I was able to give some thoughts and reflect on some of the ancillary characters in Part 1 of my review, now it’s time to get to the really good stuff. The entire show was about the main character Walter White’s downward spiral from good guy science teacher to bad guy drug dealer, but I am in the minority with my thinking that he really wasn’t that bad of a guy. Full disclosure: I love wrestling heels. The more they’re hated, the more I like them. The old Ric Flair, Iraqi sympathizer Sgt. Slaughter, and even the oddly-shaped Bad News Brown – I like them all. I liked Walt.
If we can separate normal life from the world in which Walt entered, can’t we say that he was one of the good guys? I am sure that I am in the minority with my opinion, but take a long and hard look at some of the things that Walk has considered to have wrongly done. He killed Gus Fring (arguably a worse guy than him), he killed Mike (a loveable character, but definitely a worse guy than him), and he killed the Nazi skinheads who stole his money (no explanation needed). There were innocent casualties here and there, but can we pin all of them on Walt? For instance, Walt didn’t roll Jane over and as a result she died… is that really Walt’s fault? Did he put the needle in her arm? Wasn’t she the one who told Jesse that choking to death was a consequence of taking these drugs?
She knew this, and took the risk anyway, right? Does that fit into the category of “if you’re in the game, you’re in the game?” What if Walt had never showed up to the apartment? She would have died anyway, so why are we as viewers so comfortable pinning that death on him? I hate to seem so callous, but c’mon. This woman was going to ruin Walt’s life. All he did was not help someone who essentially was going to destroy his life… I see him as opportunistic, not innately terrible. He loved his family. He did some awful things but he did love his children and his wife, I am sure of that. Since he is the main character of the show it seems as if everyone is comfortable judging his actions as horrible and unforgiveable, while excusing the actions of others.
Jesse was also bad. Skyler did a lot of bad things. Marie broke the law. Gus Fring was awful. Hank was no saint. Saul was terrible. Jane was bad. Badger was funny, but even he was horrible. Hell, Saul’s bodyguard Huell (played by my favorite comedian Lavell Crawford) was funny at times, but he was no saint either. So who really broke bad? I think the entire show was a great story layered in contradiction. Everyone who was pointing fingers and being judgmental had things they could be judged for, too. God-fearing people know that the Bible says all sins are equal… right? Walt wanted recognition and a sense of accomplishment. His objective got off track and he did some things that he might regret. That makes him normal. If he hadn’t died, he should have been punished for breaking the laws of our land… nothing more. Let’s save the sanctimonious judgment for his ultimate maker.
Okay, so let’s get into this finale. First of all, this was one of the best finales for a show I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t the greatest writing, or wittiest storylines, there was nothing truly mind-blowing… it just ended the way it was supposed to end. It made sense. The only thing I ever wanted from shows like ‘LOST’ and ‘The Sopranos’ (I can’t help but to keep bringing up this show) and ‘Dexter’ is to make the ending fit the overall theme of the show. ‘LOST’ was steeped in mystery forever, and then gave us a finale where they tried to convince us that “whatever happened, happened,” and there was no mystery – BS!! That only angered hardcore fans, and made novice fans happy that they didn’t invest their time and energy in that production.
Show creator, Vince Gilligan did a great job of making sure everything fit, and everyone stayed true to who they were. Skyler lied for Walt one last time. Even after he kidnapped their daughter and killed Hank (so she thought at the time), she held true to who she had been for the entire series. She was even able to hear Walt tell her that he did all of these things for himself, which is something she probably dreamed of him admitting. Her story was ended properly. Her sister Marie was holier-than-thou and acted as if her shit didn’t stink! Again, true to whom she always had been. I’m sorry that her husband died, but she doesn’t even really know what happened. She doesn’t even really want to know.
Lydia was untrustworthy and a snake to the core which ultimately led to her demise when she was poisoned by Walt. She showed no loyalty to a man that made her insanely rich. Unloyal and ungrateful was the character theme for Walt’s former partners Elliott and Gretchen Schwartz, and that situation was wrapped up in a nice, tidy, and clean bow. I don’t believe that there is no way they will pay Walt, Jr. the drug money Walt, Sr. wants them too, but it was nice to see them squirm a bit. It was also nice to see Skinny Pete and Badger foolishly help Walt scare the hell out of his former friends – Classic ‘Breaking Bad’ smoke and mirrors intimidation.
It is an amazing feat that Gilligan was able to create the ultimate villains in the Nazi gang. They are a group of people that the viewers could collectively hate. People loved Gus Fring. Some loved Mike. Some thought Tuco was at the very least interesting… NOBODY LOVED THE NAZI CLAN! Everyone thinks Todd was absolutely creepy. And he killed people (the kid in the dessert, Jesse’s ex-girlfriend Andrea) with no remorse and without real provocation… he was awful. On top of all of the crimes I’m the show didn’t have time to tell us about, they stole Walt’s money and killed Hank, and in the end they all died… they got what was coming to them.
That trunk-auto-robot-machine gun thing was a little far-fetched, but so what. I mean, Walt put that thing together in a seemingly short time (reminiscent of the great MacGyver), which seems a little TV-showish, but it was great – it was smart, which is still what was true about Walt, and that’s why I give that plot device a pass. I especially like that Walt saved Jesse in the end, which was something that he constantly did during the show’s history. That lead to the decision Jesse had to make: Kill or not kill Walt. The fact that he chose to let him live (or not let him off the hook) was apropos as well. Do you see the theme? STAY TRUE TO THE STORY! That’s how you end a show in a satisfactory manner.
I think I might update my top ten television show list sometime early next year and definitely include ‘Breaking Bad’. It was a show that showed a lot of flaws by a lot of different characters and those flaws were things that ordinary people could relate to. That was the true genius of the show. Everyone wants to be a badass. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone learns lessons from those mistakes. Everyone wants to break bad sometimes. I am going to miss living vicariously through Walter White. R.I.P. to AMC’s ‘Breaking Bad’.