Monday, September 30, 2013

Reasons why I found Breaking Bad finale underwhelming

By Sati. Monday, September 30, 2013 ,
After Breaking Bad finale was over I was left with immediate "That's it?" thought. While I don't necessarily believe the series finale has to be the best episode of the series, it should at least be one of the best finales that series had. Felina had nothing on Face Off or Full Measures. Hell, it wouldn't even be in my top 20 of the best Breaking Bad episodes.

Don't get me wrong. The episode was fine. The ending was fine. But I expected more. There was plenty of things in finale I did enjoy but it went downhill for me after Walt left Gretchen and Elliot's house. Why? Because the first and only time I was surprised during this finale happened when laser pointers were used.

On twitter and imdb I noticed a lot of people using the words "perfect", "brilliant", "greatest ever" in regards to that finale. I couldn't possible disagree more with each of those statements. Six Feet Under finale - that is a great finale. The Sopranos finale - say what you want about that, people still remember that, still analyze it, still find it either thought provoking and brilliant or infuriating.
Breaking Bad finale in addition to being underwhelming was one thing I never though BrBa episode would be - safe.

Before you get really mad and start calling me a cunt - I thought the episode was solid. I loved, LOVED how Walt was hidden in the frame and the camera slowly revealed him multiple times during this episode. Like the Devil that came to collect. I loved the final moment we saw Jesse. I loved the ambiguity of it - Jesse is happy. Who cares what he does, Alaska, adopting Brock, escaping the cops. He is happy.

I gasped twice during the finale and that is always good. First time with the laser pointers scene which was badass. It would have been better if the hit men thing was true and not just a ruse, but still it was amazing. The second time happened when the machine gun started firing. Realism aside, that was a fantastic scene, and the only epic scene in the whole episode.
The whole episode was beautifully shot and the acting was top notch. There were many amazing scenes especially Walt admitting to Skyler he did all of that for himself and Jesse laughing and crying in the car. But still...it felt off. Something was missing. I cry easily, honestly you show me a puppy rolling around gifset - I'll cry for an hour. I wept for 10 minutes after Six Feet Under finale. I even teared up during Lost's final episode and I consider it to be one of the worst finales ever. I spent so many hours watching Breaking Bad and not a single tear fell from my eyes during that finale.

Here are my problems with it:

1. It was predictable. Literally every single thing in this finale went exactly like the fans of the show thought it would. Previous finales were surprising, they were loaded with all those twists and reveals, we were all screaming "holy shit!" when we saw those planes crashing, we saw Lily of the Valley, we saw Jesse holding a gun. Here everything went exactly as people have predicted.
2. The cold open. The best cold openings in the show were intriguing and we didn't know what was going on. Here it was just Walt sitting in the car. Really? I'd love to see flash forward or a flashback, something connected to Walt's wounded pride being the beginning of it all. Something connected to Grey Matter, something we saw before but we didn't know all the details about it. Something that would bring something new to our knowledge of characters and events.

3. Jesse's fantasy. Woodworking. Really? I know he talked about it before and it was to show Jesse escaping in his mind to something simple and nice, but Jesse lost Andrea, he knows what Walt did in regards to Jane and Brock and they expect me to believe this man's fantasy is not killing Todd or Walt but making boxes like a hippie? Please.

4. The ricin. So after years of ricin being the longest used Chekhov's gun in recent TV history it ends up being used up on standard issue bitch character introduced in season 5? No, no.
5. Walt's trunk. So they check his jacket but they don't bother to check his trunk just in case, I don't know, a machine gun is there?

6. Walt being some sort of Ninja. This guy is the most wanted person in town and he is just walking around the neighborhood, sitting in cafes, you know, whatever?

7. Vince Gilligan doesn't understand his own show. It's clear that he doesn't understand the fanbase, with his insane comments about Skyler and Walt, but wow...he doesn't even get the title. I was sure the last few minutes of second to last episode were full on Heisenberg - that Walt's wounded pride finally made him break bad completely. Instead what I saw in finale was some sort of Heisenberg/hobo Walt hybrid. Too merciful for Heisenberg, too detached for Walt. So-so. Just like that finale was. The show titled Breaking Bad ended on redemption tale note. A safe and forgettable route to take.
8. And if Gilligan claims Walt is such a monster that is one hell of a send off - he gets to secure his family's future, he gets to explain himself to Sky, he even gets to be a  hero like it was some sort of western. Really? As nice as that ending shot was, I read fan ideas that were 100x better than that.
You know why? Because they weren't safe. They were bold and ballsy. That finale wasn't. Walt becoming new Gus, Walt being a destroyed man without anything in prison, Walt going insane like in The Pledge ending - that would have been a send off for a "monster".

