FeLiNa – Our need for Closure

Blood, Meth, and Tears; Felina put an end to everyone’s favorite Breaking bad after 5 seasons of a thrilling journey. The final episode of breaking bad received 9.9/10 ratings by IMDB and widely regarded as one of the best endings for a TV show.

Why do people love it this much?

Well, you can look up on the internet and find the answer to it. It’s not that hard, there are thousands of webpages, forums, and blogs discussing this topic. And when you read them, you notice one of those features stands out from the rest of them. That is, all the characters in the story get some sort of closure in the end. A proper ending.

“In terms of closure, this finale was staggeringly eager to please.”
-Paul Martinovic; Den of Geek-

Understandably, we love to see a good ending to a TV show that we kept watching for years. But the question is,

Can we have closure to every aspect of our life?

What is going to happen if we don’t get the answers or an ending we desire?

To find the answers to these questions, we have to leave the world of TV shows and movies and take a peek to psychology. There we can find some answers.

Need for Cognitive Closure (NFCC)

The need for cognitive closure refers to an individuals’ desire for a firm answer to a question and a strong dislike toward ambiguity. It’s a stable dispositional preference for order and predictability, an urgent desire to reach decisions, affective discomfort with uncertainty, and ‘closed-mindedness’.

There is a scale developed to measure one’s need for cognitive closure. And people at the different ends of the spectrum show different characters to one another.

Having a higher NFC has its own pros and cons. People with high NFC are more likely to be less creative and less persistent on tasks that involve conflicting(Divergent) thinking, regardless of how challenging or threatening that task is. High NFC people may require more modifications of their environment and task selection to perform optimally. The need for closure may lead individuals to focus only on the initial information provided and to be less likely to change their answers when confronted with new evidence. High NFC participants have the advantage of performing consistently regardless of how threatening a task feels to them, but do worse overall on tasks requiring creativity.

On the other hand, people with Low NFC seems to solve problems more creatively with challenging yet less threatening tasks. Low NFC people are also more likely to persist in the face of a challenge but be discouraged by anxiety-provoking tasks. Low NFC people, on the other hand, may lose interest in the absence of sufficient challenge, deterred by anxiety-provoking aspects of the job at hand. Low NFC people may be more adaptable to diverse work settings.

So it’s a no brainer that high and low NFC people have a hard time getting along. But we can argue that a combination of these characters could result in a powerful combination.

So how do all these add up to our favorite breaking bad episode?

First of all, let’s take the characters one by one. Walter ‘Heisenberg’ White got his closure by doing many things. He went to Gretchen and Elliot and gave all his money left to them, threatening to pass the money to his son when he is 18 and went to meet Skyler and gave her the coordinates to find Hank and Gomez (which can be interpreted as a closure for Marie). Then he went to Lydia and gave her Ricin. Killed a dozen neo-Nazis who killed his brother in law Hank and released Jesse form their custody. After completing all the ‘duties’, he intentionally got arrested at the one place on earth that made him feel alive; the meth lab. So, it’s pretty obvious Walt got the closure he needed.

Skyler got her closure too, finally got rid of her evil husband and for the first time in the entire series, Walt became completely honest with her.

“I did it for me, I liked it, I was good at it and I was really I WAS ALIVE.”
-Walter White-

          Jesse Pinkman, Walt’s trusty sidekick got his own movie for a closure (Not bad J). Marie got to know the whereabouts of her husband. And the character everyone loved, Saul Goodman left the city and eventually got an equally good TV show for himself (Better Call Saul).

Apart from the character’s point of view if we get the story as a whole, Vince Gilligan the writer of the show put an end to almost all the storylines in the story. Gretchen and Elliot return to the show for the last season, we finally saw someone getting poisoned by ricin and die of the horrible flu, all the neo-Nazis got killed and Marie got to know whereabouts of her husband. The only problem is Huell might be still sitting on a chair in the room that Hank and Gomez left him.

Breaking bad is not a fast-paced story. But it has always been a very serious, dark, and a logical one. As I said earlier people with high NFC are also more logical and detail-oriented compared to low NFC people. So it’s not hard to see a connection between these two. I think we can argue that we needed this story to come to an end. Not because we didn’t like it. But subconsciously, all of us were in a desperate need for closure for this story. And when Vince Gilligan gave us ‘Felina’ everyone was ‘orgasmic’ because it gave us all the answers we needed.

Now let’s go back to questions I raised in the beginning,

Can we have closure to every aspect of our life?

Of course no, we can’t have closure to everything in our life.

What is going to happen if we don’t get the answers or an ending we desire?

Well, it depends on the type of person you are, if you are a person with low NFC, you are fine. You know how to move on. But if you are a person with higher NFC, there is a probability of you trying to deal with a situation becoming violent or emotional (at this point I’m not talking about an ending of a TV show). The most successful way to minimize the need for closure is to understand that it is ok to ignore little details and past memories in a given situation. Next, getting your judgment straight. Because you may be missing far more important aspects of your life while worrying about only one factor.

You will never have all the answers as to why things didn’t work out. Even if you have the answers, they might turn out to be unpleasant for you. Uncertainty is a part of our life, and your future will give you many more situations with uncertainty. Merely finding an answer to one situation isn’t going to solve everything.

Before ending the article I should say this, just because you loved Breaking Bad you are not a psycho. I only took it as a beginning to describe a condition within all of us more or less.

Let it go, move forward. The next chapter of your life is going to be better than this one.


  • Motivated Closing of the Mind: “Seizing” and “Freezing”, Arie W. Kruglanski University of Maryland College Park, Donna M. Webster University of Florida
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