"The thing is, if you just do stuff, and nothing happens, what's it all mean?"

Monday, September 30, 2013

Unraveling 5x16 "Felina" (i.e. "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue")

While I did get a kick out of the use of Badfinger's "Baby Blue" in the last scene, I think this would of just really hit the metaphorical nail on the head

Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
the world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
There is a time for the evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers
Here or there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.
     T.S. Eliot, "Four Quartets"

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Ye all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep. Sir, I am vex'd;
Bear with my weakness; my, brain is troubled:
Be not disturb'd with my infirmity
            Prospero (i.e. Shakespeare); The Tempest; Act IV, scene i


  • In which Walter White becomes Dr. Heisen-White, performing skillful and delicate surgery; with the grace of a ballerino and the brutality of a prize-fighter. He eradicates all tendrils of his cancerous influence, including the etymological source... himself.
  • With his progeny either slaughtered or set free, there is no turning back time. No erasing the scars, literal and emotional. No manipulation of his reputation through charlatanry and verbal gymnastics.
    • No, all that is left is the damaged world he left behind...and freedom. Freedom to at last be honest about the person he became. To once again capitalize on the "nothing-left-to-lose" mentality that inspired him back when his intentions were better (but still paving toward damnation).
      • Freedom to accept what he has lost, and to use his outlaw criminal-mastermind to no longer avoid responsibility for his actions.
  • Walter White learned too much from his limbo in New escaping the shackles of self-deceit and avoidance, he then lived free and died (it was never an either/or thing with the choices made or inaction taken).
  • The spectral presence of Walter Hartwell White destroys the ghosts of Heisenberg.


I think many people won't fully get what the finale was going for.

Initially, I was impressed but not blown away like I was after first seeing the finale of The Shield...but after some earnest thinking and rewatching a few scenes, I think that Gilligan's denouement is far more complex and twisted.

These are some bullet points that I'll content with (courtesy of Strawman and co.)
  • Things seems to wrap up with a tidy, unambiguous bow.
  • Walt gets a redemption that may come across as inauthentic.
  • The final sequence is too rushed and "unrealistic".
  • Too much closure; not enough resolution.
  • The show is sexist, since male secondary-characters Skinny Pete and Badger get one more chance to strut the stage; but fan favorite female secondary-characters Wendy and Skank are nowhere to be seen (...okay, I don't quite think this complaint can be found on the interwebs...though, maybe...)
This is an episode beautiful in tone but intentionally ugly in appearance. A part of me was initially disappointed with the lack of sun soaked and sublime desert vistas in the concluding moments...since that iconography was a pivotal part of the show.

But once I thought a little bit about why Gilligan would made that choice, I realized the beautiful meaning behind the method.

In hindsight, there are many upended expectations and "easy-outs" within "Felina" that seem to be done with a clear artistic purpose. Even the predictability of the plot likely let-down many that were expecting some unexpected mind-fuck...but the show is respecting it's own chemistry, and Gilligan helmed an episode that stayed true to the series' notion of dynamic change, while still bringing full-circle many elements of the shows iconic atmosphere. 

Keep in mind that Gilligan pulled this same trick with the more overtly operatic season 4 conclusion "Face-Off," since Gus's demise was foreshadowed with a tongue-in-cheek level of explicitness; yet audiences were still blown away when Gus was actually...well, y'all get the point.

Even the final shot (I'll get to it...) seemed more claustrophobic than I expected. The series began with a frenetic chase through the desert, capitalizing on the open vistas of the New Mexico setting. The final location featured in he last episode is an enclosed bunker...


Well, to answer that one-word question, let me start with a sporadic analysis of the entire episode, before taking a bit of effort at unraveling the subtly masterful final sequence at Uncle Jack's lair.

Episode Bullet Point Fusillade (mostly chrono-logical)


  • On the less-abyssmal-than-usual "Talking Bad" that followed the episode, Aaron Paul repeatedly cheered about the retribution Jesse got through strangling if it was an act of colloquial and biblical righteousness. I don't think that moment plays that way, at all. Cathartic and inevitable, yes; but it is a very pitiful and unredemptive moment. No beauty or cosmic justice; just pure animalistic bloodlust. Crawling on the floor, beseeching both his Uncle and then Mr. White, as he 

  • Phone call to Lydia....

Still don't realize how profound Gilligan's use of sun-lighting-as-literal-and-symbolic-signifier as thematic day/night duality is?

Time to jog the memory banks, with a retroactive jaunt through the series' symbolic motifs and metaphoric iconography (this project will begin to get chock-full of these kinds of things).

Profound Photography Title: 
     Here Comes the Sun...go gently into that Good Night.

Funny, the "sun" seems to be like a "son". Light of the sun, and the mercy of his surrogate son, relates to a glimpse of redemption for the now colorless Mr. White. Sun/Son as figures of mercy also brings up an association of....gasp, Jesus Christ the redeemer (no worries, as I'll get at in my separate analysis of the final shot, there's some Buddhist stuff going on here, too).

What, Jesse...associated with martyrdom...oh yeah!

  • Passing of a paternal figure, and it's relation to an uneasy relationship with dusk as a metaphysical concept of dusk...

Alright, I'm speechless now...

Sun, shine on me today
Sun, dry my tears away
How I need your warm embrace
To shine upon my crying face
…Sun, give me a little light
Take me, out of this darkened night
You know what a little light can do
You change the sky from black to blue

No comments:

Post a Comment