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Breaking Bad continues to be a phenomenal example of what happens when a great show is allowed to stay on the air long enough to find the audience it deserves. Even up against the the Emmy Awards, the increasingly dark drama managed to set yet another ratings record for its penultimate episode on Sunday. According to the numbers at Deadline Breaking Bad brought in 6.6 million viewers, a hair more than watched the gripping previous episode "Ozymandias" and far more than the mid-season premiere, which had doubled the ratings for the start of Season 5 back in 2012.
The Breaking Bad bandwagon has gotten exponentially bigger in the last year, and though no single thing can explain the huge swell it experienced in this season alone, creator Vince Gilligan credits Netflix for keeping the show on the air at all: "“I think Netflix kept us on the air," he said after accepting the show's first-ever Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series. "Not only are we standing up here (with the Emmy), I don’t think our show would have even lasted beyond season two." Back when shows like The Sopranos or Deadwood were earning tons of buzz, people who didn't watch the shows live had to wait for them to come out on DVD, and then be willing to shell out serious cash to catch up on shows they had only heard were good. Now, for no more than an $8 per month commitment to Netflix, anybody can mainline the entire series of Breaking Bad between parts 1 and 2 of Season 5. I did it this summer, and I know I'm in good company-- the fantastic ratings for the second half of Season 5 couldn't have happened otherwise.
As the show heads toward its final episode next Sunday, you'd better believe AMC is capitalizing on all this hype. They're already announced a deluxe Blu-ray set, plans for a Saul Goodman spinoff, and a marathon of the entire series starting on Wednesday and leading up to Sunday's super-sized 75 minute finale. Breaking Bad is by far the buzziest show on television, and if you haven't caught up yet, well, there's always time to hole yourself up in a remote New Hampshire cabin and marathon the entire show before next Sunday. It sure beats watching Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium.
Here's a preview for next week's finale-- no spoilers, don't worry-- if you want to get yourself even more excited.