The recently-aired third season finale of Breaking Bad was yet another example of the AMC meth-cooking show’s amazing cliffhangers, and now that creator Vince Gilligan says it won’t return for a full year, the writers have a wonderful opportunity to craft a season-two-style narrative that will, most likely, bring the superb series to an explosive end.
Season three had some of the greatest–and most shocking–moments of the show’s run (“Run,” anyone?) but it also was what Gilligan described as improvised. He and the writers wrote themselves into corners and found ways out of it throughout the entire season. That writing style was exhilarating and created a sense of anything-can-happen anticipation, but it’s also a recipe for disaster if continued for extended periods of time. Eventually, the writers won’t be able to figure out a way to make everything pay off.
However, Gilligan and co. appear to be heading back in the carefully plotted direction of the show’s second season, when the show openers carefully teased the finale’s big payoff, creating a central mystery for the whole year and also providing a wealth of beautiful and haunting visuals.
Based on what Gilligan’s stated in the past, he only wants the show to last 40-50 episodes, and that would leave the upcoming season four as the final year of the show. The writers need to spend as much time carefully figuring out how to tie up loose ends and finish character arcs. Since they’re already planning the intricacies of episodes that won’t air for an entire year, I feel confident they’ll craft a season which rivals some of the greatest ever, like Dexter season two and Lost season four.