Breaking Bad: The Show of Change


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I would like to preface this article by saying that this article will be filled with spoilers. If you have any intention of watching Breaking Bad or have yet to finish the series PLEASE stop now. I really do not want to ruin anything for anyone because I will go in depth on the final 3 episodes and my overall thoughts on the series. I know this is not a movie, but this is a show which has a reason to be a show and I shall explain why. With that out of the way let me begin.

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– The Show –

The show breaking bad started off back in 2008, when it aired it’s first episode. Created by Vince Gilligan, he wanted to create a show where he turned Mr. Chips into Scarface and see how far he could take it. He admitted himself that he believed that once they saw the darkness and evil that was about to erupt from this man, that the fans would stop watching. Yet to his surprise the fans held on to the ride and went along with them.

Through the course of the show we are riding along the dysfunctional life of Walter White. A man who has been dealt a bad hand, but abruptly decides to take his life in his own hands. Now in the show he sees Chemistry which is his passion as the Study of Change rather than matter. This is the whole philosophy of the show in my opinion. The show is the show of change. It went through this dramatic process and changed completely. Not just plot wise but also in the skill of the cast and crew. You can feel the difference. It started off with not as much support and suddenly gained this huge fan base which  enabled them to go on and beyond their own expectations.

Now I usually do not enjoy TV shows for a couple of reasons. I am a person who enjoys closure. Not really meaning I like things with closed endings, I just want something to end. Which is why I enjoy movies so much, they have a clear beginning middle and end most of the time. As for a lot of TV shows they usually start of great with this idea in mind, but slowly start to go off the path and turn into something completely different. They loose what they had first intended. Many shows are great examples like Lost and the recently ended Dexter. They just weren’t complete. On the other hand breaking bad is complete, it is finite as is chemistry. It starts at point A and ends in Z. We don’t want breaking bad to start at A and end in 34 or XYZ. Obviously though you can’t please everyone but in my opinion as a whole show it is one of the strongest. My reasoning is it  uses it’s status as a show and multiple episodes to actually allow for character development in an insane way as well as plot development. You look at the best shows like Sopranos and recently House of Cards, they all accomplish the need of actually developing the plot and using each episode as a step to get to the end. There doesn’t need to be any flat surface in the steps of a show, it should work for a better end and progression.  For reference if anyone is interested Kevin Spacey has an excellent speech during the MacTaggart Memorial that you should all watch on TV Shows.

– The Ending –

Now obviously I explained that it contains spoilers and if you are still reading and haven’t watched please stop. Okay anyway, let us continue. Now as for the ending in my personal opinion the last 3 episodes are the “ending” to breaking bad. Think of it this way, if it was a book, “Ozymandias” would be the final chapter of the book, and the last 2 episodes would be the Epilogue.  That is of course completely my opinion and I will elaborate on it of course.

In Ozymandias we see the end of Walter White, it was the moment that cannot be undone. Everything before that there was a chance that he could continue without being caught or exposing himself. Nevertheless, during Ozymandias Walter White saw his end and it was clear that it was never going to be the same. We then see the episode Granite State a week later which shows us the aftermath of Walt’s “end”. It is has this sad and somber tone throughout the episode that Walt has given up. Inside of Walt lies two very distinct people. The Walter White that everyone has known for so long, and the strong Heisenberg. During this episode we see Walt trying to become Heisenberg again as he has throughout the entire show. Through the show we see the many sides of Walter White. As Walt pretending to be Heisenberg, or Heisenberg pretending to be Walt. These conflicts are what made him as a character. During Granite State we see this battle every few minutes. He seems to have given up on life, seeing no solution while Heisenberg wants to leave and make one. It shows the battle of everyone really, of either playing with a bad hand or inevitably folding and staying out of it. However at the end of the episode we see him helpless at a bar waiting for his demise when he looks at the TV. We see the Schwartz’ talking about Walt like he was this poor and kind man that they lost. This is the moment when we finally see Heisenberg emerging again. The facial expression shows that Walt is gone for good, and here he decides to take it into his own hands. As for Felina now, it was a very neat way of wrapping things up. Some say it was too “tidy” for the show breaking bad but I sort of disagree. Yes it did tie up every loose end of the show leaving it with a very finite ending. That is what I believe it deserved. I will explain in the next section of a full analysis of the last three episodes individually.

