Before I start this I would like to say Breaking Bad was (sad moment) my favourite TV show that was currently on (I wrote about it when I started the blog), I also wrote about it as being a TV show that you should be watching because a TV show of Breaking Bad’s quality should be one of the highest rated shows on TV, and it wasn’t. Finally I wrote about what I felt were the 5 Defining Moments of Breaking Bad prior to the start of the second half of season 5. Needless to say that the expectations for this season of Breaking Bad were incredibly high and the question was whether or not the writers could send this excellent show off on a high note rather than a whimper. So let’s find out. This review will contain *spoilers*
What I loved.
- The greatest show ever?
- It’s an interesting question, and I think it was a question that was being asked before season 5 even started but it was too early to judge (Homeland could have been a classic if it had only lasted one season). However now that Breaking Bad has finished, the question can be legitimately asked and a legitimate answer can be given. In my mind there is no doubt that Breaking Bad is in the top three all time TV shows, along with The Wire and The Sopranos, but is it the best? I really think it is, and here’s why; Breaking Bad was consistently an excellent show throughout, with each season succeeding in matching the high expectations the show had created for itself. In comparison The Wire had an outstanding first and third season, a solid fourth and second season and a poor (by the Wire standards) fifth season. Breaking Bad always felt like they knew where they were going and had a story to tell and they were going to tell it and that was that. Whereas The Sopranos often felt like it was being written on the fly, with each season introducing a new character that you got the feeling wouldn’t be making it by the end of the season. The only occasion that it felt like that this may be happening in Breaking Bad was at the start of the third season when the twins were introduced and it felt like they would be the antagonists for the entire season, and we all know how that ended up. Breaking Bad had everything; excellent writing, excellent acting, great characters and an outstanding concept, each piece comes together to make what I think will go down as the best TV show ever (that has currently been made of course, who knows what happens in the future).
- The one negative thing that I will say about crowning Breaking Bad as the greatest TV show ever is that there is a lot of hype and buzz around the show, and because of that one could get carried away by what was an excellent series and may have different feelings about it after the buzz has dropped. I personally doubt it, and wouldn’t have written that I think that it is the best TV show ever if it was based on buzz.
- The ending.
- It is incredibly difficult to end a long running and much loved TV show, but Breaking Bad managed to give everyone the satisfying ending that was deserved (Dexter writers should take note). When you talk about the ending of a lot of shows you talk about the last scene or moment, when you talk about the ending of Breaking Bad you will talk about the last episode in its entirety. The writers gave the audience a chance to say goodbye to all the characters that were left alive (and some who weren’t) as each was given a scene that didn’t seem forced.
- Walt’s scene with the Schwartz’s was epic; from the way he sits in the shadows and casually walks around their house to the way that he threatens them with hidden hitmen, it was classic Walt and classic Heisenberg.
- The way Walt again casually crashes the one sided love in between Todd and Lydia, in what appears to be a desperate manner, only for Lydia to tell Todd to put his old mentor down, before drinking the ricin camomile tea with soy milk that she loves so much.
- Walt’s scenes with Skyler are basic and are his way of saying goodbye to her and seeing his kids for the last time, and are on the more touching side before the real action strikes. We also finally get the admission that Walt cooked meth because it made him feel good, which is true after he had lived a life of under achievement.
- The final scenes with the Neo-Nazis are classic Breaking Bad, as Walt outsmarts them with an incredibly clever mechanism with a big sexy M-60 attached. Prior to that Uncle Jack had almost put Walt down, before showing that Neo-Nazis have one weakness, never question their integrity. After the dust has settled and all but Todd, Walt, Jesse and Jack are left alive, we get the satisfying moment of Jesse finally getting revenge on Todd for all the torment that he has put him through by strangling him. This is followed by Walt finishing off Uncle Jack, but not before Uncle Jack tried to bargain for his life with what remains of Walt’s cash, a beautiful nod to when Walt begged for Hank’s life in the exact same manner. Walt then asks Jesse to kill him, only for Jesse to finally refuse and tell him to do it himself. Walt then gets a nice call from Lydia, only to give her the bad news that she is about to die a painful death and her meth empire have fallen to pieces (talk about a bad day). You then get the two final scenes for our two main characters, with Jesse joyously driving off into the sunset and Walt standing looking at what was his body of work as he bleeds out from a bullet wound he accidently inflicted on himself, finally going out on his own terms. The redemption of Walter White. Perfection.
