Los Angeles (AFP) – The much-anticipated final episode of “Breaking Bad” drew the cult TV show’s largest ever audience — 10.3 million viewers — but there were also more than 500,000 illegal downloads, figures show.
The series, centered around once humble chemistry teacher turned drug lord Walter White, ended Sunday with a thrilling climax to its fifth and final season a week after winning best drama at the Emmys, television’s Oscars.
In doing so it drew 3.7 million more viewers than the penultimate episode seven days earlier, which itself had set a series record at 6.6 million, the ratings tracker Nielsen said, cited by industry journal Variety.
“Breaking Bad,” set in the dangerous world of methamphetamine (crystal meth) trading, which White rises to dominate, mesmerized viewers with a cocktail of meticulously crafted plot, fine acting and scenic camera work.
But it was the stunning metamorphosis of White’s average guy persona into that of a veritable monster that ultimately captivated audiences.
White, played by actor Bryan Cranston, became a meth manufacturer in the New Mexico city of Albuquerque, having learned at age 50 that he had terminal lung cancer.
With his bank account all but empty the lead character outwardly took the drastic decision to pay for his treatment and provide for his family, but the underworld he enters eventually captures him in unanticipated fashion, catapulting him into the role of a criminal kingpin feared by his rivals.
But much as he manages to achieve his original goal — at one point raising around $80 million for himself — his life spirals out of control and ends in tragedy for many of the characters involved in the show.