"Felina" is the series finale of the American crime drama television series Breaking Bad. It is the sixteenth episode of the fifth season and the 62nd overall episode of the series. The episode was directed and written by series creator Vince Gilligan. It first 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.
|Breaking Bad episode|
|Episode no.||Season 5|
|Directed by||Vince Gilligan|
|Written by||Vince Gilligan|
|Cinematography by||Arthur Albert|
|Editing by||Skip Macdonald|
|Original air date||September 29, 2013|
|Running time||55 minutes|
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 took his money, killed his brother-in-law Hank, took Jesse captive and presented a threat to his family. Knowing his lung cancer will soon kill him, Walt revisits his former acquaintances to settle his affairs and prepare himself for the conflict and—ultimately—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.
Walt steals a car, returns to New Mexico, and surprises the Schwartzes. He claims he hired hitmen, and Badger and Skinny Pete scare them with laser pointers that spoof rifle sights. Walt coerces them to place his remaining $9.72 million in a trust for Walter Jr. He pays Badger and Pete, obtains confirmation that blue meth is still distributed, and deduces that Jesse is alive.
Walt retrieves the ricin from his abandoned house,[a] connects an M60 machine gun[b] to a pivoting turret in the trunk of the car he is now driving, and rigs it to the remote unlock button of the car he stole in New Hampshire. He interrupts Todd and Lydia's coffee shop meeting and offers what he claims is a formula for methylamine-free meth. Lydia feigns interest so Walt will meet Jack, knowing Jack will kill him.
Marie calls Skyler to warn her Walt is in Albuquerque. Walt is already with Skyler and leaves her the lottery ticket containing the coordinates for Hank and Steve's grave,[c] which he advises her to use to obtain a favorable plea bargain. He admits that despite claiming he produced meth to provide for his family, he did it to gratify himself. Skyler allows Walt to see the sleeping Holly and he later watches from afar as Walter Jr. arrives home from school.
Walt parks alongside the headquarters of Jack's compound. Jack orders him killed and Walt accuses Jack of failing to carry out the execution of Jesse that Walt paid for.[d] Jack is angered at the suggestion he partnered with a "rat" and orders that Jesse be brought from Jack's meth lab so he can prove Jesse is a captive. Walt tackles Jesse to the floor and remotely fires the machine gun; everyone but Jack, Todd, Jesse, and Walt is killed. Jesse strangles Todd to death with his shackles, then frees himself with Todd's keys. Jack pleads for his life, but Walt kills him. A wounded Walt asks Jesse to kill him but Jesse says if he wants to die he should do it himself.
Walt answers Todd's phone and tells Lydia she will soon die because he poisoned her coffee shop stevia. Jesse and Walt exchange a farewell glance before Jesse flees in Todd's El Camino.[e] Walt admires the lab before he dies. Police rush in as he lies motionless, a slight smile of satisfaction on his face.
Production on "Felina" and the Breaking Bad series concluded on April 2, 2013, according to Cranston.
On September 18, 2013, it was announced that both "Granite State" and "Felina" would run 75 minutes, including commercials. The actual runtime of the episodes is 55 minutes. The episode was written and directed by series creator Vince Gilligan.
Title reference and musicEdit
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. Additionally, Walt sings the song to himself while building his machine gun turret. 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.
There are also a number of fan theories regarding the significance of the title: the word Felina can be broken up into three 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. 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."
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. According to Rolling Stone, the music supervisors on the show disagreed with Gilligan's choice for the final song; 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". "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."
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. 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. This ultimately resulted in the film El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, which first aired on Netflix on October 11, 2019, and had limited theatrical 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. Aaron Paul returned to star as Jesse, and the film includes brief appearances by Bryan Cranston, Jonathan Banks, Jesse Plemons, Robert Forster, Matt Jones, Krysten Ritter and Charles Baker.
"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. The episode generated millions of online comments and Nielsen Holdings rankings established that it was the most-discussed episode on Twitter for that week. The popularity of the episode resulted in a 2,981 percent increase of sales of the Badfinger song "Baby Blue", which features prominently in the ending sequence, as well as a 9,000 percent increase in streaming over Spotify.
Upon airing, the episode received universal acclaim. 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". Seth Amitin at IGN also praised the episode, calling it "fully satisfying" and awarding it a score of 9.8 out of 10. Katey Rich agreed with these sentiments, calling the episode "a deeply satisfying and surprisingly emotional finale". 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".
In popular cultureEdit
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- Malcolm in the Middle#Legacy for the alternate ending