‘Breaking Bad’ The King of Kings

Photo Courtesy of Amazon.com

Photo Courtesy of Amazon.com

I initially wasn’t interested in the “Breaking Bad” franchise. I had heard good things about it but ultimately didn’t care. The idea of a chemistry teacher getting diagnosed with cancer and cooking meth in order to make money didn’t seem like a show I would like. I eventually decided to sit down and watch an episode after AJ couldn’t stop praising it one day. Let me tell you, watching it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Before I get into talking about the show, let me provide a disclaimer. The show depicts substance abuse, domestic abuse, and other forms of violence coupled with mental health problems. If this is something sensitive to you, it may be beneficial to forgo any continued digging into this series. But other than that, let’s get into the review!

As I said, “Breaking Bad” is a show about a chemistry teacher named Walter White who is diagnosed with cancer and decides to cook meth in order to make money for his family before he dies. The thing is, Walter’s meth is the most chemically pure meth that anyone has seen, making it highly sought after. Along with Walter is his old student, Jesse Pinkman. Since they’re located in New Mexico right next to the Mexican border, problems arise with the cartel. This is all while Walter tries to keep his involvement a secret from his friends and family.

What really sets “Breaking Bad” apart from other shows is its excellent storytelling. Most episodes start with a clip of something that seemingly had nothing to do with the story. However, as the episode progresses, it usually becomes more clear what the beginning was referring to. This is excellently done in season two, where many episodes open with a shot of a desecrated teddy bear floating around in a body of water. It isn’t revealed what these shots are hinting at until the final episode of that season. After watching the event unfold that caused the teddy bear to become so degraded, any reflection on past episodes are forever tainted with the knowledge of what’s going to happen. It brilliantly uses out-of-place shots to continue to create an uneasy feeling in the viewer.

A good story needs good characters, and oh boy does this show deliver. I can’t find a single character in the show that isn’t written well. Even my least favorite character, Skylar White, is still excellent in most scenes she’s in. This is mostly due to the actors portraying these characters, mainly Bryon Cranston as Walter White. Cranston’s performance is one of the best I’ve ever seen. The way he goes from an introverted chemistry teacher to a dauntless drug lord is outstanding. 

Walter White is NOT the hero in this story. Do not go in expecting to root for Walter’s success. Just because he’s the protagonist doesn’t mean that he is justified in the things he does. There are other characters who could be considered heroes in this story. Without getting into spoiler territory, there is a scene in the third-to-last episode of the series which cements the true hero of the story. Speaking about that episode…

It’s titled “Ozymandias,” and it is one of the best television episodes to ever be created. I’m not even inflating my opinion because this show is close to perfect. There is genuinely nothing wrong with this episode at all. “Ozymandias” is titled after a poem of the same name, where the so-called “king of kings” comes to terms with his own mortality, realizing that even he will fall someday. This perfectly mirrors the episode, as every major event that has happened during the series comes back in this beautiful climax. The cinematography, acting, writing, and everything is perfected in this one episode. It is the best piece of fiction out there.

The show’s plot builds off of itself. Every action a character takes has implications for their future. Not only this, but there isn’t a single character that ever feels out of place. The things that they do make sense not only from a narrative standpoint but a character standpoint as well. I never once felt as though a character was doing something that didn’t befit them. This expert characterization remains throughout the entirety of the series.

I won’t lie; it might be challenging to get through the first few episodes of the show. That isn’t to say that they’re bad— far from it. The show doesn’t begin to really cement its characters and plot until we see Walter commit his first major crime besides cooking meth. After watching the show, you begin to appreciate the beginning more and more. So even if the beginning may not be exactly your cup of tea, just wait. I promise you won’t regret watching it.

I wish I had more room to write, but sadly I don’t. I can’t praise this show enough. I genuinely think that it is one of the best pieces of media ever conceived. I have never seen anyone watch this show and dislike it. Even if watching a drama about drugs doesn’t seem like something you’d like, this is still a show you should watch. There is nothing better than watching Walter White transform into Ozymandias, the king of kings.

Score: 10/10