American Dreams

So it was a full-blown Hollywood ending for BB. Social media seemed thoroughly satisfied (which is the main thing, obv :-/), presumably because most comes were uppanced and though we were denied actual snogging at sunset this was still the Disney-est denouement we could have expected, if not quite Fantasia. And in many respects it was very satisfying, with none of that draining all-those-years-of-devotion-for-THIS? emotion after the Sopranos’ ambiguously-executed demise.

And then there was more Elliot Schwartz, which made me smile. The fact that I went to acting classes with Adam Godley in Nineteen-Seventies suburban North London is, like, toadally my personal #BreakingBadClaimtoFame.

But enough about me, what about Jesse? I was discussing the final episode a couple of days ago with a friend who said ‘Well, of course he’s going to find Brock and uh, they’ll move to Alaska—somehow—and Jesse’ll probably work in WalMart and then he’ll bump into Saul in a fried chicken outlet, and…’.

It’s touching how much my friend had invested in fictional Jesse Pinkman’s post-traumatic-stress-disorder-free future, though surely a) Brock had already been killed off-camera by Todd after he’d despatched Andrea? and, b) Jesse would be grazing a trough of Class A’s before you could say ‘What Does He Have To Live For?’

Oh, and my friend thought it was lovely that Marie and Skyler were on speakers again. My friend would probably have had Skyler, Holly and Flynn all moving into Marie’s house after Hank’s funeral, the better to have more weirdly insular family-only meals together. But Marie also has her kleptomania to fall back on and will almost certainly become addicted to internet dating men who live in trailers, while Skyler is going to become agoraphobic, with pen-pals on Death Row. Yeah, though my friend clearly felt the need to provide everybody with a post-credits happy BB ending, I didn’t.

I hadn’t ever thought about the cultural specifics of story endings until I wrote my first novel. The novel didn’t find a publisher in America because (apparently; I quote a British publisher) ‘it has far too morally ambiguous an ending for US tastes.’ Of course this was possibly the polite way of saying ‘it’s crap’ — however it was snapped up in draft form by the Italian publisher, Editione Piemme, which subsequently got me thinking about Europe’s comfort with morally ambiguous endings in general and, specifically (given my previous incarnation as a broadsheet telly critic), that trick(s)y Sopranos’ final ep.

Plenty of Americans were annoyed about the *controversial* cut-to-black and impose-your-own-ending, though European viewers seemed more comfortable with it (at the time I conducted an entirely unofficial low-tech survey which basically involved asking a few mates who were fans of the show). But perhaps it was inevitable that an All-Italian-American tale shot through with moral ambiguity should end up provoking more questions than providing answers?

Even among the shifting sands of the New Mexico desert we were, however, going to be on firmer ground with BB. At the end, the Baddies paid the inevitable price for simply Being Bad, and the only *good guys* still standing were the White children and (childlike) Marie. It was, too, about as robust a defence of the American Way — and a constitutionally ordained Way of Death-by-Gunfire — that any red-blooded American from, say bankrupt Detroit, could wish for. In terms of classic American Storytelling, it effortlessly holds its own with Casablanca, The Catcher, Chinatown, The Corrections… and that’s just a few of the C’s.

And had your country just crumpled to its knees while an economic gun was held to its metaphorical temple and you wanted to feel safer/happier/more resolved about your messy world, then this final brutal slice of BB escapism was probably the most reassuringly comforting fairytale an American could ask for. Ironically.

That Walt should die from the bullet he took while saving Jesse was absolutely morally and ethically correct; if, however, pure and unadulterated moral correctness is slightly too-sweet for your taste, then maybe that’s because, like me, you can take a lot of chilli with your chicken? However, even if BB’s final episode was Breaking Bland in comparison to the rest of the story arc, that doesn’t mean I didn’t love it.

Night-night, sleep-tight, farewell and RIP, BB. You were a brilliant bloody Bad Dream.

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5 Responses to American Dreams

  1. Paula tucker says:

    Brock would end up in care with Lydia’s daughter and they would be cooking meth by they hit 13. Natch they’d get caught though by Cap’n Flynn White, DEA

  2. kathrynflett says:

    This is all very plausible, obviously. However, I personally think Lydia’s daughter will become a passionate campaigner against the Evil that is Aspartame…

  3. Wendy Varley says:

    After this one, I rushed to google Stevia, Lydia’s sweetener of choice! Is that a real thing? It is!
    I also went back to the very first episode of season 5 (first half) and watched again the flash-forward to the scene where Walt gets the gun (in the cafe on his 52nd birthday). The clues planted along the way were genius.
    The finale was superb. A truly satisfying ending. Couldn’t fault the plotting. I, too, was left wondering about Brock, and about Lydia’s daughter (I’d almost forgotten she had a daughter). But it’s good, having theirs, as well as Jesse’s future, to dwell on.
    Phew!
    Thanks for blogging about it!

  4. kathrynflett says:

    And thank you for reading and responding so entertainingly.

    • wendyvarley1 says:

      PS: Yesterday I was curious enough to try Lydia’s weird tipple of camomile with soya milk and Stevia sweetener. I happily mainline camomile tea on its own, but can confirm that combo IS undrinkable, and as vile as it sounds! Pah! Pah! Still trying to get rid of the taste!

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