Walter White and Heisenberg are dead. With them dies Breaking Bad, what is most likely the greatest television series ever.
Top-notch writing, directing, acting and execution are what made Bad an instant, and persevering, sensation. The weekly intensity and drama had viewers walking on tightropes along with the show’s characters, and the conclusion tied-up nearly every loose end.
Creator Vince Gilligan completed his masterwork with a strong sense of closure; something that has become rare in recent television history.
Shows such as The Sopranos and Lost flirted with open-ended “blah” endings, supposedly allowing viewers to interpret things for themselves, but more likely because those in charge lacked the creativity, or guts, to deliver the ending the shows, and audiences, deserved. Gilligan did not shy away from his creation, and he ended it as strongly as it ever has been.
Walt had to die. Any viewer of the show should have known this from the first episode. This story was always about how much Walter White, and eventually Heisenberg, could accomplish before his death. The evolution of that brought upon the desire to see Walt be capable of handling all the madness his actions brought on. Both Gilligan and Walter proved they were up to the challenge of handling the loose ends they brought upon themselves.
Realistically, Breaking Bad had a very happy ending. Walt found a way to earn his revenge over Elliot and Gretchen while also getting a portion of his fortune to his family in a legitimate manner. His spree then continued as he finally used the Risen with success, offing Lydia in the process. Walt and Skylar share a reconciliation, at least as much of one as would be at all plausible at this point. She even allows him to say goodbye to Holly.
The bloodshed then commenced, as Walter used his trunk-rigged automatic weapon, in uber-Heisenberg fashion, to blow apart Uncle Jack’s Nazi crew, while saving Jesse. Uncle Jack then takes a bullet in the head from Heisenberg himself, and Jesse get his much needed revenge on the loathsome Todd.
Jesse continued to earn the respect of viewers when he refused to kill Walt, who was already bleeding heavily from crossfire during his attack. The two share the slightest of nods before Jesse drives away, again the closest thing to a reconciliation the two could have had. This brilliant series concludes as Heisenberg shares a final moment with the meth lab he and Jesse built, before collapsing to the floor as squad cars approached in the distance.
Vince Gilligan said, on Talking Bad following the series finale, that he thought of Walt and the meth lab in that scene as Gollum with his Precious in The Lord of the Rings. The duality of the Walter White/Heisenberg character was played out perfectly by Bryan Cranston, and approached perfectly by the directors and writers.
Walt has tied up all of his loose ends, his family has a reasonably positive outlook ahead (with over $9 million coming to Jr.), Jesse is free and clear, and all the characters you despised got what was coming to them. Heisenberg was at his best once again with his scientific gangster techniques, and he redeems himself as much as possible.
The only omission was the one loose end: Brock. Jesse could (should?) have been shown reaching out to Brock. Whether to say goodbye, or help him in some way, that would have been the only addition to take the finale to full closure.
However, complaining about that would be like having a triple-layered ice cream cake of your favorite flavor, with fresh fruit and double-frosting, but complaining about the color of the sprinkles on top.
All in all, it truly was as a perfect an ending as television can boast.
Other great shows are out there ready and willing to take Breaking Bad‘s place at the top of your list (Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Sons of Anarchy), but there is clearly going to be a void left on television without the weekly visits from Heisenberg.
The future spin-off series, Better Call Saul, will eventually help soothe this loss. Featuring Bob Odenkirk in his glorious role as Saul, the prequel premise of the show will allow for familiar settings, and perhaps cameos from other favorite Breaking Bad characters. However, the wait for the return of Saul will take some time, and fans of Bad will be craving drama and intensity nonetheless.
Perhaps HBO would like to take this opportunity to bring back Deadwood, and give that show the opportunity for the proper closure it deserved. This would begin to make up for the fresh loss of Breaking Bad.
One can only hope that Cranston has earned himself some fantastic roles for the future. A long-held fantasy of mine is to see Cranston as “Jack” in a remake of Stabley Kubrick’s The Shining (perhaps something David Fincher or Darren Aronofsky could pull off). If you’ve seen the film, and watched Breaking Bad, than the logic behind that wish, and its’ potential awesomeness, should be clear.
Breaking Bad is gone. The ending may have been television perfection, and the ride exhilarating, but story has ended.
The world is now without Heisenberg; such a loss can only be remedied by more Bryan Cranston.