(PCM) The Final Season: Dexter vs. Breaking Bad
SHOWTIME’s Dexter and AMC’s Breaking Bad both ended their final seasons in September, 2013. One of them is being called one of the greatest shows of all time with the near-perfect ending, and the other being accused of having one of the worst finale episodes ever. One, people wanted to forget even happened – the other, people are still talking about how great it was weeks later.
Let’s dig into the similarities and differences to see how Breaking Bad’s final season completely crushed the ending to the once-beloved Dexter.
Major spoilers ahead for those who haven’t seen the final episodes of Breaking Bad or Dexter.
Similarities and Differences
Let’s start at the beginning. Dexter Morgan and Walter White are two very different people in different situations – but both have crazy double lives and that makes them similar in their differences. Over the years, Dexter became less of a monster and more of a human, while Walt’s journey included him changing from a chemistry teacher to a murderer and drug dealer.
And without Dexter, we likely would never have gotten shows like Breaking Bad or Mad Men – shows that are eager to push boundaries and get viewers to cheer for an antihero. (We might not have cheered for Walt over the whole course of Breaking Bad’s run, but Dexter made his character possible and made it okay to be on Walt’s side sometimes.)
Whereas other dramas like Lost or The Sopranos ended with mysterious and controversial endings, both Breaking Bad and Dexter went for the straightforward endings. Sure, you can make up your own ideas for what happened next to the surviving characters, but the TV lives of Dexter Morgan and Walter White concluded with plenty of questions answered and very few loose ends.
Maybe humanizing Dexter wasn’t the way to go. Maybe the writers were too safe. Maybe Dexter’s fate was the wrong ending to his story. There are so many what-ifs and other ways that would have given Dexter the more exciting ending it deserved.
Dexter was once one of the greatest shows on TV, but then it became too safe and predictable. No one wants to watch a serial killer play it safe. Dexter was always at its best when Dex was running for his life, in danger of being found out. Instead of a fast-paced final season of Dexter on the run, we got a slow, slow walk to the end. Things really only got rolling in the very last episode, and the ending was emotional yet completely unsatisfying. If you’ve seen the finale episode, you know just how true this is.
Breaking Bad’s Successes
The writers of Breaking Bad get major credit for the entire series of Breaking Bad, but especially the final season. Show ratings continued going up and up, and average IMDB ratings were at their highest in the last season, where other shows like The West Wing, The Sopranos and The Simpsons hit a peak and never recovered. Why? The writers and cast of Breaking Bad were stellar and never faltered.
Breaking Bad wasn’t afraid to take risks. They knew how to end the show at a high point instead of letting it linger on past its expiration date. They killed off major characters in shocking ways that left you sick to your stomach for days. Those shocks and risks make it so hard for other shows to compare. We could have predicted the final outcome of Breaking Bad, but the way everything happened was so unpredictable that it kept you guessing throughout the episode.
It’s true – Dexter’s finale wasn’t that great… but I still cried real tears during the final heartbreaking scene with Deb. And who didn’t get choked up in those final Breaking Bad scenes with Walt and Jesse? Good or bad, the emotions ran high for everyone during these episodes. And no matter what you thought, it’s sad to see both of these memorable shows go.
Even though Dexter’s ending may have disappointed fans, both shows are worth a watch. If you haven’t seen either or both of these, you’ve got a few ways to watch – Pick up the special edition collector’s box sets of DVDs for Dexter and Breaking Bad, DVR reruns on TV to watch later, or use On Demand or Netflix to catch up. Now, if only Breaking Bad’s writers had written Dexter’s final season…