Here is a review from AV Club which expresses my feelings:
Tonight's finale should cement this season of Breaking Bad as one of television's finest dramatic accomplishments. And what makes it so exciting -- what makes the recognition of the current golden age (of TV) so pressing -- is that the season has not been "television good." The heart-in-the-throat quality of this season comes as much from the writers' exhilarating disregard for television conventions as from the events portrayed. Every cliffhanger produced anticipation that often as not was subverted by having what came after timed at a jagged off-angle from the shape we've internalized as expectation.Here is Stephen King's appreciation of S2: 'like watching No Country for Old Men crossbred with Texas Chainsaw Massacre'. I said previously that the new Season gave me the impression that the predictable trajectories of characters had exhausted, and the writers were shuffling them like pieces, trying to find a way through. Surprisingly in this interview the show's creator, Vince Gilligan, confirms this perception:
We're actively moving these chess pieces around, not so much playing 10 or 15 or 20 moves ahead, but we are kind of running for our lives. It's scary. I don't want it to sound like it's a slapdash operation. It doesn't feel that way when we're doing it. We put a lot of thought into everything, and we try to play the game several moves ahead. But we're only human, and it's tricky sometime. All of this is a long-winded way of saying this was not pre-planned from the get-go. It was kind of a living, breathing thing that took on a life of its own as the season went along.Is this inherently good, or just fortuitous? Is it better for a story to develop in this way, quasi-organically? I suspect this was how Dickens wrote, each episode published and hence not revisable. Not very common in any medium nowadays though. It explains the way this season seemed to be feeling its way, and then occasionally triumphantly slapping down a genius move ('Check mate!') when the writers found a way through the puzzle.
I'm sometimes impatient of writers who say they let the characters lead them. I think it's lazy and it abdicates their responsibility to their readers or viewers, but in this case I think it works, because the writers are totally invested in the integrity of the final product. I also hate talk of soul and damnation, but this image keeps coming back to me, perhaps because the writers believe in it. Like I say, it's like Faust or The Fly, a man becoming inhuman.
In my opinion, as with season 2, the penultimate episode was the most brilliant, with the final episode serving to twist the knife and deliver the metaphysical coup de grace - so sickening it's almost uplifting. Watching on a computer I keep stopping the playback because it is all so upsetting, as the characters destroy themselves.
Walt seems to lose little bits of his soul week in and week out. He's a man chipping away at his own soul... The real shame, morally speaking, at the end of our season three now, is that Jesse - who in many ways has been the moral center of this partnership - has now... (spoiler redacted) out of loyalty and perhaps even love perhaps damned himself, sold his own soul.For Walt. Literally, love will tear us apart.