Saturday, August 10, 2013

Time to Cook: Getting Pumped for the End of Breaking Bad

   Ladies and gentlemen, we have arrived at our destination.
   For the past five years, Vince Gilligan and Co. have blessed us with what is undoubtedly the greatest running program on television, and in just eight weeks—eight short, fleeting, hell-ridden weeks—the final fade-out will conclude the epic descent of Walter White. There are a thousand questions surrounding the details of what is to come, but the one question for you, right now, is this:
   Are you effing ready for this?!
   You better be (bitch!).
   Few shows are about The End. More often than not, a television series will hit the prime of its writing somewhere around the third season. This is when Mad Men hit another level, when The Office churned out the most laughs, when Lost became more WTF-ey than it ever was, and when The Wire went from just something different to the biggest trend-bucker of modern media. After the peak though, comes an almost inevitable decline. The Office, and most other sitcoms, grew considerably less funny. Lost hiccupped and became oversaturated with questions. Even The Wire is considered to miss a step in its final season. When this happens, The End is almost never as satisfying as fans want it to be. Lost and The Sopranos in particular are notorious for their less-than-stellar endings (although, I have to defend Lost for a second here and just ask any fan this, “If you hated the ending, then how would you have ended it?” Seriously, there was no other way. I loved the ending. Screw you. God.), and it turned a lot of “great show” talks into “yeah, but” talks.
   Breaking Bad, however, is in a brilliant position, because this show has always been about the ending. We knew that we were going out with Walter from day one, and wow has it been an insane ride to the finish (almost like a  . . . dead freight! Hey-oh! Sorry. I challenged myself to see how many little references I could plug in here). Whether you were with Heisenberg from the beginning on AMC, or caught up on Netflix, it does not matter, because everything in Breaking Bad has been guiding us to this glorious conclusion. We watched this entire series just for this. There has never been anything like it.
   This show is unique, too, in that the atmosphere surrounding these final eight hours is not only full of hype, but it is seriously confident. No one expects them to flop, and this another by-product of the writer’s entire countdown to Walter’s death. If this has been what they have been working toward all along, and all the filler stuff in the middle was of such amazing quality, can you imagine how freaking awesome the home-stretch is going to be?! It is unheard of!
   Sure, stuff has changed along the way (fun fact: Jesse was supposed to die in the first season, but after he emerged as a fan-favorite, the writers kept him in), but adapting the end goal is considerably better than drumming it up from scratch. This is why fans of Lost were sweating and fans of The Office had their fingers crossed and their eyes shut tight. Only here, in the world of us meth-heads (AMC calls us “Breaking Baddicts”, but that is a horribly lame pun and much too long, so suck it AMC, we are meth-heads, like we were supposed to be all along), is everyone just flat-out pumped. We cannot wait. We are fully prepared for The End of this show to blow us away.
   No matter what happens, you can guarantee that not everyone is going to see it coming. The further beauty of this set-up is emphasized by the insane number of theories being tossed around by fans. Will Walt just die of cancer, in a hospital with his family around him? Will he be shot and killed by Jesse? By Hank? Hell, even suicide is not totally out of the question—he tried that in the first goddamn episode! Literally anything can happen, because if this series has taught us anything, it is that these writers will shy from nothing, and that these characters are capable of some dark, dark things (I have to throw out my opinion here and present my theory—Walt, whether by accident or on purpose, will contribute to the death of Jesse, and this will be his final what-have-I-done moment. As he atones for everything, the cancer takes him . . . yeesh, I have chills, can we just go to Sunday now?).
   We left Walter White while he was simultaneously at his most sinister and his most vulnerable. The showdown we have expected all along is here. The revelations, long hidden, are going to come out and rear their ugly, twisted heads. Friends will become enemies. Empires will fall. People will die.
   Soak it all in. This is it. Breaking Bad is coming down to its glorious, disturbing, I-can’t-believe-what-I-just-saw ending, and you can bet that the rest of the meth-heads and I are going to be right there with our heroes, antiheroes, and hated psycho-wives until the very last second. Buckle the hell up, everyone, because the one who knocks is banging on the door.

   His message is clear, friends: it’s time to cook.

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