‘Breaking Bad’ is widely regarded by critics, fans and viewers across the world as one of the greatest TV shows ever made. Not a day goes by without coming across at least a couple of quotes or references from the show on the internet, and so I think it’s safe to say that Vince Gilligan’s unforgettable drama is the most iconic show of the 21st century. ‘Sopranos’ had really set the standards when it came to crime dramas, and to think that another show could take the genre onto the next level is beyond belief. Despite several plot convolutions, the show seamlessly transcends its genre, thanks to its stupendous writing. If ‘Sopranos’ is ‘The Godfather’ of TV shows, then ‘Breaking Bad’ is ‘Goodfellas’.
From a purely technical point of view, the show is almost flawless; the meticulously drawn out visuals provide a lot of depth to the narrative, giving it a distinctive tone and mood. The writing is top-notch, probably the finest aspect of the show; every single character is deeply layered, and they’re all extremely well acted by the supremely talented cast. A couple of years ago, in a character analysis piece I wrote for The Cinemaholic, I had mentioned that ‘Breaking Bad’, at its core, is the story of a man who feels liberated at the call of death. The sheer irony of death providing a whole new life to a man forms the crux of the show’s major themes and ideas.
The show also has one of the most memorable, satisfying finales of all time. Gilligan and team were generous enough to give a Walter a chance at redemption. And honestly, Walter White, a 50-year-old man diagnosed with cancer, could not have died any happier: he manages to provide for his family using Gretchen and Elliot, healing his deeply wounded ego in the process. He kills the Neo-Nazi gang, avenges Hank’s death, saves Jesse and then dies in a meth lab. For a man who was gonna die broke in a hospital with nothing left in life except regrets, this was a death he would probably have dreamed of. Now, an ending like that is definitely the most emotionally satisfying one the makers could have come up with.
However, over the years, I have begun to feel that the ending was a bit too dreamy, and one could clearly sense the pressure on the makers to pander to the growing cult of Heisenberg fanatics across the world. This certainly seems true now when you consider the fact that the makers initially had plans for another ending in which the entire White family would be killed and Walt would be the only person to survive. They then rejected the idea, probably because it might have been a bit too dark for a television audience. With all that said now, let’s dissect and analyse certain aspects of the show’s ending: