Breaking Bad is coming to an end. It’s happening, and soon. The final 8 episodes have begun and our journey with Walter White, Jesse Pinkman and Heisenberg is almost over. But it doesn’t need to be a depressing or saddening thing that this series is coming to an end. Sure, it sucks, but at the same time it may be for the best. Final seasons which allow the series to end on their own terms, like this one, are not a bad thing. They’re actually a good thing, and here are a few reasons why.
Beginning, Middle and……End?
Stories need to end. It’s that simple. Stories, by design, have a beginning a middle and an end. And as much as I love television and the way in which it unfolds stories over an extended period of time, whether it be two seasons of Life on Mars, six of Lost, or even five seasons of Chuck, the best thing about these series are the fact that they are a complete story. A show that runs without end is never a good thing because the audience will inevitably grow out of it, or it will change so completely that it won’t be the same series it began as. Even worse is when a series peters out, or one that just gets unceremoniously cancelled without a proper conclusion: I don’t think anyone as yet has gotten over Firefly. The best thing a television series can do is end, or at least be given the ending it deserves as it always leaves us wanting more. Just look at the UK version of The Office or the constant calls for a Chuck or Friends movie. Series that end on their own terms always leave the fans wanting more. They bow out before they become stagnant, before it becomes a chore to watch them (House, anyone?). When Breaking Bad leaves our screens, we all know we’re going to be sad to see it go: a series should leave us when we still want to see more of it.
Getting The Answers….Or Making Up Your Own
Whether it’s a science-fiction, mystery or fantasy series giving long-awaited answers to long-gestating questions, or whether it’s simply answers to what happened to your favourite characters, a final season should give an audience those answers. A series may conclude ambigiously such as Chuck or Lost, or it may tie it up in a sort of neat bow like Life on Mars or Ashes to Ashes, but they both provide their own set of answers in different ways. Either we’re given the answers or we get to make up our own. I’m a big fan of both types but I do prefer the latter ever so slightly. It involves the fan in the storytelling process and gives a certain amount of control to the viewer. Each of our answers will be different depending on our relationship with the show and that’s something unique, but ultimately answers to big questions or fate of certain characters are answered in the final season.
Rewarding The Fans
A final season that wraps up the story is almost like a thank you for the the loyal fans who have stuck with it. Rather than the show disappearing off screens or being cancelled with no real ending, those who have remained with the series get to see it come full circle and gives the chance for a proper send-off. The dedication of the fans pays off in a final season, with that built-up knowledge being called upon and references or call-backs to previous seasons providing loyal followers that little bit extra. They build and rely upon the loyal fans knowledge of the series and pays that off in the final season or final episode. It strengthens the relationship between viewer and series and transcends it beyond mere television.
A series ending is not a bad thing. It’s perhaps one of the best things to happen to a television series. It makes each episode a little more special and besides, an ending is nothing but a new beginning. Heisenberg will live on, whether we like it or not.