Tag Archives: Breaking Bad

BREAKING BAD: Walter White Is Not A Villain

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I just finished watching the finale of Breaking Bad, and was immensely pleased with how it turned out.  Not only did it tie up all the lose ends, but it brought meaning and self realization to a series that’s been an incredible journey.  As I like to say, it’s a good story well told, and it completes the perfect arc for one of the most inspiring and unique mythological characters ever created for a television series.  Walt’s journey is a mythical one, as it is fraught with serious choices and major consequences.  But after awhile, Walt starts to take it in stride, and embraces the side of himself he calls Heisenberg.  Here’s the thing, however.  I think there is a large misconception among people about Walt’s character.  Most people see him as an evil person or a villain.  I highly disagree.  I think Walt is a much more complicated character than to so neatly fit into one of those persona’s.  If I had a reason why people think of him as evil, its a reason for them to feel okay with watching his character do the things that he does.  As long in the back of peoples minds they acknowledge him as a bad person, it creates an easy disconnect so that the audience won’t fully have to identify with him.

Well, if you’re a fan of the show and you think Walt is evil, I’m going to challenge you on that perception.  Walt is not a villain.  He does a lot of terrible things, sure.  He kills people.  He’s gotten many innocent people killed because of his actions (the plane collision for instance).  He’s been terribly sadistic towards Jesse, even to the point of almost having him killed by someone else.  For awhile, his thirst for power and money consumes him.  There are many reasons for us to easily judge him as an evil man.  Except he’s not.

Walt is engaged in a spiritual journey.  The way it begins for him is harsh as he is pushed through desperate needs, because of his cancer, his pride, his failed opportunity to be a part of a multi-billion dollar corporation, his lack of health care and life in the poor house…his life is considered all for nothing.  Until he finds his calling as a meth cook.  With his incredible chemistry skills, Walt’s path to becoming a meth cook brings out the best and worst aspects of him.  The universe has guided him on several instances, and the best aspect of Walts journey is that he owns his destiny.  It’s a life that he admits at the end of the series that he built for himself.  Because he wanted it.  What he wanted most was for his life to matter, even if it meant going down as a criminal meth kingpin.  What is actually happening is an incredible transformation, as a butterfly of a whole new color begins to emerge.  And you know what?  Despite the fact that Walt dies at the end, he gets everything he wanted and does everything he set out to do in the first place.  Skyler finds it in her heart to forgive him.  He gets his money to Walt Jr.  And by setting Jesse free from the meth lab, in so doing he sets his spirit free.  There’s a reason Jesse, representing Walt’s younger self, is imprisoned in that meth lab by the end with no way out.  By the time Walt sets him free, Walt can begin the next leg of his journey.

I’ve thought of Walt’s death scene being a comparison to the end of American Beauty, just in the same way as Lester is looking at the photograph of his family before he goes…as Walt is looking around the meth lab before he goes, there is that moment where it all comes together, where the two characters see it all before them, their lives and everything that brought them to their current path.  They get it in that moment.  Walt doesn’t actually die at the end.  His spirit lives on through Jesse.  What I love about the end, is that when he falls to the ground, there is a sight smile on his face, just in the same way after Lester is shot, he has that same smile in his own pool of blood.  It’s an absolutely beautiful moment as Walter White has finally come home.

I’m sure what I’m saying might be a little difficult to understand about why for this reason I don’t consider Walt an evil person.  I don’t even consider it redemption.  I believe the purpose of everything he did was to lead up to this moment of self realization.  His path has a kind of flow, where we might put meaning to the death count in his wake, except in the end, it really has no meaning.  It’s just about this singular moment.

