The Ninjabot

Breaking Bad: A Reflection on the End

Posted on July 19, 2013 at 12:38 pm by Jason Byard

There’s no more compelling story than that of a person losing their soul. It’s a very perverse yet a very human compulsion to be drawn to that sort of thing, to find it gripping. Whether it’s seeing the kindly old Dr. Jekyll being twisted into the vicious Mr. Hyde, Blanche DuBois and her descent into madness in Street Car Named Desire, or the slow off screen succumbing of Colonel Kurtz to the fever dream realities of Vietnam in Apocalypse Now that type of systematic mental and moral deterioration is always fascinating to behold. Hell, even the Amanda Bynes’ meltdown has had it’s moments, come to think of it. But, fading teen idols aside, there’s probably no better Hollow Man on television today than Walter White of Breaking Bad.

For five seasons now we’ve sat utterly enraptured at the spectacle of the once upstanding family man gradually shedding his scruples one after the other in a fevered, bloody voyage to become the methamphetamine king of the desert southwest. We mark the signposts along the way denoting the steady corrosion of his character. Letting Jesse’s girlfriend choke on her puke…poisoning that little kid…turning a sick old man into a suicide bomber…plugging poor Mike (that one was particularly egregious, in my opinion). Everyone of them a taut little step down the road to Hell.

The genius of the character of Walter White, and what makes Bryan Cranston’s portrayal of him so utterly winning, is that he’s not mortgaging his soul to some outside party, as is so often the case. Walt’s demons are all his own. He’s a man in conflict with himself alright, it’s just a decidedly one-sided battle and that’s what makes his transformation so engrossing. The ease with which his dark side seems to win out every time. It’s that deceptive lack of conflict that’s the kicker. Unlike that other famous alchemist, Faust, Walter White has the advantage of being his own Mephistopheles.

Jesse Pinkman

But what I’m looking forward to most in the upcoming homestretch of the series is the irrepressible and inevitable clash coming between Walt and his erstwhile protege Jesse (Aaron Paul). See, while Walt has been shedding his soul like a winter coat on a German Shepard, Jesse has slowly been recovering his. He’s gradually been moving along the opposite track away from his shallow junkie self-indulgence into the light of personal responsibility and social obligation.

Basically shit is about to hit the proverbial fan and the creators have set up a particularly explosive row of dominoes over the past few years. Now the time has arrived for them to start knocking them down. And at the center of it all there will be good old Walter, and we’ll be present and accounted for cheering him on. Which is strange, because whether he lives or whether he dies, we all know he’s doomed.

What do you want to see happen to Walter and his motley crew? Should he  get a bitter end or do you want to see him get away with it? Leave us a comment and tell us what you think!

    • I think it’s going to end either with Walt dying (either from cancer or because of his drug activities), or he’s just going to end up alone because his family and Jesse turn their backs on him.

    • I think it’s going to end with Walt dying (either from cancer or because of his drug related activities), or his family and Jesse are going to turn their backs on him and he’s going to be left completely alone.

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