Breaking Bad was one of the most critically acclaimed shows to ever air, and Lost was one of the most influential. Both shows’ finales received similar attention before they premiered but drew wildly different types of attention post-airing. Lost did not fare quite as well as Breaking Bad did.
After Breaking Bad ended in 2013, the internet was flooded with tweets about it. Many of these tweets were aimed directly at Damon Lindelof and Lost:
“Screw you @DamonLindelof for not giving us such a perfect ending for Lost like Vince Gilligan did for @BreakingBad_AMC!”
Here is the link to more examples and an article written about them: https://ew.com/article/2013/09/30/breaking-bad-lost-finale/
And here is Damon Lindelof’s take, co-writer of Lost:
I know it’s a small vocal minority, like most negative air on the internet, but in this case I don’t think they inaccurately portray a consensus that Breaking Bad outdid Lost with its ending.
Because Breaking Bad’s ending, unlike Lost’s, was satisfying.
And that’s what we want, right? After investing dozens of hours into a show we want to be satisfied!
But a satisfying ending doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good one. It is always immensely satisfying to watch Rocky beat the Cold War out of Ivan Drago while simultaneously avenging his friend, but that doesn’t make it a good ending. Lost’s finale, “The End,” makes some mistakes and may not be as satisfying as Breaking Bad’s finale, “Felina,” but it stays truer to its show, resulting in a more appropriate finish to its series.
I’m going to break this comparison up into three parts of what I believe makes a good finale. These are not the only aspects of a series ender that impact its effectiveness, but they are some of the most important: Characters, Themes, and Reflection
I want to make clear right now that I believe Breaking Bad is a stronger series overall than Lost. I am strictly comparing the finales and how well each ending wraps up its respective show.
Spoilers for the entirety of both series ahead
Lost was adamant that it was always about its characters and not the mysteries. It was stated repeatedly by the writers that the mysteries that would be solved would be the mysteries that mattered to the characters. While characters are absolutely integral to any story, it is not true that Lost was not also about its mysteries. The mysteries were a major draw to the series and it is understandable that many viewers were left underwhelmed with some of the answers (the whispers, for example), but the history of the show proves that the mysteries were always secondary to the characters. It wasn’t that a man could suddenly walk again; it was that John Locke could walk again. Few of us had posters of the Island or the Statue of Taweret hanging on our walls; fans had pictures of Sawyer, Kate, and the large cast photos, because what made those mysteries so compelling was the characters behind them. Most of the following shows that attempted to be Lost failed because they put mysteries at the forefront. Lost and “The End” kept the focus on the characters.
In fact, one of my biggest complaints about the Lost finale is the lack of recognition the Island itself actually gets. Would it have been too much to ask for Sawyer to look back at the Island on his way to the plane and give us one last full wide shot of the location we spent six years in? Or a solid look at it when he looks out the window as they are flying away?
And yet, I’d much rather the Island get shafted than Sawyer himself. Instead, the focus is on Sawyer getting to that plane and finally leaving the Island. It’s on Kate saving Jack’s life at the last second. On Jack accepting his place in all the madness. And each action they take reflects who they have been and who they have become throughout the series. Jack, obsessed with fixing everything, is no longer a man of science and fixes the Island on faith. Kate, always running, retreats from the Island but refuses to run from the complications of her relationship with Claire and Aaron. Frank, who just wants to fly planes that don’t crash, flies his plane away.
Richard decides to live. Hurley decides to rule. Ben willingly accepts a place as a VP and stays behind to meddle out his sins. The Man in Black dies fighting to escape his prison. The survivors find each other in the afterlife because they found a way to live together on the Island, so now they don’t have to die alone.
Each character gets attention in “The End,” and despite having such a large breadth of characters to juggle, they all get an active role in the finale.
“Felina” doesn’t balance its much smaller cast nearly as well. The focus is heavily on Walt, as one would expect the focus to be, but what about the rest of the cast? Nearly every other character in the episode stays still and waits for Walt to do something to them, including Jesse.
Jesse has such a minimal, passive role in the finale that, frankly, he could have been killed off in “Ozymandias” and the ending, plot-wise, would have been exactly the same.