- One of the things that make the finale so good is that there are still so many open ended questions; what happens to Skyler? What happens to Jesse? What will Walter Jnr be having for breakfast? That is the great thing about Breaking Bad, it is a story about the rise and fall of Walter White, and when he dies the story is over, and so it should be.
- Another way to look at how Breaking Bad ended is to think whether you were satisfied or not, if the answer is yes (and I imagine it likely is) then you know it was a suitable ending for a great TV show.
- For much of the second half of season 5 Hank was the good guy chasing his egomaniac brother in law, and Hank delivered. Obviously Hank had unknowingly been chasing Walt the whole time, but after the revelation that Walt was in fact Heisenberg Hank stepped it up. Hank had loads of amazing scenes in this season; the garage scene, the restaurant scene, the scene where he finally catches Walt and of course the scene where Uncle Jack finished him off for good. Just an excellent season and several excellent performances from Dean Norris who really deserves the Emmy nod next year for stepping his game up so much.
- There were only going to be two outcomes for Hank in Breaking Bad, either he was going to be the man who caught and turned in Walt or the more likely outcome (and the one the happened) he was going to die. Hank didn’t die because he deserved to die, but rather because he had to die, it gave Walt a reason above just money to gain revenge on the Neo-Nazis.
- Walter will go down as one of the greatest TV characters of all time, and rightly so. Not only does Bryan Cranston do an excellent job with his acting (robbed of the Emmy), the character is written so well. At no point in Walter’s journey did you think that the writers had to make a jump that wasn’t really there to suit the direction they wanted to take the show. Even at the end when Walt is plotting against Uncle Jack’s crew to stop the production of his signature blue meth, he is doing it to protect his legacy and how Heisenberg is remembered. He has always been an egomaniac, one who couldn’t even accept an old friends offer to pay for his cancer treatment because of his stubbornness, one who would rather break the law and cook meth than accept a hand-out. Walt never wavered in personality, the only thing that changed was his arrogance, even in the end he was the same man as he was in the first, albeit a much more dangerous and deadly one.
- Breaking Bad really was the story of Walter White. It detailed the rise of his meth empire from humble beginnings in a camper van, to him becoming the greatest meth produced in the world, to his empire and life crumbling down around him as he lost everything that he so dearly was trying to preserve.
- Walt had many great scenes in this season of Breaking Bad, but the one that I felt sat in front of the rest was when he was in the cabin in New Hampshire as a shell of the man he once was, so desperate for company that he is willing to pay a man $10,000 just to sit with him for an hour. It was sad to see a once bright and powerful man limited to such as his life has crumbled down to nothing more than an empty shell of what it once was. A man that had done so much to try and secure the long term security of his family, left with no family and only a barrel full of money to keep him company. Despite the fact that Walt moved into being the villain of season 5 as a whole, you really had to feel sorry for a man who was dying a slow and painful death, not on his own terms and not with his family around him like he had wanted.
- Damn Todd is one cold mother fucker. Everything he did was creepy, and I don’t mean good creepy, I mean weird Aryan might eat your kids creepy. He made for the perfect antagonist for Jesse to play off of to finish the season off and when he got his comeuppance it really made for a satisfying conclusion to the torture that he had put Jesse through.
- Todd is a polite gentleman, even when he happens to be shooting you in the back of the head and telling you it isn’t personal, nice guy after all.
- His weird relationship with Lydia was…..well weird. The way he dressed up when she visited and the way he mesmerically rubbed her lipstick on the mug she had been using just added to the aura of calm and composed psychopathic weirdness that Todd brought to the show.
- I loved the moment when Uncle Jack asked Todd why he wanted to still cook meth when they had just gotten $70 million, and Todd responded that why wouldn’t you want more? And it’s true, if you could make more why wouldn’t you want more? In the end it was that greed that led to the downfall of Todd and his Neo-Nazi buddies.
- Uncle Jack.
- For a Neo-Nazi, Uncle Jack didn’t make many negative comments about Jews, and good for Breaking Bad for not playing on the stereotype. However they still made him one hell of a badass. I would have been easy for the writers to go with the dumb Neo-Nazi thing, but instead they made Uncle Jack a shrewd character that knew how to play the game and played it very well.
