Breaking Bad – Believe the hype

Breaking Bad, AMC’s TV series that first hit screens in 2008 is finally coming to an end. As of writing this article there is only one episode left and if you are a diehard fan like me, it’s an emotional time.

I won’t lie and state that I’ve watched Breaking Bad since the beginning because I haven’t. I am, like so many others, a late convert. Whilst studying during my final year of university, Breaking Bad started to grab my attention. Friends began to badger me to give it a chance, but with dissertation deadlines consuming the available time I had, I didn’t in fact start to watch breaking bad until May this year. Initially I was very tough to convince, I still had the Malcolm In The Middle stigma surrounding Bryan Cranston and I’m not a huge fan of television in general, especially not of the many continuously churned out TV series that the US produce. However since watching the first episode in May, I have watched all five series in five months and I implore and recommend everyone to give it a chance.

One benefit of starting a series late is that you get to watch one episode after another. The first season can seem somewhat of a slow burner at first and if I had to wait a week to watch the next episode at those beginning stages, I might not be writing this article today. But having the pleasure and ability to watch series at a time (yes, it really is that good) allowed me to enjoy all episodes up to the half-way season 5 split. Now, like other fans I am eagerly anticipating each upcoming show and as much as it hurts to wait to see what happens next, it’s an event to look forward to, something that I’ve never experienced with a TV show before.

For those who have somehow avoided hearing about Breaking Bad, in summary it is about a financially troubled chemistry teacher, who finds out that he has inoperable lung cancer. Using the knowledge he has sneakily picked up from his DEA brother in-law, he decides to cook crystal meth to make enough money to allow his family to live comfortably after his pending death.  You may be thinking that the concept of the show sounds ridiculous, but trust me when I say it’s remarkable! In fact, don’t just trust me – the show, its characters and the behind the scenes team of writers and producers have won a plethora of awards, including a recent Emmy for the best drama which was awarded just after the penultimate episode aired.

Now, there are many reasons behind the incomprehensible brilliance that is Breaking Bad and I aim to capture as many as I can within the rest of this article. But before I start I will say that I think Breaking Bad has something for everybody to enjoy and I believe it deserves all the attention and awards it has been receiving.

The first reason why Breaking Bad is so great is Vince Gilligan.  This is the man who created, produces and writes the series. He uses an intelligent combination of intense action/drama alongside some hilarious and outrageous moments. Furthermore, Gilligan seems somewhat rare in the world of writers who usually seek to lengthen a show as long as possible in order to produce further revenue. This is something that Vince has strongly opposed, seeking to give Breaking Bad the perfect amount of screen time.

The next reason is the forever evolving storyline itself. I can say for once in my life that it is incredible. Forget the usual predictable happy endings, this is Breaking Bad and you will not predict what is about to happen! The whole time you watch the show you will feel as if you are on an epic journey.  The show constantly forces you to think about the direction of the current episode as well as the overall series, throwing many red herring s into the mix. This show is not made for casual viewing and will truly have you shouting at your screen and will turn you into one of those annoying people who constantly talk about the show on Twitter or Facebook (yes, I am guilty of this!) However, Breaking Bad will also have you smiling and even laughing with some beautifully choreographed montage sequences, which feature background music that aptly fits with the shows content and setting which is Albuquerque.

Some scenes throughout the series that will particularly have you gasping for air, in no particular order (Spoiler alert! Skip this paragraph if you don’t already watch the show) are Walter blowing up Tuco’s building, Walt saving Jesses life by driving into two drug dealers, Hank being attacked by the mysterious Mexican twins, when Gustavo Fring poisons and kills a whole cartel,  the train robbery episode, Walter and Skyler piling up more money than they could ever count, Hector Salamanca killing Gustavo and the scene where Heisenberg organises the killing of 10 prisoners, in three different jails in the space of 2 minutes. (This list could also go on…)

As well as the epic storyline, are the tremendous characters that Vince Gilligan created. However, like me, by the time you get to the 5th series of Breaking Bad, these characters feel more like family or friends. Unlike most TV series, there is not an obvious character that you will side with throughout the series which is a rarity in itself. Speaking to multiple fans of the show, you soon realise that people individually side with different characters for a multitude of reasons at various stages of the plots progression. One minute you will agree with one character and the next you will be forced to see the situation in a completely different light.

To further this point the characters take you on an emotional journey. Breaking Bad’s Walter White, who is played by Bryan Cranston is extraordinary. As he himself describes, it’s the role of his life. The role itself puts Walter as an obvious anti-hero. Whilst watching the show, you will see Walter White turn from a calm, logic driven protagonist into a cold calculated and emotional antagonist that is Heisenberg. You watch this genius, who can cook the purest crystal meth the world has seen, develop, along with his partner and apprentice Jesse Pinkman who is played by Aaron Paul.

Jesse, unlike Walter faces enormous traumatic pressures throughout the show and it seems the more of a ruthless villain that Walt becomes, the more human Jesse turns. The feeling you get from watching Walter and Jesse on screen together is unparalleled to anything I’ve seen before, and is so genuine that both actors got Breaking Bad tattoos, after the last day of filming. This level of commitment and love for a show that these actors have constantly shown is yet again testament to the shows brilliance.

I won’t dive into every character but watching the show will have you meeting many more along the way, including a lawyer to the crooks named Saul Goodman (confirmation has just been given that he will have his own spin off show), Hank Schrader who is Walt’s DEA agent brother in-law, who is undoubtedly the moral backbone of the series. Then there is the seemingly professional yet shy and polite Gustavo Fring, who is part time CEO of a chicken-shop chain; part time manager of the largest drug empire in the USA. Mike Ehrmantraut, the man who can fix any situation and of course Walters wife Skyler, who is constantly trying to balance the love for her family, the loyalty to her husband and what she truly thinks is right. These are truly some of TV’s best characters and will be imprinted in my memory forever. Each character is given so much thought and detail and the acting is phenomenal.

To conclude and to reiterate some of the points already made, the show is full of gut wrenching surprises, absolutely insane moments and can turn from comical to terrifying in a split second. 61 out of 62 episodes have now aired and in a couple of days, it will be time to say goodbye. This unique show seems destined to end with as much force and enormity as how it began and it’s one box set that I will definitely be purchasing to lend out and enlighten those who haven’t had the extreme pleasure of viewing it.

For those of you who don’t already know, the final episode is called FeLiNa, meaning Iron-Lithium-Sodium or Blood-Meth-Tears. It’s also an anagram for finale.

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