Walt was the clear protagonist of Breaking Bad, but Jesse was the heart. We felt for Jesse, rooted for Jesse, and cried for Jesse. It’s a much bigger mystery to me why Jesse wasn’t more prominent in “Felina” than why there was a magic cork plugging up magic on a magic island. It may have been satisfying to watch Jesse drive away screaming, free from the hell Mr. White dragged him into, but he had zero agency and didn’t relate to the final plotline at all.
I found it more satisfying watching Jesse team up with Hank to bring Walt to his knees a few episodes prior. Jesse took an active role by making a decision to turn on Walt. It felt as though he was growing and learning as a person, finally taking action against Walt and pushing his character to a new place. If Jesse could have freed himself from Walt’s world through his own actions, instead of Walt deciding, “Now you can go,” it would have fit better with Jesse’s arc over the course of the series and brought his character to an even more thrilling conclusion.
Is it in character for Jesse to be excited to escape? Obviously. Were the circumstances of his release as powerful as they could have been? No.
“The End” took its protagonist, as well as all the other main characters, and allowed them each to make decisions based on all they had learned to accomplish or fail their goals. Each major character had an active role in the final outcome of the story. “Felina” pushed its protagonist to the forefront and made the beating heart of the show a side player.
Lost and Breaking Bad were both shows with themes and ideas they explored. Each was consistent in the exploration of their themes, maintaining thematic consistency all the way through their respective series. From the beginning of Lost, even before it was outright stated, we saw that these people were going to need to work together, to live together, or die alone. Breaking Bad explored the idea of chain reactions and consequences from its first episode forward.
One of the most important aspects a finale has to nail is a reinforcement of the themes of the show. This is what this show is about, and it’s time to make a final statement, or, at least, raise a final relevant question to the themes that have been prominent throughout the show.
Most often these themes will be displayed or questioned through the characters and their actions. All of the actions by the characters in “The End” aren’t just true to the characters themselves but to the themes of redemption, loss, and faith running throughout the entire series. They reinforce an ethos – “Live together, die alone.”
Say what you will about the flash-sideways afterlife concept (I didn’t like it), but it is a true reflection of the idea that because the survivors learned to live together they didn’t die alone. It may be a bit too spiritual for some and lack the weight of the on-island story, but it provides an adequate vehicle to reinforce the idea that the survivors needed each other and that they became a family. They helped each other grow and move on in life, and therefore they move on together in the afterlife.
The finale also circles back to other prescient themes, such as Man of Science VS Man of Faith. Jack puts his faith in the Island, Jacob, and John Locke. No, we never learn for certain what would have happened if the Man in Black left the Island, but neither does Jack. If we did know, then Jack wouldn’t be acting on faith. In the flash-sideways, Jack gets his memories back from his father – appropriate considering how heavily fathers figured into the series.
“Felina” gives Walt the perfect conclusion to his saga. It’s riveting to watch him enact revenge on everyone who screwed him over, and even more satisfying to watch him admit to Skylar that he did it all for himself.
But this particular brand of satisfaction comes at a cost. His actions did not reinforce the themes the series presented us with. Was taking revenge in character for Walt? Absolutely. He was always a petty, egotistical man. But allowing this type of revenge goes against the ethos of Breaking Bad as a series. Breaking Bad never allowed for easy decisions and always forced major consequences against its characters with each decision they made. There was always a follow through, a reckoning. “Ozymandias” is a perfect example of everything the show was about coming together – the consequences to one man’s actions for illicit power created a chain reaction that finally caught up with him, destroying everything in his life. Being a badass drug dealer has its price. It isn’t glorious and it isn’t fist-pumping awesome.
If the show would have ended right there, that would have been a stronger conclusion to the saga because what follows goes against all this. “Felina” gives Walt the happiest ending he could have. He gets to “redeem” himself, in a sense, by getting the money to his son, explaining himself to his wife, and saving Jesse. Then, due to his death, he doesn’t need to live with or experience any of the consequences of these actions.
Perhaps some would argue that Walt himself is the reckoning and that all these people are getting what is coming to them based on their actions. But giving Walt this level of control and power goes against the themes of power from the previous five seasons. It also allows him to go out with pride, something that by all intents of the rest of the series was his downfall.
Even if we overlook the circumstances above, Walt’s means of revenge goes against the themes of the show as well. Breaking Bad’s pilot has a scene where Walt teaches his class about chemistry. He says that everything has a reaction, providing the first basis of chemistry themes in the series. Through the journey, we witness Walt use his chemical knowledge to outsmart drug dealers, create poisons, and (obviously) cook meth. And yet in “Felina” Walt takes down Jack’s drug crew through an impressive feat of mechanical engineering. Why not have him enact revenge on the group with an impressive feat of chemical engineering? This would reinforce the idea that all actions have a reaction, and give us a final look at one of the major themes presented in the show.
“The End” reinforces the major themes of Lost through the actions of its characters and the environment they find themselves in (even if that environment is a bit weak). “Felina” trades its thematic relevance for a revenge plot that, while satisfying, does little to further the themes of the series.
Reflection is important at the end of any story. It is always of benefit to remind viewers just how far the characters have come and remind them of how much has changed and how much has remained the same. This gives an ending a feeling of completeness and allows viewers an opportunity to say “good-bye.”
“The End” has several callbacks and lines to earlier moments in the series. The shot of Jack and Locke looking down the hatch is recreated. Famous lines such as “I’ll see ya in another life, brother” are spoken (and also another great relation to the thematic resonance of “live together die alone”).
The most obvious callbacks are the “reawakening” memories of so many of the characters. While they advance the story in regards to the survivors “waking up” in the sideways universe, I don’t feel they are quite as effective as the rest of the homages paid to the series in real time. They have a scent of clip reel, which is a cheap way to drum up nostalgia. I find it much more effective when Jack dies in the same place he woke up on the Island.
“The End” also misses an opportunity to allow us to reflect on the Island itself. We don’t have a chance to take in the full scope of the Island one last time, and it doesn’t use its environment as well as it could to reflect.
“Felina,” on the other hand, excels at these callbacks, even if I don’t feel the plot itself is up to the task. Skinny Pete and Badger have a fantastic cameo in the finale, allowing us one last look at the goofy duo. We finally get to see where the ricin ends up, which ties up a seasons long thread. Walt gets to say his goodbyes, allowing the audience to say goodbye with him.
A flashback memory plays within the episode in a similar fashion to how “The End” uses memories. Again, it feels a bit cheap, but Walt standing in his abandoned, vandalized home is an amazing visual representation of how far he has fallen.
I don’t feel there is any more effective callback than Walt’s emotional look at the meth lab. All that we need to understand about his view of himself is written on his face, and we get a long look at the environment Walt’s journey took place in. As I stated earlier, “The End” doesn’t afford us a chance to say goodbye to the Island properly, but “Felina” nails this aspect.
And then Walt dies, and the series uses its last shot to pay homage to another finale.
Neither finale is perfect. Your mileage will vary based on what is most important to you, and there are more aspects that go into an effective finale than the three that I highlighted above.
“Felina” is a fine finale. Damon Lindelof thought it was great. I think it is fair to say most viewers found it satisfying. “Felina” learned from “The End,” understood that viewers felt mislead, cheated, and like there were too many loose ends floating around, and adapted. Breaking Bad left no stone unturned and finally gave in to the power fantasy it had been avoiding before, leaving many viewers with a feeling of triumph that Walt proved you don’t mess with Heisenberg.
That wasn’t what Breaking Bad was about, though. It wasn’t a tale about learning not to mess with Heisenberg, and that’s why I don’t feel its finale truly lives up to what preceded it. One of its lead characters is rendered ineffective and the themes of the show don’t shine very brightly (if at all). There are some great callbacks and scenes of reflection providing us a good opportunity to say goodbye, but ideally that would be within a plot that reinforces those first two areas (character and themes). I don’t believe that “Felina” does this.
As a single piece of media and as a singular episode, I would probably agree that “Felina” is a stronger piece of work. It’s exciting, clean, and effective in its simplicity. But as the end to a series it doesn’t reflect the show it represents.
