In the latest episode of AMC’s record breaking TV series Breaking Bad, protagonist Walter White seemingly wins the long-running battle against his DEA agent brother-in-law; but at what cost?
White, AKA ‘Heisenberg’, has forever justified his bending of the American dream by insisting that it is all for his family. When Walt was diagnosed with cancer, still reeling from the achievements of the company that he and his colleagues had started (Gray Matter) but he had left before making his money, he decided that his only option was to ‘Break Bad’. Walt could not face the idea of leaving behind Skyler as a single mother looking after both the disabled Walt Jr and baby Holly.
Throughout the five seasons ‘W.W.’ and his accomplice Jesse Pinkman have had many dangerous run-ins with both the law and serial killing gangsters; not quite the bedtime story that he wants to read to his child. Throughout all this, oldest son ‘Jr.’ becomes more and more aggrieved with the lies and fabrications that get more unbelievable as the violence escalates. However, after Marie believes Hank has Walt arrested and forces Skyler to reveal all to Jr., Walt’s whole plan (and life) unravels.
Hank had in fact been killed and Walt rushes back to a terrified Skyler and Jr. It is at the point after the two fend off Walt with a knife that he looks at them and realises what he has become. His family don’t recognise their father and husband anymore. “We’re a family!” screams Walt rhetorically, as if the psychopathic slogan justifies his murders.
Not one of the characters we have came to love, or at least root for, have their lives left intact. Nothing will ever be the same from this point. What else can Walt do but run to salvage what’s left of his life? The reaction to Hank’s death and the emotional phone call to Skyler proved that there is a glimmer of Walter White left, but his reluctance to lose face showed that he has almost completely been consumed by ‘Heisenberg’.
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away
- Breaking Bad: Ozymandias – Where Does Walter White go From Here? (contactmusic.com)
- ‘Breaking Bad’ review of ‘Ozymandias’ (includes spoilers from Sunday night’s episode) (voices.suntimes.com)