Breaking Bad’ sets precedent for excellence

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The nine-time Emmy award winning AMC series “Breaking Bad” showed its final scenes to 10.3 million fans, not to mention the 500,000 illegal downloaders from just 12 hours after it aired, Sept. 29. Die-hard fans were left satisfied yet empty, with nothing to look forward to on the upcoming Sundays.

“The finale was so satisfying because we got to see (Walter White) change back, at least a little bit, to the sweet, smart man we feared died seasons ago,” DePaul screenwriting professor Nathan Dewitt said.

“In the pilot episode, Walt, still a teacher, tells his class chemistry is ‘the study of change.’ So too was ‘Breaking Bad’ a study in change. Over five gripping seasons, we watched Walter White change from meek to monstrous,” he explained.

This 75-minute episode special featured Walter White (Bryan Cranston) leaving his isolated New Hampshire home to end his legacy. Through some very elaborate planning, Walt finds a way to give the $9 million left of his meth dealing profits to his family. He gets closure with his family while telling Skyler, “I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really – I was alive.”

“Watching Walter set things straight with his family also functioned as Walter setting things straight with the audience. We were just as relieved as Skyler when Walt admitted why he cooked. He got redemption and revenge and there’s really not much more an audience wants out of entertainment,” Dewitt said.

Walt then joins a meeting between Lydia and Todd and uses his ricin on Lydia, hiding it in her beloved Stevia. He heads to where Todd’s uncle, Jack, is keeping Jesse and he kills every one of them while getting shot in the process. Jesse gets the satisfaction of killing Todd and Walt gets to kill Jack. Jesse and Walt get one last look at each other and Jesse speeds off into freedom. In the meth lab, Walt reminisces about his cooking days and his life as he falls to his death.

Not only the plot, but also every little part in this entire series, including the finale, had some sort of reasoning behind it. Ranging from shot variety to music choices, to casting and even the setting, all aspects were thought out in advance. This is what truly makes it an amazing show.

As we see in the beginning of the finale, the music selection is genius. We have the song “El Paso” by Marty Robbins when Walt is leaving New Hampshire. The song is about a man who falls in love, and is obsessed with, a girl named Felina. Ring a bell? When we look at this in terms of chemistry, the very subject Walter White taught, we see a connection: the chemical symbol for iron is Fe, for lithium Li and for sodium, Na. When we break it down even more, iron is related to blood, lithium is associated with meth and sodium corresponds to tears. Finally, when we look back at the song “El Paso” about a man falling in love with a girl named Felina, we can assume that Walt is in love with his meth. Meth is who and what he really cares about, while throwing in some blood and tears here and there to spice things up a bit.

Let’s jump ahead, to when Walt is in the meth lab. “Baby Blue” by Badfinger is playing (currently up 9,000 percent for streams on Spotify). One lyric says, “Guess I got what I deserve, the special love I have for you, my baby blue.” Let’s break it down once more. What color meth did Walt produce? Baby blue. When this song is playing, where is Walt? In the meth lab. Connections like this made for a glorious finale. It all started with meth, meth changed Walt and made him who he is now, meth is where it all ended, and Walt got what he deserved. Genius?

Aside from music, we meet some friends from back in the day: Badger and Skinny Pete. Of course Vince Gilligan can’t forget about our long lost friends. The guys who did the dirty work for their loyal lieutenants, Jesse and Walt, come back to do the dirty work once more. It fits perfectly.

Gilligan really put an ending to such a great series. All characters were concluded in a very fitting way. The White family gets the money, Jesse is freed, Lydia, Todd and the Neo-Nazi’s are dead, Badger and Skinny Pete get a final job and Walter dies after making everything as right as he could.

“In a deeper, darker sense, Walter White got to set his legacy straight with his loved ones before dying on his own terms. This is probably the exit strategy we all secretly want. Seeing last moments so fulfilling for Walt makes us believe maybe they could be possible for us when it’s our time. It’s as close to a happy ending as a death can be,” Dewitt concludes.

Can’t get enough of the “Breaking Bad” cast? See Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) in a new spinoff series; also see Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) in “Need for Speed.”