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Associated Press
Bryan Cranston as Walter White in AMC's “Breaking Bad.”

Judgment day approaches for 'Breaking Bad' fans

Those of you who haven't followed "Breaking Bad" from the beginning might be wondering what all the fuss is about as the five-year-old AMC series nears its conclusion this month.

But those who have been watching from the beginning, and who have caught up through the miracle of streaming video, know that this is more than just another case of a TV series winding down because its stars or viewers or sponsors have tired of the concept.

Indeed, "Breaking Bad" is among the very best examples of a new breed of storytelling, a kind of high-tech Charles Dickens novel for TV and the Web that keeps you enthralled from episode to episode but also nudges the viewer toward what promises to be a powerful ending.

We won't burden you with a summary of former chemistry teacher Walter White's precarious situation. If you're familiar with the plot it will only bore you, and if you're not, it will spoil the pleasure when you try to catch up with a Murine-fueled all-night view- athon.

Episodes have been punctuated by shocking violence and all manner of other reprehensible behavior, and the acting is uniformly strong, but what is most loyalty-building about the show is its powerful storyline.

Two episodes away from the end, it's now clear that "Breaking Bad" is a tragedy in the best sense of the word, full of lessons and warnings for those who watch it and ponder its meaning. The show's crisp pace leaves little room for preaching. But "Breaking Bad" is, when all is stripped away, a classic morality play about what happens when an "ordinary" person loses his moral compass, his sense of right and wrong – his soul, if you will.

As Walt faces his final accounting, he might well ponder an often-quoted, truncated version of an observation made 160 years ago in quite a different context by abolitionist minister Theodore Parker. "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."