Sunday, along with more than six million Americans, I watched the end of Walter White. I didn't think I could handle alone the emotional toll of saying goodbye to Breaking Bad, so I decided to head to the Granada Theater to scream cheer with a crowd at three huge screens instead of by myself and at my laptop.
The last season and finale of Breaking Bad managed to do something that only a presidential debate can accomplish these days. With so many avenues for streaming and pirating, it takes something big to get most of America around the TV at the same time. The atmosphere at the Granada was celebratory and anxious as people drank blue cocktails and complimented each other's costumes, or in some cases explained how they've never watched the show before but just wanted to see how it ends.
Most movies that excite people to the point of costuming for the premieres are usually light-hearted, or at least as dark Harry Potter can get. Breaking Bad is heavier but fans pulled out bald caps, nose bandages, hazmat suits and fedoras all the same (I'm assuming the fedoras were strictly for costume).
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The most intimidating outfit was the gentleman who walked the aisles wearing just briefs and an apron, throwing out plastic baggies like it was Mardi Gras and yelling, "Who wants meth?" At a distance he looked like the master of a sex dungeon though he was very polite and his meth was tasty.
A Hector Salamanca impersonator did an amazing job of staying in character throughout the night, keeping Salamanca's sour, puckered duck face and furiously bell-ringing. He did break character to join the rest of the theater for a standing ovation, but was otherwise wheelchair-bound all night.
The cheering was something that surprised me. People whooped and applauded every time Walt appeared. At one point only his legs are visible in the shadows and the crowd cheered as he uncrossed them. They roared with laughter when laser sights homed in on millionaire yuppies. But the excitement and the laughter from everyone reminded me of something I forgot after a few seasons of watching alone: This show is a comedy.
Yes, it's bleak and bloody and people destroy each other's lives (mostly one person destroys everyone else's lives). But bathtubs of human goop fall through ceilings, tortoises explode and problems always have an R-rated A-Team-esque solution. I'm embarrassed it took a half-naked man in a respirator mask handing out candy for me to learn to laugh again, but there are worse prices to pay. Like being abducted by white supremacists. Or having to move to New Hampshire.