The final batch has been cooked. Oh, and before I forget: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS IN THIS ARTICLE FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO STILL HAVEN’T SEEN THE SERIES…
Breaking Bad was a great show that illustrated the lengths to which one man would go in order to leave his mark on the world. A high school chemistry teacher who discovers he has lung cancer, Walter White is a man who feels that he has had to pass on the most important opportunity in his life, investment in a science think-tank, because he had to support his family. With death potentially looming on the horizon, how will his family survive on just the small amount from his life insurance and possible school pension?
Enter the brother-in-law, Hank, a DEA agent, who takes Walt on a ride-a-long to a meth lab bust. After having seen on television the hundreds of thousands of dollars seized from just one bust, and seeing a former student hopping out a window and running away from the meth lab, Walt has an idea that should set his family up for long after he is dead. There is just one catch… it involves creating and selling an illegal drug.
This begins a long and winding road for Walter White and Jessie Pinkman. They begin cooking meth using a crude process in an RV in the desert outside of Albuquerque creating only a few pounds per batch and end up with a high tech cook lab shipping hundreds of pounds of methamphetamine overseas each week. There is death, destruction, even a train robbery. Bombs, guns, drugs, lies, stealing, even bribes and hiring hitmen become part and parcel of the life of Heisenberg, the persona that Walt constructed at the end of the first season to help him send a message to Tuco, the drug kingpin.
It is interesting to watch as Walt changes over the course of this show. At first he is this timid character, even when he begins to work with Jessie Pinkman in their roving RV/meth lab. He is careful and watches out for himself and his family without taking chances. As time goes by, Walter realizes that the risks can mean big gains. I feel that with the deal with Gustavo Fring, the owner of Los Pollos Hermanos and meth kingpin, Walter tasted success and death and knew that both were linked to success in this business.
The things that Walter did to survive and to protect his family can also be seen as contributing to his own want to leave a lasting mark on the world. The truth of this is seen in the last episode of the series as he is speaking with Skyler, his wife. He had often said that everything he did was for his family, but the truth finally came out as he told her, “Everything I did… I did for me.” He said he felt alive and, with the cancer that he battled throughout the series, this was what he was striving for. The challenge of being smarter and better than the competition, of creating a superior product, that was what helped him feel like a man.
While this is no excuse for what he did, I know that there are times that I have asked myself, just to help my family get to a better place financially, how far would I go? I loved that Breaking Bad really explored the impact of stepping onto this slippery slope and sliding all the way to the bottom. Of course, now I could never be able to create my own meth empire because I am sure the DEA would know all the tricks I learned from Mr. White.
Let’s talk about the ending. Was there any other way this series could really end? Stop reading now if you don’t want to know.
Still reading? I warned you.
The last few episodes of Breaking Bad were probably the hardest to watch. Knowing a series is coming to an end is always an emotional time. The bond that we form with the characters is an important part of why the show becomes popular or not. Shows like Lost, Dexter, Castle, Grimm, or even Game of Thrones, push us to forge relationships with the characters and take sides in the story. I always sided with Walter, never with Hank. I guess that probably says something about me as a person.
The minute that Walter drove like a bat out of hell to the place in the desert that he had hid his money, giving in to Jessie and Hank’s bait, I knew the ending was going to be bad. As Hank and Agent Gomez showed up and arrested Walt, I did not see a way out until Jack and his group showed up and then I knew this was going to be pretty nasty. As the dust settled from the shootout, with Hank and Gomie buried in the hole and all of Walter’s money, except for one barrel, gone… I could see the anger bubbling and know that Walter was not going to take what he had and run away. This was not who he had become. He had built this with his own two hands and no one was going to take it away without a fight.
As the final gunfight, well, there was really only one gun involved so not really a fight, ended and Walter and Jessie parted ways for the last time, Jessie’s reaction, screaming and crying as he drove away from the captivity he had been in for several weeks, maybe months, was both sad and quite a relief to know that Jessie was probably scared straight and his life would be changed forever. Walter had formed such a strong relationship with Jessie and wanted him to be something, maybe a better man that Walter felt he had become. That was difficult.
Walter walked out, bleeding from the bullet that he had saved Jessie from, and I knew it was over. Even with the police speeding in, Walter did not have long to live. His stroll through the lab and bloody caress of the cooking vat that had been both salvation and curse, was almost like bidding a love farewell. It still brings a tear to my eye. This show was perfect and I would not change a thing.
If you have not watched it, I recommend this show to anyone who wants an emotional roller coaster. You will either love it or hate it, there is no in between. While we will never have another Heisenberg, maybe the spin-off prequel, Better Call Saul, will at least remind us of how good Breaking Bad was and keep us in touch with some of our favorite characters while introducing some new ones.