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Monday, September 30, 2013

Motivational Mondays: Did Breaking Bad Disappoint You? Could Someone Have Learned From Their Experiences?



Thought for the Day: As you know from my post at the beginning of the last season of Breaking Bad, I am the most unexpected fan of Breaking Bad. I watched each episode of the final series & was surprised & intrigued. I was expecting a grand finale. The reviewers are giving it high marks, however, I was disappointed. I've come to expect brilliant writing & acting. The show consistently raised conflicted feelings & ethical dilemmas. Somehow, with all the hype & predictions of possible endings, the last episode didn't work for me.

I tend to have viewed the show through a complex psychological lens with a grain of humor in the mix. I know it is television & appreciate the fact that as real as they try to make it seem, it is fiction. However, the final episode failed to move me. Having watched the demise of the Breaking Bad characters over the course of several years, I thought I would care more about their fate. I tend to get emotional about movies & characters in films. I still remember the shock & grief I felt when Gary Shepherd (played by Peter Horton) died during the final season of "Thirty Something" in a chain-reaction car accident (ironic since he is a bicyclist and hates cars). I felt like I lost an old friend.

Therefore, why didn't this show move me? Was it because it was clear that Walter White (Bryan Cranston) was already dying from cancer? Or was it because Walt was becoming more & more revengeful, cruel & greedy? Had I stopped feeling empathy for him before he even died? Somehow, it felt like no one, Walt included, seemed to learn from their experiences. Walt's goodbye to his wife, Skylar (Anna Gunn) fell short because he did not even apologize for what he had put her & his family through. Although he did not pull the trigger, he did not take any responsibility for the killing of his brother-in-law. Let's face it, his brother-in-law would not have been killed if Walt had not called the hit men & told them where to find Jesse. I did not want to feel like Walter, Jr., Flynn, (RJ Mitte) who told him, "Why don't you die already," but I think I did.

Somehow, the fact that I didn't care tells me the ending simply did not work. I always felt that Walt was more than a sociopathic murderer & drug kingpin. To me he was a man who made tragic mistakes. Once he moved towards crime while justifying it with a desire to provide for his family after he died from cancer, he kept sinking deeper & deeper into a moral abyss. In the end, he seemed to justify his actions by the fact that he liked it, was good at it & it made him feel alive. I think I'd rather see his attraction to the dark side as his way of avoiding & denying his fear of cancer & death.

People will talk about the show & it's multi-layered meanings for years, but I think the writers missed the opportunity to convey some kind of message other than to show there are creative ways to take advantage of your greed beyond the grave & to take revenge on those who cross you as your last efforts in life. Even Jesse's escape was connected to his graphic revenge against Todd, whom he kills bare handedly & Walt by not following his request to shoot him.

Negative experiences can motivate people to change their lives & feel remorse. Breaking Bad did not need to have a Pollyanna happy ending, but it could have done more than simply reinforce the importance of power, intimidation, greed & revenge. One would have expected Walt to have had more complex mixed emotions about his & his family's demise.

I almost forgot my Trivia question at the beginning of the end of the series. I asked what song Walt should be listening to. The writers got that one right, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the song ,
     "Baby Blue's" lyrics are appropriate for the end of Walt's journey, with lines such as  "I guess I got what I deserved" & "I would show the special love I have for you, my baby blue." On The Talking Bad, show creator Vince Gilligan said the scene in which the song is used illustrated Walt's love for his blue product." The sad song, according to the psychological study I reported previously, may have helped Walt feel less "blue."

What do you think? Could "Breaking Bad" have done more to shed light on why Breaking Bad even if you like it, are good at it, & dying, is not the way to lead your life? How would you have ended the series?
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