Four Letter Nerd

Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Heisenberg

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?


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Cody Russell

30 CommentsLeave a comment

  • The ricin is for himself. Also, I think that Heisenberg died when he shot Mike. In S05E08 he clearly is just going through the motions. But the current situation is bringing Heisenberg back. I will say that I don’t root for Walt anymore. Jesse and Hank yes. But not Walt. I don’t want him to success, I want him to experience justice.

  • The line is actually, “if you say you don’t know me, then maybe you should tread lightly.” At that point I believe Heisenberg was speaking. Not a, “if you don’t know your own brother in-law…” and more of a “you haven’t even begun to know me as Heisenberg.” I also like to think of the ricin being for himself. But I do not see it as much of a cowards way out as I do a complete Heisenberg move. Heisenberg would maybe see it as, “if anyone is going to kill me, it’s going to be me. I won’t give them the satisfaction…” kind of thing.
    I also think that for me the first time you see Heisenberg is in the first episode, when he kicks that kids legs in while shopping for jeans with walt junior, a total badass move, which he had never had the balls to do in his life until recently. I like to think that all of us have that dark side buried deep, which is why we love this show. Sometimes a dog won’t fight until it is backed into a corner, and for walt, cancer was the one backing him in. We all would like to think, if I was in his shoes, I wish I could be as badass as Heisenberg, even though if it was us in those situations, most of us would just roll with the punches.

    As for the other questions: I believe walt was the one who drove the success, he had been successful in his past, but life just kept kicking him down and he gave in. Then he created Heisenberg to give him the confidence to do what he felt was necessary, an at all cost mentality. Kind of like how the protagonist in “Fight Club” created Tyler Durden, but more self aware.

    I would also like to believe that we will see walt there at the very end, for maybe only one second, as a final goodbye. Maybe like how at the end of the first episode when he is speaking into the camera to his family saying he did everything for them.

    I really don’t want to even try to guess how it all ends though. I am along for the ride and I am enjoying it. I have complete faith in the writers that they won’t let us down.

  • I think Heisenberg festered inside Walt from the time he stepped down from the company he started with his college friends. Teaching high school chemistry clearly was a job Walt was overqualified for and he resented it. If you remember the classroom scenes, Walt was always so excited talking about his area of expertise and seemed frustrated that his students just gave him an uninterested gaze. And then being unable to provide the pay grade you believe you should be able to provide (considering how wealthy the company he left became), allowed the beast to grow. It took the desperation of dealing with drug dealers and life threatening disease for Heisenberg to form. But I do think the resentment from before Walt’s drug dealing days gave birth to the split personality Walt would become.

  • I just want to point out that Werner Heisenberg actually did die of cancer. Considering Walt’s knowledge of Werner Heisenberg it makes sense to me that this might be not so subtle foreshadowing.

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