All roads have led to this, Renegades! When tonight rolls around, the journey of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman will reach the end. We’re not going to throw predictions and theories at you, because let’s face it… No one is going to predict what they have cooked up for tonight’s grand finale.
As the door closes on one of the best reviewed shows ever, Renegade Cinema reflects on the show’s legacy and bids farewell to Breaking Bad!
With the conclusion only hours away, let’s not waste anymore time and get right into it!
One day, when I look back on life in my twenties, Breaking Bad will come to my mind.
Firstly, I was born in Albuquerque while my parents were attending UNM. In last week’s episode, Robert Forster’s character tells cabin fevered Walt that Skylar is now living on Eubanks… the street my parents moved to after I was born. My mother, a true cinephile, has never been a fan of TV drama series, but she’s an even bigger fan of Breaking Bad than me. Therefore the show resonates with me on a deeply personal and familial level. Adding to this, I lived in New York City throughout the entire show’s duration, so scenes of the majestic southwestern landscape where I grew up always made me nostalgic and sad. Beneath this homesickness, however, was a happiness at re-watching all my old friends again: Walt, Saul, Gustavo, Gail, Mike, Salamanca, Don Eladio. Hank, Marie, “Flynn”, Skylar. Jessie, Badger, Skinny P, Jane. The list goes on. The show’s characters are so real that it’s hard to imagine a world where they don’t exist. We are deeply saddened when they die. They are fictional and we are incredulous of this fact.
Excluding my personal connection to the show, on an objective level, Breaking Bad is a true southwestern frontier saga. Like all Western archetypes, we have the breaking away from the laws and conventions of society—murder, theft, embezzlement, bribes. We have the complete destruction of the home and the disappearance of a family– a bearded Walt returning to his sacked, graffiti-ridden house, his family no where to be seen, resembles John Wayne returning to his family’s burnt down cottage in John Ford’s The Searchers. We have the fragile border dividing civilization and the untamed wilderness– a broken down RV or car is all that stands in the way between life and death. We have central and side characters appropriately represented as indigenous peoples or of Mexican descent. And then, of course, all the other dichotomies– order vs. disorder, good vs. evil, individualist vs. community, death vs. life.
The Western genre doesn’t even factor into half of the show’s fabric. There are reoccurring metaphors, motifs, and symbols throughout. There is an overarching Shakespearean/Greek tragedy theme of a tragic hero’s hubris leading to his destruction. There is a unique vision on organized crime and the drug trade and addiction. There’s a notion that money can’t buy one happiness (Jessie’s entire ordeal). There’s a feminist concept regarding Skylar’s own autonomy and empowerment. But perhaps more than anything, there’s the concept of the American Dream and how false and elusive this dream really is.
I saw an amusing meme the other day about how Breaking Bad couldn’t take place in Canada because Walt would have access to free health care. But that’s the whole freaking point! Everything in Walt’s American life is an absolute illusion— his dream of becoming rich and successful through legal means, his family remaining loyal to him, his brother-in-law/best friend forgiving him, his mentor/student relationship remaining intact, and his basic human right to remain alive to see his children grow.
Basically, BB is everything. It’s the best series of all time, and may in fact be the best series we’ll ever see.
“Showman ship, George, when you hit that high-note, say goodnight” – Jerry Seinfeld
Much like the show that quote originated from, Breaking Bad is leaving at the peak of it’s popularity. Some will say at the peak of it’s quality as well. Me, personally, I think the zenith of Breaking Bad was the first season. The humor & originality of the show in it’s first run of episodes is untouchable, and produced what I believe is the greatest pilot episode of all time. It’s not to say I think the show has dipped in quality, quite contrary, I just miss the humor and ridiculous situations Walt & Jesse would get themselves into. But that’s the brilliance of the show, evolution & change. Could easily end up being considered the greatest TV drama of all time, and I can’t imagine anyone would argue.
