It's hard for me to be super objective about this show. Over the course of 62 episodes, right from the start, for me, Vince Gilligan and his team of writers and directors crafted a piece of neo-noir-western American tragedy that almost never, if ever, lost its footing. In its story of the rise and fall of Walter White (or his fun alias Heisenberg) and how he becomes a Meth "Emperor" in Albuquerque during his run of lung cancer, we get all kinds of dramaturgy here. There's conflict, conflict, conflict going on in this show, always, from the familial (what do I tell my wife, Skylar, or not tell her, what doesn't she tell me, how far do the lies and deceit and horrors go?) to the more genre-leaning (how much criminals go in their crazy s***, which is established early on with the throw of the particular chemical and the "This... is not Meth" explosion) to the dark comedy that gives the Coens a run for their money (Better Call Saul!) - not to mention how it made Aaron Paul just as much as star as Bryan Cranston, both working actors along with Anna Gunn, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt and Bob Odenkirk. It all... fits.
Often with a show it's easy to let things slip, even (or especially) on the great shows when it comes to character dynamics, repetition, things that can be hard to control over the space of such a long period of time. But everything is so carefully mapped out, season after season, for the unpredictable to keep happening and for the dramatic beats to gain tension and mystery. Just take how the writers set up, so patiently, over a season, the opening clues of objects and debris all outside of a house, and when you finally find out what all this is about - BAM right to the gut.
What one comes away with, outside of the tremendous performances (you might gripe that Cranston got too many Emmys, but... what didn't he deserve with every fiber of his acting bad-assery?) and the consequences that are built up for all the characters, including those we think are made of rock and steel (Mike Erhmantraut), is the world of moral terror. What is morality in this world? There isn't any. It's the Wild West, but crossed with something like, I dunno, American Beauty. What happens when you take a hardcore drug-gangster tale of suspense and warp it with dark comedy about what it means to be a man in society today, or what it means to have a family (and believe me, there are many moments that are downright haunting, harrowing to the soul that speak to this, especially as it builds and builds in its last eight episodes)? You get... this. Perfection.
I wish I could tell you there's problems with the show, but rarely can I find any. I'm sure if I dug deep enough some might be there, a cliché exploited for the drug-war scenarios or having a baby around for easy drama or theatrics. But so many times on this show you - or I should say I - get thrown curve balls that really have no other way of working out except how they do. When a moment like Walter White in his crawl space discovering a terrible revelation and going from agony to abhorrent laughter arrives, it's just one of those amazing moments of drama in any American medium. It might be throwing praise like gravy on a Thanksgiving platter, but I'm reminded of Nicholson's comment once on Kubrick: everyone acknowledges he's the man, and I still think that underrates him.
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