Monday, September 30, 2013
Why the Breaking Bad Series Finale Was "Just Okay"
As always, I'm in the minority again. For those who don't know me and are reading my work for the first time, this always happens to me. I wind up disliking something that [almost] everybody loves. I'm not trying to be a Contrarian, honestly, I'm not. It's just that my opinions don't usually jive well with others. So with that said, heed that as a warning for what I'm about to say next: The Breaking Bad finale was just okay and bordering on offensive. And do you want to know why it was borderline offensive? Well, it's because it took the easy way out, that's why.
Now, I'm sure I'm not the first person to say that today, as many people actually liked that the show took the easy way out and in turn, had closure. Nobody, except me, maybe, wanted an ambiguous Sopranos-esque finale last night, as everybody wanted the story to be wrapped up in a nice, little bow. And that's what show-runner and creator, Vince Gilligan did. He (Oh, and spoiler alert, by the way) killed off Walt because, well, Walt had to go, right? I mean, he was dying of cancer anyway. So why not off after committing one final good deed by saving Jesse? People like redemption stories, right? Well, here's yours, Walter White! What a nice guy!
But no, stop for a second. That's not fair. Or rather, it's actually too fair. Breaking Bad became my favorite show because it was so morally ambiguous. Many people, even to the very end, actually liked Walter White. They wanted to see him succeed and come out on top. But on the other side of the fence, you had those who wanted, nay, needed to see Walter White die. It wouldn't be a proper send-off if he got to live for the dastardly deeds he committed. But here's where I think the finale was offensive in its conclusion--it actually picked a side. And not only did it pick a side, but it picked the most predictable and anti-climatic one possible. This is a show that thrived on taking viewer expectations and throwing them out the window, but even it took the easy way out. Have Walt ultimately die in a meth lab, and revel in the splendor of its symbolism--Ooh, ooh, he died where he belonged! With his precious, precious meth. Hooray! Closure!
And while I understand why people like this conclusion, I think it goes against the unconventional nature of the show. If any series deserved to leave its viewers feeling lost and deprived at the end because of a lack of a "proper" send-off, it was Breaking Bad. I'm not pretending that I could make an even better ending than the one we got last night. But Breaking Bad has consistently shown me that it is way smarter than me, and the ending we got last night is the kind of hackneyed, obvious finale that I probably would have written--Walt changes his mind, saves Jesse, and ends up losing his life protecting him in a very paternal fashion. And to top it all off, he staggers and dies in a meth lab while the cops are on their way. I mean, come on! Is that really the conclusion we deserve after having our emotions swirled about like egg yolks in a measuring cup these past few years? And what I hate most is people saying that "It couldn't end any other way." Uh, sure it could have. It could have ended a number of different ways. The thing is, what bothers me is that I didn't want to be able to come up with any of them, and Walt dying to protect Jesse was definitely one of them. But alas, I guess all "Bad" things must come to an end, and even if it's actually a bit of a "happy" ending, I guess I can live with it. Oh, well. I still stand by my assessment. Breaking Bad is the Best. Show. Ever. I just wish the ending was better. I guess it could have been worse. I'm just trying to figure out how, right now.