Launched in 2008, “Breaking Unhealthy” made its debut the yr after “Mad Males” put AMC on the map as a house for status storytelling. Coupled with FX’s “The Protect” and “Nip/Tuck,” these fundamental cable networks demonstrated what’s thought-about premium TV may very well be outlined by high quality and ambition, not merely its venue.
The keys to “Breaking Unhealthy’s” endurance might be traced to quite a lot of substances, mixed in a means that has rippled via “Saul’s” addictive formulation, however which has confirmed as tough to copy for imitators as Walter White’s unusually pure meth.
Each sequence charted the ethical descent of their central characters, combining darkish comedy, absurd moments and lengthy, gradual scenes imbued with rigidity and high-stakes drama.
Maybe foremost, “Breaking Unhealthy” — which introduced the evolution of high-school chemistry trainer Walter White (performed by Bryan Cranston), confronted with a terminal analysis, right into a prison mastermind — turned some of the unpredictable sequence TV has ever produced. Creator Vince Gilligan and his crew persistently wrote themselves into seemingly inescapable corners, earlier than revealing some believable and often ingenious means out.
As for Walt’s ethical decay, the signature second got here when he sat idly by watching the sleeping girlfriend of his associate Jesse (Aaron Paul) choke to loss of life — not committing homicide, precisely, however failing to intervene with a purpose to shield himself. That foreshadowed extra casualties that might observe, together with the astonishing sequence through which White engineered the demise of drug kingpin Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito).
On the time commentators drew parallels between Walt and Tony Soprano, each household males and criminals who epitomized the age of the TV antihero.
“Saul,” too, has unfolded as “a tragedy,” as Gilligan lately described it in a session with reporters, watching Bob Odenkirk’s character make the transition from Jimmy McGill into Saul Goodman, with the alienation of his important different, Kim (Rhea Seehorn), because the mysterious linchpin hovering over the story by way of finishing that metamorphosis.
“Breaking Unhealthy” caught the touchdown by way of its sequence finale, providing a definitive and satisfying end after a interval characterised by cryptic endings that to numerous extents left viewers to puzzle over the writers’ intent. The present additionally bucked TV developments by changing into a late-blooming hit, steadily constructing viewers towards the top — drawing a series-high 10.3 million viewers for its last episode — as folks found the present and phrase of mouth unfold.
“It was lightning in a bottle,” Gilligan mentioned.
“Higher Name Saul’s” sequence finale premieres Aug. 15 on AMC.