Monday, September 30, 2013

Bon Voyage, Crystal Ship: An Addendum


Writing about Breaking Bad for my previous essay didn't allow me the space to explain what the show meant to me. As with most shows that become my all-time favorites, I came into it late. March 2012, to be exact, when the show was recommended to me by my brother. I spent the entire spring break of my senior year at Carolina holed up in my room, watching the first three seasons on Netflix (I know, I live a very exciting life). I patiently waited for season four to appear, and then season five was appointment viewing...on my DVR (I picked up a busier life). Last night's finale was the first episode I watched live.

But I loved this show unlike any other drama on television. It was my new Lost - the show that constantly occupied my thoughts, that I found great beauty and truth in, that I admired the writing for. While that former show was certainly not without issues (I'll still defend it as one of television's finest), Breaking Bad opened up the possibilities of telling a story that was, at its heart, about a bad man who embraced evil, and the good people who were hurt by him. I never wanted to see Walter win; I wanted him to be punished. My ideal ending for the show - one that I realized could never be at the beginning of these final eight episodes - was that Walter would die alone in a hospital bed, succumbing to cancer, with no one ever finding out he was Heisenberg. The name would live, but the legend would be separated from the man.

Did I think the finale redeemed him? I think it found Walter making a final stab at righting the numerous wrongs he committed, but he was far from redemption. His family, Jesse, the public that saw him on the news; these people are never going to forgive him. He left whatever money he managed to bring back to New Mexico for his son. He saved Jesse's life. He confessed to Skylar, "I liked it. I was good at it." But these gestures don't mean anything to them; they're too little, too late. He chose to live his life as the monster that always lurked beneath the surface, and he died that same monster.

As with Lost, I am genuinely sad to see it leave the television landscape. It was a show that changed the way I thought about television, and it was a show that I truly loved and eagerly looked forward to seeing. Of course I'm glad this story has come to a close, on its own terms, with a satisfying finale. And again, as with Lost, there will be something new that comes along that I love just as much. If they play their cards right, Game of Thrones may become that show. Or it could be something else, something that's still in the nascent stages of development.

But for Breaking Bad, this is the end. And I say to the writers, the crew, and the cast: thank you.

1 comment:

Kaitlin Pendley said...

I like your analysis of Walter. Sometimes people like the power that doing evil can give them- more power than doing the right thing ever could. We all like to think that the truth will "set you free," but it does not make you a bigger man; creating your own chaos, you're your own worst enemy.
Also, I might have to watch the show when I get some free time. Jason, how the television show impacted your life and how you felt about writing/TV is a wonderful and very real inclusion. You should write more addendums like this when a film/show particularly moves you!