Breaking Bad: That’s All Bitch!


by Joanna Orland

Spoiler Alert:  Please do not read this until you have viewed the series finale

Rarely do I care enough to write an article about a television show coming to an end.  The last time I sat down to my keyboard as an emotional wreck was for the series finale of Lost, a show that was a great divider, but I saw through until the very end.  And now the end of Breaking Bad has come.  This show did not divide.  This finale did not leave questions unanswered.  This perhaps was the perfect television show.

Who would’ve thought that the first time we met Walter White, when he was a meak chemistry teacher, working nights at a car wash to make ends meet, with a loving and pregnant wife in Skylar, and a breakfast-loving son in Walt Jr., that it would end up as the most tense and gripping series on air.  I can’t imagine anyone thought it would take us on the journey it has.  It was a slow starter for most, myself included.  Each episode slowly revealed the characters to us, and eventually we grew to love them.  As the series progressed, our characters evolved, changed, became morally compromised.  Breaking Bad became not just a character study, but a morality debate about good and evil.  Walter White became an anti-hero, even after having broke bad and becoming a truly evil character, the audience was still rooting for him.

Walt is obviously the main character in Breaking Bad, but at the show’s heart, the entire story was based on one thing – Walt’s relationship with Jesse.  He saw Jesse as a son.  He manipulated Jesse to do his bidding.  He ruined Jesse’s life.  Jesse was merely a pawn in Walter’s game, but in spite of that, Walt genuinely did love him, albeit for selfish reasons.  This was all the more evident in the series finale.  During the final season, Walt was willing to perform the ultimate betrayal against Jesse, by taking Skylar’s advice and having him murdered.  He wasn’t fully committed to the idea, but then when Hank was murdered, Walt blamed Jesse for Hank’s death.  As always, he refused to take the blame for his own actions.

In the finale, Walt has nothing left to lose.  It is when he realizes that his own biological son Flynn hates him that he once again looks to Jesse as that surrogate son figure he is perpetually needing.  If Flynn had accepted him as a father in spite of his evil ways, would Walt have saved Jesse’s life at the end?  Not likely, for Walt is a selfish man.  Did he get what was coming to him in the end?  No, because in my opinion, he got away with everything.

I had always predicted that Breaking Bad would end with Jesse killing Walt.  The writers obviously toyed with the idea as well.  There is even a moment in the finale where this could have happened, but Jesse finally sees things clearly – this is what Walt wants.  Jesse is no longer going to give Walt what he wants, so he refuses to kill him.  He was right to do this, because by dying, Walt gets away with everything.  He ties up all of his loose ends, and never ends up in handcuffs.  He is a dying man anyway, and he dies on his own terms.  Evil triumphs with Walt’s peaceful passing.

Some may argue the other side of the story, claiming that good triumphs as with Walt dead, he got the punishment that he deserved.  That is the beauty of the finale – the audience can decide what it means for them.  They can choose the best moral conclusion that suits their needs.  The anti-hero is dead, but the moral implications live on.  This finale ensures that Breaking Bad not only made television history, but will remain at the forefront for a long while as one of the most cherished television dramas of our time.

This article has been more of a eulogy to the great Breaking Bad than an analysis.  If you’d like to read the definitive word on the series finale, I recommend this interview with series creator and writer Vince Gilligan.

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