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Breaking Bad Round Table: "Felina"

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Jesse Pinkman has cooked his last batch, Todd has complimented Lydia's blouse for the last time and, of course, Walter White has taken his last breath.

Breaking Bad concluded its epic run on Sunday night with "Felina," a relatively slow and simple episode of what many believe to be the best show in television history.

Is that what our Round Table panelists of Matt Richenthal, Jim Halterman, Sean McKenna, Dan Forcella and Steve Marsi believe? They put Breaking Bad in its place and sound off on the finale below...

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What was your favorite scene from the finale?
Matt: The close-up of Jesse's face as he sped away from Uncle Jack's compound. It was the perfect mixture of joy, shock and relief.

Jim: While I loved the big bullet-fest, I adored that last scene with Skylar and Walt. We knew it was their goodbye and I respect that the writers didn't have them reconcile. Too much had happened for that to feel real, but it was played perfectly.

Sean: As much as I enjoyed the end game for Walt and the Breaking Bad story itself, my favorite scene was with Badger and Skinny Pete. It was great to see them one last time, for one last humorous moment, amongst all the final chaos and conclusions.

Dan: When Walt admitted to Skyler that he did everything that he did because he liked it. It's something that the audience has known for a while, but it was great to see Walt admit it and say it out loud. He loved being the bad guy, he loved having the power and doing it for his family was just an excuse.

Steve: I loved Walt nonchalantly letting himself into Elliot and Gretchen's house, quietly admiring the decor, then calmly manipulating them into doing his bidding. Despite being disgraced, on death's door and having fallen so far, he clearly relished having the upper hand at that moment and playing off of their fear. Honorable mention goes to the almost equally uncomfortable diner scene, capped off by his poisoning of Lydia.

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Were you satisfied with Walt's fate?
Matt: Yes. He clearly had to die, there was no other way for the series to go out. And it somehow seems appropriate that he would accidentally shoot himself as the result of a science project that didn't go completely according to plan. Doesn't that sum up Walt's overall journey perfectly?

Jim: Yep. I tried to think how it would have felt if he and Jesse made up or if he had lived - and having him die was the perfect conclusion for hi

Sean: Walt's whole story was an amazing tragedy of the rise and fall of his character. Even with him trying to make amends, he knew what his fate was. It was a fitting, albeit quiet, way to end things at the meth lab with that great Badfinger song to close it all out.

Dan: Yes. He got revenge for Hank, he set Jesse free, he said goodbye to Skyler and he left a whole lot of money for his kids. His death was inevitable, so yeah, I enjoyed how his story ended.

Steve: I was. Walt was run out of town in "Ozymandias" and hit rock bottom in the aptly-titled "Granite State." At that point, because he is not a purely evil or soulless man at his core, it stood to reason that he would return to set things right, or take whatever measures he had left to go out on a positive note, which he did.

Were you satisfied with Jesse's fate?
Matt: Absolutely. He was maybe more marginalized on the finale than I would have liked to see, but Jesse has to be the most tortured character in TV history. He - and the viewers - needed that happy ending. Let's hope the guy spends the next few years doing nothing but building wood boxes.

Jim: Yes, though I may have wanted to see Jesse reunite with the kid or at least finally get some happiness. We can assume he does, but I would've liked I have seen just a little more with him.

Sean: I'm glad that Jesse was the one that got to kill Todd. And I was pleased that he wasn't the one to kill Walt. Rather, watching him race away with a combination of emotions, finally free to live away from everything that toppled down on him, felt right for his story. I bet he's driving straight into his Need For Speed movie.

Dan: Sure. For as many awful things he did, Jesse was forced into much of it, so I was glad to see him get a chance to start all over. I have no doubt that he will live a much healthier life going forward.

Steve: You had to feel for Jesse and I was happy to see him escape with seemingly no strings attached - Walt, Jack, Todd, and even his old nemeses Hank and Steve are gone. One of the few unanswered questions left after a finale that neatly tied up so much is whether he'll turn his life around, commit suicide, run away to Alaska, smoke himself to death, get arrested ... whatever. What does everyone else think?

