This is the third time I have written about the AMC series “Breaking Bad,” a show about a chemistry teacher who turns to making crystal meth after discovering he has lung cancer. In my humble opinion, it is the best show on television right now.
After weeks of teasers hinted at some wild shit going down in the season finale, my anticipation level was at an all time high when the season finale aired Sunday. After lifting my expectations, would the series be able to meet them?
I want to preface my review by stating that if you are unfamiliar with the show, you won’t have any idea what I’m talking about, so reading further may prove pointless. If you want to learn more about the show, I am more than enough of a self-promoting jerk to refer you to my review of Season One.
Also, if you have seen the show but haven’t kept up with original airings, this review will be loaded with spoilers, so if you want to see the remainder of the series without having the suspense ruined, STOP RIGHT HERE!
I want to start by stating the moments I liked/loved about the finale, as there were several.
The direction was top-notch. There were various little touches that added great suspense and layers to the episode. The slow-zoom in on Walt’s face when Walter Jr. was going on about what a great man he was was handled brilliantly. You could actually see the guilt he felt exploding out of his facial expression.
I loved how the episode added new emotional layers to two primary characters. Jesse, already deflated by the murder of one of his best friends, fell apart when his junkie girlfriend Jane OD’d when lying next to him. A big kudos has to go to Aaron Paul for taking his performance to emotional heights he never reached before. He played a tough situation perfectly and I he think deserves serious Emmy consideration because of it.
The star of the show this time around though had to be Skyler. It’s not that I ever thought she was a stupid character, but I never would have expected her to conduct such a perfectly clever unraveling of Walter’s lies. Knowing everything he’s put his family through, it was actually pretty cool to see Walt befuddled to the point where he felt the need to come clean to her. Even better was her being “afraid to know.” I cannot wait to see how this boils over into Season Three.
Unrelated to the show, I have spent my entire life as a small town bumpkin, and got much more excitement than I should have when my current city of residence (Terre Haute What!) was referenced in the show.
Lastly, I like that the episode deeply delved into the consequences of Walt’s actions. Whatever “likability” he still had almost vanished as in consecutive weeks he blew off the birth of his child for a meth delivery and watched Jane die when he easily could have prevented it. The loss of his family and all the bad elements he’s surrounded with more than cancels out any foolish arguments people have made about this show glamorizing this lifestyle.
So, were all these praiseworthy occurrences mentioned above enough for the episode to reach my sky high expectations? I have been thinking about this almost exclusively since the episode ended and the answer is this; I simply do not know.
Now there was certainly nothing about this episode that was bad, and I sure as hell didn’t predict it would end the way it did, even with the various teasers. I was in no way disappointed, but was I blown away? I still have to think about that one.
A big reason for my reservations is simply because I was expecting something bigger. Big “Breaking Bad” involves guts falling through a ceiling, skulls being smashed by ATM’s and decapitated heads being strapped to bombs on the back of a turtle. Sure, a mid-air collision between two planes is hardly small, but I’m not sure if it gave the resolution I was looking for. Ever since I saw the teaser with the two body bags it has killed me to know who is inside. It was a torturous few weeks waiting for an answer, that is now going to lead to a torturous nine to ten months as we still don’t know.
I am a bit reluctant to put into writing that I didn’t instantly grasp the potential genius of this episode, for I am more than open to embracing it in the future. Season One didn’t wrap in a traditional way, and when the Season Two premier first aired, I felt it would have better served as the first season’s finale. Maybe that will be my reaction to the first episode of Season Three.
That being said, there seems to be something a bit cruel to spending all of Season Two essentially teasing Season Three and only giving us a small dosage of resolution. The producers certainly deserve credit for leaving me wanting more, but right now, I feel like I may have been left wanting too much.
I realize I am leaving myself wide open to ridicule as being one of those morons who has to have a neat and tidy resolution and I welcome that, as in a few months I hope to look at this review as a reminder of what an idiot I am. My criticism is not meant to be a damning critique of the show, as it was at least a good ending to a great season of a great series. I hope very strongly that I am morphed by an all encompassing love for this episode as time passes. But whether or not that love will come is still to be determined.
Final Score: A reluctant 7.5/10