Off the bat, I have to admit, I did not pick up Breaking Bad until this June. So, this journey has taken place for me all in the matter of 3 and a half months. Late to the party, but having fun nonetheless.
Now, onto the good stuff. Sunday night will see t.v.’s greatest (who are we kidding, only) chemistry teacher turned meth drug lord. The ambition of Vince Gilligan is unparalleled in the world of television. We have never seen a character morph through time as much as Walter White. From apprehensive school teacher to criminally insane kingpin, White’s character is indistinguishable now compared to its beginning and his overall arc is one to behold.
On the whole, I struggle with my assessment of Walt. At times, I have sympathy for Walt and root for him to do the right thing. But then his enormous ego and overabundance of arrogance prevents him from doing so. Many times we see the reasoning and deductive Walt slide by the wayside and impulsive Walt jump on the table. That is the beauty of the show. It taps into something primal in us, as all of us have some deep-seeded beliefs of taking control of our lives like Walt does (minus the transition into psychopath).
During the course of the show, Walt’s descent on the moral totem pole is evident and his low of lows is capped when it was revealed that he poisoned Brock. An innocent kid, but one whose sickness Walt could use to coerce Jesse to side with him in the expungement of Gus Fring. Throughout this course of moral ambiguity displayed by Walt, he holds onto the notion that he was doing it for his family. Hodge podge. He was doing it for himself when he discovered how great it felt to have power. One taste, like his blue meth, and he’s hooked. He may have started out with those tidy standards, but once he was in, once he was Heisenberg, he was in it for himself. For all the glory.
Deep down inside Walter White, Heisenberg always awaited, wanting to claim what was rightfully his. Something was bound to bring up all the frustration he felt. Every action, every decision by Walt led him down to a path of no return. His noble ambitions of doing it for his family shattered in the rear view mirror. If he truly wanted it for his family, he would have left numerous times. Instead, his ego, arrogance, and pride in his meth-cooking abilities get the best of him. He knows he is better and smarter than everybody and he relishes the power Heisenberg possesses. A power that eventually overcomes little-old Walt.
So, what should happen to Walt? Simply said, he deserves the worst fate possible. If that’s death, I’m all for it. Seeing Hank perish in front of his face was something Walt deserved to see. If a greater punishment awaits him on earth, with life, I am all for that as well. You could see how deprived he was in that lonely New Hampshire cabin, cut off from the world, yet alive to feel its pain. A fitting place to live, since he is the cause for everyone’s demise and, even though he has some sympathy from me and a few redeeming qualities to boot, he deserves to be punished. Will it be death? The trajectory does seem to be messy. Neo-Nazis. A wounded Pinkman. An M60 machine gun. An inflated ego. It definitely seems to be headed for a violent ending. And I assume that is exactly what we’re going to get (Aaron Paul’s tweets also help my assessment).
I don’t want to think too deeply into how this show will end though. Rather, I want to soak it in, as I am sure it will be a memorable ride and go off on an uncontrollable, 99.9% pure high. And as no ending would come as a shock for me, I believe that Walter’s fate has been assured long ago. Death awaits him. A glorious, epic, and operatic death, if we’re lucky (and I think we are). But Gilligan did something spectacular (okay, he’s done a lot of spectacular) with the introduction of the Nazis. By doing so, he added characters and people more ruthless and terrible than Walt and now, for the first time in a while, I am rooting for Walt. Not to live, but to die admirably. Something I never thought I would say, as some of Walt’s actions and lies have been irrefutably terrible and irredeemable, but some things the Nazis have done have been inexcusable (Drew Sharp, Andrea) and by comparison, Walter White, child poisoner, doesn’t seem so bad.
I feel weird, writing about how someone should die, but like any great tragedy, death is expected. And whatever Vince Gilligan and company devise as their ending, I’m sure I’ll be satisfied, a little sad, and a lot anxious.