Wednesday, October 02, 2013


Before I start, let me note that I'm having trouble with my computer and unless I get it fixed soon, I might not be posting too much. I have about a week's full backlog stored, so you wouldn't notice until that ran out. I always say if I get hit by a bus no one would notice for a while. (BTW, I'm writing this from someone else's computer, but it's not that easy for me to log in elsewhere.)

Anyway, while I had my problems with Breaking Bad's finale (in that it was too easy on the characters and should have been more bleak), one thing that didn't bother me was lack of closure.  If anything, everything was tied too much into a pretty bow.

Yet some fans and critics the ending was too open-ended, such as Hank Stuever in the Washington Post:

But like all big-talker shows that bring their heavy cargo in for a rough and breathlessly observed landing, Breaking Bad didn’t quite leave itself enough runway to satisfactorily end some of its better storylines, especially once the chronology gap closed up between the flash-forwards from last year’s episodes and Sunday night’s conclusion. One could easily argue that there was just too much left to do in this one episode.

[....] We never got a full picture of what Skyler, Walter Jr. (RJ Mitte) and little Holly White’s lives were like during all that time Walt was hiding in New Hampshire. We never got to see how the DEA picked up where Hank Schrader’s secret investigation left off and how they began sorting (with Marie Schrader’s help, no doubt) through the tangled mess of the Heisenberg meth operation. … And we certainly could have used (and Betsy Brandt was plenty up to the challenge of depicting) more of the depths of Marie’s grief after Hank died. We had so much invested in all these characters and not nearly enough time for a payout; it was a shame, in these last few episodes, to always feel as if we were heading for the door too soon. I’m a sucker for fastidiously clean endings and also the beauty of epilogue.

We also didn't see Saul land in Nebraska, or Gus's funeral.  So what?  The show is Breaking Bad and it's not the job of the producers to show everything.

The essence of the show is Walt's arc (and to a lesser extent Jesse's and Hank's), from Mr. Chips to Scarface. In the pilot, we saw him barely making ends with two jobs and then getting a diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.  The series saw him cook meth and build an empire. Then it all fell apart. Then he made amends and died.  You can't have a clearer arc than that, and what happened to the main characters was also pretty clear, even if it wasn't all spelled out.

I don't care about the "chronology gap" that mostly occurred in the penultimate episode where Walt languished in New Hampshire.  We were given some information about the falling fortunes of the Walt's family, and we saw their house was owned by the bank and emptied out.  They were living elsewhere and Skyler was making money as best she could.  What more do you need to know?  We also didn't see Walt spending time watching Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, or Jesse doing cook after cook, or Todd making hopeless small talk with Lydia.

As for the investigation, the DEA found out from Marie and Skyler and whoever else knew anything that Hank was missing and probably killed, and Walt was Heisenberg, and whatever other information they had, which wasn't much (especially after the Aryans took Jesse's confession).  So they searched for the bodies and searched for Walt who was in hiding.  We know it was a big news story since Charlie Rose talked about it.  We know they didn't find the Compound where Jesse cooked.  (I do sort of agree about not much grief from Marie, but we saw some, and that story wasn't moving forward any more.)

The show, in general, featured all the closure you could hope for.  Gus, Mike, Hank, Gomez, Andrea, Lydia, Tuco, Gale, Hector, Todd, Jane, Combo, Drew Sharp, Spooge, Uncle Jack and quite a few others--dead.  Saul has relocated.  Gretchen and Elliott will never quite feel safe again (they don't really deserve it, but that's how it goes).  Badger and Skinny Pete will go on their merry way.  Ted is recovering.  Marie is ready to be close to her sister again.  Flynn will soon get $9 million dollars to help out himself and his family.  Holly will never personally know her father.  The two biggest question marks are Skyler and Jesse.

Jesse is free, and almost anything is better than what he just lived through.  He doesn't have too much to worry about with the feds, since they've got nothing on him and now it looks like Walt was doing the cooking.  He'll make whatever future he can.  He's shown himself to be talented and hardworking, so he'll probably do okay.

Skyler still has to worry about her prosecution. However, the shootout at the compound, the capture of Heisenberg, the leverage she has in revealing where the bodies are buried and the lack of solid proof that she willingly did anything illegal, should either take the heat off entirely or give her a short sentence.  And when she comes out, she'll discover Flynn is a multi-millionaire.  She may suspect in the back of her mind Walt was behind it, but she'll get over it.


Anonymous Lawrence King said...

I too have no problem with any alleged gaps in the last few episodes.

In fact, if I had any complaint at all, it would be with the chronology gap in the middle of episode 5.08 (the final episode of the previous half-season). Before that episode, Walt's kids were living with their aunt and uncle, Skyler was miserable living with Walt and waiting for him to die, and Walt was just beginning to train Todd and beginning to use methylamine they had stolen from the train. Halfway through the episode, it fast-forwards several months to the point that Walt now has $60 million dollars in cash, and Skyler seems fond of him again: if he quits cooking she will not only allow the kids back home, but will actually be happy living as a rich mother.

I felt that the change in her demeanor needed more explanation. (I also felt that we should have learned more about how Todd reacted to Walt quitting, but that issue was addressed later on indirectly.)

Despite Walt's reputation as a meth kingpin, the only time he actually was successful for an extended period of time was during those unseen months in the middle of 5.08.

12:50 PM, October 02, 2013  
Blogger LAGuy said...

I felt when Walt had all that money (and I'd say it was closer to $90 million) she had learned to live with the routine. She wasn't thrilled with it, but had made her peace with it. But the big moment came in that episode, when she showed Walt all the money, hoping to shock him back to the reality of his situation. And it worked. He decided to quit and it was time to go back to normal, which Skyler was happy about. She also got back something close to the old Walt. (And if Hank hadn't been such a goody-goody they'd still be in that situation.)

The whole show took place over two years. Most of the show is the first year, and as Walt himself put it, for every step forward it's two steps back. He makes money, sometimes huge money, but there's always one problem or another. (If he and Jesse had done their jobs and not done anything else, they could have worked there and made millions--though part of the lesson of the show is you can't get into this dirty business and stay clean, so it's possible if they can't serve him but may hurt him that Gus would have had them killed).

Finally he takes out his greatest rival, Gus, and makes a few big (and sometimes ugly) moves, and has the landscape to himself, so he makes money for, say, half a year. Not a lot of time show-wise (part of one episode) but time-wise, he set up a multimillion dollar business that paid off pretty quickly.

To me the most fascinating thing that was never especially gotten into is just what happened at Grey Matter to make Walt split. Both sides have their story, and Walt sees them as pushing him out or doing him wrong, or something like that, though knowing what we do about Walt I expect there was something about his pride that made him leave.

One thing I left out of this post--what happened to Huell? Last we saw him, he was in a "safe house," warned by Hank not to leave until Hank gets back and it's safe. For all we know, he's still there.

BTW, I'm responding from another computer again. Still don't know how I'll get my old one fixed any time soon.

2:24 PM, October 02, 2013  

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