Looking at the Internet last night and today it seemed not many people were dissatisfied with how Breaking Bad's incredible story came to an end. Of course there were a few minor gripes from critics, mainly that the ending was "too perfect." Many detractors seemed to pick at certain scenarios within the episode with the simple complaint that it was all too easy that everything just fell into place. I disagree that Walt's plan was based on mere good fortune, but was rather a testament to the brilliance of his character and his knowledge of every other character throughout the series.
I don't think the finale was "perfect" and predictable so much as Vince Gilligan really diving into the identities of these characters to the point that we know who they are. Brilliant writing showed us the core of these characters and really stuck with us as to how they would react in future situations.
I think the best example of this is Marie. Who better than the neurotic out of the loop and paranoid sister in law to send the DEA in several different directions? Marie believed Walt to be a stone cold killer in the most extreme sense, so it only made sense for her to believe he would come back for blood on his family. There were several other minor characters who were written perfectly into this episode for the role they've performed most of the series.
Elliott and Gretchen didn't call the cops out of a mix of guilt and fear. Them falling for the hitman ploy showed Walt's intellectual superiority over his former partners, bringing back the fact they stole his research to make their millions. Skinny Pete and Badger, of course, will do anything for some cash, and hats off to Vince Gilligan for those cameos, because I didn't think there would be room to include them in the finale. The Nazis are overly proud but largely ignorant. Todd, of course, acted like the awkward sociopath that he is.
Given the fact that an entire year had passed since the previous episode, it's pretty obvious Walt could come up with the perfect plan to destroy everyone. Let's think of the scenarios he's crafted in less time:
- Gassing the drug dealers in the RV in season 1
- Strapping a bomb to an old man to kill Gus (from idea to execution less than a day)
- Poisoning Brock...wait.
We never did see how Walt managed to poison Brock (not that it was that elaborate or even well-developed a plan) as we never saw how he managed to poison Lydia. Many people assumed it was a simple sleight of hand, but I think the fact that she asked for more of her sweetener indicated that there was only one packet at the table. Walt indicating that she shows up at the same time each Tuesday leaves me to assume he showed up prior and ensured the table she sat at would only contain the ricin.
Fast forward to the Nazi confrontation. Walt had visited this compound in several episodes so he was very familiar with the set up, and once again, he had a year to develop this plan. The only real wild card in this episode was when Jesse and Walt finally met again. My eyes kept darting from the clock to Jesse with the gun, wondering if they were going to pull a Sopranos on me. Luckily the two had their closure, and while damaged, I couldn't have been happier with the way Jesse left the show.
I saved the most bizarre and common complaint for last. Not one, but many people complained that they thought Walt was going to blow himself up in the meth lab at the end. My only question is: why? Taking away the fact he was bleeding out and would've died before he had the chance, what would have been accomplished? Symbolism? What is this, a Michael Bay movie? The final scene in the lab wasn't about a plan, vengeance against the DEA, or some Tony Montana coked out firecracker ending. It was about the love a man had for science. It was a true full circle for the series.
His passion he showed in his chemistry class was exactly the same as when he taught Jesse to cook, when he was commended for his pure product, when he found an equal in Gale, and when it was time to hang it up he fought fiercely to keep it. As he told Skylar, it was about feeling alive, and it was in this lab surrounded by the Chemistry he loved so much that Walt smiled and died. It was phenomenal for me personally because in that moment I felt as though I truly got it, and was satisfied. 10 out of 10, and in my mind, the best series finale in recent memory.