The TV Backfire: “Ozymandias” Cements Breaking Bad’s Legacy

For such a phenomenal show,writing about Breaking Bad is so hard. I have tried to write about it several of times, but the problem is words just doesn’t do the show any justice. It is so prodigious that it is  honestly surreal.

A lot of people call the Wire the greatest show ever, but there is no bleeping way that it is better than this. Breaking Bad has become the most compellingly vigorous serial show that has ever been constructed.

And nobody anticipated it to be…..

Vincent Gilligan, to most, was an unknown writer with his claim to fame was when he wrote episodes for the X-Files, and while Bryan Cranston was  famous, he famous for being a ridiculously goofy comedian. He has now playedone of the deepest characters ever. And with skillfulness and some luck, Gilligan has written a chef-d’oeuvre that is going to be known to many as the greatest TV show of all time. There are just so many remarkable things about Gilligan’s writing in Breaking Bad.

For starters, his aptitude to develop relatable, yet enormously multifaceted characters, is off the charts. Look no further than at Walter White for an example. Much like the typical Bryan Cranston played character we are used to, White is introduced as a misfortunate spineless nerd, who is underachieving as a high-school chemistry teacher. His less-than-stellar life takes an immense turn once he is informed that he has cancer and also when he meets up with an old high-school student: Jessie Pinkman.

Over time, he ends up undertaking every conceivable illegal activity—not because of him being coldhearted; instead, to protect himself from being caught or murdered. Regardless, however, of being an ingeniously shrewd, calculating murder, Gilligan does an impeccable job of keeping Cranston’s character both sympathetic and amiable. Whether it is because of his cancer, handicapped son, unfair wife, him continuously trying to protect Pinkman’s well-being, or something else, there are certain merits White has that figuratively enforces someone to cheer for him. Walt’s character walks a really narrow  line that is vulnerable for blemishes, and yet has none.

No doubt about it, developing characters is a very significant layer of writing. However, it still pales in comparison to storytelling. Breaking Bad not only has a story, but it also has an exquisite one. And it is obviously because of Gilligan. He has mastered every façade of both writing and telling a story. As a result of his virtually flawless writing, he has made his followers exultant, infuriated, perplexed, and traumatized. Another remarkable thing about the show is it has a payoff in every episode, yet that doesn’t derail or slow it down. The show is also is layered with unanticipated twists and turns that still remain true to the characters. And suspense is splendid, the action scenes are penetrating, and the dialog is piercing as a stiletto.

Gilligan has taken his followers on a compelling journey of Walter White’s life, using tons of voluminous crisscrosses, although, by hook or by crook, not once derailing lucidity. Whether it is creating an intriguing conflict or stacking colossal odds against the main characters, it always has its viewers addicted.

Due to its virtues, season four could have been an admirable culmination to the show, particularly because of the chess match amongst Walter White and Gustavo Fring, translating into the most intense conflicts of all time and making Season 5 essentially a bonus.

And what a bonus it  has turned out to be!

It seems like Breaking Bad is not in it just the money. It has its dignity, and it cares to end on a high note rather than milking the cow until it becomes entirely dry. Even if it is going to be a sad day when it climaxes, it is the right decision. After all, all good things have to end, and there is no better way than going out at the best time.

I still just do not understand how this show just keeps topping itself, though. I mean every one in this season has been virtually perfect, but somehow the next one is even better than the former. It is so remarkable that it is able to outshine the previous one. It is effectively and exquisitely escalating and intensifying all the way to the crescendo.

After last week’s controversial ending – instead of stretching and delaying the gun scene out as far as possible –  they gave us the pay-off right away. The scene established that Walter White has some good morals left since he negotiated with Jack to keep Hank alive. He offered him every penny that he had saved in order to keep the same guy alive that wanted him arrested and to decay in jail.  Even though Hank was ruthlessly emotionless towards Walter, he wanted to keep him alive because he was family.

It did not work, though. Hank is now dead, ending  the cat-and-mouse game amongst him and Walter. This twists the narrative in a downright unpredictably stimulating direction. White then, however, shows a vulnerable Jesse Pinkman no remorse, illustrating that he still has an ugly side to him when discovers him hiding under the car and then points him out to the neo-Nazis.

Walter does not change his mind, either, as he gives Jack a subtle nod to do the job. But instead of killing Jesse, the neo-Nazis say that they are going to “get information out of him” ( in reality, they are using him to cook them meth) and then kill him afterwards.  Just as Pinkman is being dragged away, Walter tells him he watched Jane die when he could have saved her, which was a playback to an earlier episode.

What a cruel bastard!

Rian Johnson was a perfect selection as the director, as he created a subtle, detailed, artsy and sophisticated masterpiece.  The minor details are insanely well-done, as they are barely recognizable, but they do such a phenomenal job in intensifying the scene.

For example….

When Hank gets shot, it echoes off the mountains and an insufferable noise plays, portraying that Walter is shell-shocked and stunned.

When Jesse is soon to be expired, he looks up and sees the birds flying around, which was a moment of clarity of this situation and him seeing his life flash by.

The greatest directed scene, however, goes to the scene where the White family separates, wherein Walter packs everything up in order to escape from the  major problems surrounding him, but his wife keeps asking the same questions over and over, even though Walter keeps insisting that he will explain it all later. She then grabs a knife and actually slashes White’s hand. He is in shock by her actions, and to display that, a puzzling-type sound plays in the background, exemplifying total astonishment.

Then, they wrestle over the knife while their baby loudly cries, adding more power to the scene. Flynn eventually saves his mother by knocking his dad off her. Everything becomes too peculiar for Walter — as he mutters out, “What are you doing!? We’re supposed to be a family!? The camera then zooms out, displaying that Walter is dizzy and perplexed, and not able to fully digest all that has happened today.

In a heartbreaking moment, Flynn turns on his father by calling the police and telling them that he pulled a knife on his mother and killed someone. Their relationship, which had been tremendously strong and bursting with oodles of affection and love, becomes blemished in such a short time. As White is leaving the house fully aware his family has become dismantled, he takes the only person part of his family who does not hate him: his baby.

Soon after, Bryan Cranston delivers his best soliloquy of all time, unleashing his thoughts on his wife. He was so convincingly believable, making you believe everything he said. At the same time, in his irregular way, he essentially saved Skyler from getting in trouble, as something tells me that he knew the cops were listening, by putting the entire blame on himself. Even though it was likely to save her, him going off on her was one my favorite moments in TV history. I hate Skyler so much, which is exactly what she is supposed to be: hated. I just hope that she fully gets her comeuppance for being,  in Walter’s words,  a bitch.

The line, “I still have things to do.” by Walt is a perfect way to explain the final two episodes left of this show. The pieces have been impeccably  put in place of building and completing this masterpiece, but it is not over yet.  This episode was exquisitely written, acted, and directed. It was terrifyingly forbidding, disconcerting and downright malicious at times, and it was the most penetrating, cruel, horrific, and elegantly written episode of the season.

It is almost scary to think that we have two more left that could be even better.

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