- The funny moment when Walt questions Jack’s integrity for partnering with Jesse, only for Uncle Jack to delay killing Walt just to prove to him how wrong he was….probably should have just let it go.
- The chase.
- Excitement makes good TV, and one of the best things about Breaking Bad this season was the chase of Walter by Hank. Despite the fact that Hank was really the good guy and Walt was really the bad guy, it didn’t mean you wanted Walt to get caught, but the moment he did was well executed and then all hell broke loose.
- For large chunks of the season Jesse took a back seat to Hank, as the Hank-Walt tussle took form. However as the season progressed Jesse moved further and further into the forefront, and naturally everything went wrong for poor old Jesse. Jesse has always been the true hero of the piece and he always seemed to get as good a kicking as the writers could give him; drug problems, unsupportive parents, an abusive partnership, both the women he loved dying and many others.
- Jesse received the ending he deserved, after months of slavery he killed his tormentor, finally said no to Walt and drove off into the sunset (or night as it was) with a smile on his face
- Saul is such a good character that he would make a great spin-off…..Anyway; Saul is always good as the sleazy lawyer and gives the best one liners throughout the show in his excellent bits of comedy. Better call Saul!
- Who doesn’t love Huell? Nobody that’s who! Hell naw!
- Not every series deserves a spin-off, and most series you wouldn’t want to see a spin-off of (cough*Dexter*cough), however Breaking Bad have made the bold decision of doing a Saul Goodman prequel spin-off. I am quietly optimistic about the whole thing and get the feeling that it will be well done, and could be an excellent addition to the Breaking Bad legacy.
- The camera work in Breaking Bad is outstanding. From the long shots, to the unusual first person views, every moment is caught in the perfect angle to fully maximise the scenes potential.
- There are several moments like this throughout Breaking Bad, not just in season 5. My personal favourite was when Walt was captured by Hank and had to do the walk of shame with his hands behind his head as the camera followed about a foot away. It made an incredible scene all that more incredible, and that is what good camera work can do.
- Another excellent one was when Uncle Jack killed Hank and Walt fell to the floor in despair, very similar to the way Gus did in Mexico when his partner was killed in front of him. Very nicely done once again.
- Everything has a meaning.
- Much like a top notch boxer, Breaking Bad doesn’t waste any motions. Everything has a meaning and nothing is meaningless. Even little things that you think may not have a larger meaning on the grand scale turn out to actually have a big impact. This isn’t something that has just happened in season 5 but rather throughout the series. Many other shows would have forgotten about the ricin behind the plug socket, but not Breaking Bad, everything has a purpose on this show, and that’s part of what makes it great.
- New Hampshire.
- It only really lasted for one episode, but the time that Walt lived in New Hampshire in his little cabin was some of the best of the season. It was a perfect change of pace to the franticness of the six episodes that preceded it.
- The scene with Walt in the bar is filmed beautifully as Walt is rejected by his son, turns himself in and then as he takes his last drink as a free man becomes enraged by comments made by his old partner (who we haven’t seen anything of since season 2) and escapes the bar before the police arrive. As I’ve said already, no wasted motions.
- No more Breaking Bad.
- But surely you want more Breaking Bad? And I definitely do, however that is a good thing. There is nothing worse than a TV show scraping the bottom of the barrel as it tries to eke out the last penny from a show that is long past its sell by date. By finishing a show when it is still hot will mean that Breaking Bad will go down in history as one of the greats, therefore protecting its legacy.
- Before a drama TV show begins it should have a set out plan on how long it will last and how it will finish. Play to the story you have to tell, not the story the channel wants from you.
- If you know what is going to happen in any situation, it makes it less exciting. Everybody likes surprises and surprises allow for you to become more engrossed in a show. There is a reason that every single week Breaking Bad had numerous articles about where the show was heading, because it was unpredictable, however not in a bad silly sort of way that makes it seem unrealistic.
- Even prior to the last episode airing, several articles were posted about how people thought the show would end, some were right and some were wrong, but it is that unpredictability that allows Breaking Bad to stay exciting episode to episode.
What I liked.
- Her role was fairly minor but was vital to the season. If it weren’t for her, Jesse would have died at the same time as Hank. If it weren’t for her, Walt would never have gotten a chance to get his revenge on the Neo-Nazi’s.
