It was good – really good – but not great and that’s okay.
In ‘Felina,’ creator Vince Gilligan (who wrote and directed the finale) gave us a final episode that crossed all the t’s and dotted all the i’s. No sudden fade to black. No ambiguous ending with our “hero” walking into the sunset for further adventures we aren’t privy to. Given all the clues that had been laid out before us, it ended rather predictably. The ricin is who you think it’s for. The machine gun is who you think it’s for. There were a couple of great character moments particularly one with Walt finally admitting his true motivations for everything he’s done but after the episode ended, my mind wasn’t blown. I didn’t need a moment to collect my thoughts or catch my breath. I was just like, “Sigh. It’s over.” I was merely satisfied and that’s okay.
I realized halfway through the episode that writers had done something that I didn’t think was possible – they made us root for Walt one last time. I almost forgot that we used to want Walt to get away with everything. In Uncle Jack, Todd and the Neo Nazis, they created villains that despite everything Walt did throughout the show, we hated them even more. Walt found himself temporarily redeemed by squashing a less creative evil.
Season 5 of Breaking Bad will still go down as the best final season of a drama in my book. However, the best conclusion to a dramatic seriePos still belongs to The Shield. I still think about the final two episodes – “Possible Kill Screen” and “Family Meeting” – five years later. I don’t think I’ll feel the same way about “Felina.” If the series had ended with “Ozymandias,” I might have ranked it above the The Shield. If Breaking Bad was a present, “Ozymandias” was the actual gift, “Granite State” was the pretty wrapping paper and “Felina” was the bow. You would have been more than happy just getting the gift handed to you but you still appreciate the effort of making it look nice.