We can all let out a collective sigh of relief. Breaking Bad has wrapped with a barnburner final episode and it will be some time before TV gets this intense again.
The white-knuckle transformation of Walter White (Bryan Cranston) from high-school chemistry teacher to full-blown gangster became official in last night's finale episode of the gritty AMC drama series.
To recap briefly (and stop reading now if you haven't watched it yet), the last chapter saw Walt cash in all his chips and exit the drug-dealing business in a blaze of glory by killing the nasty Aryan gang and setting his erstwhile meth-making partner Jesse (Aaron Paul) free by using the massive gun we saw briefly last season. Say hello to my little friend.
In the process, woebegone Walt finally, pitiably, redeemed himself by handing over a large chunk of money to his family and saving Jesse's life. Jesse, in turn, finally exacted revenge upon the creepy Todd (Jesse Plemons) by strangling him with his own chains. This was deeply satisfying television.
Critical response to last night's BB finale came fast and furious and was unanimously positive.
Said Time magazine's TV critic James Poniewozik: "It was true to the five seasons that preceded it, true to Walter White's obsessions and pride, and true to what 'Breaking Bad' is at heart: a Western."
From Hollywood Reporter critic Tim Goodman: "There was a lot of closure in 'Breaking Bad'. You can say that [creator Vince] Gilligan gave most of the viewers what they wanted (and, impressively, he did that by staying true to himself and the story without selling out or becoming unrecognizably saccharine as he tied the bow)."
From New York Daily News columnist Alessandra Stanley: "So many shows, notably 'The Sopranos' and 'Lost,' have gone dark without anything approaching finality. Here, the writers were so determined to not leave unfinished business that the last episode was called 'Felina,' an anagram of finale. And almost every loose end was tied."
And from Variety columnist Brian Lowry: "From the first frame to the last on a series that absolutely belongs in the conversation of the best ever, Vince Gilligan knew what he was doing."
Not surprisingly, last night's Breaking Bad finale also generated a tidal wave of positive reaction on Twitter, with a good deal of it coming from celebrity fans of the show.
Tweeted Conan O'Brien: "Anyone else thought of chaining Vince Gilligan in a barn to make him come up with another show?"
Former Star Trek: The Next Generation star Wil Wheaton tweeted: "And that right there is how you end a series."
Ellen DeGeneres tweeted this offhanded compliment: "Breaking Bad ends tonight. No more murderous drug dealers and horrifying criminals. I miss it already."
Comedian Patton Oswalt weighed in with, "Thank you, Vince Gilligan, for conceiving and executing the most bizarre love story I've ever seen."
And talk-show host Ricki Lake kept it simple: "Wow, wow, wow."
For once, a beloved TV show has finished its run and nobody is debating the way it said goodbye.
In fact the only person who likely didn't watch last night's Breaking Bad finale was probably the pop diva Miley Cyrus, who admitted in her recent Rolling Stone interview that she kinda liked the show, except for all that dang coughing.
"There's just a lot of him coughing," said the 20-year-old singer said in reference to the opening season in which Walt is diagnosed with lung cancer. "I'm in the first season, and the coughing is driving me crazy."
Cyrus continued: "Like, we get it. You're dying. Do you really need a whole two-minute scene of another cough attack? It's too much. In every bad situation, how does he get out? He just starts coughing."
Miley, you have no idea what you missed.