“The End” on the other hand, pushes its characters and themes to the forefront. “Felina” may be more satisfying than mystifying, but “The End” effectively wraps up its story in a way that is true to the characters and themes of the series. On that level, satisfaction be damned, it makes for a better cap to its respective show, wrapping itself in everything that made Lost Lost, which is why I believe “The End” > “Felina.”
Even though the flash-sideways was kinda lame.
Let’s Talk About What #Barchie’s Steamy Shower Scene on ‘Riverdale’ Means for the Ship
It finally happened, #Barchie fans!
If you’re a #Bughead fan, you might want to stop reading at this point because this is a full post dedicated to the Betty and Archie hook-up!
After several seasons, Riverdale finally gave fans the Betty and Archie moment they’ve been waiting for.
This moment has been a long time coming.
There were some close calls through the years, though mainly, fans were left disappointed and wondering if the pairing would ever see the light of day.
At the end of season 4, the duo shared a romantic kiss but ultimately decided to bury their feelings out of respect for their significant others.
But you don’t just write a love ballad for someone and forget about them!
The long-awaited and highly-anticipated moment finally came via a steamy shower sex scene following a seven-year time-jump. It was so hot, I found myself wondering if this is even allowed on The CW. That steam wasn’t from the hot shower, that’s all I’m going to say!
Archie, who survived a war, and Betty, who has been catching serial killers while training to be an FBI agent at Quantico, reunited and fell right back into their old feelings without even realizing it.
Post hook-up, when Archie questioned what just happened between them, Betty informed him that it’s something “we’ve been wanting to do since high school but never got around to it.” And you have to appreciate her honesty here.
Since they’re both mature and single adults — Archie’s ex Veronica is “happily” married, while Betty hasn’t been with Jughead for years — they decided to keep the moment of passion under wraps.
Riverdale can be a bit ridiculous at times, but this was the smartest decision these two ever made. They don’t owe anyone, including Veronica and Jughead, anything.
This moment singlehandedly changed the Betty and Archie relationship forever.
And when I tell you fans were thrilled, I mean they were straight geeking out on Twitter.
“Something we’ve been wanting to do since high school but never got around too.”
— Barchiedaily (@Barchiedaily) February 18, 2021
— Barchiedaily (@Barchiedaily) February 18, 2021
But what does this mean for #Barchie moving forward? Was it a one-time thing that they needed to get out of their system?
Based on the glowing aftermath, methinks not. The chemistry and sexual tension is there, and they’re clearly into each other. And for the first time, they’re both in a place where they can pursue a relationship.
Well, there is the small issue of Betty’s boyfriend, Glen, back in Virginia, but I doubt that will pose much of a problem since she seemed to forget all about him. She didn’t even call him to inform him she decided to stick around for a while and teach at her old high school, which tells you everything you need to know!
And while Archie and Jughead’s new roomie situation may make things a bit more complicated and awkward, I think Archie and Betty owe it to each other to explore these longtime feelings.
They’ve never been given the opportunity to figure what these feelings truly mean — is it love or is it just lust? — because they’ve always repressed them out of respect for others.
There’s no better time like the present to put them to the test.
Though, if I’m being completely honest, I don’t see it lasting long. I’d love the idea of #Barchie babies, but with the core four back in each other’s orbits, they’re bound to fall into old habits.
Jughead and Betty don’t seem like they’re going to get back together anytime soon, but based on their conversation, they never got closure following their abrupt breakup. With a new mystery in tow, I see their paths merging again, though, I am really digging that Betty and Archie have been working together on the “Polly mystery.”
As for Ronnie, she may be married, but it’s not going to last long. She and Chadwick are already having marital issues that stem mainly from his insecurities and jealousy. I wouldn’t rule out a post-divorce reunion for Archie and Veronica.
She’s always wanted someone who can handle her Lodge independence, and Archie has always been that man.
So, while Betty and Archie might not be able to keep their hands to themselves in the short-term, I don’t think that there’s potential for them in the long run. And that’s okay too.
Sometimes the best thing before settling down is the fling you’ve always fantasized about!
At the end of the day, I’m rooting for the ships that will bring each other happiness — whoever that may be!
Don’t forget to check out our full review of Riverdale Season 5 Episode 5 now!
