Monday, September 30, 2013

Breaking Bad, Finis

People will rightly place it up there with that other "greatest TV series of all time," The Wire. The superficial similarities are plain to see: drug dealing, violence, gritty realism, moral relativism, complex bad guy protagonists, and deeply flawed good guys. Great writing, story-telling, acting, and directing... these go without saying. Both series also establish an extraordinary sense of place: the city of Baltimore, and the high desert and sprawl in and around Albuquerque. And sense of place reveals how these two masterpieces could not be more profoundly different. The great subject of The Wire is, ultimately, the city itself. The setting is the story. As the ensemble evolves and the story arcs change from season to season, the character of the city and of its people reveal themselves. Breaking Bad, on the other hand, is a love story. The setting is a metaphor for the psychological terrain on which this story plays itself out. The question that sustains us is, which will win out in the end: Love of the game, or love of the surrogate son? Must we then conclude it is a cop-out when in the end WW gets to have them both?

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