9. Let's talk a little before we shoot you. Walt owning people was always about him being few steps ahead and that was what made the show so thrilling. Here he was lucky- they didn't take a look in the trunk, they didn't put his keys somewhere where he couldn't have reached them and they took time to get Jesse instead of shooting him right away. Walter White's genius shouldn't require luck for things to go according to his plan.

10. Carol/Becky lines in conversation. Why? WHY?
11. The unnecessary scenes. Just showing Lydia drink the tea would have been enough. Showing sugar dissolve in the tea was enough to make everyone guess it was ricin. The phone call scene was overkill. I wish that situation was handled more like Lily of the Valley reveal.

12. Jesse's smile. As much as I did like the final moment with Walt and Jesse it was the biggest leap of logic I had to take during finale. Jesse smiling at Walt. What? Yes, Jesse is happy to be free. Yes, Jesse is happy because he killed Todd. If Jesse just knew about Brock poisoning I would have bought him smiling at Walt instead of looking at him like he was (and he was) a guy who killed, manipulated and lied. Walt explained to Jesse that he knew Brock will be fine. BUT what about Jane? Walt told Jesse he let her die. Jesse loved this girl. So you have Jesse knowing about Brock, Jane and being a slave for these guys because of Walt and he SMILES AT HIM? Please.

13. Walt didn't become the King. My biggest gripe with season 5 is that all came crushing down too fast. It was rushed. What that series needed is something between 5A and 5B where Walt really did take Gus's place (like the poster for the season suggested) and he rules the methamphetamine empire as Heisenberg. I would love to see that. For me that final season was so rushed mostly because they just couldn't decide what to do with Walt. At the beginning of 5A he is this incredibly confident guy and in 5B he is either losing it or he is still ahead of everyone. They just couldn't decide. Back and forth, back and forth. And in Granite State the final scene suggested they settled on Heisenberg. And then we are back to ill, weak Walt. All over the place.
14. Todd. I found him to be weak villain to begin with but he reached new levels of stupid here. By all means look at the window and turn your back to the people who want to kill you.

15. The ending. I would have liked to glimpse at Walt's brilliance one last time. A montage of him putting ricin in the packet, Lydia dead on the bed, Jesse's happiness as he drives off, Gretchen and Elliot writing a check, cops finding Jesse's confession which would be a proof he did help Hank and in case he is ever caught giving people hope he will still be fine. Only then show Walt before his end.

Honestly, I think that my perception of the finale was sabotaged by those final minutes of Granite State. I expected something completely different. Even if I predicted what will go down, I was expecting it to go down in much more epic fashion. I didn't think I'll see Walt giving up. I thought he will fight till the very end, pissed off, driven not defeated. I thought that they didn't portray the switch that occurred convincingly - Walt's ambition and pride died too easily. He let it go too fast. At least from what I've seen in this show. The finale would have worked for me if there was several episodes more in this season, or if there was season 6 and that would be its finale. The way things are now I only see it as a tidy conclusion to the great show.
 
Breaking Bad - Felina - 70/100
Breaking Bad, season 5B - 85/100
Breaking Bad, series, overall - 95/100 


I almost never agree with the reviews on The Playlist but I found this one to be top notch.

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32 comments:

  1. Sorry to hear it's underwhelming Sati. Unfortunately I can't comment on the show as I haven't seen it yet. There must be sooo much pressure to end such a beloved show.

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    1. To be fair most people seem to love the finale :) It's hard to pull off a satisfying one - I think the only one people agree that it was perfect is Six Feet Under final episode.

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  2. I couldn't agree more!

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    1. Awesome! for a second there I thought I'll have to deal with 'you're crazy' comments :)

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  3. I could not agree more.

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  4. You are not crazy at all. I did not shed a tear during this finale but I did find it satisfying. But I felt like while they did end the show safe, they did take some logical leaps to get there. Todd turning his back on those who wanted him dead for one. How did Walt get the ricin into the sugar packet? I would agree, it's not as good as Six Feet Under's finale (which was terrific and probably the best show finale in the past 10 or so years) but not as bad as Lost.

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    1. I think Walt studied Lydia a little - perhaps he asked someone who knew the business and seeing how she is a creature of habit he anticipated when the meeting will take place and at which table. Before that he took the packet and manipulated it, I'm sure there are ways to put something in the packet and make it look normal when one has Walt's brain :)

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  5. At least it wasn't "Dexter". What a shit ending.

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    1. I didn't see it but I heard it was beyond awful.

