It was a day of redemption for Walter White, as he inevitably headed toward death for his crimes.
The tragic hero/criminal mastermind made the final episode of "Breaking Bad" a night to remember, tidying up the mess that unraveled and destroyed his family and giving his hapless yet redeemable meth-cooking sidekick a start on a new life.
Walt emerged from his New Hampshire den, where he had been holed up as a most wanted-fugitive, driving cross-country and plotting several more tricks for a final showdown. First on his list: Leave a stockpile of his cash for his children – the impetus that sparked his methamphetamine empire.
In an unlikely twist, Walt's apparent problem of getting his money to his children suddenly fell into his lap as he watched (in the penultimate episode) the two co-founders – Elliot and Gretchen – of the pharmaceutical company that he helped found, talk about the Walter White they once knew on television with journalist Charlie Rose.
In the arrangement he made with the couple – the creation of a nearly $10 million trust fund for Walt Jr. – he asked them to uphold their pact with the playfully sinister supposition that their lives would be in danger if they didn't. Walt asserted his own sense of revenge for not getting his lion's share of the money and prestige of the billion-dollar company he co-founded. And he left with some pride knowing that his family would be financially secure with only the money he earned, warning the Schwartzs not to use a dime of their fortune for the trust fund.
Walt then finally admitted that his transformation into Heisenberg, the now-legendary drug lord, wasn't just to provide for his family – it was for himself, telling his estranged wife Skyler in their final goodbye that he "liked it" and felt "alive."
He owed that much to Skyler, who he had duped and lied to for nearly a year until he could no longer hide the truth about his meth-making ways. And Walt offered her a get-out-of-jail-free card with the lottery ticket that contained coordinates leading to the bodies of his brother-in-law and DEA agent Hank Schrader and his partner Steve Gomez.
He also assured Skyler that her life and the lives of Walt Jr. and Holly wouldn't be in danger – a foreshadowing of Walt's final showdown and last act of vengeance against the gang that posed that final threat.
In many ways, Walt's departure from his family is perhaps the saddest and most tragic development of the show. Upon his inevitable death, his two children will go on to hate him for the inexcusable wrongs he committed and the horrible circumstances they bore on their close-knit family - a fact that perhaps overshadows Walt's redeeming merits of ensuring his family's safety from future harm and negotiating a trust fund for Walt Jr.
With one last clever trick up his sleeve, Walt did not disappoint, coming to Jesse Pinkman's rescue yet again – a recurring theme throughout the show. The parallels with Walt's final showdown abound with similarities to the first season of the show, when Walt made a surprise visit to crazed Mexican drug kingpin, Tuco Salamanca, after Jesse suffered a horrific beat down at his hands.
But Walt's plan this time around was more complex. He built a swaying assault rifle hidden in the trunk of a car that ultimately slays nearly the entire white supremacist gang that has kept Jesse imprisoned cooking Walt's now infamous blue meth.
Walt fired the fatal shot to kill the gang's leader, Jack, while Jesse strangled his deviant nephew, Todd, to death for terrorizing his life. The carnage ended, pitting Jesse and Walt face-to-face for the last time. Walt slid a gun over to Jesse, giving him the ultimatum of whether or not to kill him.
Despite their fractious and up-and-down partnership, Jesse decides against killing Walt himself – a move that perhaps was in deference to the man that has come to his rescue time and again or maybe a final act of defiance for all of the times Walt manipulated him.
"Do you want this?" Jesse asked Walt.
"I want this," Walt said.
"If you want it, do it yourself, " Jesse replied, before speeding off to his freedom.
And the hidden ricin that baffled everyone from the start of the final season was meant for Lydia, after Walt slipped it into a stevia packet that she has infamously become known to have with her chamomile tea.
Walt is left with a sole gunshot wound in his abdomen in the final hours of his 52nd birthday – two years after his cancer diagnosis and the inception of his journey to build one of the biggest meth empires in the Southwest.
As with all tragic characters consumed by their desire for power, prestige and money like Tony Montana or Michael Corleone, Walter White was no different and had to meet his ultimate demise for the terror and destruction he created.
Walt's death was almost bittersweet – he was the character you hated to love, but continued to cheer for even when you knew he was becoming too evil and powerful for his own good. He was relatable, down on his luck and looking for a way to improve his life and his family's. And he wanted to leave his mark on the world.
As he patted the final set-up of the chemistry system he created to cook the purest meth ever, Walt appeared content that he took his love of chemistry and broke bad in the first place.