Sunday, April 20, 2014

On Breaking Bad's Series Finale and Loose Ends Endings

I hope you enjoyed Easter weekend. And no, I'm not doing the Blogging from A to Z Challenge this year. But for those of you who are doing it, I hope you're having fun. 

Last month, I finished watching the entire five seasons of the Breaking Bad series. Great show, really excellent writing. Once I got started on the last eight episodes of Season 5, there was no turning back.  The talented writers of the show tied many loose ends together in the series finale.  At the same time, there were some loose ends that weren't tied up, and these open endings were left up to viewer interpretation or musing. I don't believe loose ends always need to be tied up. But there were some loose ends in Breaking Bad that kept me thinking after I finished the show. And that's what I want to talk about today.
Readers, before you continue, I just want to warn you THERE WILL BE SPOILERS AHEAD. If you don't want to know what happens during the fifth and last season of Breaking Bad and the season finale, you can stop reading HERE.

...Okay, so here I go...

...again...SPOILERS AHEAD...

...So one of the things that popped out at me while watching the series is that it's not a good place for a child to be associated, even indirectly and/or unintentionally, with the meth producing and drug dealing underworld of Breaking Bad. As a kidlit writer, I'm invested in experiences of children, and so after watching the series finale, I was left wondering what happened to the surviving children on the show. 

What happened to that peek-a-boo kid Jesse rescued from that house in season 2? For a minute, I thought that peek-a-boo kid was the same kid that Todd killed in Season 5 by the train tracks, and that when the kid waved to the men after the train passed, it was because he recognized Jesse. But I was wrong, and the peek-a-boo kid is still out there somewhere. As is Brock, now without his mother Andrea, who was killed by the neo-Nazis in another grim moment of the series.  And what happens to Lydia's daughter, Kiira, who might've fulfilled Lydia's worst nightmare by finding her dead in their home? What happens to Mike's granddaughter, Kaylee, who only knows that her doting grandfather disappeared without a trace? What will Walter Jr. do with all that money the Schwartzes hand over when he turns 18? How will Holly handle the stigma of who her father was while growing up? 

And what happens to Jesse? He might be a man but I found him as vulnerable and impressionable as a child for most of the series. I can only hope that during the time he was incarcerated by the neo-Nazis, he thought hard about what he would do if he found freedom again, and now that he's out, he would stick to his escape plan....even though his taped confession is in the neo-Nazi's possession, which law enforcement is sure to find after they recover Walter's body at the hideout.

In addition to thinking about these loose ends after seeing the Breaking Bad finale, my kidlit writing brain also explored how a story about Grown-ups Behaving Really Badly would play out if it was told from the perspective of the children in the story, if each chapter bounced from character to character in a risky third-person omniscient narrative. While the children might not be able to fully explain or understand what's going on, the reader can absorb the clues offered by the green and honest voices of children, and put the pieces of the puzzle together. 

What did you think of the series finale of Breaking Bad, if you've seen it? Were there any loose ends you wanted to see get tied up?

Do you consider the third-person omniscient narrative a less desirable approach to storytelling over the first-person or third-person narrative?

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Pat Hatt said...

The last half of season 5 was amazing indeed, and yeah not everything has to be tied up, but most of the major things should, as they were. I still remember that damn fly episode though, one of the most boring things I have ever watched lol

John Wiswell said...

Since we're in full spoiler territory, there were no plot threads that I *needed* closed. After Season 4, the series was essentially finished for me, and 5 was a bonus. What I desperately wanted to happen in the season was for Walt to finally get the reckoning of character that his empire warranted, not in mortal jeopardy, but in needing to tear the empire apart to preserve his family. Him getting the big pathos death while his family lives in poverty and under government scrutiny was garbage. That it's what so many people wanted only infuriated me worse, as it's a symptom of how fiction has trained people that death is deep and death of bad people is winning. Character death has increasingly become a trite trope and Breaking Bad should have been above it, as it was above so many cheap decisions it opted out of throughout a masterful series.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I haven't watched this series. Not sure I could start something that I'd need to watch 5 seasons of though it sounds awesome.

I don't love the omniscient POV in books, though it does work sometimes.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I've never watched Breaking Bad, but it sounds like you were mostly satisfied with the ending of the series and that the loose ends were minor.

Me, I am still mad about investing years in the television show LOST which ended with MOSTLY loose ends, unresolved conflicts, and unsolved mysteries. Not to mention slamming up with an ending that the producers SWORE, from Season 1, wasn't going to happen. I still maintain I could have written a better ending ...

I have never tried writing omniscient POV, but one book (series, really) where it works well is Everlost by Neal Shusterman. If you want to see that POV done well, give it a try. It straddles the border between MG and YA.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Third-person omniscient is difficult to do well. Especially in books. It feels so detached.
I thought the ending was satisfying. Walter White had to die.

Julie Dao said...

I can't read this whole post because I haven't gotten into Breaking Bad yet!!! I skipped down to the end, but I'll definitely come back when I've caught up and see what I think. My brother got me the first couple of seasons on DVD, so I think it's about time!

Nick Wilford said...

Sadly I haven't seen Breaking Bad though only heard good things about it. I suppose loose ends are easier to tie up with third person omniscient as it's not just what your MC knows. Good to let the reader fill in the blanks on some things, though. I have written it, though not sure if I've nailed it.

Misha Gerrick said...

Hahaha I also skipped down. Call me weird, but reading spoilers give me the heevie jeevies, because I'll watch something years after hearing/reading a spoiler and STILL remember it. :-/

Anyway, I don't mind which point of view is used in a story, as long as it fits the events and what's going on.

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