Farewell, Breaking Bad


Lawrence K. Ho

Breaking Bad cast at the 65th Annual Primetime Emmys.

Last Sunday, the saga of Walter White’s “methspacades” finally came to an end in the series finale of AMC’s hit drama, Breaking Bad.

Bogged down by threat of cancellation, hastily written scripts, and divided fan opinions, few shows ever achieve a truly satisfying ending. With Breaking Bad, series creator Vince Gilligan managed to break this trend, shattering all expectations and crafting a final season that delivered on every level. Perhaps most importantly, the final season of Breaking Bad rewarded loyal fans with a concrete resolution to all aspects of its multilayered story.

Breaking Bad’s popularity exploded over the last year, with the series finale garnering three times the viewers of its previous finale. Spread through both word of mouth and widespread media coverage, its viewership grew to a whopping 10.3 million during the final episode. The proliferation of streaming sites aided this growth, as many new fans binge-watched the series on Netflix in preparation for the final season.

Throughout its entire run Breaking Bad has drawn immense critical acclaim, but in the final few seasons it has reached near-legendary status. With its fifth season currently sitting as the highest rated of all time on Metacritic, critics are already hailing it as “one of television’s greatest series.” To add to its numerous accolades, just a week before its finale, Breaking Bad’s Anna Gunn won an Emmy for her portrayal of Skyler White and the show itself won Outstanding Drama Series for the first half of its final season.

As good as it was, the final episode is just a small part of the show’s impact. Walter White’s slow, villainous descent enthralled viewers for years with its dark tension. The finest of television’s many anti-heroes, he embodied the concept of a sympathetic criminal while simultaneously showcasing the creative potential of television. It is inevitable that Breaking Bad will be remembered as one of the highlights of the so-called current “Golden Age of Television”, and countless dramas in the future will be compared to it. Ultimately, the finale of Breaking Bad served as a fitting end to an already phenomenal series, and the final chapter in one of the most addictive stories of the modern era.