The much-anticipated series finale of AMC’s Breaking Bad was aired last night, wrapping up one of the most popular TV series of all time. I personally thought that creator Vince Gilligan did a masterful job from start to finish, including living up to the sky-high expectations for the season finale. The acting was brilliant, the writing was brilliant, the plot was powerful and emotional, and in the end we saw how one little lie can turn into a lifetime of tragedy. I think part of the reason this series was so popular is this idea that we get entertainment out of seeing other people’s misfortune. You only hear about the bad stories on the news, you only hear about off the field issues with certain athletes, and we become desensitized to violence through violent movies and video games. There’s also themes that we can all relate to: the importance of family, the power of money, and the pride that fuels the determination to succeed.
It is this phenomenon of evil overtaking good that fascinates us, gets our adrenaline pumping. We see the transition from Walter White (good) to Heisenberg (evil) take place before our very eyes. There is the saying that everyone has some good in them, but that also means that everyone has some evil in them as well. We all want to unleash our evil side at some point. There are temptations, negative emotions, revenge factors that cause us to want to “break bad.” Nobody becomes famous for following the rules all the time and being a good person. I think in some ways we envy the fame that Heisenberg achieved. We want to be that mysterious mastermind. We perceive evil for evil reasons as heartless and cruel, such as someone killing a child in cold blood. However, when evil is evil for good reasons, such as Walter White selling meth to provide for his family, it becomes a different phenomenon. It starts out innocent, but in order to continue you have to keep doing more evil.
What was so gripping about this entire series was waiting on edge wondering how far Walter White would go before he called it quits. First, it was about paying for his cancer treatments and providing for his family. Then it became about greed and wanting as much money as possible. Then it became about pride and building his empire. Finally it came full circle after realizing all of the damage that he had done, to try to salvage as much as he could before it was all over. I think we all struggle with these types of moral dilemmas at some point in our lives, although it’s on a smaller scale. Maybe you cheat once on a test to get a good grade, and then you have to lie about it to cover it up, and then you cheat more to keep your grades up, and then you lie on your resume to get into college, etc. It starts out as an innocent act with good intentions, but can so quickly spiral out of control. Like they say, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
What was so satisfying about the series finale was Walter White finally admitting something at the end that he had tried to make excuses for the entire series. He admitted that he did not embrace the Heisenberg role just because he wanted to help his family. He did it because of his pride, it made him feel alive and happy again. It gave him a sense of redemption that he could pull off such a feat after being a lowly chemistry teacher. The lesson to be learned here is that this series was all about Walter White versus himself. His ego overshadowed what was really important to him, and it ended up costing him in the end. He destroyed the very thing he was trying to help in his family.
“Guess I got what I deserved
Kept you waiting there too long my love.
All that time without a word
Didn’t know you’d think that I’d forget
Or I’d regret the special love I have for you –
My Baby Blue.”
Thanks to everyone who read this post. Please like the post, comment if you have feedback, and share with others.