Like I said, calling Walt a villain makes it easier on people so they don’t have to connect with him.  But that’s not the reason we watch him.  We watch with fascination, wondering how and if this character is going to find his way to bliss, after committing so many horrible, awful acts.  I was watching Vince Gilligan on Stephen Colbert, and it’s interesting because he talks about Walt as being an evil character.  Except it’s a lie.  He knows consciously that Walt isn’t evil.  But he has to say it because otherwise people aren’t going to understand him and believe that he’s condoning meth distribution and murder.  Which he’s not.  Gilligan does the most noble thing he can do with his hero character, and that’s to not judge him.  None of the characters are judged personally through their actions.  There are prices to be paid and consequences for sure.  But we love these characters because they are being allowed to find their own way.  It makes them even more funny, sadistic, or even tragic.  It’s the best thing any writer can do for their characters which is to just let them go in their own way.  The characters story wants to be told.  And it’s a mythological journey about someone finding their place in the universe.  Walt thinks he’s going against the universe, but it’s actually there with him the whole time, allowing him to chose and find his own path.

So if you’re a fan of the show and you love Walter White, don’t be afraid to step outside for a moment that the character might be evil.  There’s more to him than people give him credit for.  I think there’s an important reason why so many people are in love with the show, and the reasons are because of our connections to myths.  Walter White will go down as one of the greatest hero characters ever created, and we have a lot to thank Vince Gilligan for his understanding of that.

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BREAKING BAD: Walter White’s Silent Partner: Survival

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It’s pretty amazing to see how ahead of the game the writers have been on BREAKING BAD all this time.  No one can truly predict where and what will be the final fate of Walter White will be.  He is a lone man on a mythological journey…a man who near the end of his life (thanks to the disease cancer), he realizes in that moment he doesn’t know who he is.  He wants to be a provider for his children and his family.  He doesn’t want his cancer to strip the family dry of medical bills before his death.  So he does the one thing nobody could ever dream doing:  He uses his chemistry talents and goes into the meth business, producing the most perfect purification of meth that anyone on the market has ever seen.  He’s a brilliant man.  But he’s also haunted by his previous lost enterprise.  When his chance to be a partner and run a multibillion dollar organization goes down the drain, because he sold his share too soon to pay off a few months rent, it was survival that ruined his chance at success.  And yet in the end, survival is what he’s been stuck with.  There has been no peace for him, and the path he’s ultimately chosen in his meth world is full of strife and consequence.  Bodies have piled up all around Walter White, and yet his partner “survival” is always there to bail him out.  If this were Dexter, survival would be Walt’s dark passenger.  Every single time he has done something awful, he still manages to get out, despite the lives that he’s ruined.  There is always a sign…a signal of some sort hanging like a piece of meat that tells Walt he can get out of a situation, and Walt always takes the out.

So the big question is, will Walt face down the consequences of his actions?  Dexter went into hiding.  Walt went into hiding too, and you know what?  It broke him.  The phone call to Junior signaled it, and the announcement on the television by his former associates that this was the death of Walter White.  At least in Walt’s mind he’s dead.  We saw in the last shot of the last episode he was in the heat of the moment, about to do something we know may be ultimately dangerous and his undoing.  Which part of Walt died in that moment?  If I had to guess, it’s his need for survival.  The one thing that started it all.  The one thing that ruined his chance at a successful normal life.  When he was a man on the run, survival was all he had left and all he was faced with in that cabin.  For months.  Whatever Walts decision is now, he’s about to face it head on.

Is he going to go after the Schwartz’s for leading him to quit the business?  I don’t think that’s the case.  Is he going to face up to his crimes?  I don’t think that’s the case either.  He’s not someone to let everything he worked for go to nothing.  He’s become fully consumed by the dark.  The one thing that’s left to clue us in is that vile of risen.  Who is it ultimately going to be used on?  Who is he going to go after or wants to go after most?  It’s not going to be himself, because he’s already dead to everyone.

