Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Walter White Wednesday 75

Sometimes I dislike that I picked Wednesday for my Breaking Bad posts - everyone's already gotten a crack at things before my posts roll around - but here's the plus side.  I get a little more breathing room.  And I needed that after "Felina," the episode that closed out Walter White's descent into dark respect.

Of course there will be spoilers.  Deal.

Over the course of about two years of Walt's life, we've been with him on his own personal chemical transformation.  We've seen him go from a nebbishy, sad-sack high school chemistry teacher to a man who made the purest methamphetamine on the market.  Then he moved from manufacturing to distribution.  He garnered respect for his mad chemistry skills, albeit from some reprehensible types.  Moreover, he became consumed by at least four of the seven deadly sins (I won't accuse him of sloth or gluttony, but he managed to corner wrath, envy, pride, and greed.  The jury's still out on lust when "lust for power" is added in to the equation).  Gilligan's brilliance has been that we started out rooting for Walt, even as we disagreed with his decisions.  Remembering his circumstances, it was hard to stop being a fan.  But it got harder.  And harder.  And, for me at least, it became impossible.  Now, I've kept my ear to the ground a bit on fan sites and commentary posts and that's not true for everybody - there are some folks who wanted Walt to "win."  They believe wholeheartedly that he did all this for his family.  (Coincidentally, they also believe that Gretchen & Elliott Schwatrz stole Gray Matter from Walt, something that I'm highly skeptical on, since Walt's story and Gretchen's don't match up at all and we know that Walt can take the truth and turn it into a pretzel without breaking a sweat.  They offered him a sinecure job for the sole purpose of paying for his treatment, but nooooo.)

These fans rationalize as much as Walt.  Sure, he watched Jane die, but really - was that his fault?  And yeah, he poisoned a child, but he knew what he was doing.  And Gus had threatened to kill his family, so he had to die and it's not like anyone innocent got hurt in that nursing home.  Walt told Todd they couldn't leave witnesses at the train robbery but it's not like he shot Dirt-Bike Drew.  Mike, well, Mike was a violent man.  And Hank shouldn't have been - well, shouldn't have been so Hank.  And Jesse shouldn't have crossed him.  And Skyler was just a bitch.

I do not want to break bread with these people.

Walt was a terrible person.  Maybe he didn't start that way, but he was so far from mild-mannered Mr. White by the time of "Felina" that he couldn't have found that person with a telescope and a clear night.

And I wanted him punished.

But in "Felina," an awful lot happens on Walt's terms.  (And while I've never credited white supremacists with an "overabundance of schooling," as Mal Reynolds might say, they didn't search the half-acre-sized trunk in Walt's car?  Seriously - I've seen smaller parade floats and you know that they've watched Jesse's confession, which would have included the whole "I like remote controlled death traps" aspect of Walt's personality.)  Yes, he loses it all - wife, son, daughter, friends, money, and even his life - but he loses on his terms.  Yes, yes, Lydia's death was fine by me and I was practically cheering as Jesse throttled Todd, but overall - Walt had too much power in this to satisfy my (admittedly dark) sense of justice, although he does finally admit that he did all of this for himself.

My favorite moments?  Easy:
  • The close-up of the Marty Robbins cassette tape falling out of the Volvo's glove box.  Robbins sings the lonesome cowboy song "El Paso," which features a Mexican maiden named "Felina."
  • The flashback of Jesse carefully crafting that inlaid wooden box that we heard about back in "Kafkaesque" in Season 3.
  • Jesse refusing to shoot Walt because that's what Walt says he wants, and Jesse's done being Walt's chew toy.  Bleed out, bitch.
Speaking of which, I hope Jesse finds peace, although I doubt he manages.  And I wish Saul well with his new career with Cinnabon.

Anyway, that's my take.  Click here to see my co-author's take and here to see the view from someone much farther north.

Breaking Bad may have come to a close, but "Walter White Wednesday" will continue.  Wanna Cook? is in the final push, then there's editing to do and I want to keep you all up to date as publication nears.  So please - keep "Walter White Wednesday" near and dear to your heart - and your bookmarks!  (And use that handy "Follow Me on Twitter" button over on the right!)

. . . or maybe it hasn't come to a close . . .

No comments: