The greatest TV series of all time ends with an almighty bang.
The misleadingly titled 'Final Season' is in fact, Season 5 Part 2 containing the 8 episodes shown in 2013.
From the opening scene of the pilot to the closing shot of the finale, I can honestly say no TV series has ever had such an effect on me as Breaking Bad.
These final 8 episode contains some of the best of the run, with scenes that made me feel sick with the tension and scenes that made me stay awake at night thinking about what I had just watched.
Each and every episode in this run is satisfying, with each feeling like a series finale. The quality and the pacing is THAT good. Now if I had to nitpick, its that the series peaks with the third last episode.
The masterclass that is Ozymandias - currently sitting at a rare perfect 10 on IMDB, this is the finest 50 minutes of television ever produced.
The next episode, Granite State, is one of the oddest in the show, bridging the gap before we finally catch up the the flash forwards.
The last episode of Breaking Bad, Felina, is excellent in almost everyway except for the fact that you can literally write a checklist of what will happen in it. The show cornered itself at the final hurdle and everything that happens is it can be called in advance. Its satisfying and as good as any series finale, but it suffers a *little* bit from being too well tied up in a neat little bow.
The DVD set contains 3 discs and has plenty of bonus features - commentaries on each episode, documentaries and the genius 'alternative' ending. The features total up to NINE hours.
An AMAZING show, so good that everybody I know is flat out sick of me mentioning it!
on 1 October 2013
Wow... just, wow
How do they do it? In the months leading up to Breaking Bad's much anticipated final season; cast member Dean Norris made a very bold claim, that these final eight episodes were the best of the entire series. Given how the previous season had set the bar so ridiculously high, I was inclined to treat those words with a pinch of salt. However, I'm happy to say, he was right, so very, very right indeed. So, just how good is this final season? Well put it this way, just about every previous season of Breaking Bad, even last year's one that I described as a watershed, seems like it was merely a faulty experiment by comparison. Even so all the previous seasons are still masterpieces, so now you know that with this final season we're dealing with something much, much more.
Picking up immediately where the last season left off, the final season's story revolves around a cat and mouse game between two of the main characters, with truly explosive consequences. And that's all I will say to avoid spoiling it. In terms of style this season could best be equated to a rocket car accelerating towards an explosives factory. The first half is the rocket car approaching the factory; the latter half is the almighty explosion and fallout
Several things make this season stand in a class of its own. Firstly, the absolutely peerless storytelling, you can always tell a great story from how well it ties into the earlier episodes. Based solely on that aspect, Breaking Bad is an absolutely gem. It's truly remarkable how every single character arc; every single plot point and major event comes together seamlessly. This is particularly evident on the episode To'hajiilee, almost as everything that has happened over the past six years was building to that final moment. If the writers truly do make things up as they go, it once again leads me to ask the same question "HOW DO THEY DO IT!?"
Secondly the stunning direction and cinematography, each scene is beautifully shot, whether it's of the desert or of a conversation between two characters. Also several scenes are drenched in symbolism, which makes every scene fabulously re-watchable. Complementing the cinematography is the excellent direction which aids the narrative magnificently. As an example consider the final scene between the two main characters, just two shots of two people nodding to each other managed to convey more emotion and more information than most other shows could manage in a whole episode's worth of dialogue.
Thirdly, the fearless narrative and creativity, whereas most shows have a terrible habit of retreading old ground and dragging on for a couple of seasons too long. Breaking Bad does neither of these things, ending at an absolutely perfect time while simultaneously taking its characters to brave new worlds. The reason why it succeeds in this is because the changes in the characters are perfectly assisted by the narrative; it doesn't seem forced or out of place because it's flawlessly in tune with all the events of the past seasons. The best example of this is the episode "Ozymandias" (I won't spoil too much, but take every single tragic moment throughout the series, roll it all into one and it will barely approach the amount of sadness and heartache you'll feel throughout the episode... you have been warned).
Fourthly there's the brilliant casting, helped out by some truly great scripts. It's so easy to forget that we are watching characters in a TV show, but the masterful performances from the cast help to truly immerse us in the experience and help turn these characters into truly 4-diemnsional beings. I'm not joking when I say that every character has several standout performances throughout the season, even the really small and comparatively minor ones (seriously how many shows do you know where even a baby turns in an Oscar-worthy performance?)
