An ending that actually ended: "Breaking Bad" gets it right
In a break with recent television tradition, "Breaking Bad" ended its run Sunday night with a finish that wrapped up major plot points and loose ends to the satisfaction of most every fan I've talked to and most reviewers I've read.
SPOILER ALERT: IF YOU HAVEN'T WATCHED THE FINALE STOP READING. BETTER YET, GET OFF YOUR DUPA AND INGEST IT IMMEDIATELY. HELL, EVEN FOLKS IN NORTH KOREA ARE TWEETING ABOUT IT BY NOW.
Walt dies after assuring that his kids will be taken care of and giving Marie the satisfaction of knowing where her dead husband is decomposing. He also takes out Lydia--always knew those artificial sweeteners weren't good for you--and wipes out the band of Nazis who took his cash. In the process, he freed Jesse who, before driving to freedom, had the pleasure of taking out "dead-eyed, Opie" Todd.
Everything wraps up neatly, with Badfinger's "Baby Blue" playing off one of TV's best dramas ever.
A lot of shows never get to say goodbye--they get ashcanned without being given the dignity of a decent burial. Iconic comedies like "The Dick Van Dyke" show didn't, perhaps because television didn't realize the ratings bonanza finales provide. The earliest memory I have of a big prime time sendoff came when "The Fugitive" wrapped up in the summer of 1967. I vividly remember sitting in front of our old black and white RCA set absorbing every moment of Dr. Kimball's quest to capture the one-armed man who killed his wife.
Still diggin' on William Conrad's three-gonad voice: the phrase "A Quinn Martin production" is part of growing up if you watched TV in the 60's
"Cheers", "MASH" and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" all went off with big, satisfying endings. "Seinfeld" bombed, "Deadwood" never got a chance to settle it's many scores, and while I originally liked the very last "Sopranos", Sunday night's "Breaking Bad" made me re-think things: it takes energy, creativity and guts to create a story arc and, more importantly, a conclusion. Abruptly fading to black the way "The Sopranos" did now seems like a really cheesy way out when compared to the lush, satisfying climax Vince Gilligan gave his viewers this past weekend.
Well, except for one aspect.
The New York Times caught one detail that remains unexplained--what made Walter break up with his "Gray Matter" co-founders, a development that fueled him from the start and triggered his push toward Sunday night's end. True, but it may be an omission that only the wonkiest of "Bad" fans will ruminate on from this point forward. Truth be told, Gilligan admits that if it weren't for a teenage cancer patient/fan, the Gretchen/Elliot angle might not have come up at all.
In all, "Bad's" bye bye is about as close to perfect as I can remember. I cheered as Jesse applied the coup de grace to Todd--he couldn't pull that chain around his neck tight enough, and the sound of snapping bones was music to the ears. There was a tear in my eye as Walt's bloody hand slid down the side of the meth lab.
And Badfinger will never sound the same again.