- She plays a weird role as a neurotic business lady that doesn’t seem the type that would be at the head of a crystal meth network, but hey it takes all types.
- Plus she’s Scottish, so what’s not to like?
- My only negative question about her is did she really need to be taken care of by Walter? Was she really a threat? Or did Walt want to take her out just in case his plan with the Neo-Nazi’s failed? Did she even die? Who knows, it isn’t a major issue but it is one worth wondering about.
- Damn that kid can act! I don’t know if it was the baby or CGI but either way it was pretty freaky. Thank god Todd got knocked off otherwise the two of them could have had some pretty weird babies together.
What I disliked.
- Marie the character isn’t that great and she never really has been, so maybe it is unfair to have her as a dislike, but that’s the problem she adds very little to the show and other than her scene where she told Walt to kill himself, she didn’t do that much of interest.
- In the finale was everything a little bit too neat? I think it probably was, but by doing so it made for the final that the show deserved, so it is a little gripe but worth pointing out.
- I probably would rather have had a darker finish than the sort of happy ending we got (or as happy as you can get when the main character dies), but again I do think that the finale worked.
What I hated.
- Everyone’s least favourite character! It isn’t that I hate the Skyler character, I don’t. It isn’t that I hate the acting, I don’t Anna Gunn does well. It is more that I hate how the goes on. At the start of the part two of the season we see Skyler is all in with Walt, to the extent that she is willing to film a video for Walt that would incriminate Hank and therefore destroy her already shaky relationship with her sister. However after Marie goes to the car wash to tell Skyler that Walt has been arrested by Hank, she flips straight over to hating Walt. Maybe she thought it was the only option she had to stay out of jail, but it makes her seem like a bitch. She then adds to that by pulling a knife on Walt for no real reason other than she clearly feels she has played her cards already and feels that this is a time to get out. It is that sudden disgusted feeling she has with Walt out of the blue that bothers me, the same woman that had not long ago asked Walt to kill Jesse, which according to my lawyers is a pretty bad thing. I understand that many people will be thinking to themselves that Skyler was in an abusive relationship, and I totally agree but that doesn’t mean that she isn’t a bitch and a total hypocrite.
- Walter Jnr.
- Even the baby is a better and more important character than Walter Jnr. He doesn’t do anything but eat breakfast and go to his room.
- The thing that really annoyed me about Walter Jnr was when Skyler pulls the knife on Walt and he somehow manages to come out of that thinking that Walt is the bad guy. Now I’m not saying that Walt wasn’t going to stab Skyler in the heat of the moment, but talk about jumping to conclusion, she pulled the knife on him and was the one who, as he screamed was telling lies about his dad, yet somehow Walt comes out as the bad guy and the one who he should call the police over.
- Also Walt didn’t kill Hank, so he should really stop spreading that rumour, because it isn’t actually true. In fact Walt tried to save Hank, and that would be a much nicer rumour to start.
- In a show that has excellent writing, their writing for Walter Jnr, is painful.
- Also he is an idiot, if I were going to pick a new name; I think I would choose something a hell of a lot better than Flynn. What a horrible name.
There it is the season 5 part 2 review of Breaking Bad. If you are wondering, I thought it was great, but I am clearly a bit of a fan boy (never a bad thing). I truly do believe that it will go down as the greatest TV show that has currently been made, because it is that damn good. There is very little wrong with the Breaking Bad season 5 as a whole, or Breaking Bad as a series as a whole.
The show depicted the rise and fall of Walter White’s meth empire, and his struggle to keep it together, so it was fitting in many ways that the final episode showed the redemption of Walter White, after he had done so much wrong he could finally put some things right.
It is always sad to see such a great TV show end, but it is better to see a great TV show go out on a high, rather than a whimper. I am glad that Breaking Bad has went out on a high and considered its legacy in doing so, more TV shows should take note.
I’m not sure what more I can say about this great show, more than I already have. If you haven’t watched this (you probably shouldn’t have read this), watch it. If you have watched it, then watch it again. Breaking Bad is going to go down as an all-time classic and deservedly so.
So leave a comment on what you thought about the second half of Breaking Bad season 5, or what you thought about Breaking Bad as a series as a whole. Also feel free to follow BM23reviews on Twitter or like the BM23reviews Facebook page, all are welcome and thanks for reading. I’ll see you at Better Call Saul.