But the highlight of all these performances most definitely goes to Bryan Cranston, as the main man Walter White. Throughout this entire journey we've watched him transform from a mild meek chemistry teacher, to a confident focused criminal, to a machiavallian figure and finally a figure of pathos. In the hands of any other actor this show would probably never have become the success that it is. But Bryan Cranston managed to do the impossible, made us sympathize with a character that we should all hate and made him someone that all of us could relate to in some way. Kudos to you Mr. Cranston, for making Walter White one of the most multi-layered, interesting and iconic characters in TV history.
Finally I should mention just how absolutely everything in this final season fits together. Nothing in it is superfluous or feels unnecessary. As I've been pointing out everything just works together, the acting and the writing work together to increase the immersion, the cinematography and direction increase the effectiveness of the storytelling and narrative and so on. How many times in a show have you seen a part that you thought should have been shorter, or a character that you thought was unnecessary. Breaking Bad has none of those things, everything feels in place, like a perfect circle.
I've been typing for so long now, so let me just finish by touching on the finale. While you'll probably see a lot of the major events coming, it was so well crafted, so beautifully filmed and so touching that I just don't care. It gave an ending of definitive closure while staying true to the spirit and message of the show. Most impressively is that it found a way to please both the people who wanted to see Walt succeed, and those who wanted him to pay for all his crimes. I guarantee that when the final scene plays, you will choke up in some way. It's my firm belief that the finale will go down in history as one of TV's greatest achievements (along with the episode Ozymandias and indeed the whole show).
In conclusion the Breaking Bad team have done the impossible once again. They have simultaneously raised the bar to heavenly heights for what television can and should achieve, while simultaneously concluding their story in truly legendary fashion. It was sad to see Breaking Bad come to an end, but I couldn't have asked for a better send off.
All Hail The King, Walter "Heisenberg" White. We shall remember his name!
on 3 December 2013
Breaking Bad is one of the best television series ever written. It is up there In a class of its own. I have watched the whole series from the start and have waited with mixed anticipation for this final season; eager to see how it would end, and yet, not wanting it to end at all. As always, it far surpassed my expectations. Quite brilliant in every way. The writing and the acting are superb. It is hard to praise this series high enough. Just watch it....from the very beginning. Stay with it and it will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Endgame. Walter White's identity as the crystal meth-cooking mastermind Heisenberg has been compromised, the law is closing in and his life is crashing down around him. White's only hope is an alliance of convenience with a criminal gang far more dangerous and ruthless than he is. But this move proves to be a mistake, leading to tragedy.
Breaking Bad's first fourth (and a half) seasons seemed to be based on one central pillar: Walter White's attempts to balance his 'public' life with his secret criminal identity. As the show approaches its finale that pillar is pulled away, leaving the show free and able to choose how it ends on its own terms. Many recent major serialised dramas - from Lost to Battlestar Galactica - have fudged their endings or (like Deadwood) been cancelled before getting there. Among its peers, only The Wire had really achieved the feat of having a satisfying conclusion that was true to everything that came before.
Breaking Bad shoots and scores. This final run of episodes is a triumph. Emotionally powerful, harshly-written and unflinching in following through the promise of earlier episodes. To borrow from another serialised drama, "If you though this was going to have a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention." And Bad delivers on that. As the clock counts down, Walter's plans for a happy ending become increasingly as crazy and outlandish as the theories of some fans anxious to see him somehow get away with everything and achieve what he'd set out to do, making enough money for his family to survive after he's gone.
There are few weak spots in this final run of episodes. Jesse gets a little lost in the mix in the first few episodes and the re-introduction of Elliott and Gretchen after an absence of four seasons is a little abrupt, but it does neatly bookend the series and help provide closure. Also, the bad guys now being white supremacist drug dealers feels a little cliched. The few times the show has faltered in following through on its premise is because it has always had a bad guy far worse than Walter hanging around to excuse his excesses (in the eyes of some viewers), and these new villains have you longing for the days of Gus Fring and his considerably better-written and motivated machinations.
Still, this is a minor issue. The central focus is on White as everything comes crashing down around him. Bryan Cranston gives a monumentally awesome performance, matched by Anna Gunn (as Skyler), Dean Norris (as Hank) and Aaron Paul (as Jesse). A huge amount of praise must go to Dean Norris, who has played his character's evolution from gun-toting lawman hick to a PTSD-suffering investigative genius over the course of the series with total conviction.
Vince Gilligan's writing team also have to be praised for coming up with an ending that is true to the series as a whole and delivering on it. The episode Ozymandias may be one of the most gut-wrenching episodes of any TV series ever made, astonishing in its dramatic power and focus. The actual ending that follows sacrifices any ambiguity for neatness and at least one unbelievable moment of cartoon ultraviolence, but the dramatic and emotional stakes are high and the show does enough to earn its ending. It is not a happy ending but it is an ending that stays true to the show and its themes, and that's rare enough in TV these days.
The final season of Breaking Bad (*****) is an unmissable triumph and a worthy conclusion to a remarkable drama series.
The Final Season of Breaking Bad concludes one of the most memorable of US television shows for a while. It has been a watercooler phenomenon. While the eeking out of the final phases by splitting what was the final season into two separate segments each with their own DVD releases was a bit unnecessary, what is offered here is a satisfactory conclusion to Walter White's story. The FInal Season covers the last 8 episodes and includes a range of decent DVD extras.
It has been quite a journey for Walter White. His transformation from a Hal-like almost comedy figure of a father to the meth king Heisenberg responsible for dozens of deaths has been some tale. These final episodes are primarily taken up with the final set of opponents for White to best. Most prominent among those opponents of course is brother-in-law Hank. The final episode of Season 5 made every viewer aware of the showdown between the two, apparently the showdown the audience had been wanting. Not this reviewer who would have preferred the denouement between White and the last man to point a gun at him to be the focus of the final rivalry. Still, given where the show went in its final episodes the battle between Hank and Walter plays out extremely well.
The early face-off between the pair in Hank's garage is awesome, the closing of the garage door is such a terrific visual. After building up this rivalry for a while, both characters seem to have more of an edge, more focus. Hank in previous seasons was something of an idiot. He was a loudmouth tough guy of a DEA agent and a devoted family man despite his own lack of children. He was always potrayed a falling far short of Walter's intelligence. In The Final Season, Hank ups his game to take on the man he has been chasing for so long.
The first few episodes in The Final Season have plenty of Hank. Dean Norris fans have plenty to cheer. His acting does not in any way achieve more subtlety, Norris still appears to be playing the idealised version of himself, but he carries an intensity not really seen before. The interaction between Hank and Skyler is especially good writing even if neither Norris nor Anna Gunn represent the best of the acting on display. Seeing Hank not get his way when he attempts to persuade Skyler onto his side really ups the ante.
Skyler for her part is almost the moll Walter was advised to acquire by lawyer Saul early on in his criminal career. She has so much to lose it makes sense for her to side with her husband. Skyler's character is not especially well conceived during The Final Season as she both encourages Walter to take on Hank's investigation including seeking to discredit him then rejects the conclusion her actions lead to. Skyler is the weak link in Breaking Bad and has never really been an impressive character. She does not look the part, she is the worst mother television has to offer, her affair while pregnant in an earlier season was cringeworthy, and when she finally seems to have conviction in The Final Season she flip-flops afterwards.
The Final Season does not see a huge amount of the rest of Walter's family. There is not much more to the story of Walt Jnr to tell. The lack of screen time really helps though because for those moments when Walt Jnr/Flynn is in view it is that much more impactul. When he takes the call from his father who seems to have hit rock bottom at the time, Flynn's reaction is visceral and to some extent shocking.
There are only a few shocks in this season but they are big. The shoot-outs during this season are the most weaponry it has brought to bear, and they drastically change the fortunes of those involved. The action sequences are generally pretty well choreographed and believable.
Breaking Bad was always more about character than action though. It was about the planning as much as it was about the execution. In the previous season there was really not enough of the clever Heisenberg as the series retreated into much more traditional territory with Mike as an archetypal antagonist. The Final Season does not offer the brilliant science that helped to make the early seasons zing but it does come up with a great scheme or two. The final sequences are worthy of the early season promise and a highly credible ending.
There are fewer characters still around by the time of the ending as over the various seasons Heisenberg has eliminated so many people. He is a brutal killer, the image of him as this terrible crime lord, the Scarface analogy, is not what makes him so endearing. It is though a danger for everyone around him.
