Breaking Bad is over now. One of the best shows of all time ended after five years. And I think it was time. It’s extremely rare to see a really good show stay good after five seasons. After that, you just play along because you have fond memories of the first few years, on the off chance that a good episode comes along and brings back the magic. Honestly, most shows peak in two or three years.
Let’s review all of the great television shows which have lasted five seasons (not counting sitcoms): The X-Files went downhill after three seasons. Before that, almost every episode was great. After that, great episodes were rare. Battlestar Galactica went downhill after the first or second season, if you ask me. Fringe, which is the only long-lasting science fiction show in recent primetime network television history, dropped off after the second season. (Revolution, currently airing, might have only had one decent season–I wasn’t enthralled by the first episode of the second season.) Lost arguably went downhill after the first season. NCIS has so many seasons I can’t even remember when it dropped off, but it had to have gotten super formulaic at or before the fifth. ST:TNG is one of the few shows that got better after the first season, but then I think it dropped off after four or five. I think DS9 and Voyager were on for more than five years, but I was bored with them even before the first season was done. 24 peaked around season three or four, possibly including five, but after that it ran out of steam. I am sure there are quite a few more 5+ season shows out there that I’ve watched, but I can’t think of any more. All of the lists I can find don’t start counting until ten seasons.
My point is that Breaking Bad had run its course. I don’t think the final season was as good as any of the previous ones, so it could only have gone down from there. It didn’t end with the bang that ended season four. There were no surprises (to me, at least); it just sort of ended. You could almost look at the final season as a very long epilogue.
Thinking about it now, I think the main thing that attracted me to the show (besides the fact that it was freakin’ hilarious) was how Walt usually solved problems with clever, intellectual solutions, often involving science and, of course, chemistry. I’m glad that style of problem-solving came through in the final episode. Walter White was really, really smart. Too smart for the mundane life of a chemistry teacher, I guess.