYTHIN". Reddit. October 5, 2013. Retrieved October 12, 2013. 
  11. ^ Bibel, Sara (October 1, 2013). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'Breaking Bad' Wins Big, 'Talking Bad', 'Homeland', 'Boardwalk Empire', 'Masters of Sex' & More". TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on October 24, 2013. Retrieved October 3, 2013. 
  12. ^ Bibel, Sara (September 30, 2013). "Breaking Bad Finale Scores Record 10.3 Million Viewers, 6.7 Million Adults 18–49". Zap2it. Tribune Media Services. Retrieved September 30, 2013. 
  13. ^ Chmielewski, Dawn C. (September 30, 2013). "Breaking Bad generates millions of comments on Twitter, Facebook". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. Retrieved September 30, 2013. 
  14. ^ Subramanian, Courtney (October 2, 2013). "Breaking Bad's Final Scene Boosts Sales for 1970's Band Badfinger". TIME. Time Inc. 
  15. ^ Dietz, Jason (September 29, 2013). "Episode Review: Breaking Bad Series Finale". Retrieved September 30, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Breaking Bad finale is a hit with TV critics". BBC. September 30, 2013. Retrieved September 30, 2013. 
  17. ^ Amitin, Seth (September 29, 2013). "Breaking Bad: "Felina" Review". IGN. Retrieved September 30, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Breaking Bad Finale: Was That Really The Ending Walt Deserved?". CinemaBlend. September 29, 2013. Retrieved September 30, 2013. 
  19. ^ "The Closure-Happy "Breaking Bad" Finale". The New Yorker. 2013-09-30. 
  20. ^ "The MythBusters Take on the 'Breaking Bad' Finale". Popular Mechanics. 2015-08-28. Retrieved 2016-03-04. 

External links[edit]