Breaking Bad was a rare show, both popular and brilliant. So when its finale rolled around, the expectations were ridiculously high. How could anyone find a fitting end to a show that thrived on plot twists and curveballs?
The final half of this season was particularly excellent, so the finale was pretty much a make or break affair. If Vince Gilligan (the creator, writer, and director of this episode) got it right, it was pretty much a given that Breaking Bad would be remembered as one of the best shows ever made. If he got it wrong then it would drop from the King of TV to “the show with the terrible finale.”
Gilligan pulls it off however (like we were in any doubt), and crafts Breaking Bad into a masterpiece of storytelling that will no doubt be mentioned in the same breath as The Sopranos and Mad Men. There’s no higher compliment than that for any show.
It’s also one of the most satisfying final episodes to a series because there are no loose ends. After moving the pieces into position for fifteen long episodes, there was no other way this could have ended.
It needed to be wrapped up completely. After all, Breaking Bad was telling a story that lasted from the very first episode until this one. It was always possible it’d knock us for six again in the 75 minutes it had left, but it didn’t. This was the best thing it could have done – it took plot points left dangling from across all five seasons and addressed them individually. It gave the viewer complete satisfaction without compromising the story at all.
It should go without saying that Breaking Bad has a fantastic cast who deserve all the awards created. But this episode rests entirely on Bryan Cranston’s final turn as Walter White (or maybe it’s more appropriate to call him Heisenberg at this point). Whichever you prefer, this is his episode. Everything is told from his point of view, and that’s perfect. Remember: this has always been his story.
So from everyone who watched from the start, week by agonizing week, and from everyone who binged in one weekend, and from those who are going to start watching it right now, we here at Concrete say goodbye to you, Breaking Bad.