'Breaking Bad' ends so good

  • Article by: NEAL JUSTIN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 30, 2013 - 11:12 AM

Creator Vince Gilligan defied the odds and met the high expectations for his series finale.

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This image released by AMC shows Aaron Paul, as Jesse Pinkman, left, and Bryan Cranston, as Walter White, in a scene from the finale of "Breaking Bad." The popular series about a chemistry teacher-turned drug dealer ended on Sunday, Sept 29.

Photo: Ursula Coyote, Associated Press - Ap

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Badfinger’s “Baby Blue” will never sound the same again.

The 1971 rocker, which opens with the line, “Guess I got what I deserve,” served as the perfect coda for the perfect conclusion Sunday night to AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” a series that will surely go down as one of the greatest of all time.

We’re about to head into spoiler territory, so refrain from reading further if you haven’t caught the finale.

Unlike “The Sopranos” and “The Wire,” the two other superior dramas of the past 10 years, “Breaking Bad” tied up all its loose ends in the last show, leaving the family of its meth-cooking antihero Walter White financially secure, ridding Albuquerque of its most evil residents and giving its star, Bryan Cranston, one last chance to growl.

There’s nothing wrong with ambiguity, but “Breaking” was a different kind of story, one in which each and every action symbolized something. with never a wasted line of dialogue or an unnecessary image. It demanded a decisive ending — and, boy, did we get it.

Yes, White’s dark alter ego Heisenberg came out of hiding from a New Hampshire cabin, but this time White was honest with himself and those around him, no longer justifying his evil acts by insisting it was all for his family.

“I did it for me,” he finally confesses to his wife, Skylar, in their emotional farewell to one another. “I liked it. I was good at it and I was really alive.”

Not that White doesn’t have a few more killer lines in him. When his former colleague points a kitchen knife at him, he responds: “If we’re going to go that way, you’re going to need a bigger knife.” I wonder how long the writers have been waiting to unleash that zinger?

Some may view his final act of revenge — a rigged gun in the trunk of his car — as over the top, but the important element of the scene is that, in the end, he saves his protege Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), finally freeing him from Heisenberg’s grasp as White awaits death in the meth lab that both saved and doomed him.

Creator Vince Gilligan said he wanted to create a sympathetic character that every viewer would come to despise. Every great show needs a great hero or, in this case, a great antihero, and three-time Emmy winner Cranston brought just the right dose of callousness to the role. But in the end, you actually feel for White as the police sirens wail in the background — even as you know that dirty bastard deserves to die.

njustin@startribune.com • 612-673-7431

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