Breaking Bad Series Finale Recap: The Most Unforgettable Moments (Spoiler Alert!)

Entertainment Sep. 30, 2013 AT 12:30AM
Breaking Bad Series finale recap: who lives and dies? Credit: AMC

Life. Death. Vengeance. Justice. Final goodbyes. Forgiveness? It all finally went down for the very last time on the series finale of Breaking Bad, which aired on AMC on Sunday, September 29 -- with dying, deeply regretful meth lord Walter White (Bryan Cranston) returning home to New Mexico from a hermitic life in New Hampshire to settle scores for good. SPOILER ALERT! Do not continue reading if you haven't yet seen Sunday's episode. For those who have -- and for those who don't mind spoilers -- get a quick refresher on the most unforgettable, pivotal moments from the beloved, Emmy-winning drama's swan song.

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Party at the Schwartz's

On America's Most Wanted list, Walt -- frail, bearded, shaggy-haired and coughing frequently, his lung cancer reaching its horrible conclusion-- has driven a stolen white Volvo from his remote hiding place in New Hampshire to the multi-million dollar New Mexican home of tech moguls Gretchen and Elliot Schwartz. (Back in the day, Walt had been engaged to Gretchen and business partners with both of them in a tech startup, Grey Matters; he left the company before it became hugely successful, opting for a career a low-paid chemistry teacher instead.) Ambling up to the smug couple as they're returning home, Walt doesn't gun them down: Instead, he lays out a pile of nearly $10 million in meth-money to bequeath to Walt's son, Walt. Jr. (R.J. Mitte) upon his 18th birthday through the guise of their foundation. (A smart way to funnel his illegally earned drug money to his family after his death.) He then warns them -- with two suddenly-appearing gun laser pointers aimed at their chests -- that he's hired "the best hit men west of the Mississippi" to shoot them if they don't give Walt Jr. the cash as instructed. "Cheer up, beautiful people," he says. "This is where you get to make it right." Hilariously, the so-called "hit men" are Jesse Pinkman's old hapless druggie pals Skinny Pete and Badger, both of whom had been aiming harmless laser pointers at the Schwartzes from afar. "The whole thing felt shady, morality wise," Pete later says.

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Jesse's Fever Dream

Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) has been enslaved by neo-Nazi Jack and his nephew Todd (Jesse Plemons) to continue making the purest meth on the market -- as once perfected by Walt, who had been known in the drug world as "Heisenberg" -- literally chained onto a track making batches of crystal meth, grizzled and hobbling along. Delirious, he momentarily imagines himself as a yesteryear master woodcarver: Bathed in golden light, putting the finishing touches on a beautifully crafted wooden box as ethereal music plays. It's one of the more beautiful-looking moments on a typically pitch-black, bleak show.

Tea with Lydia

Lydia (Laura Fraser), the skittish, corporate-minded head of what is now a global crystal meth operation, sits down for her weekly meeting with Todd at a local cafe. Ordering her customary chamomile tea with soy milk and two packets of Stevia, she warms up as flirty Todd compliments her "cornflower" hued blouse -- when former associate Walt, whom they haven't seen since the deadly shootout in the desert months ago, suddenly joins them at the table. Struggling through another coughing fit, Walt claims he's run out of money, and pitches a new method to procure or replace crucial meth ingredient methylene. Too freaked-out to hear him out, Lydia quietly excuses Walt, who calmly obliges her. Wait: Did Walt just poison her? And did Todd and Lydia ever consummate their creepy flirtation?

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"I Did It for Me"

Walt's estranged, broken wife Skyler (Anna Gunn) sits and smokes in her very bleak, very depressing apartment -- she was forced to move there after Walt left town, his criminal activities exposed -- when also-estranged sister Marie (Betsy Brandt) calls to warn her that Walt is suddenly back in town. Skyler doesn't let on that she already knows: Because Walt's standing right there, staring her down in her efficiency kitchen. After Skyler hangs up, Walt explains that he wants a "proper goodbye" after a vicious phone call (one made at least in part for the benefit of the authorities), and quickly moves Skyler (on her second smoke) to tears and sobs. He gives to her, of all things, a lotto ticket -- explaining that its numbers indicate the coordinates of a desert locale where the bodies of their brother-in-law and DEA agent Hank (Dean Norris) and his partner Steven Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada) are buried, killed by Jack's crew in the shootout. Before he pays an emotional goodbye to a sleeping baby Holly, Walt finally gives Skyler an honest answer about why he did it all -- the meth empire, the killing, the Heisenberg persona, the shocking deception. "I did it for me," he admits. "I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really alive." Saddest moment? Walt watches Walt Jr. arrive home from afar, but doesn't dare say goodbye in person.

Still Heisenberg

Walt visits the clubhouse of Jack, Todd and their goons under the guise of doing new business. Under the false impression that Jesse is "partners" with Jack et al, Walt angrily accuses Jack of double-crossing him. Shackled and nearly comatose, Jesse is then trotted out to prove Walt wrong. Walt grunts and tackles Jesse to the ground; at the same time, he opens up the trunk of his car outside via remote. As it turns out, the trunk contains (as hinted in an earlier scene) a loaded machine gun set on an automatic timer; it proceeds to stunningly mow down the entire crew as Walt, pinning Jesse to the ground, seems to avoid the gunfire. Todd briefly survives, but Jesse chokes him to death with the chains from his shackles. Walt takes out the other survivor, Jack -- who lights a final cigarette pre-execution -- with a handgun. He then answers now-dead Todd's cell phone; it's Lydia, who's come down with a nasty, nasty flu. Walt informs a horrified Lydia he did, in fact, slip her fatal ricin (via Stevia packet) back at the cafe. (The same ricin vial had been hidden in the walls of the former White family home.)

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Walt then kicks the same handgun to a freed Jesse, and invites Jesse to shoot him. "Nothing happens until I hear you say you want this!" Jesse screams. (The list of grievances between the father-son-like pair is epic -- including but not limited to Walt's tacit murder of Jesse's girlfriend Jane and the near-murder of another girlfriend's young son.) "I want this," Walt replies. "Then do it yourself!" Jesse wails, dropping the gun. He then exits, grabs one of the cars outside and drives away, laughing and crying maniacally. Jesse Pinkman lives! He made it!

As police cars begin arriving on the scene, Walt checks out the meth lab where Jesse had been enslaved, patting on the machinery with what looks like a mixture of pride and nostalgia. He lifts up his jacket to reveal that, in fact, he sustained gunfire after all, and is bleeding copiously from the gut. Cops then arrive inside the lab, discovering Walt's now-lifeless body; he's smiling.

Tell Us: What did you think of the Breaking Bad series finale?

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