So it’s all over. Walter White is dead, taken out in a blaze of glory as he took down the operation that he started. The empire is fallen. Heisenberg is no more, and his work is gone forever.
I think Breaking Bad answered the age old question of whether the ends justify the means, and it seems that the answer is no, they don’t. The ends weren’t even what Walt planned or expected. That he would eventually die – of the cancer or from being killed in this whole operation – was never a question. I think we all knew that in the end, he would die. The question was, who else would go down with him? Plenty of people, it turned out, but it’s when it hit home with Hank that things really started to unravel in ways that couldn’t be rectified.
There was no humor in this season. No funny moments of strange situations with drug dealers, incidents with Saul, Mike or Huell, running from police that aren’t even interested in them, Jesse digging holes in a meth head's back yard, awkward family conversations, or even the “scabby lasagna” dinner conversation that cracked me up so much with Walt, Skyler, and Jesse. It was nothing but painful consequences as this train ran away to its inevitable conclusion. Well, except for Badger and Skinny Pete with the lasar pointers on the Schwartz’s. I did find that clever and funny, albeit in a strange way.
And yet, though the conclusion was expected, there was still disappointment. Yes, I had hope that things would work out. That the bad guy’s good intentions would lead to something worth redeeming. Unfortunately, human nature followed its natural course. At least Walt was willing to admit to Skyler that he did it for himself and his own glory. I hand him huge points for finally making that admission. We heard him tell Jesse he was in the empire business. We saw his pride in killing Gus and taking the operation international with Lydia. It ceased being about securing the family’s financial situation long ago – perhaps even with the first batch. But at least he realized it. He said it made him feel alive even as death was eating away at him through the lung cancer. And so, he never apologized for it. He stood by it, until the police came charging into that lab to find him dead on the floor of what he started and finished, in a blaze of glory. Or more accurately, a blaze of bullets rigged to a garage door opener in the trunk of his car. That was a new thing, at least for me. And I have to admit that it was an amazing scene.
So who paid for this? Everybody. Walt’s dead. He might not answer for it in a court of law, but he answered for it with his life. The family looks to be living in borderline poverty, perhaps worse off than they were before. Maybe Flinn/Walt Jr. will get that money from the Schwartz’s on his 18th birthday. Maybe he’ll believe it’s a generous donation and they’ll be alright. Or maybe he’ll see through this one last lie and reject it, just as Walt rejected the Schwartz’s offer to pay for his cancer treatment – to take the right road out of his situation instead to cooking meth – and in similar pride, the ball will continue to roll for them. The family Walt wanted to help is worse off than ever; and really they are the only ones left, besides Saul, who’s in Nebraska, and Jesse going who knows where. So many people died to protect this and for what – nothing. Most of the money is going to be confiscated by the police. Walt decided in the end to not take the money that Todd’s uncle took from him, but instead to end it for once and for all. That was perhaps the best choice he made. He was never sorry for what he did, but at least he cleaned up the mess the best way he knew how.
That was another moment that got me. Walt saved Jesse, then asked Jesse to kill him. I really didn’t know what he would do, but I saw in that moment, when Jesse dropped the gun and said “do it yourself,” that he grew up. In the worst way possible, he grew up, and that perhaps is the only good that came out of this whole fiasco. He’s the one with a chance at a life. The question is, will the scars of this 2 year journey (for them on the show) hold him back, or propel him forward? I certainly hope it’s the latter. He’s the only one with hope for a better life ahead. I’d like to think that all of this, all the deaths, all the pain, all the hurt, led to this one good thing – of saving him, even as it ruined so many others. It would make this journey of destruction worth it on a small level. Because there’s no big picture where this leads to any good.
So take a lesson from this series. The ends don’t justify the means. Doing wrong never leads to right. It may seem to work out for a while, but it’s a lie. The deception will run out and all that’s left are consequences, and they usually you the worst, but others as well. We might not be comfortable with the ugly in life, but it’s there and facing it is better than turning a blind eye. We see now what it means to make right choices, and the devastating consequences the wrong ones can have on so many people. That web kept growing. It was unbelievable in the end.
Thank you, Vince Gilligan, for taking us on this amazing journey. You are brilliant and there’s no doubt that this show was groundbreaking in so many ways. We witnessed television history last night, and I’m proud to have been a part of it. Even as a viewer munching on Jiffy Pop and sitting in my recliner saying “Oh my God! Did you see that?” and tweeting my amazement at the journey that was Walter White. And thanks to AMC for bringing this marvelous creation to viewers. It was a great, edge of your seat ride, from start to finish. You never let us down. Yes, it was rough around the edges, but so is real life. I loved this show and, like so many others, will surly miss it. I hear there’s a new spinoff series in the works titled “Better Call Saul.” So who knows? Saul might reappear from Nebraska to bring us more adventures. We shall see.
That’s all today. Take care and have a great week.