MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD! STOP NOW IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS AT THE END OF BREAKING BAD!
We could probably count on the fingers of one hand how many long-running TV shows ended in a way that we found satisfying. Seinfeld comes to mind. M.A.S.H. Nothing else at the moment, though I’m sure there must be more, if few and far between. I mean, remember The Sopranos? Thus, when a show does deliver the goods in that last crucial episode, after flawlessly leading up to it with four or five intense programs, it seems like quite an achievement.
The ending of Breaking Bad left me completely, and fully satisfied. I’m not wondering what happened to this character or where did that one go, or why did that idiot do what he did. My one and only complaint is that Hank died, but since Jesse was allowed to live I guess I can forgive Vince Gilligan and Company. Besides, the sacrifice of Hank‘s character was integral to what followed.
Hank and Jesse were the only characters I really liked on BB….and maybe the eccentric lawyer Sol, who made a clean getaway, even if he is stuck in Omaha flipping burgers. Everyone else was either psycho—I loved it when Jesse called Todd and Jack’s gang a bunch of psycho fucks—or whining nags like Skyler and
son Flynn; good god, how those two worked my last nerve! Marie was no prize either, though in the final episode Betsy Brandt finally did some real acting.
Aside from the main climactic events, there were a few elegant touches executed only the way BB can do these things: for instance, the gun-on-a-turntable Walter rigs up to give those psycho fucks what they so richly deserved. The creation of that gadget brought us full circle in terms of Walter’s character, as he harkens back to the genius chemistry teacher we were introduced to in 2008. While he was setting up this contraption, I hadn’t a clue WTF he was going to do with it, and completely forgot it even existed…until the moment when Walt pushed the button that swung open the trunk of his car. Out came Robo-Gun, spinning like the turntable of a record player, firing off bullets instead of doo-wop. Within a few minutes, maybe even less, every psycho fuck but Todd and Jack lay dead and bleeding on the floor. Jesse got the gratification of choking Todd, the sociopath who physically tortured him, while Walt cut short Jack’s last drag on a cigarette the old-fashioned way, with a manual blast to the head.
By the time the cops arrived Walter was dead. Jesse refused to kill him for about the hundredth time in their complex father-son relationship, but it turned out he was shot by his own invention. No doubt he knew it might happen—but Walt’s been living on borrowed time already, and probably preferred to die now rather than endure a trial and prison, only to die of cancer during or shortly thereafter.
At least Walt made his confession before dying. Earlier he goes to see Skyler and begins by saying “Everything I did…” but she cuts him off, a great relief to her and to me, who could not bear one more bullshit declaration that he cooked meth and killed people “for my family,” the word so weighted in this context I could vomit. But Walt surprises her, and us: he tells the truth this time. “I liked it,” he said. “I was good at it. I felt alive.” It’s not like we didn’t know it, but still, I wanted to applaud: the guy came to terms before meeting his maker, if that is indeed what’s in store for him (and the rest of us).
Satisfying ending or not, saying farewell, even to characters I loathed, is just too sad. The older I get the more I lose, and the more I see that’s one of life’s big lessons. It’s why the Buddhists practice non-attachment: “When you ain’t got nothing you got nothin’ to lose.” But if I cry every time a show I love ends, imagine what it’s like when I lose real people or things. I don’t have to imagine…it’s happened enough already. Focussing some of life’s sadness on a show I loved is convenient. Satisfying.
Goodbye Heisenberg, you psycho fuck!
- Bad Chemistry: The Character Elements of Breaking Bad (shutterstock.com)
- Breaking Bad, The Final Episode – My thoughts… (andersonshatch.com)
- “Breaking Bad” and Conflicted Masculinity (prodigal.typepad.com)
- The 16 Worst Things Walter White Has Done On “Breaking Bad” (buzzfeed.com)
- Watch Walt and Jesse read the final ‘Breaking Bad’ script for the first time (theverge.com)