Felina (Breaking Bad)
|Breaking Bad episode|
|Directed by||Vince Gilligan|
|Written by||Vince Gilligan|
|Featured music||"Baby Blue" by Badfinger|
|Original air date||September 29, 2013|
|Running time||55 minutes|
"Felina" is the series finale of the American drama television series Breaking Bad. It is the sixteenth episode of season five and the 62nd overall episode of the series. Written and directed by series creator Vince Gilligan, it aired on AMC in the United States and Canada on September 29, 2013.
The plot finds Walt evading a nationwide manhunt for him in order to return to New Mexico to deliver the remaining profits from his illegal methamphetamine empire to his family, and to carry out revenge upon the neo-Nazi gang who double-crossed him, killed his brother-in-law Hank, took Jesse captive and present a threat to his remaining immediate family. Before doing so however, knowing the cancer will soon kill him, Walt takes a trip down memory lane to properly prepare himself for his death.
Upon airing, "Felina" was met with universal acclaim from both critics and audiences alike, with several critics calling it one of the greatest series finales of all time.
After leaving the bar, Walt leaves New Hampshire in a Volvo, with Marty Robbins' song "El Paso" playing on the tape deck. He returns to New Mexico and tracks down Gretchen and Elliott Schwartz (Jessica Hecht and Adam Godley) at their new house in Santa Fe, after posing as a reporter for The New York Times. In order to circumvent the suspicions of the DEA and Skyler he orders them to give his remaining $9.72 million to Walt Jr., who will inherit it upon turning eighteen, saying this is their chance to "make things right". The Schwartzes believe there are snipers waiting outside, and after Walt tells them they'll always be watched to ensure they keep to his instructions, they agree. After Walt leaves, he pays Badger Mayhew (Matt L. Jones) and Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) for aiming red laser pointers at the Schwartzes and posing as hitmen. Walt learns from Badger and Skinny Pete that Jack Welker's (Michael Bowen) gang has been cooking and distributing blue meth and realizes Jesse (Aaron Paul) is still alive.
On his 52nd birthday, Walt purchases an M60 machine gun and retrieves the ricin from his abandoned house. He intercepts Todd (Jesse Plemons) and Lydia's (Laura Fraser) meeting at a coffee shop and makes a business proposal, offering a new formula for methylamine-free meth. Todd turns him down, but Lydia feigns interest in order to lure Walt into getting killed by Jack. The camera shows a close-up of Lydia stirring her stevia into her chamomile tea, with the suggestion that it might be more than just stevia. Later, Skyler (Anna Gunn) receives a phone call from Marie (Betsy Brandt), who informs her Walt is back in town. Marie is unaware that Walt is already with Skyler. Walt leaves Skyler with the lottery ticket on which the coordinates of Hank (Dean Norris) and Steve's (Steven Michael Quezada) graves are printed and advises her to use it to negotiate a plea bargain with the authorities. Walt tells Skyler his life as a drug kingpin was for himself rather than his family, stating that he did it because he enjoyed it, was good at it, and it made him feel alive. Skyler allows Walt to see Holly one last time while she sleeps. After leaving, Walt watches from afar as Walter Jr. (RJ Mitte) arrives home from school.
Walt meets with Jack and his men at their hideout, where Jesse is still performing slave labor for the gang in an adjacent Quonset hut. Jack refuses Walt's offer and orders him killed. Walt diverts Jack's attention by accusing him of partnering with Jesse; Jack responds by ordering that Jesse join them. Upon seeing Jesse, Walt tackles him and uses his car keys to remote-fire the machine gun (which he has connected to a pivoting turret rigged to the car key's remote unlock button) from his car. Jack's men are killed in the barrage of gunfire; Jack and Walt are wounded while Todd and Jesse are unharmed. As Todd stares out the window in amazement at the now-empty machine gun pivoting in its turret, Jesse strangles and kills Todd with the chain attached to his handcuffs, and then frees himself by taking a key from Todd's pocket. After Walt picks up a dropped handgun, Jack pleads for his life, attempting to bargain with the location of the stolen money, but Walt coldly kills Jack. Walt gives the gun to Jesse and asks Jesse to kill him. Jesse notices Walt's wound and refuses, telling Walt to kill himself. As Jesse and Walt leave Jack's house, Walt answers a call on Todd's phone from a visibly-ill Lydia. He informs her that her business partners are dead and asks if she's feeling a little under the weather, revealing that he had earlier put ricin in her stevia at the coffee shop. Jesse and Walt exchange a farewell glance before Jesse leaves. Jesse flees in Todd's El Camino, crying with joy.