As Walt faces his destiny we can only begin to wonder how it’s going to end.  The thing we are certain of is that the end is not going to be pretty.  It’s going to be dark and gruesome, and possibly costing the lives of everyone involved, until there’s no one left except Walt…a man who will have lost everything to gain an empire…or what’s left of one.  He may be on the verge of secretly reclaiming all that he lost.  He is setting the ground work for something new to build on all that’s come before him.  I have a feeling with Walt in the Finale, we’re going to see a long look into his future, and what his true destiny is that awaits him.  He may as well operate his new empire from another country.  It’s possible that’s what will happen.  But he will be alone.  Without his family, and without the people who once loved him.  Walt is letting go of everything and starting over again.  But he’s going to take a lone vigilante stance.  He wants people to think that he’s dead so he can take his place as the new king of meth.  He’s going to face whats been waiting for him all along.  He’ll fake his death, and he’s going to run a multi-trillion dollar meth empire.  He’s going to be the underground lord of meth.  He’s going to get everything he ever wanted for himself and never realize that he’s alone.  His son or Jesse will probably kill Walt for all the things he’s done.  Somebody close will come after him.  That will be the end of Walt.  Except Walt is already dead.  It won’t matter to anyone anymore.  Or he’ll be taken out in the most pitiful way possible.  Nobody knows for certain.

I love this show.  I just completely pulled that prediction out of my ass.  I’m not going to count on it being right, but hey, that’s the fun of stuff like this.  Breaking Bad, when its all over you will be missed.  I’m glad I caught up with it when I did.

Wasting Away, Banished and Exiled!

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Well, I suppose I’m over my childhood trauma that was Ursula.  As I posted awhile back, she’s the one Disney villain that completely terrified me as a little kid.  Took me awhile to get over that one.  Maybe I’m just weird that way.  Or insane.  Or both.  But anyhow it doesn’t matter.  This is just another bit of a random post.  It’s quiet again this week.  I’m trying to work on a personal project in the midst of another project that’s in the works.  So far this new idea…is just okay.  Gonna take me some time to figure out the story and what it wants to be.  Bah.  I hate not knowing what a story is supposed to be.  But I suppose the search for the story is all part of the fun of it.  I SUPPOSE.  Sheesh.

I’ve been on a Breaking Bad high as of recently.  Last night’s Rian Johnson episode blew my mind at how good it was.  Extraordinary.  Between this and his film Looper which came out last year, this is a director to definitely keep your eye on.  I’ll be watching this guy for sure.  He’s phenomenal.  Last nights episode was absolutely gripping, showing without having to tell.  It’s the subtext and the fact that this show actually makes you think for a moment that really amazes me (although trust me, sometimes I’ve had to go on the internet afterwards to confirm certain aspects.  Hey I can admit it!)  The episodes end made me long to make a film where just everybody dies or is insane.  And make it a cartoon.  Yes, perfect!  Although admittedly there are times I wonder about that.  What’s my obsession with making dark cartoons.  Maybe not always dark, but sometimes complicated scenarios.  I long to create a masterpiece of television like Breaking Bad.  Seriously that show amazes me.  I want to make animation that powerful, even though Breaking Bad is not animation.  Somewhere I ask myself what I’d like to be.  Maybe Pixar’s dark evil twin.  I had some people comparing Jellyfish Girl to a Pixar film, at least until they got to the end.  That was satisfying to hear 😉

I suppose there’s not much more I can talk about.  This is expected to be a quiet week unless I see a movie that blows my mind.  Oh wait!  I did!  BLUE JASMINE!  Go see it.  It’s Woody Allen’s latest, and it’s a real treat.  It’s as funny as it is sad.  Jasmine is such a wonderful, complicated character.  It’s a real genuine, honest depiction of a melt down into complete psychosis.  It’s just really good.  Go see it or watch it when it arrives on DVD.

I’ll see if I can find more to write about this week if I’m not to busy.  Have a good week everybody.

Slow News Week

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I thought I’d write an update, although I have no idea what to actually write about. I guess I could tell you I’ve been busy writing for This Is Infamous, a fairly new movie website, which I’ve written several articles for. I will have a write up about Cinecon over there pretty soon. There were lots of great classic films screened this year, all of which I had never seen before. Last week I was in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and you can check out pictures from my own personal Breaking Bad tour I took. Speaking of Breaking Bad, that show is going swimmingly. I am still amazed at how well thought out and put together it is. There is definitely years of writing experience put into it thanks to the passion of creator Vince Gilligan. It’s a great show for sure. I’ve been watching the final season of Dexter as well, and I have to say that’s not going as great as I would have hoped. The storyline has just been kinda scattered. You still can’t even tell they’re building up to a major conclusion. Everything just feels so…ordinary. I’m not impressed.