Four years ago I made a deal with one of my best friends. If he would sit through Lost, I’d watch Breaking Bad all the way through to the end. At the time I thought I was getting the easier end of the deal; l had planned to sit through two seasons available and then weasel my way out of the rest. After all, how good could a show about a cancer stricken teacher dealing meth really be? Now that I’ve watched, re-watched, analyzed, and debated this show to its deepest core, I’ve never been more satisfied with a trade in my life.
Breaking Bad sets the standard for slow burn character drama thanks to its impeccable cast, creative slate of directors, and unmatched writing team. It is constantly taking risks and breaking rules of conventional TV and is unafraid to let its characters face the truly dire consequences for their decisions made season to season.
Walter White’s decent into his own ego and depravity is masterfully handled by allowing his heart and morality to be whittled bit by bit instead of rapidly or dramatically. This show doesn’t take shortcuts and it’s not afraid to push the limits on just how dirty its hands can get. Despite being brutally dark for most of its 5 seasons, this is a show that has some spot on humor with the unforgettable Walter White pizza throwing and essentially anything related to Saul Goodman making for some really memorable laughs.
Every episode of Breaking Bad is one to remember, but episodes like One Minute, Fly, Salud, Crawl Space, Blood Money, To’hajiilee, and Ozymandias will carry moments so iconic and full of impact that I will take them with me to my grave. This is a show that is full of moments that most shows spend their entirety trying to achieve.
Vince Gilligan and his creative team are sticking to their guns and taking this show out just when they mean to. The show feels lean, mean, and complete which is unheard of even among the best cable networks. This finale and the consequences awaiting Walter White have been a long time coming, and I for one can’t wait to see how just how much damage Breaking Bad can do before hanging up Heisenberg’s hat.
Farewell Breaking Bad; you’ve made me contemplate my own morality and understanding of how and why people make terrible decisions all while being one of the most heart wrenching and glorious rides ever to grace television.
I’m both obsessed and addicted to good storytelling, so a top-notch program like Breaking Bad is one hell of a treat. Truthfully, this program is a magnificent nexus of talent. The cast is practically perfect, bringing these characters to life in a way that few could. The writing is consistently enthralling, and it will often leave you breathless and speechless at the events you find yourself watching. The cinematography throughout the series has been incomparable, providing work good enough to rival some of the finest pictures that Hollywood has offered us.
Though the series will be ending today, I can’t feel too sad about saying Bon Voyage. Far too often we viewers see our favorite shows stay far too long after their expiration date, where we know the best days have passed. Thankfully, that’s not the case with Breaking Bad. Each episode, each step that brought us here to the end of journey, has felt deliberate, organic and necessary. Now that the end is here, it doesn’t feel tragic, unfair, or abrupt. It feels right.
Besides, it’s not like we’re never going to see it again. Quite the opposite, in fact. Since the series is on Netflix and on DVD, we can visit the world of Walter White’s Albuquerque whenever we like. I know I’ll be visiting often, so I can relive this excellent story, and learn from its example.
I may have arrived rather late to the party, but I’m very glad that I showed up at all, and am able to watch the end of it all.
Bon Voyage, Breaking Bad. You were one of the best we ever had!
I’m taking a quick break from the Fantastic Fest factory to throw my hat into the Breaking Bad ring. There’s already been a lot said about the show here, so I’ll keep my praise to a minimum. I’d rather emphasize the two most compelling aspects of the show, after all we know the whole is spectacular. First on my list is Anna Gunn’s unimpeachable work as Skyler White. She wasn’t always given a lot to work with, especially early on, but she has made an incredibly nuanced character totally believable. Not only that, but she’s done so with courage in the face of a bunch of jerkwad fans who literally call for her head after every episode. Skyler’s transformation from loving wife to bystander, to accomplice, and now to ferocious lioness (with a knife!) has been one of the most underrated aspects of this show over its six amazing years.
