The Breaking Bad finale was last night. It was as well-shot, well-acted, and satisfying as I’ve come to expect. I’m going to miss it, along with the excellent critiques at the AV Club that always shed some new light on it, and the official podcast that got deep into the characters’ skins with word from the actors and writers.
If I were to criticize it for anything, and this is barely a criticism, it’s that the plot didn’t really surprise me. I say that’s barely a criticism because I don’t know if surprises were or even should have been a priority at this point. We all knew what the “Mr. Chips to Scarface” premise entails, so we knew the broad strokes at play here.
A few things did surprise me about the execution. He (seemingly) found a way to get the money to his family. The slow pan to reveal that Walter was there the entire time Skylar was on the phone with Marie was chilling. His jerry-rigged automatic gun was a very Breaking Bad spin on the “say hello to my little friend” moment. The most satisfying for me was that he admitted, to Skylar, the audience, and himself, that he wasn’t doing this for some noble goal. He liked it, and it made him feel alive. I suppose at a certain point the show felt it had to spell it out, for the benefit of people who went to the very end claiming he was doing the wrong things for the right reasons.
But all that said, the story happenings themselves didn’t surprise me. I’d prefer a well-executed but somewhat predictable ending to some tacked-on twist. Walt, in the last shot, looks at the camera and says, “I never had cancer.” No thanks. But can you even imagine?