Aug 20, 2018

[TV] Breaking Bad: Season 5 Review

So our journey of exploring the unique television narrative experience that is Breaking Bad is finally over and it was quite the memorable ride indeed. This fifth and final season is where everything comes to a head and it's both beautiful and tragic all at once. And that's just the nature of the story they crafted for this series.

Five seasons is both a good length for a television series but also a seemingly brief one compared to some of the shows that had longer runs than this one. But what this show achieved was a complete story that ran from beginning to end. And it's not just a story that managed to get a decent ending but a story that was emotionally complex and quite fulfilling.

It didn't feel like it ended before its time. It managed to say all that it needed to say and got its characters to some sort of an ending. But on the whole it's a big reminder that we can't look at things in terms of black or white and in the end it's all just murky gray.

Synopsis: Breaking Bad is an American television drama series created by Vince Gilligan. In 2013, Breaking Bad was noted in the Guinness World Records as the most critically acclaimed show of all time.

The fourth season ended with quite the climactic moment and it almost felt like Walt (Bryan Cranston) was on top of the world after finally freeing himself of the oppressive clutches of Gus (Giancarlo Esposito). But now he needs to clean things up in terms of making sure nothing that Gus had on him can be used to imperil his family. But as Gus Fring's little empire starts to crumble without him, there's a lot of fallout that goes beyond just Walt and his drug-making operation.

But oddly enough, Walt isn't done either. You'd think that with his obligations to Gus being over it would be time to wrap up and just live and let live. But he isn't done making sure that his family has enough funds to ensure they're okay beyond his death. And it seems that Walt has no qualms about taking over what Gus had lost in his passing.

What I Liked: This final season is a lot darker and edgier than the ones that had come before as we have Walt descending into something very different. In fact it starts to see that he's no longer doing things for his family but more it's him not knowing when to stop. In taking the steps to kill Gus he has somehow become him and in the end replaces his role as the one controlling the supply of drugs in the area.

And everything really comes to a head in this season both in terms of Walt's "professional" and personal life. And that naturally extends to the likes of Hank (Dean Norris) and the rest of Walt's extended family. Pretty much everyone who got involved with Walt directly or indirectly involved with his enterprise had some blowback from the events of the show. And how things came together was the result of some pretty great writing.

What Could Have Been Better: It felt almost odd to try to introduce new major characters in the regular cast and even extended complications in this final season. The show already had quite a number of characters that needed some sort of closure at the end of things but it feels like this season still layered on so many new ideas. It all made sense in the long run of course but from a hypercritical standpoint, I'm not sure we needed every single arc.

It's hard to end an entertainment experience like this in a manner that would satisfy everyone. There are little bits of the ending of this series that felt a little weird or a bit of a stretch if only to get to the final scenes. They're weird narrative elements that are largely forgivable since it helped the narrative and brought a much better ending to things. Always hard to say.

TL;DR: Breaking Bad is a very well-written show that is highly dramatic, intelligent and pretty thorough in its depiction of what can only be described as a tragic tale. It is unlikely we'll ever find another show quite like it. Thus the final season gets a full 5 intense moments of Walk becoming quite the drug lord out of a possible 5.

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