Breaking Bad Recap: Season 5, Episode 16, “Felina”

The Breaking Bad recap panel rides off into the sunset with in-depth analysis of the series finale, where it stands next to The Shield’s finale, and the arc of the show as a whole.

Ben Adams, Peter Fenzel, Shana Mlawski, John Perich and Matthew Wrather recap Breaking Bad Season 5, Episode 16, “Felina.”

Breaking Bad spoilers, of course! The Shield discussion is spoiler-free.

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→ Download The Breaking Bad Season 5, Episode 16 Recap

A Cowboy to Come Home To
Also, listen to a critically important song for this episode, “El Paso” by Marty Robbins.

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11 Comments on “Breaking Bad Recap: Season 5, Episode 16, “Felina””

  1. Redem #

    I always imagine that Flynn would go on to become a DEA agent in the future

    Though I’ve notice that the money going to Flynn and not Holly, it be kind of funny that the oversight cause the family to tear itself apart :P

    What fun is that if you didn’t like the ending they are a lot of moment in season 5 where you can stop watching and use it as ending

    and Walt actually followed one of Jesse suggestion and saved the day with a robot!


  2. Crystal #

    The ending was better than what Walt deserved. He got everything he wanted. He killed Lydia. He gave money to his family. He went down in a nazi-killing blaze of glory, securing his legacy as meth kingpin in the process. Throughout the entire episode, Walt was always in control. The whole series, Walt has always struggled to stay in control. I was hoping for a finale where Walt lost control.


  3. Babacamanchild #

    “The ending was better than what Walt deserved.” Deserved? What’s “deserve” got to do with it? As a beautifully-drawn fictional character, he deserved to be ultimately treated with the respect that had been put into his definition and his character arc from the beginning. In philosophical terms, although Vince Gilligan seems to want to beat around the bush on this, probably because it’s so freakin’ radical, the finale revealed the show, and the principal character, should be seen in Nietzschean terms – Walt admitting he that he liked what he did and was good at it to Skyler was the key moment in the series. His failing was not in being a “bad man” as such, but in his hypocrisy and inability to confront who he really was. “Deserve” sounds so sappy and Christian and karmic-wishy-washy in this context!


    • Shana Mlawski OTI Staff #

      Maybe it sounds sappy and Christian, but I think that’s what the show was going for. Gilligan has said the show is set in a moral universe, and scenes like the plane crash and Walt’s prayer to God support that reading. There does seem to be some kind of karmic balancing going on, like how Jesse earns his happy ending because he went through the purgatory of being enslaved in Nazi-land to make up for all his sins.

      I do agree that Walt’s fatal flaws were his hypocrisy and inability to confront his true, selfish self.


      • BastionofLight #

        I don’t think that Walt’s true self was selfish, at least not in the sense that it was only selfish. I think that, while he felt fulfilled by his activities, the fiction that he was doing it for his family was important. I am not certain that he would have done what he did without it.


    • Ben Adams OTI Staff #

      I totally disagree when you say that Walt’s failing was his “inability to confront who he really was”; or at least, I disagree when you imply that that was his ONLY flaw.

      If Walt had made peace with who he was (a monster), earlier in the series, he still would have been a monster – no amount of self-awareness makes poisoning children and orchestrating prison murders anything less than monstrous. It just means he maybe would have been slightly less of a jerk to everyone.

      Consider Todd, Uncle Jack and the Good Time Nazi Gang. They are polite almost to a fault throughout the series (consider the bit with them in the diner, or even in the final shoot out with Hank). THAT’S Heisenberg with self-awareness – a monster totally comfortable with the role of being a monster.

      @Shana – Ditto to what you said. There is DEFINITELY a Christian ethic going on here. Walt gets a better ending than he “deserves” in the sense that his punishment is arguably not commensurate with the harm he caused. But that’s Christianity – in the Christian faith, we are all sinners deserving of nothing other than damnation, but the act of repentance is transformative.


