Vince Gilligan's New Mexico meth-verse has come to an end, according to reports from around the world. With over 120 episodes between Breaking Bad and its prequel series, weve been treated to some of the greatest televised entertainment ever produced. It was unimaginable that this team might create a spinoff series that would outperform the original in practically every measure.
All of this means that we can finally make a complete breakdown to determine which program is the superior overall package. A lot of factors will sway our decision. One thing we know for sure: we will never again be treated to multiple series in the same universe that are so crafted. This fight should require more bouts than two middle-aged lawyers petty boxing matches.
Acting and Characters
Both series feature outstanding performances from their lead actors. Walter White and Jesse Pinkman (Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul) are so well-known that they have their own statues in Albuquerque. They have an aura that reaches out to the entire world, and it's difficult to match. The main reason they are now legends in the medium is because the two actors who play the roles had such incredible connection.
Walt and Jesse bring a fresh layer of their characters to the screen every time they appear, while Cranston and Paul are able to burst out of each other with forceful intensity. The many different phases of their relationship are played with candor and tactfulness.
Jimmy McGill and Kim Wexler (Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn) are equally tethered. Their love story is one that will never be repeated any time soon. We root for both of them the same way we root for Walt and Jesse.
If Walt/Jesse and Jimmy/Kim are a draw, it's all about the supporting roles. Both Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul have many of the same secondary players. Gus Fring and Mike Ehrmantraut (Giancarlo Esposito and Jonathan Banks) were introduced as powerful antagonists in the original show, but the prequel series fleshed them out in ways we've never seen before.
Both Banks and Esposito had the chance to play their characters in revelatory ways, establishing them as human beings rather than drug dealers. These are just two of the many areas that were never fully explored before Better Call Saul.
Hank Schrader and Skyler White (Dean Norris and Anna Gunn) are intriguing individuals who play as opposing Walter in Breaking Bad. As they get deeper into Walt's world, we see them becoming their own characters outside of Walt's world.
Better Call Saul has a slight advantage over Breaking Bad in terms of acting and character work. The other characters in Better Call Saul are their own solar systems. They dont need to be planets orbiting Jimmy to be interesting or to matter.
The sensation of seeing Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould's world is vastly different from watching a typical crime drama. The lighting and mood of these movies vary depending on how the camera is positioned, but it never becomes distracting. Its like when an author uses a specific vocabulary technique to communicate the message.
Both programs are regarded as the greatest shot shows in history because of their characteristic filmmaking techniques. The object POV is fantastic at immersing you into the setting. When Walter White is looking into the stash of drug money, putting the camera inside the safe as if Walt is looking at the viewer is enthralling. It allows an abstract plot line to feel like it's in our living room.
The wide angle shots do the opposite. They show that a scene is only one component of a larger puzzle. They often relax the viewer, or make the mundane seem more mundane. In the fourth season finale, Winner, Mike executes Werner Ziegler.
The frightening wide-angle makes us able to dissociate with the hefitness of the murder. These cinematic abilities are what make these films genuine works of art. The filmmakers and the cinematographers are painting a picture of their story; they are displaying rather than telling.
Better Call Saul is a good pick for the majority of the time. The visual effects are crisp and expressive. Special mention for the decision to film the majority of the final four episodes in a black and white filter and have it serve the story perfectly.
The only color on the cigarette is the flame. YEAH. #BetterCallSaul pic.twitter.com/45KWYxENBM
Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls won 73 games in the 1996 NBA season. Absolute masters of their trade giving their magnum opus.
Music and Sound
Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould may not have had as much creative freedom in selecting the music for their shows as David Chase on The Sopranos. It's costly and difficult to negotiate the rights to use someone else's songs, and the result is that the sound department milked every last drop out of the tunes they selected.
Both programs have music that complements the action on-screen perfectly. Frank Sinatra's Something Stupid has become a requiem for Jimmy and Kim's relationship. Breaking Bad has what appears to be an entire album of meth anthems that support Walter White's love for the drug, such as Crystal Blue Persuasion and Baby Blue.
But it's the one scene in Breaking Bad that sets it apart from Better Call Saul in this category: The moment when Walter learns that Skyler has taken all of his fortune and given it to her boss, Ted Beneke (Christopher Cousins) is something that rivals anything in a Jordan Peele horror film.
The background percussion is what sets the whole thing together. It's an unimaginable triumph after four seasons of tension.
Final Season and Series Finale
The last season of Breaking Bads is an unrivaled monster, and a contemporary marvel of dramatic entertainment. The way Walter Whites closes makes perfect sense with hardly a plothole to be seen. It was universally popular at the time of its premiere and remains so a decade later.
Ozymandias is the only TV episode with a 10.0 rating on IMDB. Felina closed the door with an epic conclusion hour. Hank discovering the true meaning of Heisbenberg mid-poop is an all-time mid-season break.
Better Call Saul's sixth season is hampered a bit by a first-half sequence that included a little too much time spent on Jimmy and Kim's character-demolition of Howard. The first half-season is enjoyable, but we have to use the whole season to make our judgements here.
Better Call Saul did everything it could to be competitive with its predecessor here. Easter eggs and actor cameos are wonderful for those who know them, but they are hollow unless you love and appreciate the source material.
Breaking Bad is still a top-notch television concept. Network executives must have assumed Vince Gilligan was a dude when they first heard his story would be about him. How do you imagine a high school chemistry teacher changing into the most powerful drug lord in America, all while running out of time on his cancer clock? It's a case that should have gone awry. Instead, it's the most artistic show in its genre, one that was beautifully planned and executed (pun intended).
The show helped propel Netflix into the modern binge-watching craze, with their imagination as their only limitation on narrative. Sometimes both occur simultaneously.
Better Call Saul always stays a little closer to the vest because it is indebted to Breaking Bad, both literally and metaphorically. Both shows have an enormous emotional impact, but only the first one makes you feel like you're truly alive.
Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul are the only show that has completed both series, with their only opponents being each other. However, if Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton) had his rifle pointed at your head and said you have to choose, Breaking Bad would roll off the tongue quicker. The originality and the unparalleled final season of Breaking Bad allow it to remain on the throne. Never underestimate these writers.