Resolution: Breaking Bad’s Finale vs. The Pineapple Incident

*EDITOR’S NOTE: This post has been imported from my Tumblr page, where it originally appeared.*

On November 28, 2005, CBS first aired an episode of How I Met Your Mother titled “The Pineapple Incident”, in which Ted Mosby goes on a night bender and wakes up the next morning hung over, limping and with a pineapple of unknown origin on his nightstand. Today, “The Pineapple Incident” remains the most watched episode of the series, and many longtime fans put it near or at the top of the list of all-time favorites. (It came in at number two on my very own list.) But while the episode continues to bring joy to the series’ loyal followers, it is also the source of the show’s greatest bane. 

At the end of the episode, Future Ted narrates, “We never found out where that pineapple came from.” Series creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas have admitted many times over the years that this is the one singular regret they have about anything they’ve done on the show, that they wrote themselves into a corner by putting that line in there. Considering the show was only ten episodes in, it would normally seem like a very forgivable mistake. But as the show went on and continued to develop its signature mythology and penchant for recurring jokes, the omission became more and more glaring. As a result, the fans who clamor for an answer have made themselves very known. They want to know about the pineapple, continuity be damned.

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I, for one, have not been one of those people. I’m content with never finding out about the fruit’s origin. As a matter of fact, I’ve said before that I’m vehemently against the idea. I’ve been of the mindset that I don’t need every question about a TV show answered. I tend to think, Not every question or mystery in each of our lives is answered, so to do so on the show would just be unrealistic. Furthermore, I can see a little value in leaving something to the imagination. If something is left a little open-ended, then maybe it can live on in our minds.

Quite bluntly, I said I didn’t want everything wrapped up a neat, little bow. Well, guess what? All “t”s were crossed, all “i”s dotted, and every storyline was neatly finished and concluded. I didn’t want to know whether Marie found Hank’s body, and that was answered. Were Walt’s kids affected as adults by his actions? We know that as well. And you know something? I still loved it.

A lot of credit has to be given to Bryan Cranston and creator/writer/director Vince Gilligan. It was an hour of the highest quality of television, and I am now convinced that Cranston is the greatest television actor of this generation. No one else could have assumed this role, and it will be the defining one of his career. While I wouldn’t give the episode a perfect A+ (Walt being able to virtually spit in Lydia’s face as she slowly died still came off as slightly contrived), it was most certainly a solid A. And after watching it, I sat there wondering why I loved it so much, despite getting exactly what I didn’t want. Well, it turns out that Gilligan knew what I wanted better than I did: Resolution.

When discussing the finale on the Talking Bad after-show, Gilligan said that he and the other writers discussed a myriad of options. Among other things, they considered going the Sopranos way, meaning leaving it all open. In the end, they decided to do an ending that they personally would feel satisfied with the most. It turns out that “satisfied” was the key word in all of this. “Felina” was one of the most satisfying finales in quite some time. When Walt finally admitted his selfishness to Skyler, I literally dropped to my knees in relief. I had no idea how cathartic that scene would make me feel. I’ve forgotten that sometimes as a viewer, I don’t want to have to do too much thinking. That’s what books are for. Sometimes, I want to sit down, watch a show, and not have to be a part of it, but just be entertained. Plus, given the extreme amount of hours we’ve invested into the story, nothing is more satisfying than getting a true ending. We didn’t need mind-blowing ridiculous twists. When I think of the series as a whole, from beginning to end, Breaking Bad was more like a movie than anything else that’s been on television. So in that sense, it’s ending was right.

I still think there is merit in my initial feeling. This kind of closure is definitely not one-size-fits-all. The Shield still has my favorite series finale, and I shudder to think what would have been if the end was much cleaner than it actually was. But Breaking Bad proved that wrapping up all loose ends can be great if done right. This brings me back to the pineapple, an entity so large in the HIMYM universe that deserves to have its own episode—or maybe a spinoff!

Bad’s finale has made me change how I feel about discovering the pineapple’s origin. Bays, Thomas, and the writing team of HIMYM have thoroughly impressed me over the years with their level of creativity. If there is a way to explain the pineapple without it feeling like a complete cheat, I’m sure they’ll be able to do it. And if it makes the show feel all the more satisfying when it’s over in five months, then I’m all for it. So go ahead. Tell me about the pineapple. I’m listening. Now, Barney’s job, on the other hand…

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