[NON-SPOILER ALERT: Somehow I managed to write an entire post about Breaking Bad without spoiling a single pivotal plot plot. Feel free to read even if you haven’t seen the whole series.]
It’s been two weeks since the finale of Breaking Bad. I knew months ago I would want to say something about the end of series using this forum. I can’t – won’t – stop talking about this show in my real life or my Facebook life, so it’s only fitting it gets a shout out here. However there are hundreds of standard recaps out there and many wonderfully insightful articles, so I don’t feel the need to add to those libraries. And I’ve tried and failed many times to convey my fan girl freak outs in words (see: anything I’ve ever written about Mad Men) and it’s just not interesting.
So instead I thought I’d have to confess that this show I love so much was one that I nearly missed out on. The first time I tried out the series, I got three episodes in and I GAVE UP.
I have somewhat of a low tolerance for violence and used this as my excuse to others, but mostly to myself, for not liking this critically-acclaimed, buzz-worthy show. One of the things I came to love most about Breaking Bad was its portrayal of violence. There are plenty of shows that can claim, perhaps rightly so, a gritty realism to their violence. But mostly they seem to be talking about graphics and special effects. No other show dealt with the consequences of violence like Breaking Bad, whose characters were as horrified by what they saw or did as the audience.
Still, violence was only part of what caused me to turn the TV off initially. See, my other favorite show is Mad Men. Mad Men also airs on AMC and it was the network’s first big show. So hearing all the buzz about the next big thing “from the network that brought you Mad Men” seemed like a bunch of gobbledy gook. The hype continued, with Bryan Cranston repeatedly stealing Jon Hamm’s Emmy thunder. So I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder and I was looking for reasons not to like it.
For all its intricate plotting and gasp-inducing surprises, Breaking Bad is not perfect. There are missteps along the way. My first complaint was Jesse’s “myshout” (aka myspace) page. I thought it looked phony and it didn’t make sense to me that someone cooking meth would advertise such a thing on the internet. I find it much easier to forgive this minor sin now, but it is still a sin. The final season also left me with a few lingering questions, but at that point I was so damn impressed by what they had accomplished I simply let them go.
So how did I make my way back to it? Some of the credit goes to my Dad, who would NOT stop talking about it, much the same way I do now only with far less fan girl enthusiasm. For weeks and weeks all I heard was how good this show was. But there is another key step in this process and that’s Netflix.
By the time I went back to watch the show, the first three seasons were available to Watch Instantly. I decided I would pick up where I left off, finish the season no matter what and then see what I thought. Little did I realize that there are only 7 episodes in season 1, so I was done with it right quick. Naturally the ending was a cliffhanger, and I don’t know about you, but when the only thing standing between me and answers is the push of a remote control button, I push the button.
Season two was better than one and I started to become invested. By season three, I had a schedule. Every day when I put Sonja down for her nap, I’d watch an episode while eating lunch. She was maybe nine months old and would still take two naps a day, so sometimes I’d watch two episodes. I plowed through the series and enjoyed every binge-y minute.
The only time I had to wait to watch content was the year-long hiatus between season 5A and 5B. That was pure torture. I think this show is meant to be watched on demand and close together. It helps to remember all of the intricate details. As such, I am currently making my way through the entire series again to see how it stands as a whole. I have a suspicion that when viewed all together, season 5 may not quite live up seasons two, three and four. That’s not to say that it wasn’t fantastic. There were amazing episodes, with episode 516, titled “Ozymandias,” being the series’ finest hour. But as another astute commentator noted, it’s much more fun to watch when we’re rooting for Walt than when we’re not. If that’s true and I believe it is, that makes the end of a series whose goal was to turn Mr. Chips into Scarface necessarily the weakest part of the story.
Come to think of it, the ends of these blog posts are always the weakest parts of the story. I mean, all I can really think of to say at this point is I’m really glad I didn’t miss out on this series. If you’ve avoided watching it or missed it for any reason, get thee to a Netflix enabled television set!