We are nearing the end of Breaking Bad, and it is coming to an end at the perfect point in overall story arc. I admit, I am bubbling with excitement at the prospect of an ultimate finale, but I must temper my emotions for fear of crushing disappointment. In short, I hope they don’t Oiler it.
You might ask, “How could they Oiler it?” Or, more likely, you are asking, “What does it mean to Oiler something?”
The term might be clear – or at least intuitive – to anyone who lived in or near Houston in the early 1990s, specifically January 3, 1993, when the Houston Oilers were leading the Buffalo Bills in the 1993 AFC Divisional Playoffs 35-3 in the second half, only to lose 41-38.
From them on, “to Oiler” something is to snatch defeat from the jaws of a victory, an assured victory, to perform to near perfection up until the end, only to collapse and suffer a crushing defeat. We Houstonians imagined gamblers in Kansas City, after a particularly disappointing game of pool, saying, “Gawd dang, I sure did Oiler that game.”
Now, Breaking Bad is the best show ever. They could have an average finale and still be completely awesome. So how could Breaking Bad Oiler it? How could they end the show so badly that it would besmirch the entire series? Five words … “it was all a dream.” Or Walt could board the spaceship buried beneath his pool and fly back to his home planet in the Xemaphone Constellation.
Trust me, there are innumerable ways it could end horribly. And they wouldn’t have to work that hard to do so.
For example, the 2004 re-imagined Battlestar Galactica (BSG) was well on its way to being the best science-fiction TV series of all time until the show did a dramatic face plant at the finish line. Instead of staying in the nuanced, thoughtful, gray areas that made the show so superb for three and a half seasons, where it dealt in depth with character, religion, human survival, politics, and modern morality, they tried to wrap it all up in an absurdly neat package, with a spineless, by-the-numbers (and wholly unsatisfying) action climax. The actual battle seemed rushed but only because they needed to get to a meandering and prosaic conclusion that gave the illusion of profundity…
Yeah, BSG Oilered it. The episode “33” is about the best TV can get, yet I can’t watch that or any other episode without a slight distaste, for I know the suckitude to come.
I hope Breaking Bad does not share the same fate.