Walt enters the lab and smiles nostalgically as he admires the equipment, holding a gas mask and rubbing a kettle. His fingers leave a bloody trail on the kettle as he falls to the floor, with Badfinger's "Baby Blue" playing in the background. The camera slowly rises over the scene as Walt collapses and dies from his shrapnel wound and the police rush in with guns drawn as the camera pans over his motionless body.
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 are 55 minutes. The episode was written and directed by series creator Vince Gilligan.
Title reference and music
The episode title, "Felina", is inspired by the character Feleena from the song "El Paso" by Marty Robbins, which plays a major role during the episode. The writers changed the name from Feleena to Felina so that it would also be an anagram of Finale. Moreover, the word Felina can also be broken up into three different symbols of chemical elements found in the periodic table: iron (Fe), lithium (Li), and sodium (Na). Since iron is a predominant element in blood, lithium is sometimes used in methamphetamine production, and sodium is a component of tears, the title was interpreted by some as "blood, meth and tears." (This is a possible homage to Blood, toil, tears, and sweat, a phrase made popular by Winston Churchill.) 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 at big hole in this theory."
Another theory is that "Felina" is a reference to Schrödinger's cat. Erwin Schrödinger was a pioneering developer of quantum theory whose approach stood in opposition to Werner Heisenberg, whom Walt used as his alias. Felinae is a subfamily of the cat family which includes the domestic cat. In Schrödinger's famous thought experiment, a cat trapped in a sealed box is killed by a flask of hydrocyanic acid, but by the principles of quantum mechanics is considered to be both alive and dead at the same time.
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 lastly 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.— Thomas Golubić
"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" as well as a 9,000 percent increase in streaming over Spotify.
Upon airing, the episode received universal critical 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". The MythBusters tested the infamous machine-gun auto turret and proved that it was possible in real life.
Alternative theory concerning death
Many fans of Breaking Bad, including actor Norm MacDonald and New York Magazine writer Emily Nussbaum, proposed a theory, in which most of the episode happened in Walt's mind, and he really died in the stolen Volvo in the beginning of it. While Nussbaum merely stated that it would be her preferred ending, MacDonald emphasized the seemingly unreal scenarios of Walt's final day, as well as what he deemed to be unreliable acting. However, series creator Vince Gilligan debunked this theory, explaining that Walter could not possibly have known several things that happened, like Jesse being held in captivity.
Awards and nominations
|2014||American Cinema Editors Eddie Awards||Best Edited One-Hour Series for Commercial Television||Skip MacDonald||Won|
|Art Directors Guild Award||One-Hour Single Camera Television Series||Mark Freeborn||Nominated|
|Cinema Audio Society Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Television Series - One Hour||Darryl L. Frank||Nominated|
|Directors Guild of America Award||Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series||Vince Gilligan||Won|
|Golden Reel Awards||Best Sound Editing in Television - Short Form: Sound Effects and Foley||Nick Forshager||Won|
|Primetime Emmy Award||Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series||Vince Gilligan||Nominated|
|Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series||Nominated|
|Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards||Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series||Skip MacDonald||Won|
|Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Miniseries, Movie, or Special||Tarra Day, Steve LaPorte, Greg Nicotero, Stephan Dupuis, and Howard Leigh Berger||Nominated|
|Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series||Nominated|
|Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour)||Darryl L. Frank, Jeff Perkins, and Eric Justen||Nominated|
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- "Felina" at the official Breaking Bad site
- "Felina" at the Internet Movie Database
- "Felina" at TV.com