A spoiler-free look at ‘Breaking Bad’ for those who’ve yet to see
By Angela Espinoza, Arts Editor
Whether you watch Breaking Bad or not, one thing to keep in mind is that creator Vince Gilligan is one twisted dude. For those who don’t know, Breaking Bad follows the adventures of Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a high school chemistry teacher diagnosed with lung cancer, and his drug dealing, ex-student Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). Mr. White presents the ultimate crystal meth formula to Pinkman, and from there they make friends, kill them, and learn stuff!
Breaking Bad is a show so dark, one is either going to have to eventually laugh along with what’s going on or turn the show off. Well, maybe not laugh along so much, but they’re going to learn to let situations and characters go as time passes in Albuquerque, New Mexico. One of those characters is Mr. White himself, who as the series has gone on, has left Jekyll behind and gone full Hyde, or in this case, Heisenberg—what’s strange is that even at this point, the viewer is still cheering for him. Why?
This series is one of only a few that has presented the notion that, good or bad, a loyal viewer is going to follow their protagonist through and through. At first, the situation put White in the position of anti-hero—he was doing something very wrong to support his family (stealing bread, cooking meth, same difference). He’s since evolved into a drug kingpin of sorts, and one that rules with an iron fist and a spiffy black hat. In that time, he’s in some way hurt everyone who’s ever loved him, and he doesn’t look back unless it’s to obsess and cause even more harm.
Mr. White doesn’t always do this intentionally, and it’s perhaps for that reason people still follow him, tuning in week after week. Not so much to see if he’ll turn over a new leaf, but to see if maybe one day, he’ll get away with all he’s done—have the world around him justify his actions, and not the other way around. Even when he wasn’t “Heisenberg,” White wasn’t much for wearing his heart on his sleeve, but even in his worst of moments, his love for his family has remained clear, if not, again, twisted. This has caused viewers to turn against the same people he loves most, namely his wife, Skyler (Anna Gunn). Despite what many people think, I don’t see Skyler as the enemy—although there have been many times where she’s been Mr. White’s ultimate challenge. She, like her husband, has done bad things for her own reasons, but she’s also stood by him perhaps for the same reason we do—at some point, he was Walter White, and while kind of a miserable dick, he wasn’t an evil person.
Breaking Bad ended it’s fifth mid-season on September 2, the first time the series has broken a season in half. I don’t see there being much to this strategy other than to build suspense for the final eight episodes, to air next summer. What’s interesting though is that with all the characters that have come and gone in the series, all the storylines that have developed over time, the final eight appear to be returning back to the show’s original core: the focus is the White family and extended family, which at this point, after everything he and White have been through, includes Pinkman.
Take this piece as an insistence to spending the next year (not that you’ll need that long) catching up on Breaking Bad if you haven’t already. There’s a reason they’ve called it ‘the best show on television’ for five years straight, and you’d be testing fate not to be a part of it.