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Finale Comparison: Did Breaking Bad Really Have a ‘Stronger’ Finale Than Lost?

Left: Lost/ABC Photo by Mario Perez Right: Breaking Bad/AMC Photo by Ursula Coyote

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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:

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/damon-lindelof-breaking-bad-finale-639484

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

CHARACTERS

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.

Lost_TheEnd

Lost/ABC Photo by Mario Perez

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.

BreakingBad_Felina

Breaking Bad/AMC Photo by Ursula Coyote

“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.

THEMES

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.

Lost_TheEnd

Lost/ABC Photo by Mario Perez

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.

BreakingBad_Felina

Breaking Bad/AMC Photo by Ursula Coyote

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

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.

Lost_TheEnd

Lost/ABC

“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.

BreakingBad_Felina

Breaking Bad/AMC Photo by Ursula Coyote

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.

Lost_TheEnd/BreakingBad_Felina

Left: Lost/ABC
Right: Breaking Bad/AMC

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.”

Lost_TheEnd

Lost/ABC

Even though the flash-sideways was kinda lame.


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What to Watch December 2020: ‘Selena: The Series,’ ‘Blue Bloods,’ ‘Shameless, ‘Sabrina’ and More!

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What to watch in December 2020 including Shameless, Blue Bloods, and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

The holidays are upon us and with that, some much-needed time to just sit back and relax with loved ones. 

And there’s no better way to bond with others than by watching TV!

Here are all the exciting additions coming to primetime, cable, and streaming in December?

What are you adding to your binge-watch list?

 

SEAL Team – CBS (December 2)

Season 4 returns with a 2-hour season premiere with the team’s potential shakeup. Per the synopsis: “Bravo Team enters enemy territory in the snowy Spin Ghar Mountain Range to capture Al-Hazred, the leader of a terrorist group and son of the terrorist leader that Jason took down early in his career and made him Bravo One.”

 

Selena: The Series – Netflix (December 4)

The spirit of Selena Quintanilla comes to life in Netflix’s biopic starring Christian Serratos. Re-live the story of the Tejano music and iconic Mexican-American pop star. We interview Madison Taylor-Baez, who plays young Selena in the series. Check it out now

 

The Hardy Boys – Hulu (December 4)

The Hardy Boys are back… and they’re on the case. To fill the Nancy-Drew sized void in your life, Hulu is rebooting the mystery series that will deliver action packed twists you didn’t see coming! 

 

The Great British Baking Show: Holidays – Netflix (December 4)

There’s nothing like getting into the holiday spirit with some tasty treats. The third season of the baking competition finds former bakers competing in holiday-themed challenges.

 

MacGyver, Magnum P.I., and Blue Bloods – CBS (December 4)

The trio of veteran CBS dramas returns on the first Friday of the month for season 5, season 3, and season 11, respectively. 

 

Shameless – Showtime (December 6)

The final season (season 11)  is upon us. It’s time to say goodbye to the Gallagher family after nearly 10 years together.   

 

Euphoria – HBO (December 6)

While this isn’t a second season announcement, HBO will air two special episodes bridging the gap between season 1 and 2, which has been halted due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

 

Grinch the Musical – NBC (December 9)

Your heart might grow three sizes when you see Matthew Morrison take on the cynical creature in the theatrical event. 

 

High School Musical: The Musical: Holiday Special – Disney+ (December 11)

Celebrate the holiday with the cast of HSMTMTS as they sing their favorite joyful songs and recall some holiday memories. 

 

Bridgerton – Netflix (December 25)

Shondaland is here to give you your next obsession. Shonda Rhimes’ first Netflix show following her transition from ABC is based on the popular best-selling book. It follows eight children of the late Viscount Bridgerton in Regency in the early 1800s England.

 

Letterkenny – Hulu (December 26)

The comedy sitcom about the residents of Letterkenny, a small community in Canada, returns for its ninth season! 

