- by Aileen Suresh
The day has come when the meth lab has combusted, and the once blue crystal has tarnished to black coals as we all say a tear ﬁlled farewell to the series ‘Breaking Bad’. With the ﬁnal episode aired on Sunday in America, there is no surprise that fans were glued to their screens.
With a penultimate episode full of suspense, and leaving an ambiguous ending to Walt’s future, fans awaited with baited breath for the epic conclusion. Walter White (Bryan Cranston) plays anti-hero of a chemistry teacher turned meth Kingpin, running from the police after he is exposed. The episode starts surprisingly slow with Walt merely sitting in the car. However, Walt’s miraculous tactic in ﬁnding a set of car keys to escape might have seemed like a let down, almost lazy from writer/director Vince Gilligan who had cemented and crystallised realism in the purest form for ﬁve seasons.
However we were not left disappointed, with the gradual suspense building to an explosive ﬁnal 10 minutes. Here we were left wondering what is to become of Jesse (Aaron Paul), Walt’s partner in crime. Will Walt survive or Jesse? Or possibly both?
The ending itself, although full of explosive violence, was constructed in a romantic form. The ﬂashback of Jesse holding his handcrafted box surrounded by soft lighting allows the viewers to delve into his quixotic world. Although this enchanting scene is only for a brief few seconds, is a reminder that addiction should be based on the archaic world of man and nature. Of course the overall message of Breaking Bad demonstrates the obvious; drugs lead to the downfall of man. The wood and the natural lighting represents that true passion in life comes from what nature has constructed, not the chemical engineered labs.
Paul had perfected the look of awe for the box and gingerly raising it; it almost seems like a ceremonious performance of religious sacriﬁce, foreshadowing how he sacriﬁces his heart to meth, money and power. However, the image of the box suggests the romance between Jesse and his passion is simply an illusion, reminding viewers that like a box, he is imprisoned in the walls of Jack’s gang. Gilligan carries on the thread of lost love to Walt’s sorrowful death.
Walt’s ﬁnal thought before death, does not drift to his family, but his real love of cooking meth. The ﬁnal scene closes with an old rock song, adding to the mood of nostalgic romance. Gilligan’s talent for heavily incorporating symbolism and eﬀects presents that he truly is an artist in not only storytelling, but in carefully crafting his work to display an array of emotions for the viewer.
Bryan Cranston’s depiction of showing the natural evolution from an honest and ethical character to a ruthless leader is absolutely mesmerising. The gradual change of his expression from his artiﬁcial smiles to his family to a more permanent ﬁxture of ice cold stoniness as the seasons progress adds to his character’s development. It almost seems as though Cranston was robbed from an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.
Paul gradually adds comic inﬂuences to his state of confusion which depicts suﬀering and pain, demonstrating that he too can reveal various emotions. His wild, animalistic cries to reﬂect Jesse’s loss encourages the viewer to empathise and feel his pain.
It is no surprise that Anna Gunn’s performance as Skyler has won her an Emmy for Best Supporting Actress. Her sublime acting is reﬂected in Skyler’s transition from doting wife to struggling to ﬁnd freedom from her meth-dealing husband, which is further highlighted in the ﬁnale. Her cold, ice-queen stare at Walt shows how numb she has become due to her ordeal. She wears more white clothing in the ﬁnal season representing her innocence, but also how cold she is towards Walt.
The ending has the perfectly engineered formula of ambiguity. The surprise appearance of Badger and Skinny Pete, although for a brief period, ties the show into bow. We know that Jesse is free, but what is to become of him? Also there is no guarantee of whether Walt’s family will get the money in the end. However, we have some closure of Walt’s future, although admittedly a sad one. There is no doubt that this is one of the best series ﬁnales of all time.