I just posted the following on Nick CR’s excellent BB blog, Tucker’s Hole (tuckershole.wordpress.com):
Vince Gilligan, a cool guy from what I can tell, and indisputably a great writer, did what he set out to do: tell the story of Walter White going from Mr. Chips to Scarface. Ending “Felina” with the “Special Love” song and Walt dying with a smile on his face was perfectly in tone with the arc of the series as a whole, and — along with Jesse getting away and Flynn probably going to get $10 million soon — gave us as happy an ending as possible. If you think about it outside the context of the show, however, it’s a bit ridiculous — and very sad — that Walt loved the blue meth and his ability to make it more than anything else in life. Especially since so many people died and suffered for that self-involved, egoistic love.
I can think of a much better ending. When Gilligan and company saw what good actors Dean Norris and — especially — Aaron Paul were, they expanded the characters of Hank and Jesse. I think they should have gone even further in this direction, especially in Jesse’s case, in the last season. I would have liked very much to have seen Jesse take the maturity and agency he was developing under Gus and Mike’s tutelage and apply it to his relationship with Walt and meth-making. We could have seen him decide to work with Hank rather than come to it accidentally in the midst of an unreasoning, drug-assisted tantrum. It would have been interesting to have seen the two of them develop a relationship and come to respect each other.
I would have had Hank die much as he did, and then Jesse carry on alone as the “good guy,” perhaps still being being taken prisoner by the Nazis, but not having to be rescued by Walt — maybe even taking Walt — as well as the Nazis — down in the end. Todd, Lydia, and the Nazis were pretty boring villains to go on so long, so another possibility would have been for Jesse to have escaped from the desert shootout and then gone to the DEA.
As you can probably tell, I cared much more about Jesse than I did about Walt, who I saw as pitifully limited, essentially cowardly, and not deserving to tie up all his loose ends and die a good death. Aaron Paul has said he thinks Jesse may have deserved everything that happened to him, but I disagree. He’s young and redeemable and could have had a good life with Brock and Andrea, leaving at least one happy young family at the end. That’s all Jesse truly wanted — connection and family, and I wanted to see him get it, not through luck, but through his own efforts. I thought Andrea’s death was completely gratuitous, Jesse’s suffering excessive, and his lack of character development disappointing.
I still voted that I was satisfied with the ending, because it was good in its way, but I think a better ending was possible.