Sorry everyone, I know I’m rambling on here. I’m currently at my favorite coffee shop in Burbank as I write this. It’s been a good place to draw up inspiration. As well as getting on a caffeine high! Which is what my writing is starting to sound like. Geez. Anyway, I should probably stop at this point…no really, stop now! Stop! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Have a good weekend everyone. 🙂

Breaking Bad Tour!

1234734_10200556207051117_176550352_nI’m currently in Albuquerque, New Mexico as I write this, and couldn’t resist the chance to take a personal tour of some of the main locations from the show Breaking Bad.  It was quite a fun adventure.  Many of these locations turned out to be right around the corner from one another.  The filmmakers didn’t have to go far when they were shooting this series.  On our tour, I picked out six major locations that I figured were the most recognized spots.  We managed to hit them all before sundown.  So here for your viewing pleasure, I present a tour of the locations of Breaking Bad!

WALT AND SKYLER’S CAR WASH

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545220_10200556325654082_1551919543_nThis is the car wash used in the first season where Walt had his second job, and later in Season 5 where Walt and Skyler buy it to use as a money laundering system for their drug money. In actuality, Walt and Skyler’s Car Wash is part of a chain of car washes in Albuquerque called Octopus Car Wash. I saw several of them as I was touring around with my friends. The place was closed by the time we got there, so there was no BB insignia or anything we could see related to the show, but it was still pretty cool as it became a major part of the show.

LOS POLLOS HERMANOS

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This was the Chicken Restaurant owned by wealthy drug lord Gus Fring.  The place is actually part of a fast food chain in Albuquerque called Twisters.  It’s not much different than what you see here, but the cool part is the Los Pollos Hermanos sign remained inside the Twisters restaurant!

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CROSSROADS MOTEL

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This site was used, known to everyone as Crystal Palace.  The family thinks Walt Jr. has been smoking pot, which was left over from Walt Sr.  To teach Jr. a lesson, Hank takes him to the Crossroads in a funny scene where he calls over a hooker to show him the depraved life that awaits him.  Crossroads as it turns out is a real life hooker motel.  Whats funny is if you look at the sign below, they decided not to change it, and it was the same when I saw it.  It reads: WELCOME. FREE CABLE TV. OPEN 24 HOURS.  YOUR HOME AWAY FROM HOME.

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DEA BUILDING

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1175353_10200555581555480_1413208575_nThis location was the exterior for the DEA office in Albuquerque.  It’s the place where Hank has his office while he searches for the drug kingpin known as Heisenberg.

COMBO’S CORNER

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This is the location where Jesse’s drug dealer buddy Combo is shot and killed.  It’s also the same place where Walt runs down and murders the two guys who went after Combo.  It is what it is, a big empty lot, but big stuff happens here, and it was cool to see.

SAUL GOODMAN’S OFFICE (“Better Call Saul”)

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Last on our tour, we found the location for Saul Goodman’s office!  And yes, funny enough, Hooligans is the name of the actual place used for exterior shots, which is a bar.  What’s also funny is they kept the May Hong vietnamese restaurant next door, which I guess looked tacky enough for the shopping mall where it was located.  You will also noticed the buildings were repainted to a kind of puke green from its original brown, which just adds to the tackiness.

I visit Albuquerque quite a bit, so the more I watch the show in the future, the more I will pick up on other places to visit.  The only places I won’t be going to is residential homes just because I think it’s weird to have strangers taking pictures of your house.  As a bonus, we also visited the Atomic museum where portions of the show were shot, although I couldn’t find the spot where they filmed and figured they must have brought their own backdrop props to the set.  Also as part of our tour, we stopped at the Candy Lady in Old Town, where they sold Breaking Bad T-Shirts, Heisenberg Hats, and even Blue meth rock candy! It was a great experience.  I’ll keep you all posted when I make future visits and see some other locations.