Some quick thoughts on the Breaking Bad series finale

*****If you haven’t watched last night’s Breaking Bad finale, you may want to skip this post until you do if you care anything about spoilers*****


I have been kind of obsessed with Breaking Bad since its pilot episode; while some series it takes a few episodes – or even seasons – to find its rhythm and its voice, Breaking Bad seemed to do that right out of the gate. After that first hour, I knew that I was going to be on board with the show for its duration, barring some unexpected dip in quality or storytelling. That is somewhat unusual for me, as I usually see promise in pilots and decide to give a show a chance to grow, rather than fully committing almost immediately. When it came to the adventures of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, I was a total ride or die chick. I had full faith in creator Vince Gilligan and his fantastic cast.

Last night, Breaking Bad came to an end and the story of Walter White was completed. After so many terrible series finales of other shows (Lost – I’m looking squarely at you), it was a relief to have a show be able to stick the landing and provide satisfying closure to multiple story lines. After weeks of putting the viewer through the emotional wringer, there was finally some closure: the Nazis and my boy Todd got what was coming to them, as did Lydia and, most importantly, Mr. White. The White family appears to be taken care of, with Walt discovering a way to get the money to them and by giving Skylar something to bargain with to extricate herself from her legal troubles. Jesse survived, finally freed from his actual and metaphorical slavery to meth. The emotional scars for many of these people will last a lifetime, but pretty much every storyline over the course of the series came to a close. As the series faded to black, there weren’t a lot of unanswered questions. It was all tied up in a neat little box.

However, I’m beginning to think that it was all a little too neat.

Don’t get me wrong – I really liked the series finale; my initial reaction was one of fist-pumping and saying how awesome it was. And parts of it absolutely were awesome. But upon sleeping on it, this morning I awoke to the same nagging concern that I chose to ignore in the excitement of watching it all unfold last night: it all unfolded a little too perfectly. After weeks of Walt’s plans all going to hell in a hand basket, everything that he needed to go his way last night ultimately did. He pulled off intimidating Elliot and Gretchen Schwartz, the gunning down of the Nazis and the poisoning of Lydia pretty much without a hitch and on his own (minus the much appreciated minor assist from Badger and Skinny Pete). It was emotionally satisfying, but I don’t know that it was particularly earned or in keeping with the series overall. Was it immensely satisfying to watch: yes; but in hindsight it mostly seemed pretty predictable and anticlimactic (though I didn’t see the bit with Elliot and Gretchen coming – I completely misread that one). Perhaps that was simply the finale that we needed after years of being on the roller coaster that is Breaking Bad. I just wish that it was all slightly messier.

Some other thoughts:

  • Did anyone ever go get Huell? Or is that poor bastard still sitting in the “safe house” waiting for someone to tell him it is OK to leave?
  • I wonder what life holds in store for Jesse. It’s not going to be easy for him, regardless of the short term joy that he had escaping.
  • I’ll admit, when I ordered my coffee this morning and asked for two Splenda, it gave me pause. I will now forever be worried that someone is slipping me Ricin.
  • Stevia can’t be happy with its association in the series.
  • Walt finally admitted that he used family to justify the real reason he did all this – he liked it. That was huge.
  • As much as I enjoyed Todd and his sociopath-ness, I am glad that Jesse got some revenge for Andrea’s cold blooded murder.
  • “Cheer up, beautiful people… this is where you get to make it right.” Never before has such a positive message sounded so terrifying.
  • I liked the series coming full circle, with Walt wearing basically the same outfit in the finale that he did in the pilot.
  • AMC almost ruined the finale with all the ad breaks. TOO MANY COMMERCIALS!

These are minor quibbles – ultimately I was very happy with the finale and while I might long a bit for a somewhat more ambiguous or less pat ending, I totally respect the story that Gilligan set out to tell and the choices he made. This was still an excellent finale and made me OK with one of my favorite shows going off the air. Thank you to Gilligan, Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul and everyone else associated with the show for giving viewers such a gift these past five years. Breaking Bad belongs in the pantheon of greatest shows of all time. In the end, despite my criticisms, the cast and crew of Breaking Bad gave us an A-1 ending.

What did you think of the finale? Sound off in the comments below.

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