Let’s talk about Breaking Bad. NO SPOILERS, first off, for those of you who’ve never watched an episode or haven’t yet caught up past Sunday’s absofuckinglutely amazing kickoff of the final 8 episodes. But I’m amazed by this show. I started watching it from the get-go back in 2008, mainly because I was super pro-AMC after I’d already gotten hooked on Mad Men, and over the last 5 years I’ve watched as Breaking Bad became not just the best show on TV, but maybe the greatest show in the history of TV.
That’s blasphemy for someone who loved The Wire and The Simpsons and The West Wing as much as I did, but Breaking Bad has the chance to do something that neither of those shows were able to do: stick the landing. The Wire didn’t exactly fizzle out during its fifth and final season, but it definitely lost some of the hyper-focus and solid storytelling that made it so good in prior seasons (especially the fourth). The West Wing couldn’t really recover fully after Aaron Sorkin left after the fourth season, although it remains a masterpiece and the best source of liberal porn for people like me during the Bush years. And The Simpsons… well, someone should’ve taken that brilliant son of a bitch out back and shot it dead about 10 years ago to keep it from peeing on its own legacy.
But Breaking Bad can overtake all of them, for me at least, if these last seven episodes close out as amazeballingly great as Sunday’s episode did. And I have faith. Vince Gilligan is like a hillbilly reincarnation of Mark Twain, complete with equally stupid facial hair.
For those unfamiliar with Breaking Bad and the excitement it arouses in lovers like me, imagine if some of the following scenarios happened in shows you loved (spoilers ahead?):
- When Rachel gets off the plane and comes back to Ross in the Friends finale, and she moves in for the long-awaited kiss with Ross, he instead silently snaps her neck and hides her body behind the couch. When Joey shows up out of nowhere, Ross stabs him in the eye with one of his pointy, gelled locks of hair and flees the scene. Fade to black. The End?
- On the second-to-last episode of Lost, it’s revealed that the castaways on the island are actually just in Cuba. People still remain riveted for the last episode, for some reason.
- Johnny Carson announces that sometime during his farewell season hosting The Tonight Show, he will, without warning, punch Ed McMahon in the balls. Ed becomes delirious with fear and is only able to find comfort in gambling and drinking as he awaits a shot that ultimately never comes.
- Someone leaks to the press that not only will Wilson’s face be shown during Home Improvement‘s finale, but he and Al Borland will engage in a passionate love scene.
- During the last season of The Sopranos, David Chase chooses to replace each main actor, one per episode, with Sesame Street characters. The decision is never explained or remarked upon by the other characters. Paulie Walnuts is now played by Elmo, Silvio is Snuffaluffagus, etc. Everyone changes, all except James Gandolfini. It all builds to a crazy sing-along in a diner, but is that a gun under Grover’s Member’s Only jacket? I think it migh–