Breaking Bad: America’s favorite drama ends on a high note
by Gavin Libbey
Published October 3, 2013
The following review contains major spoilers for Breaking Bad. Actually, it has probably every major spoiler for Breaking Bad. If you haven’t finished the series yet, seriously, don’t keep reading. I’m warning you now.
Creating a satisfying ending for a movie or book is difficult, but television has extra disadvantages. The audience has to dedicate much more time to a television show, so if it’s an even slightly disappointing conclusion, there will be hell to pay. If it’s not just right, the viewers will feel like their day-long episode binging or years-long love affair with the series was all for naught. That’s also assuming you can even keep the audience hooked for more than two seasons, you need to make sure you can keep the quality and interest up for however long you plan to run the show.
Then you have a show like Breaking Bad. The show that stunned cable TV and set a new standard of quality for popular television finally ended this past Sunday. I probably don’t need to tell you about the hype for Breaking Bad, you either watch it and understand the excitement completely, or have been pestered by your friends to watch the series for years now. So, did the cast and crew of America’s favorite drama fail like so many other TV shows, or continue to live up to its unimaginable hype?
As it turns out, creator Vince Gilligan is a TV wizard. The finale episode, “Felina,” was ultimately satisfying. It wasn’t the best episode of all time, but it didn’t have to be. It just had to finish the show in a concrete way that tied up the loose ends and completed the story arcs, and it did just that.
The final play of Walter White, science teacher turned meth kingpin became ominously predictable as the episode progressed . This did take away some of the shock value, as everyone could probably tell how things would play out, but it didn’t make the conclusion any worse. Actually, if they were to whip out a few of the smaller “twists” without any setup or foreshadowing (like Walt’s machine gun contraption and the ricin in Lydia’s tea), they would feel totally random. Realizing how the story would tie up actually let you sympathize with the characters, because you’re realising it at the same time they are.
Throughout the season, as well as the series, the show has been leading up to a stunning finish for the last episode. For drama/action shows, the audience demands just that in their finales: drama and action. There has to be a balance, otherwise it ends up being anticlimactic or tacky. Breaking Bad definitely delivers in terms of drama, which was expected. The writing is as excellent as usual, getting you to feel just the way Gilligan wants you to, be it amused, saddened, or proud.
As for the action, there was a tasteful amount. It would be uncharacteristic of Walt and the show in general if he burst into Uncle Jack’s compound with his machine gun, mowing down Neo-Nazis left and right like so many adoring fans predicted he would. No, instead he built a automatic-arm-thing, which did the job for him, but was just as amazing. Then the cherry on top was Jesse choking out Todd, which was morbidly satisfying considering the two characters’ relationship (Nothing personal, Todd).
And that’s how you finish a show. I really couldn’t ask for more. You tie up all your loose ends, complete important character arcs, give the protagonist a satisfying and fitting finish, provide some action and excitement to spice it up, and deliver the usual level of quality your fans demand. “Felina” should be a lesson for future TV shows lucky enough to reach their finale.
Even though Breaking Bad is done, leaving many of us with a sort of empty feeling inside, I’m grateful that it concluded the way it did. We got an ending that Gilligan wanted from the start, and one that wouldn’t disappoint fans in the slightest. So, don’t feel too bad, be happy with what we got!
Besides, we’ll always have Game of Throne for another 7 seasons or so.
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