– Ozymandias Analysis – 

This to me was the best episode I have ever seen on any TV show period for so many reasons. The amount of plot development they were able to get in this episode. The incredible directing that made so many little stuff meaningful. To start it of, the beginning where it showed Walt and Jesse during their first cook. We see something that we never saw during the first season. Walt goes up a hill and calls Skyler.  Now the shot that comes after it was actually really important because it ties in to a later shot.  The shot of the knife being way more focused than it should, it is as if it is what we have to see most out of the shot.

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Now the later scene when Walt comes in the house and Jr finally knows the truth. We see a similar shot but with another object in the mix. Both the phone and the knives are in focus. With that shot we see that Skyler here has a choice of both of those things. She could only choose one and must live with her choice. As seen below.

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Alright back to the flashback in the beginning. I feel like it was very important to show it in particular in the beginning of this episode. As i mentioned Ozymandias notes the beginning of the end in terms of the show. The flashback not only signifies the site of the first cook will be the site that the end will commence, but also in a show of lies it shows the first lie. That phone call to Skyler was the first time Walt lied to Skyler to be able to cook. It may not be in specific the “first” lie but it was the first of many that mattered with his cooking.

After that obviously the still shot changes and all the objects fade out and the present day shooting fades which begins the episode.  We see instantly Gomez is dead and Hank is wounded. As Jack approaches Hank and Walt watches, Walt sees that his line is finally about to be crossed. I feel like this is important to the series because each person in life draws their line in a different place and they try not to cross it. For all the bad things that Walt has done throughout the entire series he has yet crossed his line. His line is his family, and at this moment we see that he is willing to give away everything to stop his line being crossed. His family has been involved in all of this, but he has never lost someone because of it.  Hank being the man he is knows for a while that it is over, and stares death in the face. Mid sentence he is shot. Walt falls to the ground as he knows that it is it, it is the end. One of his family has died because of his actions. In his fall we see a parallel between Walt and Gus. Though different positions and stories there are so many similarities between them. Which is why they both knew they couldn’t both continue in this journey. The fall is similar to Gus at the loss of his brother, we see both of them now have fully broken down. Behind there rough personas is still a human being and we witness it here.

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After this, he gets his money stolen, his brother in law murdered, he stands up and returns to who he truly is again. He reveals where Jesse is, and the Nazi’s decide to take him with them to “interrogate” then kill as Walt wanted. Still after everything that happened to him a Jesse. Walt simply comes up to him and tells him that he watched Jane die, and that he could have saved her. This was such a powerful statement, showing Jesse how much bad this man did yet he does not even care about it.

I wont go into everything but what I feel is important to analyze. After seeing Jesse as a tortured meth slave and Jr knowing about his dad. We see the fight in the house which is a big turning point in the story. Jr even though he has known for a while abruptly goes against his dad. He feels like he has the task of protecting his family from the person trying to protect the family. As Walt rises from the fight and screams “What’s the matter with you? We’re a family” Reality hits him. You see it through the acting of Cranston how he was not fully able to do to his family what he wanted and go away peacefully.

Finally the most important thing to talk about is the phone call and how detailed Walt’s words were. It was basically him pulling Skyler out of trouble for the very last time. He knew the police were listening over and made it certain that Skyler had nothing to do with it. He even realized that he cannot even be with Holly anymore and had to leave everything behind.

– Granite State Analysis –

Now this to me is the beginning of the epilogue in my opinion, and the after math of the end. The title of the episode obviously having a double meaning of both New Hampshire being known  as the Granite State, and for it to be a synonym of Grey Matter. I feel like Grey Matter plays such an important role in the plot of breaking bad. Walt was so brilliant at Chemistry and so proud yet had his idea taken away by people he knew. In this episode it all came around full circle in the end when he knew that blue meth was still out there. He was not going to let it happen again to him. He worked so hard to build this legacy and this craft. “What does a man do Walter? A man provides for his family. And he does it even when he’s not appreciated, or respected, or even loved. He simply bears up and he does it. Because he’s a man.” -Gustavo Fring. Walt’s motivation for building his drug empire was driven by his past with Gray Matter Technologies and Gretchen Schwartz, but his goal was to provide for his family. Throughout the series his motivation and goal have repeatedly come into immense conflict with each other. This also ties in to the last scene of the series which I will explain later.