 

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina – Netflix (December 31)

It’s time to say goodbye to the Spellman clan, but not before one last hurrah. The fourth and final season of the Riverdale spinoff premieres on the final day of 2020. According to the synopsis,”The Eldritch Terrors descend upon Greendale [and] the coven must fight each terrifying threat one-by-one (The Weird, The Returned, The Darkness to name a few), all leading up to… The Void, which is the End of All Things.

 

Movies

Godmothered – Disney+ (December 4)

Based on the trailer and the fact that Isla Fisher stars in the film, it’s giving me Enchanted vibes, which is a great thing. Jillian Bell stars as Eleanor, an inexperienced fairy godmother-in-training hoping to help Mackenzie Walsh (Fisher). 

 

The Prom – Netflix (December 11)

Ryan Murphy return to the streaming giant with a musical, based on the critically acclaimed 2018 Broadway musical. It follows a star-studded cast (Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Keegan-Michael Key, James Corden and Andrew Rannells) of Broadway stars who visit a small-town in Indiana to help a high school girl named Emma attend to prom with her girlfriend. 

 

The Midnight Sky – Netflix (December 23)

Times are bleak, but this post-apocalyptic space thriller hopes that you’ll indulge anyway. It follows George Clooney’s Augustine, a lonely scientist in the Arctic, hoping to contact astronauts to warn them against returning home tp Earth, where a mysterious catastrophe has taken place. Meanwhile, the astronauts, led by Felicity Jones, wonder why contact with Mission Control has seized. 

 

Soul – Disney+ (December 25)

The highly-anticipated Pixar film arrives as a treat from Santa. After its theatrical release was delayed due to the COVID pandemic, the film will hit the streaming service with its star-studded cast of Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey, Daveed Diggs, Phylicia Rashad, Angela Bassett, and Graham Norton.


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Netflix

5 Biggest Moments from ‘Virgin River’ Season 2

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5 biggest moments from Virgin River Season 2

Netflix dropped Virgin River Season 2 as a Black Friday gift for fans, and there’s so much to unpack!

You can read all of our episodic reviews here

Or, check out the 5 biggest moments from the 10-episode season below: 

 

1. An Accidental Death

After her abusive ex comes to town, Paige is terrified for her and Christopher’s safety, especially since he punished her for running away. He tells Paige to pack up their things, but when she refuses, the two get into a tussle and she accidentally pushes him down the stairs. Since Wes, a decorated cop, made it so that Paige would never be able to win in court, she knows that “self-defense” won’t hold up. Preacher helps her skip town and takes care of the body. Connie puts two-and-two together when she learns that Wes is an official missing person. As someone who lost her mother to an abusive father, she vows to help Preacher come up with a solid alibi in case they find the body. Preacher refuses, and when he learns that Wes’ partner turned on him and there’s no a warrant for his arrest, he thinks his problems are over. That is until he sees Wes show up at his bar. Turns out, it’s his identical twin brother, Vince, who is hellbent on getting revenge. 

 

2. Twins! 

Charmaine’s high-risk pregnancy poses problems for Jack, who does not want to be with her romantically. This is only intensified when Mel confirms that Charmaine is pregnant with twins. Charmaine goes out of her way to get Jack to fall in love with her, but when she realizes that it’s never going to happen, she punishes him by telling him that she’s going to get married one day and that man is going to be the father of her babies and not Jack.

 

3. An Engagement

After a whole season of sneaking around and trying to get it right, Doc finally proposes to Hope, who initially turns him down because she thinks he was sneaking around with another woman, Muriel. When Doc reveals that Muriel helped put him in touch with a vintage jeweler to reset Hope’s ring, she says “yes,” and agrees to have a vow ceremony and reception. Doc then decides to tell Hope about his illness, but before he gets to tell her what’s troubling him, they’re surprised by an engagement party. 

 

4. Brady’s Mess with Calvin

After getting fired from Jack’s, Brady picks up a job working for Calvin. He immediately realizes that something shady is going on, but the idea of making a lot of money entices him. That is until Calvin tasks him with shooting Spencer, one of his men who was trying to rat him out to Jack. Brady pretends to shoot Spencer, but instead, helps him and his family get out of town so that Spencer can testify against Calvin to bring down the whole operation. 

