Photo: Frank Ockenfels / AMC

Breaking Bad's Upcoming 'Felina' Finale, Explained

...Possibly. This is just a CRACKPOT theory that could ALSO turn out to be totally spot on.

No one knows how Breaking Bad is going to end next Sunday. Well, series creator Vince Gilligan does, because he wrote and directed it. And so do the cast and crew. And, fine, there's also a rabid commenter on another website who swears his cable company accidentally screened the finale and that it involves ricin and death (no duh). Everyone else on the ENTIRE INTERNET has theories about what's going to happen, and I'm here to tell you that they're all wrong. I don't know what kind of prize one wins if they guess the finale's end correctly, but I would like a blue rock candy-filled piñata of a severed head on a triumphant tortuga to display on my mantlepiece this Sunday, because you know what? I've got this.

Breaking Bad's final episode is entitled "Felina," which theorists have dismantled to mean everything from an anagram of "finale" to a derivation of the word "feline," which points to something involving Skyler (Anna Gunn) and whiskers. (Geezus, the internet loves its cats.) There are also mentions of a Filipino TV show, a Pokémon character, and everything else listed under the word "felina" on Wikipedia. I think one of these theories might be slightly correct (stay with me), but that it all points to Marty Robbins's song "El Paso," which features a character named "Felina." I know this song inside and out. It's the first song I learned all the words to, having grown up in the very town in which the song was named. And I think the lyrics might allude to the show's conclusion. Let me take you step by step.

Out in the West Texas town of El Paso

I fell in love with a Mexican girl.

Night-time would find me in Rosa's Cantina;

Music would play and Felina would whirl.

Breaking Bad takes place in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but El Paso was the site of Hank's (Dean Norris) first brush with the cartels, and his subsequent spiral into Walt's (Bryan Cranston) kingpin darkness. In the song, a cowboy spends his nights in Rosa's Cantina, watching his love, Felina, dance. I've been to Rosa's Cantina. It's a friendly place with cheap shots and a stellar jukebox, but back in the day, it was famously described as a place nice girls don't go. If my hunch is correct, Felina is a metaphor for Walt's double life.

Screens: AMC

Screens: AMC

As Heisenberg, Walt becomes obsessed with the power and money that a being a drug kingpin brings. This power is his Felina, his weakness. But its backbone is the obsessive (destructive) love he also has for his family.

Blacker than night were the eyes of Felina,

Wicked and evil while casting a spell.

My love was deep for this Mexican maiden;

I was in love but in vain, I could tell.

This stanza seems to solidify that theory. Walt's Heisenberg alter ego casts a spell on his regular life. Like the cowboy in the song, he knows Felina will be his ruin, yet he can't run away. He's in too deep, and she is his obsession. However, I have another theory. Does Breaking Bad have a feline character with dark eyes intent on casting a spell? Possibly. But I'm getting to that.

One night a wild young cowboy came in,

Wild as the West Texas wind.

Dashing and daring,

A drink he was sharing

With wicked Felina,

The girl that I loved.

The song "El Paso" is about love, revenge, consequences, and redemption. The cowboy in the song shoots another cowboy who flirts with Felina. On Breaking Bad, Walt has killed anyone who has threatened to take away his power and money (again, his Felina). What did we hear when Hank was shot? Wild southwestern wind. Hank, along with the entire DEA, the cartels, Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito), and now the gang of Nazis have tried to take Walt's Felina away. And he's having none of it.

So in anger I

Challenged his right for the love of this maiden.

Down went his hand for the gun that he wore.

My challenge was answered in less than a heart-beat;

The handsome young stranger lay dead on the floor.

How many lie dead on Walt's floor? Many. When he chose to cook meth and devote himself to it as a means to a profitable end for his family in the wake of terminal cancer, his choices put many deaths in motion as a result. All of that blood is on Walt's hands. Hank, Gomie (Steven Michael Quezada), and now Andrea (Emily Rios) are his latest victims.

Just for a moment I stood there in silence,

Shocked by the foul evil deed I had done.

Many thoughts raced through my mind as I stood there;

I had but one chance and that was to run.

And run Walt did -- all the way to a remote forest cabin in New Hampshire, under a new identity: Mr. Lambert. There is meaning in this name, which I will get to, but I think it's important to note that Walt was genuinely shocked by Hank's death in "Ozymandias." He was Walter White in Hank's death scene, not Heisenberg, and was rendered catatonic on the desert floor realizing the foul evil he brought on to his brother-in-law. Walt ran away like a dog with his tail between his legs, and not just from the drug crimes that befell him, but from the knowledge that, though he didn't pull the trigger, he was entirely responsible for Hank's death. And what was the final shot in "Ozymandias" as Walt drives away? A dog walking across the road.

Out through the back door of Rosa's I ran,

Out where the horses were tied.

I caught a good one.

It looked like it could run.

Up on its back

And away I did ride,

Just as fast as I

Could from the West Texas town of El Paso

Out to the bad-lands of New Mexico.

In this case, Walt's horse is the bottom of an empty propane truck, and he didn't run to New Mexico, but away from it. But, again, the cowboy's El Paso is Walt's Albuquerque.

Back in El Paso my life would be worthless.

Everything's gone in life; nothing is left.

It's been so long since I've seen the young maiden

My love is stronger than my fear of death.