There is not as much to dissect in this episode compared to the last but there are still parts I wish to talk about for a while. First, Saul and Walter’s confrontation. As Saul and Walt are talking and things are not going the way Walt wanted. Heisenberg emerges again in front of Saul and you see the absolute fear in his eyes and the way his body language is. This fear has been built up through all the seasons so that he is able to have that affect on everyone he meets. Though in the end Saul finally stands up for himself and just leaves Walt there, as he goes to his new life.

I will first talk about Jesse’s heartfelt loss before I start with Walter. Jesse is now beaten and destroyed. A person whom he saw as the father he never had poisoned a kid, killed Mike his friend, and watched his love die. He is completely broken and feels like he cannot loose anything else in life. He tries to escape and shows his true self how impulsive Jesse is. He is the polar opposite of Walt who usually plans things out. He does not wait and gets caught at the gate. He wants to die, he thinks he has nothing left in life. That isn’t enough though. They take him to Andrea’s house and kill her in front of his eyes. That scene was one of the toughest scenes to ever watch in Breaking Bad. You see him completely shattered. I have to praise Aaron for his phenomenal acting, he really showed us how that level of pain looks.

Now I will dissect Walter and his conflicts in this episode. This episode is the best example of the constant struggle between Walter White and Heisenberg. Two distinct characters battling each other every step of the way. During the beginning when he first came to the log house we see Walt immediately trying to become Heisenberg even if he is not. He puts on the hat and paints the persona that he really is Heisenberg. Though, every time he goes towards the door he can see that he is just Walter pretending to be Heisenberg as seen below.

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He stays as Walter White for the next few months, paralleling the loneliness that he used to face on a day to day basis.  He feels very helpless and angered that he is not in control of the situation. Heisenberg wants to again play his hand no matter how bad the cards are, but Walter White is still hesitant. You can see how low he has come to when he offers 10 thousand dollars to the guy to stay with him for one more hour. I love this fluctuation of Walt’s character during just one episode let alone the span of the entire season.

After all of this Heisenberg finally gets one up on Walter and has the courage to leave the log house. He is then beaten down again after his son still doesn’t accept him and hates him. He goes to the bar and sits hopeless waiting for the police to arrive. Then the TV switches to the Schwartz’ talking about Walt and Grey Matter. They state that he had nothing to do with it and that the sweet innocent man is gone. He finds out as well that blue meth is still out there. Both of these elements tie in beautifully as his meth empire is going around full circle and he is going to loose it like he lost Grey Matter. This is when Walt finally turns back to full on Heisenberg in this episode. It also triggered the intro music as the police came in which was just phenomenal and so thrilling.

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 – Felina Analysis – 

The final pages of the epic tale of Walter White. Vince decided here to tie up everything together, and leaves no loose ends. Now I have read some opinions online and some people have stated that the ending was too tidy for Breaking Bad. How everything went according to plan. I kind of disagree, I don’t believe “everything” went according to plan. This point also brought up another with some people that a lot of stuff depend on Walt suddenly being lucky. I think this is more good than bad. The reason is throughout the entire show Walt has been powered by being dealt a bad hand of luck. The scene that is often not noticed is the scene in the car. The keys fell from the top visor and some people complained at how over the top his luck has become. For me though, if you look at Walt it was one of the few times he has been humble in a very long time.

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Now for the scene with the Schwartz’. Let me begin by saying that the directing was so phenomenal and I give extreme praise towards Vince for that. The perspective that he gave the audience was just perfect and couldn’t have been done any better. Walt comes to Gretchen and Elliot as a plan to finally be able to get his money to his family, or what is left of it. He obviously threatens them with the aide of two “hit men”. We later find out that it was actually just Badger and Skinny Pete with a couple of lasers. Nevertheless I was so happy to see them in the last episode. They are the only two constants in the show. They are the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of breaking bad. To add to that their only dialogue as well was actually a great interpretation of the entire moral of the show.

Badger: You know, I don’t exactly know how to feel about all this.

Skinny Pete: For real, yo. Whole thing felt kind of shady,you know, like morality-wise?

Badger: Totally.

