Sunday, September 29, 2013

Farewell to the Greatest TV Show - Breaking Bad

Hands down, Breaking Bad is my favorite TV show.  Tonight is the series finale... and I'm not sure if I'll be able to contain my emotions after it's over.

If you look at my taste in TV shows (The Sopranos, Sons of Anarchy, Dexter), I'm a huge sucker for Crime Dramas.  But if you really dig deep into the inner workings of Breaking Bad, it does things to set it apart from other shows.  For one thing, the cast is superb (Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, and Aaron Paul to name a few).  Second, it mixes real science with its plot (feeding my Engineering mind).  And finally, although I'm sure I could list many more reasons, Breaking Bad makes "cinematic homages" to some of my favorite movies.  As I've mentioned in the past (See Here), Breaking Bad is like a Tarantino screenplay mixed with the quirkiness of a Coen Brothers' film.  If it were up to me, Breaking Bad would be a part of Tarantino Comics - and I'm certain creator Vince Gilligan would agree.  For instance, as seen in the penultimate episode of the series, we see Robert Forster as the "extractor."  With the charisma of Jackie Brown's Max Cherry, Breaking Bad commands performances on par with Tarantino.

Also following suit with Tarantino, Vince Gilligan obtains inspiration from Brian DePalma.  Vince compares Walter White's transformation with Scarface.  Giving honor to the correlation, Scarface actors Mark Margolis and Steven Bauer are featured as Cartel members loathed by Gus Fring.  Even if these actors were merely used to make great homage to Hollywood history, their performances were spot on.  Not only will I miss how these little morsels enhance the plot of Breaking Bad, but the characterizations and star power this show lured was fantastic.

Since we're talking about Tarantino, we might as well fit in a comic book connection.  The creators of Breaking Bad wanted to make Walt comparable with Ozymandias.  Ozymandias is the subject of a poem in which a great ruler whose entire empire later fell into forgotten rubble and ruins.  The final season actually has a promo of Walt reading this sonnet.  In a very similar manner, Alan Moore's Watchmen has a character of the same name who pulled all the strings throughout the series.  Although Ozymandias had a façade of philanthropy and goodness, he was the evil mastermind who planned on restarting the world by destroying it first.

Besides all the connections to pop culture, Breaking Bad created a protagonist I truly love.  If you watch the earlier seasons, Bryan Cranston plays a brilliant and likable character.  But because of his pride, Walt eventually "breaks bad" and becomes a pure criminal relying on impulse rather than scientific method.  Like another AMC character (Don Draper of Mad Men), Walt eventually hits rock bottom. Although he cannot right all his wrongs, I hope he builds himself up for one more justifiable action in the series finale.  I know Walt lost his family, but I hope he can redeem himself by saving Jessie even if it means his own demise.  Regardless, I'm rooting for Team Walt!

Over the last two years, I'm glad Breaking Bad has gained a huge cult following.  However, I get to brag since I'm one of the lucky ones who enjoyed the show from the very beginning.  I hear of all these people watching multiple seasons in 1 or 2 sittings...  And I don't blame them, I totally understand why!  However, I loyally sat down in front of my TV and watched Breaking Bad in real time for the last 61 Sundays it has aired.  I experienced the pain of weekly cliffhangers, not 1 minute bathroom breaks.  However, I will never forget the sadness and yearning I felt after Jessie pulled the trigger on Gale at the end of Season 3 - I had to wait months to see the outcome.

So those of us who gave silly "Hal from Malcolm in the Middle"a chance from the very beginning, tonight's finale is for us.  Although "All Bad Things Must Come to an End," Sunday night will be a night to remember.  And most of all, thank you to the cast and crew for making a sensation that has entertained us for the last few years!

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