My thoughts on the Breaking Bad finale, followed by an alternate ending...
Before I go any further, I just want to go on record as praising Breaking Bad as the best dramatic series I've ever seen in my life. Unpredictable, disturbing, tragic, controversial, funny, and very, very sad. Nearly every episode had every one of those elements. I was so happy to see it finally win the Emmy for best dramatic series this year. I even went so far as to drive 12 hours from Bakersfield to Albuquerque to take the (Breaking) Bad Tour, and watch the series finale right there in the city where it was all shot. Obviously, I'm not some passive fan of the show, who wanted to jump on the Breaking Bad bandwagon because of all the hype and praise the show has been getting over the last few months. So, with all that being said, here are my thoughts on the series finale...
I didn't like it. The final two episodes felt soft and under-written in comparison to the sixty that had come before. There were so many opportunities that were missed, and so many moments that could have been so much more dramatic and gut-wrenching. Keep in mind, the final two episodes were both 75 minutes long. There was plenty of time to spend on the plotlines and characters we truly cared about. Instead, we got lots of "johnny-come-lately" characters like Lydia, Todd, and Uncle Jack. I honestly feel that keeping the final 2 episodes to 60 minutes would've made them much better.
Here are some of the moments and plotlines I'm talking about...
#1 - Loose ends. I feel like there are a lot of unanswered questions about the remaining characters. Questions of "whatever happened to" Skylar, Walt Jr., Jesse, and Marie will be the topic of many Breaking Bad debates and conversations in the future. Did Jesse go take care of Brock? Or was he just too devastated by the things Walt put him through, and go back to being a junkie? Similar questions can be asked about the rest. I think a few post-Heisenberg scenes to answer these kind of questions would've gone a long way. Maybe a shot of Jesse at a park, telling Brock it's time to take him home to Grandma's. Or a shot of Jesse alone in his house, lighting a pipe of meth. How about a shot of an envelope being delivered to Walt Jr. from Gray Matter? Maybe a shot of Marie placing flowers at Hank's grave, then turning to hug Skylar? How about a shot of Saul welcoming a customer to Cinnibon? Those kind of shots would've provided some clarity on what the future held for those left behind.
#2 - Walt's death. Think of Walt's character over the course of the series. He's been driven pride, ego, power, and control. He's been outspoken about doing things on his own terms. He's also stated on more than one occasion, that he's made choices, and that someday he'll have to face the consequences of them. An accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound to the gut is not an appropriate ending for Walt. His death should have been either A) He realizes he's in a no-win situation, and makes an obvious conscious decision to kill himself - by shooting himself in the head, taking the ricin, or blowing himself up. Or B) At the hands of someone who has truly suffered from Walt's actions - such as Jesse, Skylar, Marie, Hank, or even Walt Jr.
Breaking Bad had the chance to end with either of these scenarios, and passed on them. Jesse could have, and SHOULD HAVE, killed Walt when he had the chance. NO
Ok, so let's go with Jesse not shooting Walt. Then Walt should've blown himself and the meth lab up at the end. We all know Walt is fond of explosions and chemical reactions. Walt had accomplished all he set out to do, and had made things as right as they could be. There was only one thing left to do - end it once and for all, on his own terms. As stated above, Walt was driven by pride, ego, power, and control. He also accepted the fact that someday he was going to pay for his sins. Based on that, up until the final few episodes, there were 2 possible outcomes we knew Walt would avoid at all costs - he wouldn't let the cancer win, and he wouldn't let Hank or the DEA win. As he told Saul - "We're done, when I say we're done." Blowing up himself in the lab would've accomplished this, and ensured that the distribution of his precious blue meth would die with him.
#3 - Missed opportunities. Although Walt telling Skylar "I did it for me" was a great moment, I really feel like there was more that should've been said. Especially after all that's happened, after being apart for such a long time, and with both of them knowing this will be the last time they will ever see each other. It almost felt as though Walt was just stopping by for a minute to check in. I also think Walt Jr. is gonna have a tough time living with the fact that his final words to his Dad were "Why don't you just die?"
I feel the same way about the final scene with Jesse. Although Walt sliding the gun to Jesse was a great moment, I felt like there was a lack of dialog between them. After all they've been through, and both knowing the end is near, they really didn't have a lot to say. Hell, we didn't even get a final "Bitch" from Jesse. Couldn't we have at least gotten a "Do it yourself, bitch" instead?
I'm also bummed that Marie and Walt Jr. were hardly in the episode at all. Again, too much time spent on the "johnny-come-latelys"
#4 - The ending should've been darker, more disturbing, and uncomfortable. Those are some of the very basic elements that made Breaking Bad what is was. Although there are a million different ways the show could've ended, here's an example of how things could've gone...
(This is a combination of several different online ideas I've stolen from other Breaking Bad fans)
Walt leaves town and goes into hiding. Lydia views Walt as a loose end that MUST be dealt with. To lure Walt out of hiding, she orders Jack and his crew to kill Walt's remaining family - Skylar, Marie, Walt Jr., and even Holly. And they do. Upon reading about this in the paper, Walt returns to town for revenge. He secretly plants the ricin in