All day Monday, I was asked my opinion of Sunday night’s season finale of AMC’s Breaking Bad. Here are my top six impressions of the greatest show to grace TV. (This post is lousy with spoilers.)
6. Homage to El Paso: Early in the show, Walter White finds a Marty Robbins cassette tape in the glovebox of the Volvo he drives to New Mexico. I nearly hyperventilated because El Paso is one of my favorite songs (in addition to Crystal Blue Persuasion). El Paso made perfect sense, especially the lyric “Out to the badlands of New Mexico.” Again, music augments the story. As soon as I heard the first strum of Badfinger’s Baby Blue — one of the first 45s I ever bought — I knew which lyric was going to resonate: “Guess I got what I deserve …”
5. Walt’s art of lying: He is world class. He was able to convince Elliot and Gretchen that Team Walt (Badger and Skinny Pete) would watch/haunt them after his death if his blood money wasn’t properly passed on to Walt Jr. I again nearly hyperventilated when Walt signaled for the lasers to zero in on Elliott and Gretchen’s chests.
4. The return of Badger and Skinny Pete: OMG, they’re the greatest duo since Beavis and Butthead. Skinny Pete uttered the understatement of the series: “The whole thing felt kinda shady, like morality wise.” I would love it if they joined the cast of the Saul Goodman spinoff.
3. The clubhouse massacre: It felt kinda Scarface in that Walt’s remote-control assault gun was deadly accurate, even though it fired, from close range, through the chassis of a late-1970s Cadillac Deville. The bullets also had to go through a window where all the Nazis were standing like display mannequins. Plausible? Probably not. But I was really wanting Jack’s gang to get wiped out.
2. Jesse Pinkman’s revenge: For all the horrible things Todd did, he got what he deserved. But for me, it was not as automatic to hate Todd. He was played by Dallas-born Jesse Plemons, who picked up the role not long after the end of Friday Night Lights (another strong serial drama). In FNL, he played a more sympathetic character who was also awkward around women he had crushes on. After knocking off Todd, Jesse shrugs off killing Mr. White and gets the hell out of Dodge. Jesse will next be seen in the movie Need for Speed. If I were the movie’s marketers, I would have bought the advertising block after Jesse made like Speed Racer out of the New Mexico night.
1. Is Walt really dead? We see him in the closing scene, sprawled face-up on the meth-lab floor, bleeding, with a bullet wound to his lower right abdomen. I freeze-framed the closeup and saw that his pupils were fixed and dilated. Seconds later, a lawman checks his pulse and shakes his head. And then, it’s all over. It destroyed my theory that Walt survives, makes it to California and starts a new life with several sons, including one named Malcolm, and a wife named Lois.