Sunday night all bad things finally came to an end. AMC’s Breaking Bad, which could arguably be called the best show on television, ran its 68th and final episode. All five seasons of the show can be considered part of creator Vince Gilligan’s masterpiece, but this fifth and final season was most definitely the darkest. Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, Dean Norris and of course Brian Cranston give some of the most stunning performances that television has ever seen. Cranston shows Walt’s transformation from everyday dad and chemistry teacher to one of the most powerful drug lords in the nation and makes us love and hate every bit of it at once.
What started out as a simple story of a cancer-stricken family man became a complex tale of morality, greed and justice. We not only see the roles reverse between bad guy Jesse Pinkman and good guy Walter White, but we also see a moral turning point for every single member of Walt’s family, including his own son Flynn. By the end of the show, the viewers can’t pick a side; all they can do is watch what happens. Jesse’s final stand with Walt shows just how complicated things have become. We don’t see a final reunion between the two comrades of previous seasons; instead, we see two shattered and hopeless men with nothing left.
Another part of what makes Breaking Bad so great is its bits of humor and comedic relief. The differences between the “Hello Carol” scenes from the fifth season’s eighth episode not only show how dark Walt’s future will be but also serve to lessen the tension. The scene in episode three, where we see a pair of hands playing an intricate piano piece and then learn that it’s Skinny Pete, added more depth to the show than any additional shootout could have.
The performances weren’t the sole driving point of Breaking Bad’s success. Almost every shot was done with cinematographic genius. The bird’s eye view shot of Jesse spinning on his back in the tenth episode of season 5 and the shot of Walt and Skyler talking with the pillar seemingly between them in the last episode are just two examples of how the show adds artistic relevance to its drama.
Color scheme also plays a huge part in subliminally bringing out the viewer’s emotions. Marie, who was known throughout all five seasons for always being shown in and around the color purple, is finally devoid of it in the final episode. It’s as if when she lost Hank, she lost her purple and a big part of herself. In the moments of conflict between Marie and Hank and Walt and Skyler, Marie and Hank are featured in very dark colors while Skyler and Walt are almost exclusively beige.
The musical accompaniment in each episode was never anything but perfect. Whether it was used as comedic relief, added to the intensity of a moment or was meant to draw out somber emotions, the music always did its part. An emotional final scene is set to the tune of Badfinger’s “Baby Blue,” invoking bittersweet emotions in the show’s last moments.
Breaking Bad is known for each episode’s shocking endings, but what made the series finale so great was that nothing was left unanswered. Leaving the viewers with a cliffhanger would be an easy way out for the series, but just getting people excited isn’t enough. What really drew out viewers emotions was the fact that everything was wrapped up so beautifully. When Walt admits to Skyler that he wasn’t entirely motivated by family, but that he cooked for himself, we finally go past all of the lies and manipulation to see the true Walter White.
Aside from wrapping everything up, the last episode stayed true to the Breaking Bad formula with Walt’s last tricks. The reappearance of recurring characters Skinny Pete and Badger added some much missed comedic relief while also providing the ah-ha moment that the last few episodes lacked. The finale provided an incredible and beautiful ending to a series that is sure to be sorely missed.
How to Get More Bad in your life:
- Songza.com offers free online playlists such as “Music from Breaking Bad,” “Cooking with Jesse Pinkman” and “Cooking with Walter White.”
- Videos from College Humor and Funny or Die, like “Breaking Bad the Home Game,” will keep you laughing while you remember the bad times.
- The new Collector’s Edition DVD set includes discs of all five seasons, a Los Pollos Hermanos apron and a two-hour documentary.
- AMC has confirmed and is currently working on a Breaking Bad spin off featuring Saul Goodman.
Selene SanFelice can be reached at email@example.com