Monday, September 30, 2013

Meth Monday 5.16: "Felina"

Hello, Readers Mine! Before diving into the series finale of Breaking Bad, can we talk a minute about Canadians? Yeah, that's right: Canadians. Look, I know that parts of Canada endure months of the midnight sun and that in such places it can become difficult to realize just what time it actually is, but that's way, way north of places like the Province of Ontario, so there's really no reason for Canadians who live in the south of the country to get up and start typing as early as they obviously do. Seriously, I was just settling in to my first cup of coffee and idly doing a sweep of the interwebs, only to find an e-mail from the Felonious Mr. Watts (note to self: my new jazz name will be Felonious Watts)  threatening to go to TWOP for his Breaking Bad critique if I didn't post something soon. Then I toddle on over to Nik at Night, and find that That Stafford Woman has already posted some long, trenchant analysis about "Felina." Oh - and now there's a e-mail from her in my inbox. Jesus Jumped-Up Christ On a Pogo-Stick! See, this is what comes of befriending foreigners with their Protestant Work Ethic-type ways instead of good, evangelical, wholesome, fat, lazy, pre-diabetic-and-proud 'Muricans who have the basic human decency to wait until a guy has has his first cuppa joe before asking him what the hell he thinks about something. I mean, is it nice to find out that extraordinarily talented people whose books I regularly pre-order and squee over read this piece and actually seem to care what I think about one of the major pop culture touchstones of our time? And ego-stoking to be able to name-drop them in this post? Yes, of course it is, but still - Canadians: settle down!

Now that that's out of the way, let's get to "Felina." Spoilers after the break!!!

So Breaking Bad is no more. Six years of passionate debate, conjecture, and sometimes demented fandom have lead to "Felina," and I have to say, I'm kinda disappointed. (Go ahead and rant and rave and threaten to show up at my house with a trunk-mounted M60. I'll wait until you're done. Better? Good.)

I'm with it when Walt takes revenge on Elliott and Gretchen. It's right in line with his petty pride. And for everyone celebrating his revenge out there, remember that it was Walt who threw a hissy-fit way back when and who asked to be bought out of the fledgling company. Gretchen and Elliott didn't con Walt out of anything. It was his stupid pride, even then. Check out the conversation between he and Gretchen in 2.06 "Peekaboo" if you don't believe me. So yeah, his scam on them is right in line with the Walt we've come to know and loathe.

Now, a big chunk of my problem with "Felina" is my own desire to see Walt punished, I know that, and that it's my own weird fan-boy thing. Fine. But I really, really don't like the fact that Walt wins in the end. He ties up every single loose end in one final multiple murder, and chooses the time of his own death, leaving the world with a fond smile. "Felina" is anticlimactic to say the least, and it just doesn't satisfy. At least he finally admitted that he did all of this for himself, to feed his ego and pride, and he goes on feeding them until the very end. Still, this episode was like topping of the finest, gourmet, multi-course meal in history with a dessert of Pop Rocks. Breaking Bad really should have ended with "Ozymandias," but it couldn't, because of the previous appearances of Walt52. It wasn't a rushed ending, and that may have been the problem. I think maybe Gilligan & Co. had a little too much time to think about this one. In trying for perfection, they achieved a mundane episode of Breaking Bad, which still makes it the best thing on TV in the past week.

So much for my personal irks with the show. Take 'em or leave 'em, but there were some real problems with the episode as well. First and foremost: the Nazis didn't check the trunk of Walt's car? Seriously?!? Kenny checks the interior, they search Walt thoroughly, even taking his wallet and keys but they conveniently forget to check the enormous trunk of that land-yacht he was driving? Also, every Nazi in the compound was in that one room, and only Todd managed to get low enough to avoid getting shot, so that he could be killed by a righteously vengeful Jesse? Sure it was proper, but it was also a bit too contrived. Finally, the appearances of Marie, Badger, and Skinny Pete were forced, coming off like cameos rather than being intrinsic elements of the story.

I did like the cold open showing the young Jesse crafting the exquisite wooden box he mentioned in 4.07 "Problem Dog." This was the one truly perfect moment of the episode: the transition between an act of loving creation at a time in Jesse's life when so many possibilities were open to him, to an act of forced creation by a scarred and enslaved man who's every possibility has been ripped away, was just brilliant - and heartbreaking. That scene aside, though, I think this was my least favorite episode of the series, and I kinda hate that.

So that's it for this week's Meth Monday, and for the last ever look at a new episode of Breaking Bad. Despite my problems with the finale, I am going to miss this show, and its absence will create something of a hole in my life. Television, particularly good television, requires making a commitment of five, six, ten, or more years as you go on a journey into an unfolding story. Television like Breaking Bad is every bit as satisfying as the most brilliant of novels, but novels take time, man, and when you finish a great one, there's a period of casting about as you pick up this and that and then discard them because they pale in comparison to what you just read. I suspect it will be the same with Breaking Bad for me. I keep a list of TV series recommended (not to say pushed on) to me, but I don't know - this will take some time. Breaking Bad really was the best show that's ever aired, Readers Mine, and how do you follow that?

Yet this will not be the end of Meth Monday. We're now officially on the last push on the final parts of Wanna Cook? The Complete, Unofficial Guide to Breaking Bad,  so look for updates on that, as well as info on book signings, tours, etc. in the future. (I might even be persuaded to go to Ontario Provence. Maybe.) In the meantime, give me a follow on the various social networks linked to at the top right of this page for all the Breaking Bad stuff that crosses my screen, and be sure to head over to Dale's blog later in the week for Walter White Wednesday. It'll be worth it: her opinion of "Felina" diverges from mine. Until next time, Readers Mine, be well.


  1. That Stafford Woman here: Very interesting take on it, and very brave in a day where the internets are swamped with much love for the episode. I think your points are all very well taken, and I expect to see more comments like these in the days to come, when the ones who didn't like the episode are waiting for those of us who thought it was perfect to be finished talking so the other side can be shown. I love that your voice is one of the first we're hearing from this side (and I look forward to Walter White Wednesday, where I'm sure that other voice will be a similar one!) Yay for my 'Murican friends!

  2. I have been oscillating back and forth on this (to be clear, only between intense adoration and mild disappointment) but ultimately I think I really do love the finale (if only because of the ingenious title). It would probably take a whole post to explain why though....

  3. p.s. i'm STILL dying to know which scene you two were arguing about in this post by Nikki