I’ve held my tongue out of respect for the brilliance of the first four seasons of Breaking Bad but I found Season 5 especially the last eight episodes very uneven.
A big problem was the pacing rather than let the story arc go at its own pace like the brilliant Gus Fring Season 4 events culminating in Face Off, it felt that too much was jammed into too small a period of time. Characters were not given enough air time and then elevated in importance without us truly understanding them. At times, the show also moved too slowly – Hank and Jesse’s attempts to catch Walt for example could’ve been tighter. I think the fifth season would have been better played out over two seasons instead of one.
That being said the finale accomplished its task. All important loose ends were wrapped up and we had closure. There were many things I liked about the final episode – The machine gun trick, the fate of Lydia, one last appearance of Badger and Skinny Pete and especially the final scene between Walt and Skyler where he finally admits this was all about his ego. This was one of the most emotionally devastating and also satisfying scenes in the whole series.
However, there were also things I didn’t like about the finale – I still would like to know what exactly happened with Walt’s relationship with Gretchen and with Elliott and Grey Matter. I feel this is Walt’s rosebud – the key to his personality, his motivation. I also would have liked a longer confrontation between Jesse and Walt. Not necessarily hugging and crying and forgiveness but some admission from Walt about how he manipulated Jesse and maybe more cathartic anger from Jesse.
Many scenes were of course reminiscent of earlier scenes. That’s the genius of Breaking Bad – the use of foreshadowing and symbolism. In the fifth season, things moved so quickly we sometimes didn’t have time for that.
There were many fake spoilers circulating around the Internet the last few months – on IMDB, on Reddit. Most of them were a lot bloodier and darker than what actually happened. Some of these were even better than the real episodes for precisely that reason. At its heart Breaking Bad was the most moralistic of shows. Actions have consequences and violence tends to spiral out of control catching innocents as well as those who deserve punishment. In the end, Walter deserved perhaps some violence close to home. In particular, killing off Skyler would have made a lot of sense. It would have been a better fate for her than the one bedroom apartment despite her great last scene with Walt.
Here are some of my previous comments on Breaking Bad