Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Breaking Bad: The final countdown

Shell shocked is how I feel right now. I just watched Season 5 Episode 14 of Breaking Bad from between my fingers that were clasped for most of the episode over my eyes and clutching my head. If you aren't up to date with the show then I strongly suggest you stop reading this right now as here will be spoilers! We are now 2 episodes away from the finale and the latest episode titled Ozymandias is sure to go down in history as one of the best bits of TV ever written.

Taking its title from a sonnet (thanks Wikipedia) whose central theme is the 'inevitable decline of all leaders', this episode was an emotional roller coaster of the most terrifying kind. Starting with the blistering cliff hanger of the previous episode where all the central players ended up facing off against one another with far too many guns thrown into the mix, it wasn't long before a much beloved character was dead in the dust.


Walter White has descended over five series from family man and high school chemistry teacher to meth dealer, murderer, drug lord and utter, utter bastard. Creator Vince Gilligan has stated that he wanted to write a show where the protagonist gradually became the antagonist. Over the five series, Walt has become more and more morally questionable and despite staying true to his family man values (at least where his own immediate family is concerned) he has become a truly repugnant figure by the end of the fourth season (if not before).


The problem with Walt is that he is still in many ways the protagonist and everything he has done, it could be argued has been done for his family. OK so a lot was just to save his own ass too, but he has always had a strong desire to protect and provide for his wife and children. Most viewers will likely have been rooting for him throughout even as evil has frequently overcome him.

However Walt has become increasingly arrogant, ruthless, scheming and just damn hard to like. The turning point for me was when I realised he had poisoned the child at the end of series 4. Until then I had been rooting for him to come out on top against the sinister and terrifying Gus. As soon as Gus was defeated and there was no antagonist to Walt's 'protagonist', I realised just what I'd been rooting for and quickly shifted sides. Or wait was it earlier? Was it when Walt forced Jesse to murder Gale in order to save their skins? I'm not sure.


Series 5 for me has just been about hoping that Jesse gets as far away from Walt as possible and seeing that Walt is brought to justice. I have started to hate Walter White. I have started to root for Hank. I have started to feel much more sympathy for Jesse who I so often thought of in the past as stupid and a total liability.

But still, thanks to the incredible performance of Bryan Cranston there are these odd moments where I (and I'm sure most of us) find myself empathising with Walt again. In this last episode he failed to save Hank, dropped Jesse right in the shit and stole his own child from her mother. But when he pleads for Hank's life, breaks down in tears and appears to save Skyler I see that little sliver of good in him again. It is, as I said earlier, an emotional roller coaster. Never did I think the show could get much darker but seeing poor Flynn/Junior watching as his parents fought with a knife was seriously distressing TV. And then there is the fate of Jesse to think about.


With only two episodes to go, Breaking Bad is destined to get darker and to go down in history as one of the greatest dramas ever put on screen (cinema or TV). There is hope in how Walt left Holly at a fire house but I'm still not sure if he was saving Skyler through his final phone call or simply distancing her from what else he is about to do. As for Jesse I guess as long as he is alive there is still some hope. I'm still gutted Hank is gone and as much as Walt tried to help, he deserves to be punished for his part in this.

My question for Breaking Bad fans is when did you stop rooting for Walt or are you still hoping he's going to come out on top? Also if you fancy leaving a prediction, how do you think Breaking Bad is going to end?

One more thing... how f**king cool is this?


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