What one thing, if anything, would you change about the episode?
Matt: Certain plot details didn't make a lot of sense. How did Walt slip the Ricin in Lydia's tea? How did he contact Badger and Skinny Pete? But if I wanna truly analyze the machinations of the storytelling, it is a bit of a stretch that Walt's big plan, the only way for him to successfully kill Uncle Jack and his crew, was 100% dependent on a parking spot.

Jim: Hmmm...I felt like all of Walt being off in hiding was more stalling the story than adding more to the overall arc, so I would've shortened all that in the last few episodes.

Sean: I think endings are always the hardest part of a series, and, sure, I could complain about small things like Walt miraculously finding the keys in the car he stole, but as a whole the story tied pretty much everything up and concluded the Breaking Bad tale in a way that felt natural. And there's nothing that stands out in my mind that I would want to see changed because it finished what it set out to do and that was tell the story of the entertainingly compelling Walter White.

Dan: There isn't one specific thing I would change because I thought the finale was a very pleasant end to a great show. If I was disappointed in anything it was that it all played out pretty much exactly how everyone assumed. I would have gone for a few more surprises, but then they would have likely upset a ton of people like many finales before this. Still, I'll take divisive over comfortable any day.

Steve: I don't know that I would have changed anything, necessarily, but here's some food for thought: If Walt's plan went perfectly up until the final confrontation, only he never got his keys back and was killed by Jack, would that have been any worse? With its attention to detail and creative skills, the Breaking Bad braintrust could have pulled off an equally compelling and believable but much darker and more shocking ending for their protagonist and his protege, I bet.

Where does Breaking Bad stand among your all-time shows?
Matt: Probably at the top. It's Breaking Bad or The Shield and both for the same reasons: tight, focused storytelling. In the case of both dramas, a major event from the premiere was consistently addressed throughout the series, coming back around on the finale and proving that the creators had a detailed plan all along. But the final few episodes of Breaking Bad, along with the performance of Bryan Cranston, make it number-one in my very official book.

Jim: Definitely Top 5. Breaking Bad is one show that rarely missed a beat. It was more consistent in its storytelling and arcs than any other series in memory. Plus, the journey for Walt's character was fantastic to watch, as he truly changed over the course of the series in a believable way. Bravo!!! I will miss this show.

Sean: It makes me want to go back and watch through it again, especially knowing how it all ends. It's definitely Top 5 for sure, and a series that I'll continue to marvel at for offering a story that was about so much more than just a chemistry teacher with cancer making meth to support his family. Sad to see it go but happy that it finished on a high note. All hail the king.

Dan: Second. Right behind Lost and just ahead of The Wire. 

Steve: Dan you're obviously using too much of the Blue to be taken seriously at this point. See Matt's Lost finale review from 2010.

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    No dissenting voices? What a bunch of pussies! Walt did not have to die and he should not have been killed. Walt only got in trouble because of Jesse (whiny ungrateful pussy) anyway.
    The ending of TV/Cinema best ever was too simple. Personally,ending at the end of season 4 would have been better. "I won" and it’s attendant moral ambivalence would have kept fans squabbling for years.
    Still, even an 80% BB is better than anything else.

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    The only thing I would have changed is that when "Uncle Jack" said that he needed to stay alive so that Walter could learn where the money was... Walt should have started shooting him first in the shin of one leg, then the next then the kneecap then the other kneecap then an arm, then another arm then an elbow and another elbow ... you get the idea ... and when he learned where the money was he would pass it off to Jesse.

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    Regarding the ricin in Lydia's tea, pretty sure he mentioned that he slipped it in to whatever sweetener she uses - which means Lydia was the one who actually put it in her tea.. At least that's what I got from the close up of her tea when she poured the sweetener in.

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    I have read numerous recaps that question the "luck" of the Volvo keys dropping into Walt's hands...you must all be city folks! In the high country, keys are always left either over the visor or under the floor mat or if the car IS locked, the keys are on the top of the tire. I do not have premium cable so for me, Breaking Bad is definitely number one AND better written and acted than any recent movie I've seen.




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