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Breaking Sad: Taking a look at the “Breaking Bad” finale

Breaking Sad: Taking a look at the “Breaking Bad” finale

Breaking Sad: Taking a look at the “Breaking Bad” finale
September 30
23:13 2013


Matt Wood / Copy Chief

My initial thought after watching the penultimate episode of “Breaking Bad,” was this: how could anyone possibly achieve closure with one more episode?

Jesse was still trapped in a neo-Nazi camp, and he watched Andrea, the only person he had left to lose, get shot by Todd. Walter was given a new life in a cabin in New Hampshire and was relegated to being a hermit. But after seeing his former colleagues speak falsely of him on television he abandoned a bar with unclear intentions after nearly turning himself in.

The episode had set the stage for a very large number of things to happen, and it left numerous holes in the plot that seemed impossible to wrap up in the 53-minute length of the final episode.

Near the end of the episode, Walt – though he was more embodying Heisenberg at the time – resonated the audience’s feelings, saying “I’ve still got things left to do.”

The last episode, “Felina,” wasn’t rushed, however. It didn’t try to pack every single crazy twist possible, though there were several.

What made the climaxes of the episode so powerful was the calm before the storm, what has been referred to as the “slow burn” of the show, rather than the barrage of explosions and actions scenes that become dull and repetitive.

The show, as has been bluntly put in many trailers for the finale, always comes back to how chemistry is the study of change.

In one of his lectures, Walter White refers to reflective isomers, in which a compound is transformed from a harmless substance, like aspirin, into a more volatile one. Though the importance of his lectures may have seemed irrelevant early on in the series, they carry significant weight in hindsight.

The transformation from the jaded, overqualified chemistry teacher to the criminal mastermind Heisenberg, to the gaunt, broken Walt is spurred by powerlessness. Walt finally admits in this final episode that his former claim that his actions were all for his family was false.

He admitted that he enjoyed feeling powerful, feeling sought after, and being appreciated for his skills. It is the reason he is in the “empire business,” and not in the money or meth business.

He even enjoys the grandeur of the legend of “Heisenberg,” like when he uses his reputation to scare Gretchen and Elliot into thinking he had hired real assassins. As he scares the life out of his highly prosperous former colleagues, it’s clear that he enjoys the power he has.

Somehow, in a single episode, the show managed to wrap up all the loose ends and leave the viewer with a sense of completion, rather than an ambiguous ending. Jesse, who morally came into the light, got to live free. But Walt accepted his fate, knowing that after all that he had done, he had nothing left to live for.

Tyler Owens / Managing Editor

As Badfinger’s “Baby Blue” played and the camera panned upward on a lifeless Walter White in homage to the ending scene of the episode “Crawl Space,” one of the greatest TV shows of our time came to an end.

My emotions did not fluctuate as much as expected, and I was calm as it came to an end. Almost everything was resolved, which was the strangest thing of all for a show that kept everyone on their toes, guessing from the get-go.

The final episode, “Felina,” was about as close to perfect as a series finale can be. All the good guys – and it is a stretch to call Walter White a “good guy” – won, even if it was a minor victory:

• Jesse was freed and got to choke the life from his captor, the man that made him watch as he shot and killed the woman he loved.

• Walt found a way to get his family the drug money at the expense of the “beautiful people” that he at least partially blames for his misfortune.

• The DEA now knows the location of Hank and Gomie’s bodies and Marie can rightfully bury her husband.

• We finally have a ricin poison victim in the person of the conniving Lydia.

• Walt killed off the entire Nazi gang in a matter of moments.

Walt’s life even ended the way he wanted it to. He went out on his own terms.

I began my love affair with the show in the middle of the fourth season and was completely caught up, but had to wait an agonizingly lengthy number of months before the first part of season five aired in July 2012.

I had no idea what the show would blossom into. Usually, before the fifth season exploded in popularity, when I asked people, “Do you watch ‘Breaking Bad?’” I would get a response similar to, “That’s about the chemistry teacher who cooks meth, right?” But it was so much more than that. And I can’t tell everyone all the details of what makes the show so brilliant, so I’d usually resort to saying, “just watch it.”

Vince Gilligan and the members of the “Breaking Bad” crew must be geniuses.

The cliché “everything happens for a reason” could not be more true when it came to this show.

Every color, character movement and pan across the set meant something. Sometimes it was obvious, but usually it took watching the scene several times to realize what Gilligan and the other directors were trying to get across, and they kept viewers guessing by twisting and turning the plot in the opposite way of what everyone expected.

And that’s what made the finale even more fantastic. I wasn’t expecting them to tie everything together so neatly.

William A. Darnell / Arts & Life Editor

“Breaking Bad” ended with Walter White lying on his back, smiling softly, delirious from blood loss and nostalgic with the instruments and ingredients that gave his life meaning. The finale of Breaking Bad was less a crystal meth high, and more the period of emptiness following a heavy alcohol-abusing weekend, numb and devoid of all feeling.

There was no good left to conquer the evil. The DEA was digging up our hero’s body in the desert; Jesse was free, but forever broken, as are the now financially well-off remaining Whites. Walt got to die on his terms, get his revenge and make amends.

When I started watching “Breaking Bad,” it was out of obligation, desperation and mostly by accident. I was alone, suicidal and bored out of my mind. Season two of the show was On Demand, and I had previously rejected the idea of watching it – the premise seemed silly and hilariously lacking in grit. I watched the second season quickly, but not on a binge. I caught seasons three, four and five live.

Maybe skipping the first six episodes skewed my perception or longing for the show, but there were only four episodes that blew my mind–the episode where Jesse killed Gale, the train episode, hank on the toilet and “Ozymandias.”

Last night’s finale didn’t make the list. It was excellent—well acted, well written and tragic in ways “Breaking Bad” tends to be. The exchange between Walt and Skyler, with Skyler’s eyes welling with tears and the exchange between Jesse, looking absolutely broken, and Walt, a mirror image, was poetic.

But, like most of the seminal moments of the show, it lacked whatever binds great storylines together. For me, “Breaking Bad” was hundreds of tightly shot, wonderful, painful scenes without an overriding narrative, like the world’s darkest and most expert clip show.

And although the expertness of these shots speaks to the heart of why many consider “Breaking Bad” the best show of all time.

I don’t like finales in general, and there are shows I’ve actually avoided watching the ends of, so it could simply be that there is no suspense left.

The final moments were not as powerful as the moments of other episodes of season six. All the loose ends are tied; the audience has nothing to wonder about.

All of this is the long way of saying last night’s finale was wonderful, but like the show itself, it didn’t resonate. I enjoyed every episode and sometimes it made me sad or question the nature of good vs. evil, but it never made me rejoice or cry or feel anything other than horror.

When the real best show ever, “The Wire,” wanted you to cry, you cried your eyes out. When it wanted you to rejoice or celebrate, you let your voice ring out. “The Wire” was life and “Breaking Bad” was science.

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