Closest to Walter through his journey has been Jesse. He plays some role in The Final Season especially when he forms an unlikely alliance. The scene with him in a rage at Heisenberg's house is awesome. It is terrific directing and camerawork to potray Jesse's mental state without being too jerky. Aaron Paul is not just a pretty face, he is a damn fine actor able to potray a character so emotionally damaged. Reflecting back on that first appearance of Jesse jumping out of a milf's window, he too has taken such a journey.
There is a good deal of that reflection going on in The Final Season. A couple of flashback scenes to the good old days where Walter and Jesse naively begun their adventure do tug on the heartstrings.
Perhaps the biggest shame of The Final Season is that Jesse's growth does not continue in the trajectory a viewer might have hoped for a couple of seasons ago. The ending was perfectly satisfactory but it perhaps could have been so much more had there been less focus on Walter's rise and fall and more on Jesse as his true heir. Perhaps the writers took the easier route instead to make the emotional response of viewers more clear cut as Walter takes on antagonists that cannot be sympathised with.
Jesse's original crew get a bit of an airing which is a nice bonus. Badger and Skinny Pete are pretty much the only humour in what is generally a dark season. The tone of The Final Season is not as upbeat as some of the previous ones, the absence of humour presumably being a deliberate part of that but it does take away one of the pillars of what made the show so gripping earlier on. Badger in particular is pretty funny with the best comedy of the season being about him with a reference to Babylon 5..
Normally Saul would be the comedy genious but he is not that funny this season. Bob Odenkirk remains one of the stand-out features of Breaking Bad but with the general darker tone he is also in a darker place. Odenkirk has excellent comedy timing so even when his lines are not in themselves all that funny he tends to dominate most of the sequences he is a part of. Saul is apparently getting a spin-off show. While it does not sound all that promising, more Saul and therefore more Odenkirk is always a good thing.
Saul's allies Huell and Kuby are still good fun. More Kuby would have been good as Bill Burr was brilliant every time he was on screen. Huell is excellent because of who he is as much as anything. Lavell Crawford as the hugely fat black man channels a comedy archetype that works everytime. When Jesse squeezes past him it is funny because it is true.
Newcomer Ed in The Final Season is probably the one who changes the tone the most. He is an associate of Saul's played by Robert Forster in a style very similar to his efforts in Jackie Brown. That same character of the emotionally aware experienced ally brings a pathos otherwise missing. When he and Walt talk in a cabin it is the first sign of the real vulnerability within Walter.
The sequences with Walt on the edge of defeat are particularly impactful. They are impactful because a dying man with no hope is something incredible to watch when portrayed by an actor with the excellence of Bryan Cranston. The image of a broken man coughing and seemingly out is haunting. Cranston is incredible in offering glimpses of the great Heisenberg buried underneath the fragility of Walter White. Cranston has been formidable throughout Breaking Bad but those scenes in the cabin may well be the very best.
Very few of the character have no pathos. They a seem to be someone, even businesswoman Lydia has enough quirks and clarity of motivation for her time on show to be interesting. The relationship between her and loyal but psychopathic Todd is enough to raise a smile. Todd's uncle Jack has a little bit more about him. The slightly jittery physicality means he is absorbing even though he is a killer.
Breaking Bad has used the locations around Albuquerque to good effect. The desert in particular is awesome. To find out it is Indian Territory adds an extra touch. The cabin scenes are particularly good, it seems to be a world away even though in reality it is not. One of the pivotal scenes in the film takes place in Albuquerque Civic Plaza. It is a great scene, so well acted and so well designed with a huge amount of suspense. The location is ghastly which adds so much. Albuquerque Civic Plaza is so ugly the setting works perfectly.
Pacing and tension are some of the hallmarks of Breaking Bad. The Final Season lives up to that standard well Nothing is rushed, thought processes are given time to play out. Most of the time there is little action which means when it does kick off the impact is all the greater. The directing is generally of a high standard throughout The Final Season.
Musically, The FInal Season is a litlte less memorable than in some earlier seasons. There are no great musical pieces unlike the montage accompaniments of earlier times.
The DVD extras are really good. Most of the earlier season DVDs have been really disappointing on the extras front The Final Season makes up for that. Each episode has a litlte explanatory talking head session and some behin the scenes stuff. The snippets are good and fun to watch. Each disc also contains a couple of other extras such as a gag reel or an explanation of weapon work. The best of the extras is the alternate ending, it is absolute genious and put together by people who really understand what made Walter White the character he is.
