Let me ask you a question Breaking Bad fans. Has your mind just exploded yet? It seems that the closer we get to the end of an era that is Walter White, more and more of the show is revealing how complex and detailed it is. With every closing episode I watch I realize that we have all been converted from rooting for the hero to rooting for the villain, which is exactly what Vince Gilligan wanted. When this show started it had the Weeds mentality to it; a person that has been placed in a tragedy and forced to make a decision on how they survive or move on. The entire show is based on the morality of man, and the cause and effect of our decisions. Is that why it’s rating have nearly doubled in less than a year? Maybe, but I think a lot of people want to tune in just to see the end of the story (I didn’t read Harry Potter until the last book came out), I also think others watch it for the sake of seeing something they would never do. Think of the Grand Theft Auto games where you can go around and beat up police or pay for hookers. We don’t play those games to go to the grocery store and buy juice; we play them to experience the worst part of our nature without the consequences. So with that being said, I’d like to talk about Walter White and the amazingly dark and admirable character he is.
With the odds being that 1 in every 3 people will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their lifetime, Walt embodies what I would think is everyone’s fear. A man just going through life and suddenly is faced with what one character calls “A death sentence.” He’s a great representation of middle class America; an underpaid high school chemistry teacher. I don’t think you could have picked a better career for this character. How many people in America have been to school for one degree or another, and ultimately feel they aren’t going to be able to one day retire. For W.W. his life expectancy is drastically shortened with his diagnosis and sends him into a rabbit hole of “I have nothing for my family after I die” and he is forced to as Gus Fring says “Find a way to provide”. While Walt has to face the monster that is cancer, it also seeded the monster that is his alter-ego Heisenberg.
I remember the first time we got a glimpse of Walt’s alter ego Heisenberg. It was after their first cook and Jesse Pinkman, his former student and drug dealing partner, returned with the first harvest of his sales. It was a good amount of money for any of us ($10,000 maybe, I can’t remember) but he absolutely loses his mind on Jesse. It was in this scene we see the intimidating and honestly scary side of Walter. While he hasn’t given this side of his personality a name yet, you immediately understood the desperation in Walter’s character. An “at all costs” tone in his voice it was the first dark in the light. Do you remember the scene where Skylar surprises him for his birthday and the Heisenberg comes out in front of everyone?
Over the next few seasons we see Walt succumb to his alter-ego Heisenberg more and more. Think about his clothes every time he is out as Heisenberg. Usually it is his black coat, hat, slacks, and a white shirt; I like to think it is a symbol of his overtaking of Walt; the dark choices he makes internally, showing externally. I feel like by the time we reach the final episode Heisenberg will be all that’s left, there will be no Walt left for us to sympathize with, and ultimately it will be his demise. It really is a split personality. Think about Walt at the breakfast table. He’s calm, caring, and collected, even when he is fighting with Skylar. Whenever they are there together he is always trying to connect with his kids and with her. When he’s with Jesse, or Gus, or Mike, or running over people, he’s a maniac…a cold, calculated, monster.
I could go on and on about this and how Walt has developed, but I want to ask you guys what you think of him. Here are some questions for you to discuss:
Has Walt always had these Heisenberg tendencies and it just took the cancer switch to turn them on? Or has he truly lost his mind from everything he’s done?
When the season ends, do you think we will see any of Walt left?
Who is responsible for their success Walt? Or Heisenberg?
How do you think this will end? I’ve always felt his cancer will get him while he’s in prison.
Why do we watch?