Saturday, August 10, 2013

All Good Things Must Come To An End: Breaking Bad

With the first of the final 8 episodes of Breaking Bad premiering tomorrow night, I thought it would be a good time to discuss the journey so far. The past few years have been a crazy one for Walter White and Jesse Pinkman as they try and become players in the meth trade in the Southwest United States. The whole thing started out innocently enough, Walter was trying to find a way to make enough money so his family could get by after his death, keep in mind he had just been diagnosed with lung cancer. Throughout the first season, we see Walter as he struggles with finding a place to cook and make connections in the underworld. Jesse is in his element the entire time, he loves cooking meth and Walter gives him the tools to make the best of the best. This is when they are at their most naive and wide eyed. But towards the end of the season we start to see flashes of how ruthless Walt can be when he is backed into a corner.

Over the course of the next two seasons, we see as Walter White starts to transform into "Heisenberg". He feels like he is superior to everyone around him and it drives him away from his family and starts to puts cracks in his partnership with Jesse. Jesse is extremely trusting in Walter and seems to look u to him as a father figure, so it is very difficult for him to go against Walt at any point. The moments that made me realize Walt was a true monster were when he let Jesse's girlfriend choke to death on her own vomit and when he convinced Jesse to kill Gale. With Jane and Gale, we see how Walt is willing to kill people who are threatening his livelihood, Jane was blackmailing him and Gale was his replacement. With the death of Jane, it seems to me that all hope for Walt had been lost. His web of lies has to keep expanding as a result, it pushes Jesse into a drug fueled depression, and inadvertently leads to a plane crash. He also offered up Hank as a sacrifice to the cartel when they found out that Walt was connected to the DEA through Hank. This led to Hank being crippled for a good portion of the next season. His set up of Hank is probably the worst thing that he has ever done due simply to the fact that he was ready to sacrifice a member of his family to save his own skin. 

After the events of season 3, the writing is on the wall for Walt. He is squarely in the crosshairs of Gus, and Jesse is being groomed by the cartel to take his place. Walt sees this and starts to formulate a way to kill Gus and "free" Jesse. His relationship with Jesse gets more and more twisted as the series goes on. In the beginning they are partners and then as the series goes on he thinks of Jesse more as an underling and less as an equal. Jesse is more about cooking and could really do without the violence that comes with their business. He seems to be the only one who seems to have regret over the people that have died as a result of their business and it weighs on him in every frame that he is in. Walt seems to carry no feelings for the countless dead bodies at his feet. His poisoning of a child is probably the last straw in a lot of people's minds, from that point on there is no hope for redemption.

The first half of the fifth season showed Walt and his aspirations of building an empire. Jesse convinced Mike to come in on the venture to run the business side which left Walt and Jesse to run the "cooking" side of the business. This is the point at which there ceases to be external danger: and all "threats" come from the inside of Walt's own organization. Don't get me wrong, there is still plenty of danger of get caught by the DEA, who are closer than ever to catching Walt and Jesse. But there is no other organization looking to murder them and wipe them from the face of the Earth.

Walt is in full monster mode in this season, not blinking an eye at the murder of a child and doesn't really hesitate when it comes to killing his business partner, Mike. As soon as he saw Mike as a threat, he knew he had to be eliminated and he was willing to do whatever was necessary to take him out. Jesse is willing to let everything that he is accomplished go when he sees that Walt is willing to kill anyone that gets in his way. The only thing that makes Walt quit in the end is having too much money. It wasn't him being threatened, but it was simply having too much that led him to quit. Knowing him, it won't take much for him to get back on the horse and start cooking again. Everything also clicks for Hank, while taking a dump no less, and he is going to be coming after Walt with everything he has.

Jesse is my favorite character on the show and one of my favorite characters of all time. He just wants to make a couple of bucks while cooking meth. He thinks of it as artistry at first and then it turns into a way he can make a good life for himself. He isn't naive to the dangers of the job but he also knows when it is time to call it quits. He is really defiant early in the series and we have seen a huge transformation in him the past few seasons. He is the responsible one, questioning some of the darker and riskier of Walt's plans. He has a little family with his girlfriend and her son and he doesn't want to jeopardize that anymore. When Walt poisoned the kid, Jesse was willing to kill Walt, until Walt convinced Jesse that he was not the one who did it. His guilt over not stopping the death of the kid during the train robbery is what ultimately makes him quit. I wish he could see Walt as the monster that he is. My prediction for Jesse is that he is going to kill Walt in the final episode of the series to save Walt from having to go to jail.

Walt is no longer a sympathetic character, in the beginning he was a cancer patient trying to leave something for his family and then he became a ruthless kingpin. He is a scumbag in every way and even had the balls to try and convince Jesse that he was to blame for Brock getting sick. Walt is able to twist and manipulate people to do his bidding and when he isn't able to do that, he has no problem killing the people that get in his way. He took out Gus, Mike, Tuco, Jane, a couple of witnesses to his crimes, and 10 guys in jail who could have connected him to Gus. The blood on his hands can never be washed away and everytime he tries to redeem himself he ends up sinking further into darkness. My prediction for Walt is that he is going to indirectly cause the death of one of his children or his wife. Anyone remember the ricin vile that is hidden in the light socket in his bedroom? Mark my words, the vile will come into play again. I also believe that Jesse is going to be the one who finally knocks Walt off, and if that doesn't happen, he is going to land in jail at the hands of Hank. 

I am a huge fan of Game of Thrones, Justified, and Sons of Anarchy, but Breaking Bad is the best show on television. The mix of drama, dark humor, and impeccable acting makes this a must watch for me on a weekly basis. It is sad to see the show coming to an end but at least the show didn't overstay its welcome. Hopefully the creators can resolve all of the plot threads in a satisfactory way while keeping us all guessing at the same time. If you haven't started watching this show yet, you probably should not have read this article and I am sorry I have ruined most of the show for you. For those that do watch the show, leave some feedback on what you think is going to happen in the final few episodes.