Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Life

September 23, 2013

Saying goodbye to 'Breaking Bad'

The tale of chemistry teacher turned dying cancer patient turned meth kingpin draws to a close Sunday night starting at 9 p.m. on AMC.

For five seasons, in "Breaking Bad" time starting from Walter White's 50th birthday and presumably ending sometime around his 52nd birthday, fans of the show have been drawn to the saga of a seemingly good guy who 'breaks bad' in order to help his family.

Nearly every aspect of the show is perfect. From the breathtaking canvas of the New Mexico desert to a flawless ensemble cast to expertly written dialogue, the show never misses the mark.

'Breaking Bad' also never seemed to waste any time on unimportant subplots or weird tangents. I guess you can't afford to when your main character is dying of cancer.

For all of it's triumphs, I think the show's soul comes from Bryan Cranston's portrayal of Mr. White.

Since the show's beginning, many have marveled at how Cranston portrays a man who goes from a seemingly meek father, husband and teacher to the sinister Heisenberg.

I've never looked at it that way. I think the beauty of Cranston's performance and the way Walt is written, is that he was never a good guy. I don't see the show as a good guy turning bad. I think Walt is and always has been a sociopath.

In his earlier life, he was unable to stick with Gray Matter. That company would have made him more money than he ever could have made as Heisenberg. He let his own bloated ego matched with a world of insecurities drive him away.

As a teacher he seems unattached and ineffectual.

He feels unappreciated for his genius. Put upon by those who he sees as less intelligent. And that's pretty much everyone.

I am drawn to the scene in season 1, Walt and Skyler take Walt Jr. to buy some clothes. At the store a group of teens are making fun of Walt Jr.'s cerebral palsy. Walt becomes enraged and brutally attacks one of the boys.

Some see this as a man, recently given a death sentence, nearing his breaking point.

I see this as the first sight of Heisenberg, Walt's Id.

'Breaking Bad' isn't the story of the birth of a sociopath. It's a story of that sociopath becoming fully formed.

As for this Sunday, I don't know what's going to happen though I have my theories.

I'm not going to get too caught up on the ending. Some shows end better than others. I tend to be partial to the way "Friday Night Lights", "Six Feet Under" and "The Larry Sanders Show" ended.  But even great shows (The Sopranos) have endings that may not have met the lofty standard they set.

I'm also not going to get caught up in whether "Breaking Bad" is the greatest show of all time. That conversation is fun with buddies at a bar but that's it. To have a serious conversation about that seems silly. It's far too subjective.

In real time, "Breaking Bad" provided less than 65 hours of television. But like all great works, be they art, film or literature, the enjoyment and meaning derived from them will last a lifetime.

When I think about "Breaking Bad" I wonder about myself. What series of events would cause me to act as brazenly as Walt. Am I capable of doing a fraction of the thing’s he done?

No matter what happens Sunday night, I have adopted a mantra, scrawled on the White family's living room wall after the house has been seemingly condemned: 'Heisenberg lives'

Are you a fan of "Breaking Bad"? Do you have thought's on the show's finale?

Email me at daniel.riordan@goshennews.com or follow me on Twitter @DRiordan_TGN and we can talk about the show.

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