(Walt holds up the money) Walt: How do you feel now?

(They take the money) Skinny Pete: Better. Badger: Yeah, definitely improving.

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The next scene I will talk about is the conversation between Skyler and Walter. Such a beautiful and important part of the plot and development. Walt comes to Skyler to finally say a proper goodbye. He knows that tonight is the last night of his life, he is just there to finally lay everything to rest. Apart from the great shot of Walt being behind the column, the dialogue is what stood out. One was when Skyler tells him he looks awful. Walt simply replies, yeah but I feel good. This shows how he is able to accept his end in anyway it comes out. The second and most important scene in the entire finale in my opinion is when Walt admitted the truth. He finally admitted to Skyler and more importantly to himself that he did everything to himself. That he himself enjoyed it and didn’t continue on lying. I never realized how important this scene was until I actually saw it. You could finally see Skyler breathing and being in relief since a very long time. He had finally been totally truthful in his statement since the start of all of this. It feels like she saw something else, she saw the man she once married. Like when she allowed him to see Holly. I feel like that statement was enough for her to be relieved now and live on breathing again. That scene alone was one of the most outstanding moments of the show.

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Moving along to the final confrontation. A lot people say that the way he disposed of everyone was very neat and tidy. It just went according to his own terms this time. Not everything though in my opinion went to his plan. I truly believe that he went there with the intention of killing Jesse with everyone else. Vince also talked about that in the last episode of Talking Bad. He explained that in his mind the ending was kind of like the popular western The Searchers. In The Searchers the main character is hunting down this woman who he intends to kill. At the end of the movie when he gets to her. He sees her imprisoned and punished, so he can’t morally kill her so he ends up freeing her. This is the same with Walt in my opinion. I feel like he went in wanting to kill Jesse along with everyone to fully tie up all loose ends. When he sees Jesse tied up and tortured he is just not able to do it so inevitably he saves him. He kills off Jack mid sentence which was similar to how Jack killed Hank which I found interesting. Jesse was able to finally get rid of Todd even though he does not want to kill anyone, he couldn’t resist taking him out. The confrontation later where Walt gives Jesse the gun and asks him to do it. I believe here its like Walt knows he will die one way or another. He wants Jesse to at least have the chance, to keep it under Jesse’s terms. Jesse refused in the end which I believe ties in to a moment in the middle of the season where he tells Walt that he will never do anything he wants of him again. Jesse has had it with Walter and wants to leave him in his own death. Jesse gets in the car and is finally free. This is a moment to remember honestly because for once he is the one to decide where he goes. As seen below.

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To end it all we see Walt’s death. Walt is finally at peace with himself, though not perfect, he was able to do what he intended. He goes down to the meth lab in the barn house. He looks around, and here we see how Walt is finally proud of what he did. It is his, it hasn’t been taken away like Grey Matter. He looks upon the gas mask and a song by the name of Baby Blue starts playing which I feel was a great touch. Walter White falls and the camera pans out from top and we see how he is finally dying on his own terms in peace. It may not have pleased everyone, but in my opinion it was a very fitting ending to Breaking Bad. I will miss the show dearly which did so many stuff right.

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Thank you for reading, please send feedback if you feel like it.

^^

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    • Abdulaziz Albannai
    • November 3rd, 2013

    Been looking to discuss the final episodes in great detail for far too long! Really thorough, and the attention to the symbolism is top notch.
    Completely agree with you. Ozymandias was the best thing in all of human history, the internal conflict in Granite State was truly deep and thrilling to watch. The final episode did the show justice. If Walt had lived, his life would have been so empty after all he’s been through.
    There is just one thing though. In Felina, they show a flashback where Jessie is in a workshop crafting a box. He mentioned the box a few seasons back when he was in rehab, and how he worked very hard on it, only to trade it for weed in the end. But I don’t get why they chose to show us this memory in the Final episode.

    • Hey~^^
      Really glad you enjoyed the article 😛 happy that someone wanted to see an in depth discussion on the final few episodes. Uhm for the woodworking thing, that question was answered in the final episode of Talking Bad, which was a talk show which comes out after each episode of the final season of breaking bad. I think Aaron Paul and Vince talk about that for a few minutes I dont remember what is was to be honest but you can check it out ^^
      Anyway thanks again for your support in reading!

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