The actual ending though does satisfy. The journey has been an incredible one, well worth sticking around for to the very end. Breaking Bad has been a rare example of a very popular show that is actually really good. Popular perception may rate it a little higher, it is not a show that competes right at the top of the US television pantheon but it is still one of the best shows of recent years and for those who have come this far The Final Season works well.
This review is from: Breaking Bad - The Final Season [DVD + UV Copy] (DVD)
Ozymandias is an 1818 Shelley poem reminding us that in the end, all Kings fail in one way or another. In these episodes of 'Breaking Bad', the time has come. These may be the best episodes of the 7 years.
Everything about this year was punishing. The rooster has come home, and Walt is in big trouble. All those around him are falling. The new-Nazis are pushing the the meth and not a good quality. They are a dangerous group and Walt has ties with them.
Walt and Skyler have come to a resolution, but will it, can it last? Walt Jr observes it all, he is wondering what is happening to his family. Most of the secrets have to be revealed, don't they? Hank is doing all he can to find Heisenberg, with and without his police colleagues. Marie is becoming more crazed, her shoplifting and love of purple are things of the past. Jesse wants out, anyway he can. The biggest question is Baby Holly. Who takes care of her? We see her leaving the house everyday with Skyler and returning home with Skyler in the evening. Where does she go Inbetween? Skyler is busy at the car wash, Walt is off doing his thing, Walt Jr is in school, so where does Holly go?
We realize Walt is a monster, but at the same time, I want him to live. He has made a mess of everything, and he must face his demons. The best written and acted episode of the series.
Highly Recommended. prisrob 09-19-13
on 18 May 2014
The delicate balance between comedy and suspense that this series achieved over such a long period and the consistency of direction (style etc.) and the superb acting make this a unique work of art! The villains are so gigantic in concept they are like something from Greek drama and yet completely believable, and we can feel the human being with his complexity in all of the characters. You can't help but empathise with Walter and Jesse and all of the rest in their turmoil.
on 22 April 2014
If it's not the best it's certainly well up there on the top three podium.
I've enjoyed many shows along the way, from 24 to Sparticus, great "fun" shows but not emotionally engaging, the only show that I can immediatley consider a good stable mate for Breaking Bad is the Sopranos, both had exceptional writers and actors and both managed to stay with you long after the final credits role.
Both shows also make you like, sympathise and even care about the fate of people that really should be unlikable, shows us the family life in conjuction with the criminality, Breaking Bad deals with this particular area even better then the Sopranos in so much as demonstrating that for every action there is a reaction.
If you haven't seen this show yet, just go buy, rent, watch it on netflix, but what ever you do watch it.
My most memorable line " You're the smartest guy I ever met and you're too stupid to see..." What an episode.
on 8 January 2014
I won't go into a long analysis as that's been done by others - suffice to say that despite the sordid theme and extreme violence, I've never enjoyed a TV series as much. Well-written, inventive (but with a little undercurrent of dark humour), the characters are all fully-rounded and have their own little back-stories - no cardboard cut-outs here. Full marks also for the lack of swear words - I only counted two real obscenities, one written, one spoken - all the more effective for that. Many TV series and films are full of swearing to their detriment (they still haven't got over the novelty of uncensored language on screen). If you had to suspend disbelief occasionally, well that's fine. The only drawback was, as I neared the end, I hated starting a new episode, because I knew it would be finished all too soon and will probably never be matched...but I'll be watching avidly to see what Vince Gilligan comes up with next!
on 18 June 2014
Before I discovered Breaking Bad I checked out the reviews on line. Never found a negative comment worth considering. It's an addictive show that is about addicts. I would recommend it to anyone.
Faults with the series? Well, it's a matter of opinion. In a well told unfolding and gripping story, it's less about the character portrayal (especially female characters) but this is a petty criticism (that I make) because that's not what I think it's trying to do. It depicts the characters as real-life and as deeply as is required to tell one great story with lost of emotional and intellectual twists, turns and tugs.
The best "TV" I've seen in a while and the best drama I've enjoyed too. Start at the beginning and watch it right through. There are spoilers out there so avoid them. Almost every episode was high intensity.
I apologize if I am the one who gets you hooked.