Never Ending Story

For the record, such as this is, Breaking Bad won’t end.

As the series has continued we’ve become accustomed to Walt doing what he wants. And he certainly doesn’t think a thing’s over until he says it is. The previous episode, ostensibly the second-to-last-ever one, ended with him heading out to take care of business, though he’d gone to the bar for the cops to find him.

The dangling phone showed that, and whether it was to surrender or to die spectacularly in a hail of bullets we’ll never know.

Because Elliott and Gretchen went on Charlie Rose, and Charlie mentioned this New York Times article, and … that was that.

Walt headed out.

And neither surrender nor spectacular death has ever been an option. If that’s what he wanted, he’s had plenty of opportunity.

What Walt Wants is one final (“final”) chance to explain — not himself, whom he does know — but his actions: one more let me make this as clear as I can.

It won’t work, of course, but it won’t matter.

He wants one more chance to say his piece.

Vince Gilligan is going to give it to him.

*

That’s my take, anyway.

All along, as both work and story — as both the creative how it’s made, and the end how it turns out — Gilligan and White, sub-creator and creation, have defied our expectations. Or Gilligan’s transcended them, and White defies them.

The absolute best stories, bar none, ba da BAM!, don’t end (never end, can’t end) since (because) we’re not supposed to see them as stories.

This almost never happens.

The few good books, movies, television that approach this Absolute, veer off at some point, in the end or before, because it’s difficult and harrowing and financially dubious on this side of try.

But Breaking Bad has achieved it, at most crucial points and definitely near the end.

Killing Hank wasn’t just “OHMYGOSHWHATJUSTHAPPENED!” although it was that. Hank knew before Walt — and he knew before us. That was good and good enough and what most work would settle for.

OK.

But because it worked with where Breaking Bad has headed from the start, it was part of the wider whole — it made the hole wider, that one Walt’s been digging since day one, which one day will lead straight to hell.

*

I believe there may be more a closer to closure clarity on the one essential story. Gilligan wanted to turn the protagonist into the antagonist, and there is perhaps some more he can do there. Because there is always some more someone who is still alive can fall into the pit.

We say there’s a “special place in hell” for such people but really it’s the usual place, and it’s far more common than we — or they — imagine.

We say, as Walt’s neighbor Carol no doubt said for the news vans, “he was such a quiet person” and “I can’t believe this of him.” Now we can.

Hopefully, anyway …

So perhaps there will be — for the casual viewer, or perhaps Walt’s family, though not for Walt himself — some slight wrapping up for that one promised story: of the descent into Hell of one Walter Hartwell White.

Though if we’ve paid attention we have enough. And if we don’t, we can examine again the show to this point and we’d surely see more. I’m sure I’ve missed plenty.

But his family has nearly enough. And Walt will never know.

So maybe we’re good to go.

*

A few episodes ago I realized we’re nowhere near the end and how is he going to finish this? I meant Gilligan because I’ve been thinking of the show in those terms: of the man Walter White in terms of his maker.

I thought there are too many loose ends and how can we be 97% done with this thing and still say, anything can happen?

Then I realized the loose ends were the point.

Anything can happen … life is a lot like that.

*

In equally cheap trick stories, endings can be nicely neatly packaged, or left unnaturally hanging.

Breaking Bad is neither.

You can also have a neat package or an uncertain end, and it can be OK, legit, and we’re satisfied.

Breaking Bad is neither.

*

Think back to the first episode: Walt in his tighty-whities ready to shoot it out.

But the sirens aren’t cops; they are, if I recall correctly, emergency vehicles.

It’s a fire engine that couldn’t care less for a half-naked man in the desert.

*

The big red rocks were there before him. The scorpions will be there after him.

The world beyond Walter White existed before him, exists outside of him, and will continue to do so after him. Where’s the fire? is a far more important question to the men on the truck than Who’s this weird dude in his old man underwear?

Just a guy.

*

Breaking Bad will end like that.

By not ending at all.

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