“Shantih shantih shantih” concludes T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Waste Land,” and while you may have been hearing the song “Baby Blue” playing out during the closing minutes of this show, this an echo for peace and salvation through the storms of life. Whatever Walter White believed to be his salvation, he found it in the closing minutes of the “Breaking Bad” series finale “Felina.”
Rather than taking a look at every second of a brilliant, and mesmerizing episode in the series finale for our “Breaking Down Breaking Bad” series, let’s instead just examine that final tableau: Walt, on the ground suffering and in pain, but not suffering at all. He was in a place that became his home and his own personal sanctuary, and for the first time in his life, he felt a sense of power and purpose there. Even with blood pouring from his body, there was no tragedy here.
This was not a tragic ending; by the time we arrived at this point, Walt had managed to achieve everything that he had hoped to achieve in the hours before. Skyler would have an opportunity for salvation, something he would never personally achieve. This was the only ending that Walt knew he had at this point: Laying waste of his own physical form, and thus allowing peace to sweep over everyone else. Granted, this peace takes many forms.
For Jesse, maybe he goes on to become an addict somewhere else, or may he adopts Brock and finds a way to raise a child as a responsible father. Maybe the crimes of Walter are so severe, his role in the process becomes overlooked and he remains a free man.
For Skyler, maybe she becomes the mother that she wanted to be for the past year. Maybe Holly grows up with normalcy, even if it is without a father. Maybe Walter Jr. is better equipped now for the realities of this world and helps to become the strength the family needed.
For Marie, maybe there is just peace for the sake of peace. Maybe she feels like justice has been best served now with Walt dead, and while Hank can never come back, maybe she can move on. Maybe she finds love again someday and that man will love her as much as Hank did.
The beauty is that there is enough closure in these stories, but also enough “maybes.” Walt was a hero in allowing these maybes to happen, but he was also the villain in bringing them to a dead end so sudden, there was no way to keep anyone from crashing. By the time he paved the rest of the way, these maybes are far from the “definitely” they could have otherwise been.
But in Walt’s death was born possibility, and in life for so many others, hope. This was a story of how one man fell from grace, and the story after the story is how these victims find peace again. For with every wasteland there is sunlight in the morning, or to quote another famous poet, there is also leaves of grass.
This is the beauty of “Breaking Bad”: Through the rubble, we start again. This is why we have one of the greatest television shows of all time.
These fragments I have shored against my ruins
Why then Ile fit you. Hieronymo’s mad againe.
Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata.
Shantih shantih shantih
-The final words