Monday, September 30, 2013

Thoughts on Breaking Bad


           After last night's series finale, I thought I'd write a post about Breaking Bad. I started watching this show when it first aired, got about half way through the first season, and then for whatever reason quit following it. It's hard enough to watch an episodic show week-to-week, not to mention one that has a complex story arc like Breaking Bad. I'm not a big TV person, but through Netflix and other media, I have managed to find a few diamonds in the rough. I rediscovered the show about a year ago, binge watched the first four seasons, and then started watching the fifth season as it aired, my obsession slowly growing (along with the rest of the world, apparently). And last night, it finally came to a conclusion. I can happily say that unlike almost every other show I've enjoyed (with the exception of The Shield, maybe), Breaking Bad managed to tie up every plot thread and leave the viewer with a satisfying ending that is truly an ending. 
         My one complaint, if it is indeed a complaint, is that the writers created such a tightly written story that the majority of the last episode was predictable, though that didn't necessarily make it any less enjoyable. For the last several episodes, I've wanted Walt to come out ahead, not because I think what he's doing is right, but because I think the show has always been about him becoming what he truly is: the bad guy. I really hoped they wouldn't kill him off, and that being said, I'm still satisfied with the way it all turned out, because in the end he managed to find a way to get the money to his family, which is all he ever really wanted in the first place. So, even though everything falls apart around him, and he is finally undone (by one of his own bullets nonetheless), in a weird way, he wins.
       Breaking Bad was never a show about redemption, so I love that Vince Gilligan and crew did not try to make Walt recompense; the closest he comes to redeeming himself is admitting he's a selfish bastard to Skyler. Walt's ending is not only appropriate but foreshadowed throughout the series, most notably in the scene where he notices his car has been shot up by Jack's men after Hank's death, and the bullet hole is perfectly placed over Walt's reflection. One thing I love about this show, and I'm sure others do as well, is how every shot, camera angle, effect, and prop adds depth and detail to the story. In fact, the dialogue only conveys the smallest part of the narrative. Like the best of films, Breaking Bad's real storytelling power is in its visuals. Even the locales, from the searing deserts of New Mexico to the frigid backwoods of New Hampshire, are important characters in the show, contributing to the atmosphere and the tone of the story. 
        Despite the hype, Breaking Bad is truly a work of art. The show explores themes that hit close to home, develops characters that you come to know and care about, and delivers an action-packed plot that would make even the best thriller writers jealous. In short, Breaking Bad is the best TV drama I've ever seen, and I'm so glad Vince Gilligan and all the show's writers are getting the attention they deserve for creating what is truly a modern classic.

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