The heir apparent to The Sopranos, AMC’s runaway hit Breaking Bad shared plenty in common with the groundbreaking HBO series, focusing on a criminal antihero trying to protect his family at all costs. Still, Tony Soprano and Walter White are not the same character. As Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin, celebrated actor Bryan Cranston turned in years of dynamic and heartbreaking performances alongside equally skilled actors like Aaron Paul, Dean Norris, Bob Odenkirk, and Anna Gunn, just to name a few. The series may have begun with White entering the meth trade to try and provide for his family in the face of a terminal diagnosis, but as he keeps going, he becomes corrupted by money, greed, and power.
One of the later episodes of the fifth and final season, “Ozymandias,” is among its most celebrated, but “Felina,” the finale, holds its own perfectly well. As he remains on the run from the DEA, Walt makes sure that his family is taken care of, even managing to say goodbye to his wife and children and freeing Jesse (Paul) from captivity before entering his lab one last time, succumbing to his wounds just as the police arrive. Some critics, namely Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker, have argued that most of it, which ties up quite neatly, could have been a dream sequence, but ultimately, a happy ending with a tragic twist is exactly what Breaking Bad had been building to the entire time.