I may forever curse myself as being late on the ball in regards to TV programmes – especially the good ones. People can rant and rave over something for all of the best reasons conceivable, however I still manage to be predominantly sceptical about whether the opinions of Cyberspace, Twitterverse and Criticopia are actually worth believing. The appeal of highly lauded series such as The Wire, True Blood and Lost were, erm, lost one me, so I never tend to get in on any buzz or hype.
As a result of this, I no doubt miss out on many a damn good show, however after paying out for Netflix (the viewing material vs. the monthly fee of £6 makes it an investment that Sky, Virgin etc will never be able to match), my boyfriend and I compiled a long list of things we now have little excuse not to watch. Top of that list was Breaking Bad.
Contrary to the above, prior to the hubbub surrounding the show’s finale late in 2013, I had barely heard the phrase ‘Breaking Bad’ whispered anywhere, but all of a sudden there it was, absolutely inescapable.
The premise of the show alone is one that would make my screenwriting lecturer weep; when high school chemistry teacher Walter White is diagnosed with lung cancer, her turns to producing and selling crystal meth to secure his families future. There you go, hooked in 25 words! You cannot deny that the idea is more than intriguing, but many an intriguing idea has been let down by a substandard cast and a lacklustre writer. It is important then, to stress that every cog in this well oiled machine is worth its value in gold – cast, crew, editors and writers included. The show quickly carves itself a niche in plot structure, implementation, and delivery that is distinctly identifiable as ‘Breaking Bad’. Season 2 is a perfect example; the abstract set up of flash forwards at the beginning to each episode leave the viewer striving to discern what on earth the outcome will be (and the true meaning of the damned pink teddy bear), and when the plot point is finally unveiled, it ends up being something so quizzical yet also bafflingly shocking that you can’t help but just sit there non-plussed as the credits roll.
Might I add that that is just Season 2. We’re in for a 5 season run here, and whilst that is definitely no lifelong commitment, there are still many better and more impressively conceived things to come. Season 3 took Season 2 by the scruff of the neck and shook it where it threatened to be flagging, introducing sinister and captivating new characters (Gustav Fring, I’m looking at you) and winding the cord so tightly that by the time the tension of Season 3 finally snapped in the middle of Season 4, it can only be described as a relief on the poor nerves! This is edge of the seat stuff, and whilst Season 5 does not quite manage to maintaing the relentlessness of the previous two seasons because of a large factor that I almost typed which would have ben a major plot point – kudos to me for preventing that! – it makes up for it all with one episode.
Ozymandias. A poised and flawlessly paced act of theatrical perfection. Written by Moira Walley-Beckett and directed by Rian Johnson (director of Brick and the mind-boggling Looper), together the pair strike the fuse of a ticking-time-bomb of a three episode ending better than any of us viewers could have conjured from our own imaginations. You enter this episode as an emotional wreck for events that you feel will no doubt pass, and – 45 minutes later – when the closing credits roll, you are left shocked, dazed, emotionally wounded, and half the person you were before. So rare is a piece of film this emotionally raw that it has been given a 10/10 on IMDb, and as so many loose plot ends woven over the previous 59 episodes begin to be tied, it marks the beginning of an end, for whilst each of us knew that the good times could never last, the picture painted before us is so ominously stark that it destroys every last shred of hope that anything could be tied up in a fully satisfying way.
Of course, I can’t really do the show any justice at all in writing about it here; there is only so much I can say without breaking into spoilers which – whilst they may not mean anything now – you will most certainly want to stab me for when you begin to watch the programme. What I will say is that the cast prove themselves time and again, with the two leads – Bryan Cranston as Walter White and Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman – portraying such an immense level of character growth that the two are almost unrecognisable as the chemistry teacher and weed-puffing high school drop-out that began the series.
Whilst I’ve said all I feel I can in overall praise for the Breaking Bad (whilst some deaths may be shocking, there aren’t any bad points), I’m instead going to turn to the lasting legacy of the show….
Yes, that’s a Heisenberg cup. And with merch this good, who needs a different fix?
Have you seen Breaking Bad? If you can manage to discuss it whilst refraining from spoilers – what did you think?
PS. Ozymandias was a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley about the Egyptian Pharaoh of the same name. It is most definitely worth the read, whether you like poetry or not.