After just over a week’s worth of reflection, my mind hasn’t changed. I still think the Breaking Bad finale was perfect, and I’m hardly alone. It was tight (TIGHT. Tight.), concise, and exactly what we needed. This show has never been about broad, unanswered questions or making a spectacle of itself. It was about as realistic as a show centered around a dying chemistry teacher’s meth empire could get. It had its share of over-the-top moments – Gus straightening his tie with half of a face, hydrofluoric acid and an assortment of body parts burning through a bathtub – but they took away nothing from the plot. Gilligan did the inevitable, tying up every loose end in the process, and presented it in a nice, neat package wrapped with a crystal blue bow.
And there has still been some blowback. Some felt it was boring and too orderly, others felt that not enough happened. Some went out of the way to craft intricate alternate theories, like Norm MacDonald’s “Walt died in the car” idea. The problem with things likes this is that they discredit the creator’s intentions. MacDonald’s theory is implausible not because of facts, but because it directly contradicts the show’s structure. It has never been vague or open-ended. Before “Felina” aired, it felt almost impossible to hear about the episode without mentions of shows like LOST in the same breath. The two shows had brilliant endings, but they were vastly different and appropriate for their respective genres. There’s no reason to combine the two because a flexible LOST-like ending would never work for a show like Breaking Bad.
For me, there’s nothing more satisfying television-wise than seeing something come full-circle. Nods to early episodes and closed plotlines fill me with so much (probably too much) joy. Maybe Walt blamed Gretchen and Elliot for much of this mess. We don’t know exactly what happened with him and Gray Matter, but something tells me he likely wouldn’t have had to pursue drug manufacturing to pay his medical bills and take care of his family if he were as wealthy as the Schwartzes. So to him, paying them a visit before the final showdown was his way of attacking the root of the problem, even though he didn’t hurt them – nor did he ever intend to. The show’s last scene was even more gratifying. He’s in a lab, probably thinking about how it pales in comparison to their previous workspaces, and he leaves a bloody handprint on a piece of equipment, a physical component of himself left on something that used to be his livelihood. All of this on top of Jesse escaping, Walt admitting that he wasn’t in it solely for his family, and the total destruction of some of the baddest bad guys we know, made it the perfect ending to a perfect show.
We may not ever experience a television show like this again. I’m honestly okay with that. Breaking Bad completely altered the way I look at television, films, books. It set a new precedent for other writers, other creators, and they’re constantly going to be upping their standards to catch up to it. I miss it already.