Why We Should All Want More (And Better) Episodic Television Shows
I started watching Cowboy Bebop in the last few months. I’m not yet through the series, and I’ve enjoyed it so far, but something that has caught my attention since I began watching it has been the conversations I’ve had surrounding it.
“I started Cowboy Bebop last night.”
“Oh, nice! I like that show. It doesn’t really have an overarching story but it’s still pretty good.”
“I can’t hang today, I’m watching Cowboy Bebop right now.”
“Oh, I watched that but it’s pretty episodic.”
Why does the quality of this show seem to come with a disclaimer that it’s episodic?
Serialization has taken over television in the past two decades and is fairly synonymous with the rise of the Golden Age of TV. With this rise in serialization, episodic television started to crumble; specifically the dissolution of how episodic television is perceived.
The word “episodic,” in many cases, is currently seen as an automatic con. The word “procedural” makes some TV fans run away in disgust, rushing to their favorite show to cleanse their minds with some sweet serialization. What is it about serialization that is so great? And what about episodic that is so wrong?
Episodic television provides singular stories within each episode that often don’t connect to each other in any significant way. Whether that’s solving a new mystery each week or getting into a new crazy situation with the gang, each episode stands alone. Due to their bite-sized nature and adherence to a status quo, major plot lines don’t move forward very quickly, if there are even any at all. Common complaints towards episodic television are its repetitiveness and lack of build to any major climax – two issues that serialization can solve quite nicely.
Serialization provides an opportunity for consistent character development, multiple intriguing plots, and major changes in the status quo – all ingredients to create an engrossing story from start to finish. It’s easier to get sucked into the story because each episode plays as a chapter within a larger plot, begging you to hit play on the next episode to find out what happens next. Cliff hangers and plot twists galore! Now THAT’s entertainment. They also provide something that episodic television shows don’t get to benefit from – a crutch.
Serialized television means that the story doesn’t end at the conclusion of an episode. This promise of a continued story lures viewers into watching the next episode based on what might happen, instead of being solely dependent on the quality of previous episodes. Serialized shows can lean on this crutch to help carry their stories and audiences with them throughout the series. You have to watch them all because each episode matters by its relation to what’s come before and what will happen next.
Episodic television doesn’t have this crutch. Instead, they have to go through the difficult process of making each episode matter on its own terms. Creating meaning for singular episodes is not easy, but when done correctly episodic television shows can provide a wider (and in some ways deeper) exploration of character and themes.
To highlight the power of episodic television, let’s once again turn to my favorite beautiful mess of a series: Lost. Viewers got hooked on Lost due to its intriguing characters and tantalizing mysteries, and many fans stuck with the series until the end just to see how it all ended, despite falling out of love with the show long before. Each season ended with a massive cliffhanger that kept viewers checking their calendars for the return of the show, and even today encourages binge-watching with its serialized “find out what happens next” format.
And yet the series’ most acclaimed episode, “The Constant,” is one of the most stand-alone episodes of the series. It uses characters and plot threads from previously established episodes, sure, but the story of a man hopping back and forth through time and reconnecting with his long lost love is very self-contained. The logistics of the plot-line are all explained and concluded within the episode, and the love story is told in a way that first-time viewers can immediately identify with. The contained story also helps keep this potentially convoluted time-hopping plot clean and centered, forcing the story to be as lean as possible and not giving it a chance to overstay its welcome.
When episodic television is taken full advantage of, wild and risky story-telling techniques can be attempted without threatening to derail the series. As episode counts for seasons get shorter, I fear that these riskier episodes will be tossed aside in favor of consistent storytelling for a long-form narrative. An episode like Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s brilliant “Hush” doesn’t seem as likely to be green-lit if that means 10% of the season is going to be dialogue-less. Episodes like Breaking Bad’s “Fly” will become less and less acceptable the further we get from episodic storytelling, and you don’t have to go much further than the split reaction to that episode to understand why.
“Fly” is the most unique episode of Breaking Bad for many reasons. Its plot-line is razor-thin, its cinematography is much more experimental, and it doesn’t move the main plot along at all. But this experiment allows us an in-depth look at Walt’s mental state and the thematic resonance the fly represents to his world. The changes to the usual structure of Breaking Bad proved to be too much of a departure for many fans, though. This wasn’t the Breaking Bad they had signed up for.
