Well, so much for my theory on the last post. The season finale to Breaking Bad sucked.
(MAJOR SPOILERS follow, obviously. You’ve been warned.)
This show is so much better than a “deus ex machina” ending. This season had been fantastic too, maybe the best season of a television series I had ever seen. Vince Gilligan was really on a roll with this show. The first season was excellent, and somehow, the second season didn’t suffer from the sophomore jinx. It was even better!
Until the finale.
Look, I get the symbolism. I get the implications. Walt, via the course of action he had taken over the season, indirectly set up the plane crash. He gave Jesse the cold shoulder when Combo was gunned down trying to expand their territory. Jesse then turned to smoking crystal, which went unchecked, and Jane soon joined him because Walt just left Jesse to wallow in his own drug-addled stupor. Jane relapses and starts rocking the hard shit, which sinks Jesse even lower. Both plot to blackmail Walt, which later results in Walt not saving Jane from choking on her own vomit when he has the chance. Jane dies, which drops Jesse to rock bottom. And (so conveniently) Jane’s father is an air traffic controller, who goes back to work too early and blanks while directing air traffic. Two planes collide: BOOM! Walt is indirectly responsible for the deaths of several people (not to mention breaking up his family.)
I get that. I understand what Gilligan was showing, that all these small, seemingly inconsequential actions can build up to something huge – butterfly effect, right?
But that’s not what this show is about! Or at least, not as conveniently as things happened in the finale. Yeah, it’s about coincidence. There are logical coincidences on the show. And then there is this random J.J. Abrams crap that shows up for the finale. Except at least that stuff belongs in Abrams’ work.
The way I see it, I have three primary beefs with the finale:
1) AMC and the Breaking Bad creative team completely misled everyone. That’s fine if you just do it in your own show and subvert expectations. But they went out of their way through marketing and advertising to do it. Probably should have seen this coming as “next episode” previews were misleading all season. But to go and quote critics as saying the finale would leave you wincing in pain? Yeah, wincing in pain from how bad it was. There was nothing shocking or upsetting or remotely impactful about the finale. Yet AMC hyped it up like it was going to be the greatest finale ever.
2) None of the introductory teasers for the episodes were of any consequence! They may as well have contained them/it to this one crappy episode. They wasted air time by going in depth about all this crap that’s only marginally relevant to the main story. We get all those shots of the burned teddy bear…who cares? It fell from the sky. Was it really necessary to tease that as much as they did? And the bodybags…they’re from the plane? From something else? They didn’t expand on that at all. Fanboys will say “oh that’s genius, they’re saving the juicy stuff for next season.” And I say that’s crap. They just wrote an ending out of thin air, and had to slap it all together.
3) Deus Ex Machina for a show like Breaking Bad does not work! Yeah, we take certain creative liberties as an audience while watching the show. It’s unlikely a non-smoker who lives a healthy lifestyle like Walt would develop lung cancer. And it’s sure as hell unlikely that timid old bastard would become a drug kingpin with the alter ego Heisenburg. But that all feels harmonious with the story. We’re willing the believe that. The show is enjoyable for it. And most of the developments that emerge from that story are grounded in realism. The series itself is heavily grounded in realism – in their portrayal of building a drug operation from the ground up, the horrors of meth use and the widespreading implications involvement in drug manufacturing/trafficking can have on not only individuals and families, but a community. That’s all great. But a freaking plane crash? Seriously? First of all, there’s no way in hell air traffic control would let Jane’s father come back to work under those conditions. No way. An ATC is one of the most mentally-exhausting occupations out there. And they’re gonna let him come back a week after his daughter his died? Bullshit. Not only that, but the plane just happens to crash over Walt’s house? And the bear just happens to fall in his pool? That doesn’t mesh with this show at all!
I’m pissed. What a great season ruined by an atrocious ending. Breaking Bad has been renewed for a third season (probably a few more to follow, it gets great ratings), and I truly hope Gilligan can find his footing. Because this is starting to feel like the show has jumped the shark. In it’s second season.
I really hope that is not the case.