      • Shana Mlawski OTI Staff #

        Yeah, that definitely wasn’t his only flaw, but I would say it’s his fatal one. If he’d accepted his monstrousness, he would have still been a monster, but he also wouldn’t have made a lot of the mistakes that led to his downfall and death. But then there wouldn’t have been a show — or at least not the same one.


      • BastionofLight #

        In what way does Walt get a better ending than he deserves? He died. Would it have been more just for him to end up in prison? Or for him to fail at his attempts to contain the damage he caused?


  4. Steve #

    Interesting recap.
    But if Hank wrote To’hajiilee then Walt wrote Felina. He gets to be the bad-ass again, there are no glitches with getting his drug money to his family, he’s honest with his wife who acknowledges his sincerity, saves her from the DEA’s wrath by giving her the co-ordinates, saves Jesse and proves that he cares about him, lords power over Elliot and Gretchen (who are forced to stack his money), his automated gun plan works perfectly, he is never held back by his cancer or by the cops who know he’s in the city, and he gets to proclaim his love of science.

    In short he wins, and it’s a nice performance for the audience, but it seems more like Walt’s final fantasy rather then anything resembling a Breaking Bad episode.


  5. Babacamanchild #

    I find this debate fascinating – and heartening because it seems on present evidence the debate on how ‘Breaking Bad’ ended and what it meant for the show and its cultural significance could rage for some time, despite its perceived neatness (as opposed to ‘Twin Peaks’, say, or ‘The Sopranos’, which inspired lengthy cultural debates because of their jarring quality.) I think there is a danger of viewing Walt’s relatively ‘benign’ fate (arguable, considering the calamity he knew he’d made, ultimately, of his life and ambitions) as somehow ‘wrong’ or ‘Walt’s fantasy’. Gilligan DID write this episode – along with his team – and it is thus clear that, despite his protestations that Walt should not be admired and is in fact a ‘monster’, the actual writers of the show had some respect for the complexities of the character they created…and that they knew a large swathe of their audience did too!
    The beauty of the show was that, in terms of ethics and morality, it allowed viewers to come out with the message they thought applied to the real world of ethics and morality – what I’m trying to say, and it’s been said by others, is that the show acted as a moral ‘litmus test’, wherein we the viewer were allowed to make up our own minds about when Walt had crossed the line, the line that – here’s where Nietzschean ideas come into it – is only set by the individual.
    I will admit to being a fairly cheerful immoralist myself, and don’t see the evidence of a strong Christian message being implied by a single scene in the finale Shana, or even the infamous plane crash (which I don’t see as something that can be absolutely laid at Walt’s feet, guilt-wise, although perhaps his character did), or, Ben, in the ‘redemptive’ finale. Where I agree is in the idea of the Good Ol’ Neo-Nazi boys being a dark perversion of Walt’s dream – what’s most interesting about them is that they were really the first monstrous threat that he kind of ‘created’, and it was in his using them to commit the horrific, and probably unnecessary, prison killings, that I felt Walt had finally crossed the (my) line – no, I wouldn’t generally support child=poisoning but given Walt’s fractious, desperate state at the time and his keen abilities as a scientist (plus his hugely-evident relief when he discovered Brock had recovered)I just found it in myself to give him a pass. The Mike thing was ridiculously petty too, but that was around the line-crossing time anyway…basicaly, he probably should’ve packed it all in and disappeared with his money and his family after Matt Damon shot the child.
    Basically, for me, the rescuing of Jesse and the killing of his own ‘monster’, plus his admission to Skyler of his essential self-centredness, made his ‘happy ending’ possible. Not a let from God.


  6. Chris Morgan #

    Just finally got around to listening to this episode. Just wanted to say good job on the recaps. I will listen to others in the future if you do them on a show I actually watch. Which, unless you decide to do a recap of a sitcom, you won’t.


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