Tirhakah Love (@catalytic92)
I approached the series finale of Breaking Bad much like I approached the very first episode: bare. After 5 years Vince Gilligan has taught me to never truly come to an episode thinking that all of my expectations would be fulfilled. Instead I usually find myself awestruck by Gilligan’s ability to impose what he wants out of the hour-long episode. Keeping this in mind, I decided to leave my notepad in my bag and fully immerse myself in the final episode of quite possibly the best season of television ever produced.
As the credits began to roll and the music began to play, I sat, somber and contemplative with three thoughts circulating through my mind: 1) Wow. 2) It’s really over. 3) I am so grateful…and sad. That being said, I have elected to bypass any kind of recap of the show, you’ll find reviews of it posted everywhere anyway right? Instead I’ve decided to simply give my input on the beginning of the end of an era of television that I am so appreciative to be a small part of. And I want to do that by describing my immediate life following the series’ end.
Post-Felina my life seems rather shaky. I already have a strange relationship with social surroundings (read: I don’t think I like people particularly, but I when I do like persons, I love them really hard), so my vulnerability is very much on my sleeve. The episode left me unresponsive, broken. I told my friends, whom I might add do not watching Breaking Bad, that “my heart hurts” and they seemed to want to understand, but they just couldn’t. As I walked into our student center looking for something edible, a stranger strolls in front of me and drops a plastic cup of water on the ground. Thinking that no one saw him, he continued to stroll away until I caught his eye, picked up the cup and handed it to him, angrily muttering, “Do better.” Clearly, Gilligan’s love of the pristine had directly influenced our encounter.
The lingering emotion of complete disdain I had for this regular dude left a bad taste in my mouth, like, “Why couldn’t he just pick up the cup?” I know this all seems relatively tangential to Breaking Bad, but in all honesty, this is what good television does. It makes your life, at least for a moment, completely tangential to the world that you found yourself in. Whether that feeling is fleeting or it lasts an entire day, great TV keeps your head spinning, questioning your own place in reality. For the past five years, this has been the effect of Breaking Bad on many of its faithful followers. When Walt robbed that train, we were all wondering, “What am I doing with my life, really?” When Jesse experienced the loss of his lover to a drug overdose, we thought, “What great catastrophe, that our Jesse is broken!” Similar questions arise in every great American television show, The Wire had everyone inquiring, “Where’s Wallace?”; The Sopranos made us question the validity of our own motivations for Tony’s success, did it mean that there was something terribly wrong with us?
Breaking Bad wraps up pretty cleanly, some would argue too cleanly, leaving the audience with all of the answers in a nicely wrapped meth tank. But I would argue that Gilligan left us with much larger, meta-questions that will remain on our minds for a very long time: Is Breaking Bad some sort of larger warning against drug addiction, greed, corruption, and supposedly good intention? Has this idea of freedom (seen most vividly in Jesse’s escape and Walt’s final shot) transcended our normalized conception that only takes into account legal freedom? How do we see acts of transgression in the wake of impending familial doom?
I do not have the answers for any of these questions but I am so appreciative that Vince Gilligan and the entire Breaking Bad crew has led me to them. For the short time that I have been able to write about the show, I have never felt so engaged to characters and their respective fates. I found myself caring about how everyone’s life would end up in this finale. Never have I felt this way about characters. Never have I felt so much compassion, rage, adornment, awe, and love for fictional characters as I have while watching this show.
I will attempt to quell my sentimentality for all of your sake, but I will conclude with this: The ending of this wonderful masterpiece marks the beginning of the end of an era of television (the complete ending will probably come with the series finale of Mad Men). An era characterized with the most immersive, creative, and provocative development, design, and delivery. It has been such an amazing ride and this writer will gleefully sit in his room and eat ice cream, patiently waiting for the special edition DVDs to release so I can laugh with, yell at, and love Breaking Bad all over again.
- ‘Breaking Bad’: Vince Gilligan explains series finale (horrorboom.com)
- Goodbye Breaking Bad, thanks for all the memories [Spoilers] (slothed.com)