Breaking Bad – “Felina” (Season 5, Episode 16)

Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 16 - "Felina"

Towards the end of “Felina,” Walter White scrabbles on the floor with his car keys, pressing the button again and again. We know – or can guess – that it’s about to unleash death upon Walt’s enemies. But for a few seconds, it doesn’t. Nothing happens.

In another universe, Breaking Bad ends there. Walt’s final scheme fails. He dies a villain, he “gets what he deserves” (as the show so unsubtly puts it), nonetheless achieving some degree of redemption. Maybe that universe doesn’t get as much closure from Breaking Bad. But in this universe, while “Felina” is far from a disappointing finale it all feels a bit… too “neat” as Alan Sepinwall put it.

The episode has plenty of narrative closure (though I’m disappointed that it never explained why Walt repeated his Grey Matter mistake, abandoning his meth business and leaving himself so vulnerable). But it lacks the emotional closure I craved. Perhaps because the ending is neither happy nor sad – Walt arguably “wins,” but who really wanted that? Jesse lives, but as a wanted man, with no money and no way to “disappear.” Honestly, I would’ve preferred the messier ending of that imagined universe, with Walt’s clockwork failing and rusting away.

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