Since 2008, viewers have tuned in for the adventures of Walter White, an aging high school chemistry teacher turned master meth cook. Through his diagnosis of lung cancer, his relationship with Jesse Pinkman—White’s former student—and their growing fortunes and perils, we have watched these characters’ lives spiral out of control. As it draws toward the end of its fifth and final season, AMC’s “Breaking Bad” leaves us in awe at the explosion of tensions and betrayals that have built up for so long. Looking back on this brilliant and cleverly written series, it’s hard not to acknowledge its significance.
“Breaking Bad” is a special case, a television drama so meticulously put together and realistic in its content that it rises above most of the others out there. Not since HBO’s “The Sopranos” or “The Wire” has TV seen a crime drama this good. The writers know exactly what they’re doing, especially with their motifs and other elements that come back episodes − or even seasons − later as wild cards dramatically alter courses in the plotline, like the ricin.
What exactly is the current course of television drama? There’s a variety of them airing every week. There are those that are past their prime, like “Dexter,” those that have hit their share of road bumps but remain promising, like “Boardwalk Empire” and “The Walking Dead,” and shows that haven’t really disappointed so far but still need more time to prove their superiority, like “Homeland” and “Girls.”
If “Dexter” had a core plan for its plot development like “Breaking Bad” and ended on a high note, it might have joined the greats. Unfortunately, after John Lithgow’s acclaimed performance in the series’ breathtaking fourth season, it went downhill.
Vince Gilligan, the creator of “Breaking Bad,” and his writing staff have done something very bold but, thankfully, satisfying as well. They’ve taken an extremely successful and critically acclaimed show and limited it according to auteur Gilligan’s conception of the story.
They’re ending the show purposefully and wish not to milk it any further than a proper conclusion. This is similar to “The Sopranos,” which definitely could have continued to be successful but ended on its sixth season, though many viewers were not happy with its open-ended finale. Gilligan and his team will undoubtedly deliver an amazing couple of final episodes to bring this thrilling ride to a close.
“Breaking Bad” is crime drama at its finest. It’s the best since “The Sopranos,” and it has the potential of becoming a template for future series. It relaunched Bryan Cranston’s career from “Malcolm in the Middle” and introduced us to a spectacular antihero.
Now I must determine what to do with my life once it’s over. I guess I’ll have to start the countdown to AMC’s recently announced spin-off series, “Better Call Saul.”