Photo Credit: businessinsider.com
Photo Credit: businessinsider.com

“Breaking Bad”, a television program heralded by some critics as one of the best of all time, concluded its final season with an extended, 75-minute finale on Sept. 30. The Emmy-award winning program, which began in 2008, ran for five seasons on AMC.

In a hail of machine gun fire the show’s writers tied up loose ends and created new ones, dismantling the remainder of Walter White’s hijacked methamphetamine empire and securing his family’s financial future. The smoldering, five-season series concluded with law enforcement officials swarming a desert meth lab with the infamous Heisenberg (Walter White’s alter ego) lying dead on the floor.

At the same time that viewers said goodbye to the show’s controversial anti-hero, his partner-in-crime Jesse Pinkman was saying goodbye to the same man who had ruined his life with a trail of dust. After being freed from his meth-cooking enslavement Jesse made a frantic drive away from the compound, his future uncertain but certainly brighter than the torture he had endured for months at the hands of his former business associates.

The final episode was considerably less shocking than some of the others in the fifth season, though no less satisfying due to the closure it gives the story. Bad’s conclusion was inevitable; with the return of his cancer, his relentless pursuit by the D.E.A., and the hatred his family has for him, Walter had no kind of life left. He could have lived out his numbered days completely alone in the mountains of New Hampshire, but Walter’s relentless ambition drove him to ensure his family gets the $10 million he had left and to destroy the drug empire that had been taken from him.

Viewers are left to consider the moral implications of Walter’s story. The very title of the show invites viewers to consider the consequences of a man’s actions on his character; how much can one “break bad” before one is morally irredeemable?

As the promotional advertisement for the final episode stated, “chemistry is the study of transformation,” an illuminating theme for the show. Much as different elements can react together with all kinds of results, the characters on Bad have interacted to create remarkably pure crystal meth, or destroy the lives of innocent bystanders.

The relationship between Walter and Jesse is one of the most useful plot elements to consider in a moral examination of Bad. At the beginning of the series Walter is a mild-mannered chemistry teacher, while Jesse is a meth dealer and user. By the end the two have essentially switched positions, achieving equilibrium in their relationship.

Both Bryan Cranston (Walter) and Aaron Paul (Jesse) have been lauded by critics for their on-screen chemistry. Cranston won the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series three years in a row, from 2008 to 2010. Aaron Paul and Anna Gunn (Walter’s wife Skyler) have also won Emmys for their supporting roles.

Overall the show has been nominated for 113 industry awards and has won 45 of those. Bad is included in the 2014 Guinness Book of World Records for being the “highest-rated TV series,” based on the fifth season’s score of 99/100 on MetaCritic.com.

There are rumors that Bad creator Vince Gilligan is working on a spin-off series about Walter’s lawyer, portrayed by comedian Bob Odenkirk, tentatively titled Better Call Saul. Gilligan is currently unclear about what direction the show will take, though there is some talk of it as a prequel to the Bad universe.