Logan Burtch-Buus

AMC’s teacher turned meth-dealer drama, “Breaking Bad”, will be wrapping up its final season this August. Fans of the long running show will finally see how Walter and Jesse’s stories end at the conclusion of the fifth season.

For those unfamiliar with the hit show, you have a few weeks to soak up the previous four seasons. “Breaking Bad” follows the story of Walter White, played by Bryan Cranston of “Malcom in the Middle”, a high school chemistry teacher. When Walter’s diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer at the show’s opening, he turns to a life of crime. Walter uses his extensive chemistry knowledge  to help one of his ex students, Jesse Pinkman, cook methamphetamine in their RV. The show quickly takes off on a nonstop ride as the risks only get higher and higher for the two unlikely meth cookers. While Walter is looking to support his handicapped and pregnant wife, Jesse is just looking to score the best drugs he can. The two actors’ on screen chemistry creates a truly remarkable dynamic as White and Pinkman learn what being a drug dealer is all about.

Breaking Bad has received widespread acclaim as one of the best television dramas of all time, a title the series strongly contends for. Walter starts the series a beat-down, defeated man with little hopes in his immediate future as the world around him comes crashing down. After being diagnosed with stage three lung cancer, Walter realizes that once he is gone, there will be no one to watch over his family.  A panicking Walter connects with ex student Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), the two quickly learn that the criminal life isn’t their ideal line of work. Within two hours the first murder occurs, and the viewer realizes that this show is way more than it appears to be. 

“Breaking Bad” creator and executive producer, Vince Gilligan, has been quoted saying that the show will “Turn Mr. Chips into Scarface”. This proclamation was made in the initial pitch that Gilligan made to the execs at AMC. Gilligan has held true to his word. In the beginning of the series, viewers see Walter as a man down on his luck in the worst of ways. Struggling to survive in the face of a life altering diagnosis, Walter is the ultimate anti-hero. You hate to love him, cooking an illicit substance in your RV doesn’t seem like a characteristic of a hero, but Cranston’s portrayal of Walter White leaves the viewers awed.  The days of Hal from “Malcom in the Middle” are long in the rear view as Cranston makes real the struggles of an everyday man going to the extremes to secure a future. 

The hit show hasn’t settled well with all viewers, though. “Breaking Bad” has frequently crossed what is one of the few remaining taboos in American television, violence towards children. Walter has on more than one occasion dealt harm to a child as a means to an end. While some called the show despicable for showing such actions against children, many praise Gilligan’s willingness to push these characters past the realm of everyday normal life.  “Breaking Bad” in itself slowly becomes an addiction as the hours roll by, episode by episode. Every season, Walter learns more and more about the criminal life, making more significant decisions as his influence and business grows. The man who chained a drug dealer up in his basement out of panic in the first season has what it takes to knock off an international connected cartel member by the fourth.  The show becomes something you hate that you love. The tragic story of Walter and Jesse is going nowhere good, that much is obvious. The question now becomes how, how does Walter’s story wrap up?

Fans of the show have continued to enable Walter as the man continues down his dark path. The once anti-hero is now a monster reminiscent of Tony Soprano near the end of “The Sopranos”. Viewers have watched the well mannered, likeable character  grow into an insatiable monster. The addiction is watching “Breaking Bad” and there is no cure. Get hooked on the show now, as the series finale will be airing Sept. 29.

(1) comment

John Flanagan

It is typical of our time that such sordid themes and plots draw wide acclaim and fascinate a public that no longer wants wholesome entertainment. If this is what most Americans want today....shows like this one and the Soprano's, then we are not much better than the cheering audience at the Roman Coliseum in the days when gladiators killed Christians for fun.

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