This past Sunday was a sad moment for me and my fellow Breaking Bad addicts. We bade farewell to our favorite chemistry-teacher-turned-drug-dealer.
(Spoiler alert: This post contains a few spoilers from the season finale of the show and reveals what I've been doing with my free time for the past six months. You've been warned.)
The series finale came and went, and we all watched with bated breath as Walter White met his bitter end.
It'll be difficult to find a replacement for late-night compulsive TV-watching, but I'll do my best.
Actually, I don't like watching TV. I'd much rather read a book or work on a writing project. But after the first episode of Bad, I was hooked.
What was it about this show that captivated so many?
It told us the truth (about ourselves)
What made Breaking Bad so good was the truth it told us about humanity. Here are five lessons we learned from the show:
- All life is sacred. No human life can be sacrificed without something special being lost. You cannot justifiably take one life to save another.
- The end does not justify the means. No matter how hard Walt tried to believe this, it never worked out for him. The means always had a way of catching back up with him.
- Every action has a consequence. This might as well be the theme of the show. The wages of sin is death, and we see this most clearly as one man's actions have a domino effect throughout the lives of his family members, friends neighbors, and even strangers who cross his path. Walt's actions wreak havoc on an entire town, even when he doesn't mean them to.
- Influence reveals intention. Breaking Bad was supposed to be about a nice guy becoming bad, but I think Walt was always a bad guy. Even in earlier episodes, we saw hints of his pride that would one day lead to destruction. He just never had an opportunity to exercise it to such extremes.
- We are all bad. Just about every character in the show has a dark side. Marie shoplifts. Hank's kind of a racist jerk. Skyler smokes around her baby and has an affair. And Todd is all kinds of messed up. No person is immune to immorality, but what saves some and condemns others is the willingness to repent (or lack thereof).
What ultimately led to Walt's downfall was his refusal to accept these realities, which we all need to acknowledge — or suffer the consequences.
A picture of hell?
Vince Gilligan said in an interview that he created Breaking Bad because he wanted to believe in hell. He wanted to be sure “that there is some comeuppance, that karma kicks in at some point.”
That we pay for the bad things we do.
In a way, the show was just that: a picture of one man paying the consequences for his actions. Maybe that's what hell is: a place where we get what we think we want, regardless the cost, and then have to live with it.
We all want something, something to be good at, an identity to define us.
But if we're not careful, such a thing can consume a person until there is nothing left. Just the thing we once wanted and now despise — and the shell of the person we used to be. For me, that was the message of the show: there is darkness in us all.
What matters, though, is what we do with it.
That's what made BrBa so good — you saw an authentic portrayal of how each character managed their own inner demons.
And as we watch Walter White leave a bloody handprint on a metal mixer before falling to his death, we see what ambition without compassion gets us.
And we should all be warned.
What do you think about these five truths (regardless of if you've seen the show)? Share in the comments.