Heisenberg No More
As I sat in the overwhelming sweat of emotional finality that Sunday’s final episode of “Breaking Bad” gave me, I knew that the wordlessness I felt would eventually find its way into this review. And because I am replaying the entirety of Walter White’s story in my head instead of diving head-first into the writing of this review, I was clearly right.
Before I get into the nitty gritty about the finale, I’m going to provide two pieces of information that I consider vital, especially when considering the miraculousness of the effectiveness of “Breaking Bad.”
1) I love “Breaking Bad.” Any show that, by its premise alone, promises such dark content yet introduces its lead character in a pair of tighty-whities has my complete and utter devotion. After that initial affection, “Breaking Bad” proved to be the most consistently brilliant piece of fiction to which I’d ever devoted my time.
2) I love good endings. Take note of the fact that I said I love good endings, not happy endings. I love endings that feel appropriate, deserved and rewarding.
It’s very rare that any one person gets exactly what they love. It’s even rarer that someone will get two things that they love and that they will: A) Be delivered to them at a point in their life where they can appreciate it and B) Go hand in hand.
With “Felina,” fans got just that. It was a flawless finale for a series that regularly redefined the word flawless.
The finale of “Breaking Bad” was bound to be compared to that of “The Sopranos.” You can’t have a show so routed in crime and not have it draw those comparisons. That said, “Breaking Bad” had an even bigger challenge in matching the quality of the finale that “The Sopranos” had.
I know I’m going to take a lot of heat for saying this, but “The Sopranos” finale was great. Despite the backlash from fans who apparently need to be spoon-fed their endings, it was exactly what the series deserved. It was unexpected and poignant. It asked the viewer to rethink everything they’d seen in the series up until that point and, ultimately, made all of it more meaningful. It changed the entire series without being a cop-out. It wasn’t all a dream. It wasn’t all meaningless.
Those are the best television endings, and that is exactly what “Breaking Bad” delivered and more.
As it turns out, “Breaking Bad” wasn’t really the transformation of good to evil that series creator Vince Gilligan said it was. Walter White was always Heisenberg. He always enjoyed doing bad things. Breaking bad was the only thing that made him feel alive. He just tried to hide it. “Breaking Bad” was the story of a bad man who finally owned up to his nature.
It was a love story between a man and his pride, his legacy, his “Baby Blue.”
As powerful as that is, though, it’s not the only thing that made “Breaking Bad” the masterpiece that it was.
Whether good or bad, every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. Most stories can be broken down into a simple matter of going from an A to a B. The creativity lies in the journey. The baby steps, the great leaps forward, the side streets, the people you meet along the way, etc. It could have gone any number of ways. But “Breaking Bad” treated it all like chemistry. It was flawless. And now it’s over.
For those of you who, like me, are feeling melancholy about the fact that you will probably never again encounter a show of such brilliance, relax and try to remember that this is not the end of the world. One of the greatest things about “Breaking Bad” ending its run is that the brilliance is now fully contained inside its five-season run. “Breaking Bad” will always be brilliant. And, thankfully, there is no limit to the number of times you can watch that brilliance again.
In lieu of an ending full of perfectly chosen words, I leave you with this, which, to “Breaking Bad” fans, should say it all.