This is ironic because, as I stated before, one of the biggest criticisms of episodic television is its repetitive nature and adherence to a status quo. Tune in, solve a mystery with your favorite characters, and see you next week, folks! It’s almost like comfort food (which in some circles is somehow seen as a bad thing).
I’d argue that serialized formatting encourages the “comfort food” idea even more, despite its ability to change its characters and status quos, because serialization requires consistency – consistency in writing, direction, character choices, musical score, etc. The world and characters may change each episode, but the structure normally does not.
Episodic television doesn’t have this limit. It allows for structural changes. Characters can be explored not just through varying situations, but through varying storytelling techniques. You can look at an apple with the naked eye, but you’ll see it differently under the lens of a microscope, or through a window, or in a mirror. This is what episodic television can provide when taken advantage of – completely different approaches to the story and characters, or perhaps even completely different characters!
Yet today the format is ignored by many outside of comedies. For some reason, singular episodes are just fine for providing us laughs, but not for drama. Perhaps this is a result of too many episodic shows resting on their laurels and just repeating what works, or maybe it’s the result of some of the greatest dramas ever created pushing serialization to its finest peaks.
However, I hope the conversation around episodic television changes, and instead of dismissing the format audiences instead begin pushing for series that actually take full advantage of what an episode structure can provide in terms of storytelling. Some of the most inspirational series ever created were episodic (The Twilight Zone, Columbo, The X-Files), and I hope the format lives on, both on its own and within serialized stories, and receives the respect it deserves.
What do you all think of episodic television versus serialized? Am I totally out of touch and all of your friends love episodic TV and hate serialization? Let us know in the comments below!
(As I was editing this article, I came about this quote from an interview on IO9 about Netflix’s live-action Cowboy Bebop remake: “Another reason for making tweaks to Bebop’s story is that the team behind the show wanted to broaden out Spike’s story into a longer narrative in and of itself…”
So it seems as though even the episodic show that inspired this article will be remade to be more serialized. Take that as you will!)
7 Most Romantic TV Shows to Watch on Netflix Right Now
Romance is in the air!
With Valentine’s Day coming up, there’s no better time to get lost in a show that makes you feel and mushy and gushy inside.
Seeing a character’s romantic adventures is thrilling, exciting, and fills you with hope.
Every series has some kind of romantic-arc whether it be forbidden love, romantic love, or a love triangle.
So grab your significant other or besties — here are the most romantic dramas on Netflix to watch right now!
Obviously, Netflix’s hit series tops the list with romance, scandal, and plenty of steamy scenes. Dubbed the Regency-era Gossip Girl, the first season is a brilliant and entertaining period piece that centers on eight close-knit siblings of the powerful Bridgerton on their quest to find true love. And Regé-Jean Page isn’t bad on the eyes.
The real romance of this series is between the three best friends — Maddie, Dana Sue, and Helen — who are navigating new relationships, family drama, and career in the Southern town of Serenity. See more Sweet Magnolias content.
Crash Landing On You
The South Korean rom-com establishes an unlikely secret romance between a South Korean heiress and a high-ranking North Korean officer who helps the heiress’ go into hiding after a paragliding accident causes her to crash-land on his turf and into his arms!
She’s Gotta Have It
What do you need in life from a man? Spike Lee’s adaptation of his 1986 film of the same name aims to find that when Nova juggles three relationships with three very distinct men.
Dash & Lily
The limited-series may be set during Christmas, but since it’s still winter, it doesn’t feel odd watching it. In this romantic story, a cynical Dash and an optimistic Lily form a bond as they share dreams and goals in a notebook they pass back and forth. Will the spark be there when they finally meet face-to-face? Read our review of Dash & Lily now.
The anthology explores the ups-and-downs of the modern dating world by following several stories and relationships between people in Chicago. If you’re in the dating pool right now, it’s a relatable series that can be watched as standalone episodes making it easily digestible.
The Spanish series in 1950s follows the romance between a heir to a fashion house and a seamstress who works for the family. And let’s just say, it doesn’t get the families blessing!
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