Bittersweet Endings: Game of Thrones Vs Breaking Bad - Why Did GOT Fail To Match BB's Level Of Greatness?
Four months ago David Benioff and D. B. Weiss sat down in an interview to talk about the upcoming final season of Game of Thrones. They said there is no scenario where everyone agrees with what they see on their TV screens, and they are right about that. A show of this magnitude was never going to get an ending which would satisfy everyone, but the final season not only ruin the finale, but it ruined the whole show, and it is funny now to listen to what Weiss said during the interview, “I'm hoping for the Breaking Bad [finale] argument where it's like, 'Is that an A or an A+?'”
A or A+, ha! Talk about shooting for the stars and falling down a black hole of misery and horror. The showrunner talked about ending the show like the Breaking Bad ended, which in itself set the standard so high, we should’ve all been ready to see them not reach it. All of us were soo high on Game of Thrones; we overlooked the fact the later episodes beyond season four and five were just a beautifully wrapped surface-level entertainment which showed its ugly insides during the last season.
Watch: The trailer for the disappointing final season of Game of Thrones
Well, the finale of Game of Thrones confirmed one thing, Breaking Bad is the best show ever made, and there isn’t an inch of ground of the Westeros based show to stand on. No matter how much you spend on your show, it all comes down to how you ended your show. Six Feet Under’s ending is beautiful, 'The Sopranos' ended on a divisive note, but still, it was a nice ending, everyone hates HIMYM’s conclusion, but everyone seems to agree, Breaking Bad’s finale is near perfect.
So, the question arises, why did Breaking Bad succeed and Game of Thrones failed so miserable to give us a satisfying ending?
Let’s take a look at why the Breaking Bad finale works and why the Game of Thrones finale doesn’t.
Breaking Bad starts off with Walter finding 'Gretchen' and 'Elliot' and threatening them to provide the money he is going to leave with them, should reach his family or his two shooters will come and kill them. At this point, you know Walter is on a suicide mission, he knows from the get-go, he is not going to survive this final struggle and years of slow and gradual vilifying of Walter White, reaching a crescendo in episode 14 then the realization of his mistakes, as he tries to, right some wrongs. He is not a good man by the end though, far, far from it, he still kills people, but the killings were done as much as a fan service as it was a necessary evil for the show. That is where the two finales differentiate from each other, Walter kills or plans to kill as a result of his character development, but Daenerys kills in spite of her character development.
Watch: Daenerys burns the whole King's Landing
Walter White was slowly and gradually going from a dying father trying to provide for his family to a drug kingpin who will murder anyone for his drug business. It is years of storytelling, which is gradually nudging us to a point where we fear the character is going, but we hope he/she doesn’t reach there. That is where the Daenerys story comes in, up until the moment of battle of Westeros ending, she was fine then all of a sudden they turn her mad, and she just murders hundreds of thousands of people, were we given a fair warning, did the writers did enough to warrant such a drastic change in character? No, they did not! They said from the beginning she is a good 'Targaryen', but then she just goes mad. Then the throne room scene where she is totally oblivious to the fact she just murdered innocent children and women is where the show lost us totally. We saw Daenerys as a kind person, a person who cared for people no one cared for and we loved her because she was the queen of the people but all of a sudden this hard left turn in a crowded junction was something no one wanted to see. It was just weak storytelling by two egotistical writers who wanted to shock the audience and not provide a coherent story.
Then there is the whole Bran thing! He tells Tyrion, he cannot be king of anything because he is the Three-eyed-raven, but all of a sudden Bran’s story is the best so he should be the king of the six kingdoms? No, Bran’s story is not great; Jon’s story is great. The writers of the show were hitting us on our face with a big ass dildo relating to the lineage of Jon Snow since the show began and Bran’s story is better?
Breaking Bad uses fan service as a plot point, and they bring back Walter’s badassery for one last time because that is how fans want to see him. Vince Gilligan isn’t doing blatant fan service as a means to end the final episode though, as he is using the characters at his disposal to act in a way they were programmed to do through years of character development. When we see a jerry-rigged M60 on the back of Walter’s car, does anyone question? No, no one does because he earned his right to mow some Nazi with an M60 through years of development. It is fan service as well as coherent storytelling, and it is where Game of Thrones missed its mark. Using shock as a way of storytelling is why Game of Thrones finale will always be the worst in television history, and we’re counting Dexter’s ending as well.
Watch: The Breaking Bad finale killing of Uncle Jack
After years of investment in a show, the finale is supposed to be a wrapping up of loose plot threads in a single coherent episode from which fans can walk away thinking they were satisfied. The creators of the show were so focused on the Disney money they were going to receive for the new Star Wars movie series; they forgot how their own characters behaved inside the world of Westeros. Vince Gilligan never lost sight of what Walter was which is why 'Felina' is the greatest finale episode ever.