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  6. This is more of a I-can't-think-about-anything-but-Breaking-Bad response, than a You're-crazy post. I definitely see that whole playing it safe. I was expecting brutal carnage and a complete ripping out of my soul. I have to say I'm glad it wasn't because I felt like I couldn't take much more after the past 3 episodes. I think they went with a deeply satisfying finish from my perspective, but its tone was definitely far from what I expected considering how dark this season was. So I am just going to throw out some ideas from your list.

    3 - I loved the fantasy because of the call back to his monologue before at the meeting. It also made me feel a bit more upbeat about the ending because it showed that Jesse still had some sort of pleasant fantasy. It made me feel more optimistic about his getting out of there and actually having a life.

    5 - even if Walt had a gun in his trunk they never would have expected what he did have in there. So what if he has a gun in there? it's not like he'd have time to get it to use it with them surrounding him in the club house.

    6 - I loved it because of how brazen it seemed. at this point he did not give a fuck because he was just going through his last mission. In the cafe I thought he was moving to get into better ear shot so when he actually pulled a chair up to the table I gasped with delight that he was being so bold.

    8 - yeah Walt gets what is in his mind a send off on his own terms, but to anyone else dying from a gun shot wound while you've lost your family and your money it's not really all that great. it just shows how deeply Walt believes in his own motivations at that point which I loved.

    9 - I would argue that Walt has been aided by luck every step of the way. So what if Jane doesn't puke at that moment? What if Gale isn't at his house when Jesse goes there? What if Mike shot Walt before he had the time to act? What if Gus doesn't go to visit Tio or didn't know that Tio had been at the DEA because he hadn't put a tail on him? There was luck present through the whole series.

    13 - how much fun would it have really been to see Walt go through episode after episode of being successful? He got the empire he wanted and then he had to do the same shit every day. It wasn't exciting when everything was going smoothly. That might be why he felt like he could give it up at that point (besides the storage locker filled with cash).

    14 - while Todd wasn't as interesting as Gus, he was so fucking weird and demented that I appreciated his character a lot. The fact that he didn't even care about his family being gunned down and was looking at the window just showed how detached he was from any emotion (besides his creepy crush on Lydia).


    So those are just the thoughts from the perspective of someone happy with the ending. Not trying to change your mind or anything but this is just my two cents. I know it's totally too long but BB tends to make everyone long winded it seems haha.

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    1. The thing is that the kind of 'audience won't take any more' thinking never stopped them before. Here they held off all the possible punches. That kind of strategy never results in good series finale.

      I think it was still unnecessary. Him laughing in the car was enough to show me Jesse still had his innocence and hope.

      They would either take it away or shoot him there. Also the gun was strapped to a machine. Obviously they would have found it suspicious.

      Sure he was but Walt ALWAYS cared about not getting caught. Here he was just lucky he wasn't.

      I just found it to be safe, fan service writing which kinda betrayed what we knew about Walt's personality.

      There was but he never had a plan where luck would be a crucial element. He never had a plan where he allowed things to go this badly. Walt was able to anticipate a lot of events, here in the finale he was just sloppy. He was on the mercy of luck for the first time in the series.

      Were things going smoothly for Gus? And it was a joy to watch him, wasn't it?

      Yeah for me it was just dumb behavior. I wasn't fond of Todd as character at all.

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    2. Oh the writers definitely could have gone for break and pushed it a lot further. It's totally my disposition that made me glad it was a lighter approach. Better, maybe not--but it was more enjoyable for me.

      As far as the trunk, even if he had a weapon in there they wouldn't worry about it since it's not like he would be able to access it. Little did they know...

      I kind of disagree about his plans not depending on luck. The biggest one which I forgot to mention is with Brock. It was a total gamble whether Jesse would just kill Walt before hearing him out or if he would even believe him. Walt took the chance that Jesse would listen to him.

      Gus was a joy to watch because he was a mystery. Completely different element to it from my perspective. Then he became far more interesting when the cartel started going after him.



      BUT HONESTLY, nothing will even beat Six Feet Under's finale so other shows will never be able to feel that satisfying no matter what.

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    3. I get it, but if it traumatized me it would be more memorable :)

      I don't know...if a guy comes to me with business idea and has machine gun in his trunk I'd do something about that.

      He did take a chance but at this point he had manipulated Jesse so many times it was almost a certainty he will be able to do so one more time.

      I would have liked seeing Walt manipulate his way out of spotlight and jail much like Gus did. I thought that was were 5A was heading before the scene where Hank had his epiphany on the crapper :)

      I completely agree. Six Feet Under is absolutely transcendent from start to finish

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    4. "I don't know...if a guy comes to me with business idea and has machine gun in his trunk I'd do something about that."