The other thing I want to point out is a minor failure in the characterization of the show as Mr. Chips becoming Scarface. Walt always had Heisenberg inside of him. That is made increasingly clear as the series goes on and we learn more about Grey Matter and the life he lead before his time as a chemistry teacher. As the series has gone on Walt’s unjustifiable confidence in his own brilliance has never wavered even as things fell apart around him. This is not the attitude of a normal person. This is the way someone who always had dreams of power behaves. Breaking Bad is less a transformation than a drawing back of the curtain on the dark side of Walt’s psyche. I have no doubt that however it ends tomorrow, Walt will go into his endgame with the same confidence that has marked his time as Heisenberg.
Never were both of these elements more clear than in Ozymandias, which is probably my favorite episode of the series. Rian Johnson spends an hour taking the audience and their favorite New Mexico madhouse apart. The defining knife fight (I love knife fights!) is precipitated by Walt’s appeal to Skyler that if she’d just listen everyone would be ok. This is Walt par excellence. If people would just do what he said, then everything would be fine. Skyler has finally seen through the lies though, and would rather die than leave her family in the hands of this psychopath. Never has a show made me rethink it after every episode before. Breaking Bad is some of the best that television can possibly offer. I can only hope that the same daring can be put to work in a show that maybe isn’t about a distressed white man. Dare to dream. If Breaking Bad can be so brave, maybe the rest of TV can take a hint.
John “D-Rock” Dotson
It’s hard to follow all the amazing things that my fellow friends here at Renegade have already mentioned. I love the fact we have a staff that loves the show as much as I do. It made putting together this farewell so much easier. That said, the show is ending and I’m truly sad about it. It’s almost like saying goodbye to a close friend knowing you can’t establish new memories together.
I’ve always been a bigger movie buff than I am a television enthusiast. That is until a few years ago when people actually started writing television shows which made some of the biggest movies appear lazy. Dexter was one of the first I binge watched from start-to-finish in probably three days. Regardless of how that series ended, no one can argue the incredible nature of that first season. Shortly after, Sons of Anarchy came out of nowhere and delivered three magnifying seasons of motorcycle mayhem. Breaking Bad had already hit networks but I had little awareness of what I was missing. This is also because I was knee-deep in college studies at the time.
By the time I did hear the buzz, Season 3 had already started, but luckily Netflix carried the early seasons. I finally caught the pilot and was just sledgehammered by the brilliance. The first hour of Breaking Bad works as a solid short film all on its own. Everything you ever need to know about the characters is summed up in that pilot, allowing the narrative to takeover and do the rest.
Then there is just the supporting cast, including villains, side characters, and others that speak volumes to the Walter White saga. As far as I’m concerned, Gus Fring– as portrayed by Giancarlo Esposito– is one of the best written antagonist of all-time. That includes film and television in that statement. Esposito brought such charisma and depth to the role, bringing intensity by saying little. I’ve mentioned in the past how much I hated Drive because the minimal use of dialogue was not executed properly. That’s because Giancarlo Esposito showed me already how it should be done. There is a line delivered in Season 4, where Jesse is begging Gus not to kill Walter, and he pauses for a moment and says, “there will be an appropriate response,” and hangs up. All I can say is, try being that scary and classy all at once.
When tonight passes, there will be no more Breaking Bad and even though I think everyone involved made the best decision by pulling the trigger on the program at its peak, it still sucks. For the last few years, I’ve witnessed that television can be just as groundbreaking as any cinematic theater experience. This is the only show I’ve ever seen that progressed in intensity, writing, and story each season. Almost like each season was a better sequel than the last one.
That being said, expectations are extremely high, and I have a feeling that no matter what happens tonight, fans, trolls, critics are all going to rip the series finale apart. I know Vince Gilligan most likely isn’t reading this, but I just want to say, however the Walter White saga ends, I’m extremely grateful for the ride you have given us. Here is to the finale and bravo people!