Anyway, a few parting thoughts on a show I won't have to think about much again.
Fantasy: For all the handsome grit and arty naturalism of its staging, and its credible emotional through lines, "Breaking Bad" relied again and again on the super-complicated mechanics of an action film, in which 8 million things need to go right to create a single desired effect. The series finale, which involved not just a robot machine gun -- The Robot Machine-Gun Caper -- but also the even less reliable gears and pulleys of uncannily understood and manipulated human behavior, was in the spirit of the killing of Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) and of Gale Boetticher (David Costabile) and of the Methylamine train robbery.
Such Rube Goldberg contraptions are fun -- more so than a man walking into a room, pulling out a gun and shooting, though that is the more likely thing -- and might make a certain sort of viewer nod his head and say, "Cool." But it's also part of the character of milquetoast-turned-
Algebraic: As many observed and creator-show runner Vince Gilligan has said, Walt turned from anti-hero to outright villain at some point, but there was always somebody worse in the room. In the age of the bad-good/good-bad guy, the formula is to ensure that however bad your bad guy is, there is a badder one around. This is a cheat, of course, but a common one. It was true throughout the series, and not merely of his criminal rivals or police pursuers (
Tone: Like most of what came before, the last episode was (mostly) quiet without being subtle -- Gilligan made sure you saw everything you needed to see, often to confirm what you long felt to be true. But I appreciated the quiet, and even the relative efficiency of the violence -- that it wasn't a "Scarface" ending. It wasn't a particularly suspenseful episode, though at several crucial points a scene could easily have gone one way or the other, but I watched with interest (at least) to see what road finale writer-director Gilligan would take. Each seemed the right one, certainly from the standpoint of providing a satisfying group experience that took into account the needs and desires of the audience.
Love: The title of the last episode was "Felina," from the
Excellence: "I was good at it," Walter says of his meth-making (and empire-building, by extension), and this is, oddly and of course, what makes him relatable: Everyone wants to feel good at something, and we all feel good about what we're good at. And we like to see it in others. That's why everyone loved Mike Ehrmantraut; it's what made Gus Fring appealing, if that's the word, as well. (Even
Walt, hero, anti-hero? Gilligan (and Cranston) managed to turn off the "anti-" for a moment in the end. But this character was, more than any other, the source of my exhaustion with this sort of character. May we have a break now?
Good and evil: Nothing definitive. People are complicated!
Greatest television show ever? Not in a universe with