In "Granite State," we live with Walt in depressing solitude in that New Hampshire cabin. His hair grows as his weight drops, and he truly begins to see that everything in his life is gone -- his money, his family, and now his health, as he sits with a crude chemo needle jammed into his arm. In "El Paso," Felina no longer has a name in this part of the song. She's referred to as "the young maiden," which renders her more as a construct than a physical thing; she's so long gone that the singer can't even remember her name. Walt's Felina is the empire he created; it, too, is long gone. But what the cowboy and Walt share is the feeling behind it -- the obsessive, jealous love. The writers of the show have spoken about the end of the show coming when Walt truly sees himself for what he is. That end is coming at full gallop.

I saddled up and away I did go,

Riding alone in the dark.

Maybe tomorrow

A bullet may find me.

Tonight nothing's worse than this

Pain in my heart.

Walt leaves the cabin knowing that, once he's done so, there's no going back; he is no longer protected. Still, his obsession compels him to call his son, Walt Jr. (R.J. Mitte), in one last attempt to get the remaining money to his wife and children -- to make it all count for something. "It can't all be for nothing," Walt sighs into the phone as his son wishes him to "die already." That is a terrible blow to Walt's heart. But what is worse? What actually makes Walt jump on the horse and ride back to the scene of his crimes where he knows a bullet (many bullets) await? His Felina. And he met his Felina long, long ago.

Then Walt sees Gretchen and Elliott (Jessica Hecht and Adam Godley), his multi-millionaire former partners from Gray Matter, chatting with Charlie Rose on TV about his failures, rendering him even more meaningless to them and to his own life on Earth. And he snaps. This is where it all really began. Walter White has been lying dormant waiting to break bad from this inciting incident since well before he ever had cancer. If he'd remained a part of Gray Matter, he would have had the money to pay for his treatments, and might never have chosen a meth-paved path. Everything that Vince Gilligan does is with purpose; many a writer has discussed his taste for the Chekhov's Gun principle. Gretchen and Elliot are Walt's first foes, and they were brought back for a reason. Also interesting to note -- and I'm not the first one to observe it -- are the costume choices. Elliott was wearing a yellow tie, and Gretchen a yellow blouse. Who else wore yellow? Gus Fring, Brock (Ian Posada), and Drew (Sam Webb), the little boy Todd (Jesse Plemons) shot in "Dead Freight."

And at last here I

Am on the hill overlooking El Paso;

I can see Rosa's Cantina below.

My love is strong and it pushes me onward.

Down off the hill to Felina I go.

We know that Walt goes back thanks to the flash-forward scenes peppered throughout this season. We know he'll be driving an old beat-up sedan with an M60 machine gun in the trunk, and we know that he'll be carrying the vial of ricin he removed from the wall socket of his shuttered house. What will he do with all of this? What is his goal?

Breaking Bad

Off to my right I see five mounted cowboys;

Off to my left ride a dozen or more.

Shouting and shooting I can't let them catch me.

I have to make it to Rosa's back door.

Are the five mounted cowboys Todd and the Nazis? There were five of them at Hank's shootout. Are the dozen or more the police who are hot on Heisenberg's tail? I'm guessing yes. There's going to be major heat for Walt in his final hour.

Something is dreadfully wrong for I feel

A deep burning pain in my side.

Though I am trying

To stay in the saddle,

I'm getting weary,

Unable to ride.

From the coughing fit in front of Saul (Bob Odenkirk) to the blood coughed up in the flash forward at the beginning of the season, I think it's safe to say that Walt's escalating cancer will play a part in his ultimate demise. It will continue to slow him down and wrestle him in the saddle as we come full circle to how this dastardly cowboy's tale began. But that's not what will kill him.

But my love for

Felina is strong and I rise where I've fallen,

Though I am weary I can't stop to rest.

I see the white puff of smoke from the rifle.

I feel the bullet go deep in my chest.

We know that Walt is on a mission when he decides to flee the coming police at the end of "Granite State," and that mission involves Gray Matter. Will Elliott and Gretchen -- who we know have millions of dollars, being filtered through a charitable fund -- see the barrel of that gun or (not) taste that ricin? As they foreshadowed to Charlie Rose, Walter White is dead, and they don't recognize the existence of Heisenberg. And: THEY'RE IN YELLOW.

The man we are left with at the end of "Granite State" sits at a bar with an Ozymandias-like "wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command."

Breaking Bad

Then he vanishes, leaving behind a single glass of whiskey -- all set to the full Breaking Bad theme music. Perhaps the man we see in the finale will be Walt's true break, beyond Heisenberg, propelling him to true action by his own trigger finger. But the question remains: who will ultimately pull the trigger on Walt?

Breaking Bad

From out of nowhere Felina has found me,

Kissing my cheek as she kneels by my side.

Cradled by two loving arms that I'll die for,

One little kiss and Felina, good-bye.

Who is the "Felina" in the series finale? Is she related to the Felina of "El Paso"? Is she a whirling feline dervish with a wicked glint in her eye? Is she both the ruin and the savior of our wayward cowboy? This is a totally crackpot theory, but what if "Felina" is Marie (Betsy Brandt)? In Sunday's episode, Marie stares out the window of a police vehicle. She's in protective custody, being driven home in the wake of Hank's death, only she doesn't get to go home and is whisked away when her escorts discover that her house has been broken into. If anyone on Breaking Bad has truly lost everything as a result of Walter White's choices, it's Marie. She's lost her husband, her sister, and now her home. She is alone, swathed in black, and no longer comforted by the warm violets of her environs. Interestingly, in desert gemology, the color purple signifies purpose. And if anyone deserves a shot at Walt -- possibly more than Skyler and Jesse -- it's Marie, the only utterly blameless victim in this whole mess. Also, not that I have that much time on my hands, but what is Marie's maiden name? LAMBERT. Will she be the Felina kiss of death?

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