'Breaking Bad' Series Finale: What the Critics Are Saying
THR's Tim Goodman was "quite taken" with the ending, the Washington Post's Hank Stuever laments that several storylines were left unended and USA Today's Robert Bianco calls the 75-minute episode "stunning."
[Warning: Spoilers ahead if you haven't seen Sunday's episode of Breaking Bad.]
The fate of Walter White has finally been revealed.
AMC's hit drama series Breaking Bad came to an end Sunday night in an episode titled "Felina," which saw chemistry-teacher-turned-drug-dealer White (Bryan Cranston) die in the last moments.
The critics were quick to weigh in with their takes on the finale.
"I loved Jesse dreaming about building the perfect wooden box (a reference to his earlier days in therapy) and how that contrasted with the box he was put in by the Nazis," he wrote. "I loved how Jesse was able to kill Todd by viciously choking the life out of him but was also able to choose not to kill Walt. I never, for even a second, thought Jesse would die in this series. He was always the misguided innocent. And there’s a reason Aaron Paul has those Emmys (and should, by rights, have one from this year)."
Of the ending, wherein Walt dies as Badfinger's "Baby Blue" plays, Goodman wrote that he was "quite taken with it."
"But even if I wasn’t, more than anything, I love a creator’s ability to end the story as he or she wishes," he wrote. "That doesn’t make every decision acceptable. The finale to Dexter was an embarrassing ham-fisted disaster. But the finale to Breaking Bad -- even if it wasn’t what I’d hoped would happen -- was more than enough to thrill me and make me appreciate five seasons and six years of brilliant work."
USA Today's Robert Bianco was effusive in his praise.
"If you have to go, go out on top," he wrote. "In a stunning 75-minute extended finale, Vince Gilligan brought Breaking Bad to a supremely fitting close, tying up all the loose ends in his modern classic AMC series and killing off his now iconic anti-hero, Walter White. And he did so in a way that confirmed Bad's status as one of TV's greatest series -- and star Bryan Cranston as one of America's best actors."
The Washington Post's Hank Stuever wrote that there were many questions left unanswered.
"But like all big-talker shows that bring their heavy cargo in for a rough and breathlessly observed landing, Breaking Bad didn’t quite leave itself enough runway to satisfactorily end some of its better storylines, especially once the chronology gap closed up between the flash-forwards from last year’s episodes and Sunday night’s conclusion," he wrote. "One could easily argue that there was just too much left to do in this one episode."
For example, "We never got a full picture of what Skyler, Walter Jr. (RJ Mitte) and little Holly White’s lives were like during all that time Walt was hiding in New Hampshire," he wrote. "We never got to see how the DEA picked up where Hank Schrader’s secret investigation left off and how they began sorting (with Marie Schrader’s help, no doubt) through the tangled mess of the Heisenberg meth operation. … And we certainly could have used (and Betsy Brandt was plenty up to the challenge of depicting) more of the depths of Marie’s grief after Hank died. We had so much invested in all these characters and not nearly enough time for a payout; it was a shame, in these last few episodes, to always feel as if we were heading for the door too soon. I’m a sucker for fastidiously clean endings and also the beauty of epilogue."
Still, he added that "it seems almost silly to carp about the things we didn’t see Sunday night."
Rob Owen of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote that the Breaking Bad finale was "a conclusion worthy of one of the few TV series that never jumped the shark."
He wrote that the show "was surprising and smart to the end, even if some of the pieces were a little too easy to predict. It wasn't a finale for the ages -- like Newhart or St. Elsewhere or Six Feet Under -- but the final 75 minutes of Breaking Bad offered a satisfactory wrap-up to the show, one of the few in TV history to never make a serious misstep."
He added: "If I have any regrets about this series finale, it's that I wish we knew where some of the characters ended up after the series. What became of Jesse? Did Gretchen and Elliott follow through? Did Skyler and Walt Jr. end up OK?"
Vinay Menon of The Toronto Star also was satisfied.
"Give the producers credit for ending the saga of Walter White this decisively," Menon wrote. "Most of the important loops were closed with clever precision in what felt like the fastest 75 minutes of television in history. What an insane ride. What a shame it’s over. In his death, Walter White was able to exert control over his own destiny and be the man that Heisenberg temporarily made us forget. And now he will live on as one of the great TV characters of all time."
TV Fanatic's Matt Richenthal thought the "ending felt appropriate."
"There was nothing flashy or complicated about it, because Breaking Bad has spent a season with its foot on the accelerator," he wrote. "It's been just like Walt in the face of Hank learning his secret: frenzied, all over the place, jumping from one dire situation to the next."
He added: "This wasn't a jaw-dropping finale, but that's largely because it was a jaw-dropped television show. Gilligan didn't save any rounds for the concluding episode. He emptied them as he went along. Episodes and seasons weren't crafted with a bombshell reveal in mind; there was never anything contrived to tease the following week. The series was logical and detailed and precise, taking viewers on the journey of a chemistry teacher who believed he worked the same way."