Breaking Bad spoilers
For the research-minded, I bring you:
Ultimately, there is a sense of discombobulation in the air. Most people seem accepting of Breaking Bad’s final episode, titled “Felina.”
The question is, apparently, what happened? Not in the sense “what” happened, but in why did the what happen?
Was the ending enwrapped in the thorough, all-questions-answered manner that seems to address the shallow needs of most entertainment audiences?
Or was there something else going on? And how should we handle this “something else?”
Breaking Bad was never the show to wrap anything up, much less solder shut its thematic ambiguities. The show’s elusive and fluid angelic dances between past and present, and everything in between, its callous rehearsal of latent props lurking from the past, always hinted at a sureness and fatalistic cohesion that begged skepticism.
In fact, watching the final scene in which Walter White revisited that which took him away and “gave him life” as the figurative thorn in his side (albeit, the convenient symbolic gunshot wound), as his blood-streaked paintbrush remnants of fondness covered the shimmering stainless steel castle that was his meth siren, and his invisible transformation to a silent supine position materialized minus the dramatic tumble to the ground Hollywood is so fond of, I wondered.
That wound. How did it happen? Walter threw Jesse to the floor before shots were fired, no? Who fired that bullet? Surely it wasn’t the Cadillac’s Smart Trunk Gun. Was it even a bullet?
Later, as he pleaded with Jesse to shoot him, we became aware of the bloody wound penetrating the right side of his abdomen. Jesse, seeing the wound, refrained. Jesse was never to intrude upon a man’s fate. “Do it yourself,” he yelled. Frail, riddled with late-stage lung cancer, hacking up premature death rattles, Walter made his way back to the lab. His work done. All loose ends wrapped up.
That wound. It was a thorn. His fever death dream was the brief materialization of fantasy coated with the obsessive and perfectionist drives of a denatured high school Chemistry teacher.
Earlier, he told his wife, against her presumptions, that he had not done this for his family. He did it for himself. Such honesty was never spoken on this show, and surely not from Walter White.
Walter White died, but not from a bullet. He died from the thorn in his side, the wanderlust of modern man’s unrequited abandon. Imprisoned behind the walls of baby nurseries and incontrovertibly unremarkable clothes and repressed manhood, he lived in death that which he could never suffuse in life.
Walter White only lived as Heisenberg in his death rattles.
None of any of it ever happened.
I always thought the choice of Heisenberg as a kingpin pseudonym was telling. The Heisenberg principle, that law of quantum physics that tells us velocity and location are essentially interdependent but exclusive of each other, ironically guffawed at the two characters Walter White rode toward in death. The mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher, and the ruthless, murderously greedy meth kingpin. They were conjoined particles, these two men, but such manifestation was never testable without scaring off the character who would quickly dissemble into his polar ego when the situation called. Walter White was never there.
He was the Peyton Farquhar of modern masculinity, confined to inconsequential perpetuity while the manacles of oppressive modern society robbed him of relevance which apathetically acquiesced to this strong, man-jawed female wife, the symbol of restrained and sensible society which did not humor daring escapades.
Water White, dressed and appearing as he did the day he discovered he had lung cancer, roared freely but only in the ethereal moments before his eyes closed. the metaphysical lingering and blending of past and present were figments of a tremendous period of time condensed to a few seconds which contained bare life. Five seasons of Break Bad took place in the moments he imagined the magical laboratory that could relinquish him from 21st Century imprisonment.