Grading the Year's Series Finales, From 'Breaking Bad' to 'Dexter'
Walter White (Bryan Cranston) in the 'Breaking Bad' Series Finale, 'Felina.'
Many series rode off into that big series-finale sunset in 2013, but some did it with far more imagination, better storytelling, and viewer-friendly surprises than others.
Here, we grade 10 of them, and we’re pretty generous with our A's. But there was one show that ended its run with a finale so disappointing, we couldn’t even justify a D-minus...
(Oh, and of course, since we’re discussing series endings, there are many, many spoilers ahead.)
“Breaking Bad” — Grade: A
Would Walter White live/die/get his comeuppance? Would his tortured cohort, Jesse? And what about Walt’s family, his wife, his kids, and his DEA agent brother-in-law, who’d finally discovered Walt was the ruthless drug lord known as Heisenberg? There were so many unanswered questions going into the final eight episodes of “Breaking Bad,” and even more expectations that creator Vince Gilligan and his writing staff would end Walt’s transformation from “Mr. Chips to Scarface” as brilliantly as they’d unfolded it for five seasons.
Add to that viewers’ obsession with imagining every potential ending, and the series finale couldn’t possibly live up to the hype, right? Except, it did. Surprising (Walt’s gun-in-the-trunk contraption and the return of Gretchen and Elliott), hopeful (Jesse escapes!), redemptive (because Walt saves him), and satisfying (bye, Uncle Jack and creepy Todd), the finale was everything we hoped it would be: a perfect ending.
“Eastbound & Down” — Grade: A
“Eastbound’s” creators have always said they thought the show worked as well as a drama as it did a comedy, and the sentimental finale was as much an example of that as it was Kenny Powers’ emotional growth. Seriously. Who ever would have imagined a family man version of KP, at an elementary school play bragging about his son’s acting chops as he portrayed Johnny Appleseed? Kenny decided, just in the nick of time, that April and the kids were what made him happy, and their reunion and move to Santa Fe (and into couples therapy) was the happy ending they deserved.