Anyone who knows me has heard me proclaim ‘The Sopranos’ the best show ever made. The series lifted HBO, and the television industry at large, to dizzying, exhilarating new heights and blazed a trail for an entertainment landscape dominated by big-budget cable productions that push far beyond the censored limitations of traditional network broadcasts.
‘Breaking Bad’, borne of this new super-sized small screen era, burst on to the scene five short years ago like a runaway Winnebago, and never looked back. And last night it decelerated to a slow, satisfying halt. While Tony Soprano’s fate was left dangling as the screen went to black, Walter White tied up his loose ends and left little ambiguity. Gratifying as it is to know how the story ends, absolution comes at the cost of credibility.
The ending was ultimately too neat for me. From the moment the Volvo key conveniently slid off the visor and facilitated his homecoming, the finale was peppered with one opportune coincidence after another. Forget the fact that Walter did his bidding in broad day light, without so much as a wayward glance from an observant café diner. That he succeeds in every aspect of his plan with so little resistance is where the episode fell short for me. This is, after all, the same genius who pulled off an implausible methylamine train heist and rigged a bomb to an old man’s bell. And while his MacGyver-like machine gun rig was bad ass – that he somehow knew exactly where to park his car in order to mow down a small army of neo-Nazi’s was forced and farfetched.
Despite all of this, I loved the show, and as a body of work, I do believe the series surpasses ‘The Sopranos’ as the best series ever created. Although the finale felt a bit rushed and improbable, it served as a sufficient send-off and delivered a real conclusion. Which may be the gutsiest thing of all.