All Farewells Should Be Sudden
by DICK CHENEY
Objectively we know Jesse Pinkman has the right to be ungrateful. "He cares for you," Hank tells Jesse about Mr. White. "He has done things to bring you closer, to keep you around." It is not so much that Jesse does not believe these words, but that they are only words. I have to admit that there is probably something missing in me, because I had made up my mind about what Walt should do about Jesse the moment the words Old and Yeller were invoked. God knows I hated that fucking dog.
Not as much as I despise the prick who hosts Talking Bad. The thing I need least in the world after an involuntary hysterectomy is an actor geek explaining to me how mad Walt is now. Inserting it between the commercials is embarrassing amateur hour, AMC. The performers don't mingle with the audience during intermission you selfish fucks. If you're going to analyze the last scenes of the best show on television, bring the emaciated corpse of Terry Eagleton, the scalp of Elvis Mitchell, a painting resembling Camille Paglia or nothing at all.
Imagine if during the commercials of Twin Peaks David Lynch was muttering about the tragic dream he had the previous night while nibbling on a Snickers bar: "Chris, in my vision God was dressed like a prostitute with gold teeth..." If Twin Peaks had a godawful wrap-up show, it would never have been around to turn to shit shortly after they revealed the murderer of Laura Palmer. Some bespectacled doofus would interrogate the man with, "Where did the thinspiration for the character of Donna come from?" and Lynch would just gargle and beatbox.
Weak after-show aside, it was tough to see the internal machinations Walt had to go through in order to justify his decision to spare and then murder his former partner. This precocious indecision was also slightly unbelievable, emphasized by Mrs. White observing, "What's one more?" in her swanky hotel room. Things have been pushed so far beyond the brink already that my own internal compass was smashed the minute Saul Goodman's nose was broken or, really, when Gus Fring had half his face blown off. Walt is retired now, and when he gave up cooking meth, the curtain dropped for me - this extended wrap-up is like the third part of "November Rain."
Jesse's final surge of energy and rage reminds us that all heat seeks a lower state to rest. Dissauded from burning down the White homestead, he passed out like an overdosed addict at Burning Man. Sleeping it off in Marie's guest room we were reminded that a right turn resembles a wrong turn in all the most superficial ways.
It is hard to remember the epilogue of anything that was really enjoyable, the way all goodbyes should be sudden. The end of Cheers was a 60 minute view of Ted Danson's bald spot, the only other show I can remember the ending to was M.A.S.H. and that was because it was entirely self-congratulatory. Most finales reek of stale death.
Ending Breaking Bad - or anything worthwhile - gracefully requires a high degree of skill. We have seen Jesse and Walt butt heads so often that the feel good route might have been to pit them both against Lydia. That would have been a false equivalence and a cop out, but the path we tread now shows how difficult it is to make Walt vs. Jesse fresh again. Here every last word spoken is like an invocation, just like Twin Peaks' "fire walk with me." I think I have mixed approximately 80 metaphors since this essai began, I need to go lie down and dream of bombing Syria after this.
Breaking Bad would be easier to deal with if every possible ending for these two jokers was not so unhappy. By the same token, Walt living in a retirement community and intimidating seniors wouldn't feel fitting either. When Twin Peaks began to fall apart shortly before ABC executives forced David Lynch to reveal the central mystery at the heart of the show, he resisted. He knew that once we knew that MacGuffin was bullshit, the threads the show's characters hung on would fade as well.
Breaking Bad already unraveled the moment Mike died. (I'm still not sure how that happened but I blame Jesse, or possibly Todd.) Now the mysteries of the show have been vanquished, and the remainder is merely obituary, the lowest form of art after reporting on college football. Vengeance is the only motivation left for Mr. White's antagonists, and revenge constitutes a state of being without thought. We can't, don't engage with it, we simply witness what occurs.
During that fateful final season of Twin Peaks, Mr. Lynch argued with co-creator Mark Frost, who felt they had to detail the perpetrator of Laura Palmer's murder in a train car, after a parrot named Waldo had pecked her shoulders bloody. By that point it had already become obvious Laura Palmer was the most useless person in the town, making her death itself a kind of mercy. Frost was incredibly wrong in wanting to explain the reason for her death, since no answer would have been satisfying, and the one given led to nothing afterwards.
So too with Walt and Jesse: they already survived their lives. The rest is a footnote.
Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. He sometimes sips gasoline when he is cranky. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here.
"Alive" - Empire of the Sun (mp3)
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