Felina (Breaking Bad)

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"Felina"
Breaking Bad episode
Episode no.Season 5
Episode 16
Directed byVince Gilligan
Written byVince Gilligan
Featured music
Original air dateSeptember 29, 2013 (2013-09-29)
Running time55 minutes
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"Granite State"
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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. It was followed by a sequel film, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, which was made available on Netflix on October 11, 2019.

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 takes revenge on the Aryan Brotherhood 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) departs New Hampshire in a stolen Volvo, with Marty Robbins' song "El Paso" playing on the tape deck. He returns to New Mexico and poses as a reporter for The New York Times to track down Gretchen and Elliott Schwartz (Jessica Hecht and Adam Godley) at their new house in Santa Fe. To circumvent the suspicions of the DEA and his family, he orders Gretchen and Elliott to give his remaining $9.72 million to Walt Jr. by camouflaging it as a trust endowed by them which Walt Jr. will inherit upon turning eighteen, saying this is their chance to "make things right" for minimizing Walt's involvement in Gray Matter. Walt claims there are snipers outside aiming at them, and red laser dots appear on their chests. Walt tells them that to ensure they adhere to his instructions, they will always be watched closely by the hitmen he has paid. They agree to his terms and Walt leaves, paying Badger Mayhew (Matt L. Jones) and Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) for participating in his ruse by aiming red laser pointers at the Schwartzes. Walt learns from Badger and 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. He connects the machine gun to a pivoting turret inside the trunk of the old Cadillac Sedan DeVille he is now driving, which is rigged to the Volvo's remote unlock button. He interrupts Todd (Jesse Plemons) and Lydia's (Laura Fraser) regular meeting at a coffee shop and makes a business proposal, offering what he claims is a new formula for methylamine-free meth. Todd turns him down, but Lydia feigns interest to lure Walt into meeting with Jack, knowing he will kill Walt. Later, Skyler (Anna Gunn) receives a phone call from Marie (Betsy Brandt), who warns her that Walt has been seen in Albuquerque. After Skyler hangs up, it is revealed that Walt is already with Skyler. He leaves her the lottery ticket on which he had encoded the location of his money. Following the shootout in the desert, the coordinates now reveal Hank (Dean Norris) and Steve's (Steven Michael Quezada) hidden grave, and Walt advises Skyler to use the location as leverage in negotiating a favorable plea bargain. Walt admits to Skyler that contrary to his previous claims that he only wanted to make money to support his family after his death, his life as a drug kingpin was for himself, and that he did it because he enjoyed it, was good at it, and it made him feel alive. Skyler allows Walt to see Holly while she sleeps. After leaving, Walt watches from afar as Walter Jr. (RJ Mitte) arrives home from school.

Walt drives to Jack's hideout and parks alongside the building. He meets inside with Jack and his men, but Jack refuses Walt's meth formula offer and orders him killed. Walt diverts Jack's attention by accusing him of going back on his promise to kill Jesse and instead partnering with him to continue the meth business. Jack responds by ordering that Jesse be brought from the adjacent Quonset hut where he is still forced to cook meth so Jack can prove Jesse works for him unwillingly, not with him as a partner. Upon seeing Jesse, Walt tackles him out of the line of fire and uses the Volvo button to remotely fire the machine gun through the building's walls and windows. The gun fires until it runs out of ammunition, and everyone but Jack, Todd, Jesse and Walt are killed. As Todd stares out the window in amazement at the now-empty machine gun pivoting on its turret, Jesse strangles and kills him with the chain attached to his handcuffs, and then frees himself by taking Todd's keys from his pocket. After Walt picks up a dropped handgun, Jack attempts to bargain for his life with the location of the money he stole from Walt, but Walt silently rejects the offer and coldly kills him mid-sentence, mirroring the manner in which Jack killed Hank. Walt gives the gun to Jesse and asks Jesse to kill him. Jesse notices Walt was wounded from the machine gun's fire and refuses, telling Walt that if he wants to die he should do it himself.

As Jesse and Walt leave Jack's house, Walt answers Todd's phone and speaks with an obviously ill Lydia. He informs her that Jack and his gang are all dead and that she'll soon be dead too because he planted ricin in her stevia during the meeting at the coffee shop. Jesse and Walt exchange a farewell glance before Jesse flees in Todd's El Camino. He crashes through the gates and drives away, screaming and crying with joy.

Walt enters the lab and smiles nostalgically as he admires the equipment, holding a respirator and rubbing a kettle. His fingers leave a bloody trail on the kettle as he falls to the floor, collapsing from his wound. Police rush in with guns drawn as he lies motionless, a slight smile of satisfaction on his face as an officer takes his pulse and he dies.[2]

Production[edit]

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

Production on "Felina" and the Breaking Bad series concluded on April 2, 2013, according to Cranston.[3]

On September 18, 2013, it was announced that both "Granite State" and "Felina" would run 75 minutes, including commercials.[4] The actual runtime of the episodes is 55 minutes. 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.[5]

The story of "El Paso" closely mirrors Walter White's character arc in the final season of Breaking Bad. Walt, who has become a notorious criminal, flees from Albuquerque, living as a fugitive. Despite this being a successful outcome in the context of the story, he finds himself increasingly isolated and dissatisfied. Because his desire for emotional closure outweighs his fear of capture and death, he is eventually driven to return to the scene of his crimes, where he finds the closure he seeks but ultimately meets his end. "El Paso" is on a Marty Robbins cassette in Walt's car, and is played during the episode. The writers changed the subject's name from Feleena to Felina so that, when used as the title, it could serve as an anagram of Finale.[6][7]

