Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Thoughts on Breaking Bad Finale

Walter White spent most of the season out of his league, trapped and isolated by his circumstance. He was under constant surveillance by Gus, felt useless around his wife and son, had to lie to his brother-in-law Hank, and had a falling out with his partner Jesse. And yet throughout all of this, he kept finding ways to prevail, to survive. In the finale, where we see Walter's greatest triumph, we also begin to realize its detrimental costs.

It was always going to be a Walt vs. Gus showdown in the end and even though the outcome had always been certain (one is the lead character after all), the journey getting there was no less thrilling. In fact, it was riveting to see a panicked Walter somehow outmaneuvering the super fastidious Gus. His plan to use Tio Hector as bait was pure genius as were those last few minutes of Gus' life as half of his face and body were blown completely off (a haunting image I've yet to recover from), giving the episode's title "Face Off" added meaning. It was also wonderful to see Jesse and Walt working together again after a season apart especially their beautifully shot scene of setting the Super Lab on fire. All four actors--Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Giancarlo Esposito, and Mark Margolis--were superb here and throughout the season. They really dominated the finale, but have to also give kudos to Anna Gunn, Dean Morris, Bob Odenkirk, and Jonathan Banks for what they did this season as well.

This finale could've worked as a series finale with Walter coming out on top, but that last image of the season of the Lily of the Valley plant in Walter's own backyard clearly told us that Walter has finally crossed the line and broke bad. Sure, he has lied and killed in the past, but most in self-defense and debatably justifiable. But by poisoning Brock, a little boy, just to manipulate Jesse is beyond despicable. He also put his elderly neighbor in danger earlier in the episode. As a person, I am appalled, but as a TV watcher, I'm just excited about what this means for Walt next season. Though it's probably a safe bet that when the show finally ends after 16 more episodes (probably split into two seasons), Walter won't be on top. An excellent finale to another excellent season.

A few more stray thoughts:

- Pretty convenient for Mike to be out-of-commission these last few episodes. But I'm totally fine with that since it means he is sure to return next season probably wondering whatthefuck happened.

- Jesse will find out what Walt did to Brock, right? And what really happened with Jane? I mean he has to, right? And if he does, holy crap.

- SO MANY people are still trying to figure out the exact logistics of how Walt was able to get the seeds of the flowers to Brock and force the kid to ingest it as well as how Jesse's ricin-filled cigarette disappeared. Sorry, I was too busy getting my brain blown away by the rest of the show to care.

- "Did you just bring a bomb into a hospital?" "What?! Was I supposed to leave it at his car?" "What you're supposed to bring it to a hospital!"

- Kind of wished Anna Gunn had more to do in the finale, but I did love her face/reaction when Walt uttered his "I won" line over the phone to her. What could she possibly be thinking at that exact moment I wonder.

Breaking Bad Finale: A-
Breaking Bad Season 4: A/A-

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