AMC’s superstar show Breaking Bad is over and despite a mind-blowing finale and a bittersweet taste left to haunt us after it was over, we still can’t shake the feeling of wanting more. If you were an avid viewer, you surely read the latest of Vince Gilligan’s revelations regarding the season’s ending, of how he wanted it to be even more disturbing, the choices the writers made about Walt and the (unfortunately) missing scene that would have shed a final and humane light upon our favorite villain.
If you ask anybody who followed the show religiously about the reasons why it was so popular and successful, our bet is that will not stop talking. From Bryan Cranston’s brilliant performance (and may we remind you that he was cast by Vince Gilligan solely based on Cranston’s past performance as a demented character in X Files’ Season 6, Episode 2 – Drive, back in 1998?), the perfect sense everything made in the show: psychologically, contextually and even socially, as we will see next, to an ending that we may have not expected (or wished for), but, nonetheless, a suspenseful and core – shaking one.
And they would be absolutely right. It was a hit, start to finish, and just as Entertainment Weekly stated a few days ago, “it will not only be remembered as a TV drama that went out on top — creatively, and in terms of popularity — but possibly as a game-changer for underdog TV shows.” As many as 10.3 million viewers held their breaths throughout the show’s final episode Felina and it also got the much – deserved two Emmy Awards this year, among around 50 other awards and nominations.
In the mean time, while Bryan went on with his skyrocketing career as a versatile and powerful actor – and we hope to see him some day featuring in the next best movie in the world, and while Vince Gilligan returned to play his magic as a writer / director / producer, some of us are still quite a bit nostalgic, as the show did leave us with tons of ideas to ponder on, thought – provoking concepts we have to make peace with and at least two or three shocks to deal with in the future. So for the old times’ sake, let’s recap ten shocking facts that we learned from Breaking Bad, giving you the chance to share your own.
Doesn’t it seem ironic that we face a governmental shutdown revolving around an affordable health care plan, while we just finished watching a show that revolved around a man who, diagnosed with cancer, changed his destiny over night (and the destiny of many many others around him), just to make sure his family will be financially safe in the future? We will talk about Walt’s motivations a little bit later, but as a core – concept, just as the guys at CTV News stated, at least in the TV show’s theory, if Walt White had had better health care when he got his cancer diagnosis, maybe he wouldn’t have begun cooking meth to help cover his expenses. Of course, this is quite stretched, but if you come to think about it, there is some truth in the saying “desperate times ask for desperate measures.” Now let’s not forget that this is still fiction, as not everybody who lacks money turns into a drug dealers, but what is shocking here is actually the coincidence between the ending of the show and the current economic and political situation in the U.S. Sleep with one eye open, though, as there are tons of studies and research on personality changing triggers or contextual factors, about beliefs, behavior modifications and so on. If you are broke, have only two years to live and the economical environment doesn’t look too friendly, you are not likely to turn into a criminal, but who knows… This Standford University study regarding the role of personal beliefs in personality change is a good start if you want to further look into the subject. You already know that many real world-known criminals were “nice guys” before turning into serial killers, but they used to blame it on the bad childhood and not on the healthcare system.
Literally, this was one show that actually taught people how to cook meth. Drugs have been for many years added flavors to cinema and TV shows, and some of these films or series managed brilliantly to depict drug users’ personal dramas, collateral victims caught in dangerous and life threatening situations or funny characters trying to make a living out of selling pot, just like Weeds did. But from watching a show with a drug-addiction or smuggling hint to it from actually learning to prepare your own crystal clear drug of choice is a long step and it was quite shocking, as few other shows insisted so much not on the orbiting situations of producing and selling drugs, but on the actual, chemical process of manufacturing drugs.
Don’t do it at home, don’t even think about trying, meth can kill you in more than one way. But for a TV show, Breaking Bad broke some barriers and reactions didn’t took their time to appear. Maybe people are not so fond about Miley Cyrus’s recent twerking show at the MTV VMA, but she made a point some time ago, not only about the weird rules of censorship running the entertainment industry in America, but also regarding the bluntness of cooking meth in this show: “I was watching ‘Breaking Bad’ the other day, and they were cooking meth. I could literally cook meth because of that show. It’s a how-to.” Well, this is in part true, as it would have been completely against the law to show each step of the process, and the producers left out some crucial steps and phases, as who knows what ideas might bump into people’s heads, but it is not less true that everything else you saw there was quite self – explanatory.
What is great about Breaking Bad, as we said before, is that it kept us close to reality. Cinema holds humongous archives of movies focusing about drug cartels, drug smugglers and Mexican bad asses ready to pull out a gun whenever somebody looks suspicious, while some hero shoots everybody up with a chain gun that rarely remains out of bullets. Drug cartels depicted in movies and TV shows look large, mean and seriously threatening and when they take and keep hostages, they don’t play around. But Breaking Bad managed to break some of the old cliches, as during the episode Salud (Season Four, Episode 10), Jesse and Gus manage to poison a big bunch of angry Mexican drug lords with tequila. It wasn’t as spectacular as say, a Silvester Stallone action scene, but it was shocking to see how easy it is to actually kill somebody with a little brains, planning and manipulative actions. Mass murder will never be the same after this show, as it clearly made everybody wonder for a second how many times did they drink together with strangers and how dangerous this apparent innocent act might have turned into.
Ah, the old “fear the bullied, as he has balls” movie scheme you’ve seen so many times before in cinema! Apparently, to gain respect and stop people bullying you, you have to confront them. Make a stand. Speak up for yourself. Beat the crap out of them. In the movies, it works like a charm every time and because there is no smoke without fire, there has to be some truth behind this even in the real life. But we’re talking shocking teachings from Breaking Bad, right?
An iconic scene for the development of the entire show must be the one when Walt cooks some explosive mercury to blow up the windows of fierce Tuco Salamanca’s office (Crazy Handful of Nothing, Season 1). Tuco being the bully in the story, he traditionally admits that Walt has balls and hands him a bag full of money – which Walt deserved to take. In your regular high school movies, this would be the moment when the happy victim regains dignity, self-esteem and social respect and the movie ends with him living happily ever after, since proving his worth. Walt took a step forward and became a fierce criminal himself, as the moment Tuco threw his hat at him, Heisenberg was born.
If there is no other way of entering America other than being an illegal immigrant, at least look around and open your eyes to better choose your trip companions. Illegal immigration to the U.S. from the Mexican border is still a problem authorities have to deal with and last year, an article in New York Times dedicated a few thoughts to the matter of unnecessary deaths occurring at the border: while it’s true that illegal immigration numbers are down overall, migrants are dying in the desert at the same rate that they have been for years (roughly between 150 and 250 deaths a year), according to statistics compiled by the Arizona Recovered Human Remains Project and the human rights group No More Deaths. In the past 10 years alone, some 2,000 migrants — men, women, children and the elderly — have died this way.
So considering all the problems that are already there, traveling with two cartel killers is unhealthy, to say the least, just as talking too much also seems to lead to perilous situations. “No Mas” episode bares at least three lessons to learn: some cartel killers are true psychos and they will murder without any sort of justification, just because they can. Because, as shown before, murder is easy, once you got used to it. The second lesson is that if you happen to want to cross a border illegally, think again. And third, if you’re a drug dealer and some cartel goons are on your tracks, run!
What other shocking facts did you learn from Breaking Bad? Do you have your own “lessons” and ideas as a consequence of watching the show? What are your favorite moments? Share you thoughts and let us all learn something new!