There are also a number of fan theories regarding the significance of the music: the word Felina can be broken up into three different symbols of chemical elements found in the periodic table: iron (Fe), lithium (Li), and sodium (Na). The title was interpreted by some as "blood, meth and tears" because iron is a predominant element in blood, lithium is sometimes used in methamphetamine production, and sodium is a component of tears.[8] 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."[8][9][10]

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.[6] According to Rolling Stone, the music supervisors on the show disagreed with Gilligan's choice for the final song;[6] 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".[11] "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.[11]

El Camino[edit]

After the conclusion of the series, Gilligan had considered Jesse's fate, stating that rather than getting caught by police, he had envisioned that Jesse would end up in Alaska to start his life anew.[12] He had mulled this idea over for some years, and as the tenth anniversary of Breaking Bad neared, became interested in producing a work to follow Jesse's fate after this episode.[13] This ultimately resulted in the film El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, which first aired on Netflix on October 11, 2019 and had limited theatric runs that weekend. El Camino, named for the car Jesse escapes in, takes place immediately after the events of "Felina", and was considered by Gilligan to be a coda to the overall series to close out Jesse's story.[13] Paul returned to star as Jesse, and the film includes brief appearances by Cranston, Plemons, Fraser, Jones, and Baker, among others.

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.[14][15] The episode generated millions of online comments and Nielsen Holdings rankings established that it was the most-discussed episode on Twitter for that week.[16] 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.[17]

Critical reception[edit]

Upon airing, the episode received nearly universal critical acclaim.[18][19] 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".[5] Seth Amitin at IGN also praised the episode, calling it "fully satisfying" and awarding it a score of 9.8 out of 10.[20] Katey Rich agreed with these sentiments, calling the episode "a deeply satisfying and surprisingly emotional finale".[21] 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".[22]

In 2019 The Ringer ranked "Felina" as the 19th best out of the 62 total Breaking Bad episodes.[23]

In popular culture[edit]

The MythBusters tested the machine-gun turret and proved that it was possible in real life.[24]

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. ^ Roffman, Mark (October 8, 2019). "Breaking Bad Creator Vince Gilligan Confirms Walter White's Fate". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved October 8, 2019.
  3. ^ Sipenwall, Alan (October 14, 2019). "Bryan Cranston on 'El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 14, 2019.
  4. ^ Couch, Aaron (September 18, 2013). "Breaking Bad: Final Two Episodes Get Extended Run Times". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved September 30, 2013.
  5. ^ a b Bowman, Donna (September 29, 2013). "Felina". The A.V. Club. Retrieved September 30, 2013.
  6. ^ a b c Knopper, Steve (October 1, 2013). "Why 'Breaking Bad' Chose Badfinger's 'Baby Blue'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved October 7, 2013.
  7. ^ "Breaking Bad – Insider Podcast Season 5". AMC. Archived from the original on February 28, 2014. Retrieved October 7, 2013.
  8. ^ a b Dibdin, Emma (September 30, 2013). "'Breaking Bad' series finale recap: Blood, meth and tears in 'Felina'". Digital Spy. Retrieved May 5, 2014.
  9. ^ Brown, Eric (September 26, 2013). "Decoding the 'Breaking Bad' finale". International Business Times. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  10. ^ Locker, Melissa (September 25, 2013). "Is "Felina" the Secret to the Breaking Bad Finale?". TIME. Retrieved May 5, 2014.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ Snierson, Dan (September 30, 2013). "'Breaking Bad': Creator Vince Gilligan explains series finale". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 14, 2019.
  13. ^ a b Keegan, Rebecca (September 18, 2019). "'Breaking Bad' Returns: Aaron Paul and Vince Gilligan Take a TV Classic for a Spin in 'El Camino'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 18, 2019.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ Chmielewski, Dawn C. (September 30, 2013). "Breaking Bad generates millions of comments on Twitter, Facebook". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. Retrieved September 30, 2013.
  17. ^ Subramanian, Courtney (October 2, 2013). "Breaking Bad's Final Scene Boosts Sales for 1970's Band Badfinger". TIME. Time Inc.
  18. ^ Dietz, Jason (September 29, 2013). "Episode Review: Breaking Bad Series Finale". Retrieved September 30, 2013.
  19. ^ "Breaking Bad finale is a hit with TV critics". BBC. September 30, 2013. Retrieved September 30, 2013.
  20. ^ Amitin, Seth (September 29, 2013). "Breaking Bad: "Felina" Review". IGN. Retrieved September 30, 2013.
  21. ^ "Breaking Bad Finale: Was That Really The Ending Walt Deserved?". CinemaBlend. September 29, 2013. Retrieved September 30, 2013.
  22. ^ "The Closure-Happy "Breaking Bad" Finale". The New Yorker. September 30, 2013.
  23. ^ "The Ringer's Definitive Breaking Bad Episodes Ranking". The Ringer. September 30, 2019. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
  24. ^ Bishop, Rollin (August 28, 2015). "The MythBusters Take on the 'Breaking Bad' Finale". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved March 4, 2016.

External links[edit]