Breaking Bad won’t be over-over for another fifteen episodes — eight of which won’t air until next summer anyway — but it’s impossible not to wonder how it’s all going to end. Its entire vibe is one of impending mortality, and looming death is BB’s brutal bread and butter. But how will the show shuffle off this mortal coil? Let’s run through some possibilities.
The only possible ending, it seems to me, is # 4: Walt has to live, and win, while everyone else around him dies or nearly dies. The entire master narrative of the show has been Walt’s transformation—his “breaking bad”—into a villain (Vince Gilligan referred to it as (and I’m phrasing here) “Mr. Chips turning into Scarface”). So it would not make much sense, then, for this entire transformation to happen, only to have Walt killed at the end. Did Breaking Bad really just stretch his shift out over five seasons, just to show, in the end, that bad guys ultimately lose?
Walt’s death, anyway, was where he seemed to be heading in the first episode, when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. So while I think an ending to the show with Walt dying is conceivable, it seems to me that it would be much more effective to have him live, and let him see what his turn has wrought: the death (or ruin or desertion) of everyone around him. And I am willing to bet the writers of Breaking Bad, as unbelievably good as they are, will wrap up the show in the right way.
It’s hard, even for such a fan of The Wire as I am, to think of a better television drama. During the Season 4 Finale, I was actually sweating profusely. Watch Breaking Bad if you haven’t.