 

5. Jack, can you hear me?

Calvin warned Jack not to get involved in his business. When he felt like Jack was overstepping, he sabotaged his bar and got dozens of customers sick. While it’s unclear who shot Jack, it’s believed that it was either one of Calvin’s men after Mel paid a visit to Emerald Lumber to talk to Brady. Mel had just opened up to the idea of pursuing a relationship with Jack after pushing back for months because of her fear of getting hurt again. She wanted to prove that Brady didn’t kill Spencer to ease Jack’s conscience, but she may have ended up making things worse. That is unless someone else is to blame for the shooting. 

 

All of this means that we need season 3 of Virgin River now more than ever! 


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Editorials

Things We’re Thankful For At CraveYouTV: 2020 TV Edition

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TV Show Things We're Grateful for in 2020

2020 has put a lot in perspective.

While it’s easy to say that it’s been a terrible year, it’s also been a year that has allowed us to reflect on and appreciate all that we have.

It’s the kind of year where we recognize all that we’re thankful for… and really mean it. 

To celebrate the holiday, CraveYouTV has put together a list of some of the TV-related things we’re grateful for this year: 

  • For shows slowly but surely coming back after the COVID hiatus. It was a hard few months without new content, but we’re grateful they’ve found safe ways to resume filming.
  • For McDreamy’s brief return on Grey’s Anatomy. Honestly, that alone could’ve made 2020 somewhat bearable.
  • For the second season of Virgin River coming to bless us this Thanksgiving.
  • For Tayshia Adams taking over the reigns from Clare Crawley and making The Bachelorette more tolerable this season. 
  • For 15 grand years with Sam and Dean on Supernatural. The finale wasn’t to everyone’s liking, but it gave us all closure. It was bittersweet to say the least. 
  • In general, for the ability for shows to have proper endings and finales. It’s always nice when a network lets a show sign off on its own terms. 
  • For the ability to watch older shows! With less airing on TV and streaming, it’s given us a chance to re-watch some oldies but goodies. 
  • For the well-crafted mysteries on The CW’s Nancy Drew
  • For medical shows tackling the real-life COVID pandemic to raise awareness. 
  • For Rio (and Manny Montana) on Good Girls
  • For Emma Corrin’s portrayal of a young and troubled Princess Diana on The Crown. The role came with plenty of criticism, but she took it in stride and gave an outstanding performance. 
  • For Atwater’s powerful stance against racist cops on Chicago PD. He’s one of the best characters to grace our screen. 
  • For Netflix expanding its holiday movie universe and giving fans some hope at a possible holiday movie crossover in the future. We’re looking at you Princess Switch 2!
  • For The Masked Singer putting the fun back in masks! 
  • For a two season renewal of Cobra Kai returning in January 2021. 
  • For The Mandalorian season 2, and Baby Yoda in general! We can’t get enough of the little guy.
  • For the Star Wars Lego Christmas special on Disney+.
  • For a second season of The Boys, a series that continues to intelligently skewer super hero fads while simultaneously reveling in what makes them fun. 
  • For a new season of The Great British Bake Off to heat things up. 
  • For the new trend of movies being released on streaming and in theaters at the same time. 
  • For The Good Place endings its four season run on a beautiful, melancholy note. 
  • For the entire Rose family on Schitt’s Creek. And that they finally got the recognition they deserved during the Golden Globes. 
  • For the 40th season of Survivor, which gave us some of the best gameplay with the greatest players ever!
  • For Netflix’s revival of Money Heist, which let the thrilling adventures of The Professor and his gang continue!
  • In general, for Netflix allowing us to watch TV shows from all over the world and in many different languages! 
  • For Fallon Carrington’s wit, sass, and style! 

We’d love to hear from you! What are you grateful for? What would you add to the list?

And now, we hope you don’t take this personally, but we’re going to take this day off to enjoy a delicious meal and some much-needed R&R with our immediate families. We hope you do the same! 

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at CraveYouTV!


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