      I agree with some points. It was a very predictable episode. And the very ending felt like it "stopped" rather than some kind of proper ending. I was underwhelmed, but still felt it was a good episode. One point that confuses me though is:

      "I don't know...if a guy comes to me with business idea and has machine gun in his trunk I'd do something about that."

      They don't really know he has a gun back there. Why would they expect him to have some kind of machine gun contraption set up? He presented himself as desperate for money and they took the plan. They were going to kill him and he really stood no chance, so there wasn't a great reason for why they would search his entire vehicle and put his keys and wallet far away from him.

      Also to be fair... Todd was pretty stupid and dumb for the entire season. When he looked out the window I just assumed he thought Walt must've had some kind of army and he was scared of them and wondered what/who/how many of them there was.

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    5. But if they looked in the trunk they would know. It was so odd and convenieniant they didn't check the trunk. The last time they saw this dude they killed his brother in law. I mean, really, that was just beyond idiotic how easily Walt got in. They know from Todd how brilliant he is. They know he did things other would think were impossible.

      Yeah, but the argument a character is dumb no only here but in other episodes too doesn't really help the show :)

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  7. Couldn't agree more - especially with 15. I was caught off-guard with the peacefulness of it all, too. I don't *feel* like Walter White died. I don't *feel* like the show is over. On one hand, it was a good finale in as far as I feel satisfied with the closure - I wasn't left with too many questions - but it was not memorable at all. It didn't leave me feeling and talking like other finales (BSG, Lost).

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    1. Exactly, it just felt so...calm in the end. I'm not saying the show should end with a twist or a bang but it definitely needed more punches in that finale. Something that would really make the audience breathless like previous finales did.

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  8. Skipping this because of spoilers -- I'm still waiting for the rest of the series to come to Netflix. :) A co-worker of mine also found it underwhelming. It's good to know -- I'll go into it with scaled down expectations.

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    1. Yeah, I was so hyped for the finale and it almost never pays off :(

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  9. I don't know what to say because I really disagree with you. My only point I can make that may make you feel a bit better is that I believe Ozymandias was the "finale" and that Granite State and Felina were a two-part epilogue. The last two shared similar pacing and were not as much used for twists and turns as it was to wrap up everything brilliantly. Too many shows leave too many questions unanswered. Breaking Bad covered all the bases.

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    1. Isn't Huell still in that room. though? :P And they never really explained Grey Matter properly. Watch that scene with Walt telling Gretchen to fuck off - she mentioned some stuff that was never brought to the show again.

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  10. I think the fact that you (and other people) were bothered by many aspects of the finale is a great compliment to the series. The bar was set so high for so long and each of the previous seasons had ended in such dramatic fashion. By comparison, the last episode seemed very lackluster. Yes, I think the plot and dialogue was a little dumbed down and contrived like you mentioned. I would have liked to see the ricin used to greater effect as well as more suspense at Jack's place before the machine gun went off. I was surprised that nobody else in Walt's family got killed. However, I still found it to be a very engaging and mostly satisfying experience for the full 75 minutes. Maybe it should have been a two hour finale. The thing I try to remember, whether it's Breaking Bad, Lost, or Dexter is that it's not my story to tell. If Vince Gilligan is happy with the results, I have to respect that. It doesn't mean I have to like it, but in this case (unlike those other shows), my satisfaction far outweighs my complaints. After all the greatness that came before, I'll gladly accept his conclusion.

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    1. I think the series is still fantastic and I'm almost giving it a 10 (an honor which only Deadwood, Six Feet Under and The Thick of It hold) but the bar was indeed high. A shame that the finale couldn't be as wonderful as previous season's conclusions.

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  11. I didn't really have any issues with the finale. I do agree that the open could have been replaced by a more informative flashback, but everything else worked for me. Also i liked that Walt finally admitted he was doing this for himself,and not his family as he kept claiming

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    1. I really liked that scene with Skyler. Very well done moment.

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  12. There is one great thing that really made the finale so special. The song that was used in the end. I'm a fan of Badfinger and I'm glad Vince Gilligan used "Baby Blue" as the finale in the hopes that people get a chance to hear this severely underrated band. A band that tragically never got the success they could've had or something more as 3 of its members are now gone.

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    1. I really liked the song, I don't get people complaining about it. I thought it was a perfect fit for that ending, especially given the lyrics.

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  13. I think you make a lot of valid points, Sati, particularly with it being a bit predictable and there being a lot of implausible behavior (i.e. Walt walking around town without getting noticed). I still loved the finale though, especially the resolutions for Walt and Jesse. Maybe a bit too fan-friendly, but I don't think I would have done it any differently.

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    1. Thank you! Yeah the resolution for both of them was very satisfying to see.

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