Speculation is rampant as to how the series ‘Breaking Bad’ will climax into its conclusion. Will every main character die like William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” or will Walt live to cook or run another day? The first scene of the final half of Season 5’s episodes seem to indicate that the main protagonist is still alive when the heavy situations are over, but in true ‘Breaking Bad’ fashion that could have been meant as a way to lull viewers into a sense of security with Walt therefore increasing the shock value of the actual ending tenfold.
I have been watching the show since its very first insemination into television and it continuously surprised me how difficult it was to convince people that they need to be watching this show during the first few seasons. Now that it has become culturally popular to watch the show, I no longer face those issues, but it remains unsettling to hear all these so called ‘super-fans’ talk about a program they couldn’t be bothered to hear about five years ago, but I suppose that particular gripe will find its most comfortable home in the past.
As for the ending, for several seasons now I have felt that a show with this scope and moral impact may indeed have an ending akin to “Hamlet.” How could something so gripping and epic end any other way? After Gus was taken out the possibility of another villain of that magnitude was out of the question, so that moral role has shifted to the main character of Walter White. In the world of “Hamlet” it might be said that Walt would be considered not only Hamlet the prince, but also Claudius, who killed his own brother in order to take the throne. This could make Gus the ghost of Hamlet’s father, which could lead into endless essays regarding the literary theory behind ‘Breaking Bad’ itself. The most interesting question may be who inhabits the character of Ophelia, whose insanity is somehow the only rescue line back towards sense in the chaos that befalls the conclusion of “Hamlet.”
So is Skyler our Ophelia? Will she cascade deeper and deeper into lunacy as her family and business crumble around her? Figuring that her only refuge from this world is a complete escape from everything, whilst using her final breaths to inject a culminating theory behind the entire series that satisfies even the most critical predictions?
If Skyler is to be Ophelia, the one who escapes before everyone else destroys each other, the deeper question is: What has she learned to be in the position to provide us with deeper wisdom then even Walter White himself? Maybe that will be the entire point of it all, that ‘Breaking Bad,’ by definition of the actual phrase, is a morally corrupt road to which there is no return, so death by suicide or murder is the only possible conclusion for everyone involved. Everyone ends up dead at the end of “Hamlet” in a display of cowardice or malice, depending on your personal perspective, but if this is how ‘Breaking Bad’ ends will we think Walter is a coward? Were we ever supposed to like Walter in the first place? These questions are exactly why ‘Breaking Bad’ is the greatest show to ever grace a television screen, and probably will remain so for the foreseeable future.
Written by Michael Blain
Twitter handle: @michaelblain