One obscure aspect of the Breaking Bad Finale that is sure to get overlooked by many viewers is the importance of a song at the beginning of the episode. When Walt is in the Volvo in New Hampshire he finds a cassette tape of Marty Robbins and listens to the song “El Paso”. “El Paso” is a ballad about a gunslinger who kills a cowboy over “Wicked Felina the girl that I loved.” In short he flees to “Out to the badlands of New Mexico”, but then decides to return. “Maybe tomorrow a bullet may find me, tonight nothing’s worse than this pain in my heart.” He heads back into El Paso, takes a bullet in the side (“something is dreadfully wrong for I feel, a deep burning pain in my side”), and dies in the arms of Felina.
I love this song and I love Vince Gilligan’s choice in incorporating it into this episode. Aside from the obvious parallels, it helps keep the show tied to it’s western roots – right to the very end. On a deeper level, it also ties in with Walt’s reveal to Skyler that he did it all for himself and that culminates with him dying in the meth lab; the arms of his ‘Felina,’ to compare to the song. He even sings the song at the gas station as he is setting into motion his final plan. It’s stuff like this that make this show so brilliant. That there are so many deep levels that Breaking Bad can be enjoyed on raises it above most other network shows. Of course I’m not saying that BrBa is the only show to do this, but it does a great job of doing it.
Finally, a big Thank You for not fading to nothingness. I was so upset at the Sopranos finale and the Lost finale that this is a breath of fresh air. One of the comments made by the creators at the end of the Sopranos was that “you’ve been following this character and his family for years, did you really want to see him get killed?” When it’s handled in a similar fashion to BrBa, the answer is yes. Closure. Finality. BrBa was a western and ended like a western, staying true to the genre and it’s roots. The Sopranos was a Mafia story and should have ended like a Mafia story, in my opinion. In short, the more I think about it, the more I loved the Breaking Bad finale. It wrapped up the show nicely and made me want to start it all over again. I hope the addition of the “El Paso” analysis adds a little something for you to enjoy on your next viewing.