I know that this is a movie blog, but I need to take a moment to share with my readers (all two or three of you) my thoughts and intense feelings on one of the greatest television shows of all time – Breaking Bad. OF ALL TIME. Imma let you finish Sopranos.
In case you’ve been living under a rock or injecting too much blue crystal recently, the last episodes of the final season of the show – about a dying mild mannered chemistry teacher-turned drug kingpin – have been airing in the States to the delight and terror of diehard fans. The series finale hits screens on Sunday night at 9pm – which in Australian time is PRETTY MUCH RIGHT NOW. Never has there been a show in my lifetime that has sparked so much fanfare or had such a mammoth response from viewers – the amount of theories, analyses and discussions on blogs and social media is enough to keep you occupied for every moment of the day when you’re not watching the actual show.
So why all this hype? Why should you join the legions of fans and conform to all of those annoying peers who tell you ‘you need to watch it’ and ‘how can you not have seen it’? Because it really is that darn good.
For starters, the writing and development of the story over the course of its five seasons is truly astounding, and rivals that of some of the best films today. (It did just win the Emmy for Best Drama after all.) It’s slow moving yes, but it is excruciatingly intense, intrinsically layered, wickedly witty and unlike anything you’ve probably ever seen. Creator Vince Gilligan’s use of dialogue, cinematography and foreshadowing are marks of genius, and the eerie Mexican backdrop gives this dark and twisted world of crystal meth and fried chicken a dynamic tone and feel.
The performances by leads Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul as the respective meth cookers, Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, are groundbreaking. The complete downward spiral and transformation of Cranston from start to end is extraordinary, shattering any illusions of him as just the goofy dad from Malcolm in the Middle. He’s damaged, articulate, unreadable, and by this last season, utterly evil – Mr White is the ultimate badass, the king of antiheros. And sidekick Jesse emerges into something more than Walt’s drug-using assistant who yells ‘bitch!’ at the end of every sentence – he is a lost, regret-fuelled man whom the viewer somehow empathises with the most.
Plus, each episode is like a self-contained movie in itself, such is the high standard Breaking Bad has set itself at. Every scene will leave you gasping, laughing, crying, thinking and trying not to have a nervous breakdown before you hurriedly press play on the next episode. There are points where the protagonist watches a young woman die in her sleep and Walt and Jesse fight for survival in the unflinchingly hot desert. Then you’re laughing at a half-dissolved body dropping through a roof and you’re faced with yet another shot of Cranston with no pants. Hell, there’s an entire episode devoted to the pair trying to kill a fly – but it’s still brilliant, because it’s a major turning point and reveals so much about each character and just ugh. Why am I even bothering to study a screenwriting course when shows like this exist?
Which brings me to today’s episode, the series finale of this modern day Shakespearian tragedy. What is actually going to happen? Who lives and who dies? Which theories are correct? Will it go down as one of the all-time greatest TV finales? Will anybody ever actually come back for Huell?
My theory here is (spoiler alert! Although is speculation considered a spoiler? I’m not sure) is that Walt will die. He just has to. And he’ll probably take his own life with that ricin that’s been floating around for years. But not once he goes full Scarface on Uncle Jack and co, saving Jesse and reclaiming his cash, which may or may not be destroyed. But I do have a feeling that Skylar will bite the dust too, somehow – it would be the ultimate fall from grace for Walt, and will leave baby Holly to the loving care and purple hues of Marie. But that’s just me, and I’m usually wrong about these things. I may be biased because I have money in my Sportsbet account riding on Skylar’s death.
So as you’re reading this, I may be an emotional wreck. One of the all-time TV greats is coming to its epic conclusion, and I’m not sure if I’m ready to deal with it. If you haven’t seen it, I suggest you jump onto the season one DVD’s immediately. If you have, I would love to hear your theories and thoughts on the final episode in the comments below or on my Twitter (@jaymasciulli). For now, I’ll leave you with this hilarious parody video that pretty much sums up my feelings right now. (And only watch if you’re up to date.)