Anti-hero and bad to the core

Eileen McCormick / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Walter White, played by Bryan Cranston, is a timid chemistry teacher turned meth kingpin. Netflix

Vince Gilligan creator of the X-files creates yet another cult classic with Breaking Bad. The show was first aired on AMC in 2008 and ran for five seasons. It is now available for your binge viewing pleasure on Netflix.

Walter White played by Bryan Cranston and Jesse Pinkman played by Aaron Paul become unlikely partners in starting up their own laboratory producing methamphetamine or crystal meth.

White is a family man who has become numbed out in most of his daily life. He is an over qualified high school chemistry teacher who is suddenly awakened after being diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. With just months to live and nothing to leave behind, he sets out on taking back control of his life.

The viewer is instantly made aware of just how humiliating his life is. White has to discipline two attractive, spoiled young students who have inherited more money than he’ll ever have, and forced to work part-time in a car-wash to meet his family’s bills. It’s clear that even in the classroom he yields little power and it is only exemplified further when he is forced to wash his student’s expensive car.

White’s first act of shedding his fear through aggression is both spontaneous and calculated. He finally tells off his overbearing boss and quits. His next act is beating up a group of teenagers in a store for making fun of his disabled son Walt Jr played by RJ Mitte.

The chemistry teacher’s transition from a mediocre family man to a person wanting to leave behind a legacy, takes the viewer on an unexpected dark yet comedic journey. Walter White teams up with Jesse Pinkman to operate a meth lab on wheels, using an old RV. Well that’s for starters anyway, without giving too much of the plot away.

The camerawork in Breaking Bad is very realistic and helps the dynamic plotlines of the show evolve. All the players in the series, from White’s wife Skylar played by Anna Gunn to his Drug Enforcement Agency brother-in-law Hank played by Dean Norris are flawed people.

The camera shots go from chaotic to mundane, but in a flash everything changes to reflect the emotions at the time. Throughout the series, the camera captures the unique transition of the main characters from heroes to enemies.

Fair warning though, don’t fall in love with any one person in Breaking Bad because at each turn you see a different side of him or her.

You can take the teacher out of the classroom but you can’t take the classroom out of the teacher and that’s exactly how White builds up his meth empire. He forms an unlikely bond with ex-student Jesse Pinkman who ironically showed no real promise in chemistry.

This is how evil creeps into the hearts of so-called innocent men. While on a ride-a-long with his over confident DEA brother-in-law Hank, White sees firsthand how much money a meth cook could make. It is in this same bust that he sees his former student Jesse Pinkman jump out of a window to avoid arrest.

White now begins to think. He needs quick money for his cancer treatment and what better way of getting that than to team up with Jesse Pinkman to make and sell meth. White’s chemistry teacher-mentor attitude is played up throughout Breaking Bad.

In the beginning it is a good comedy act between him and Jesse Pinkman who is slowly being taught how to cook meth using “Walter’s formula” and “Walter’s techniques”. By the end however his mentoring becomes very manipulative.

Since criminal activity is not exactly a walk in the park the two are soon faced with the harsh realities of being drug dealers. Jesse Pinkman wants to keep things small while White is always pushing to expand the business and create a drug empire.

While White starts making meth as a life insurance money for his family, knowing his days are numbered as a lung cancer victim, it soon becomes something much more sinister. His thirst for vengeance cannot be quenched each time someone crosses Heisenberg, his nom de guerre among meth dealers and the DEA. Those that try to stab Heisenberg in the back die in despicable ways, with their bodies dumped in acid tanks so that they become untraceable. White also uses an untraceable poison called ricin to slowly kill his victims.

White spends his time putting out fires (that he often creates) and justifying every death and action he must take, while lying to his family. Jesse Pinkman on the other hand struggles with drug addiction while accepting the actions White and other bosses make him take. When the viewer is first introduced to Jesse Pinkman we only see him as some young punk kid with no real direction. This is because of his misunderstood persona; he is really someone with two hearts and one brain. Throughout the show Hank, White’s DEA brother-in-law targets Jesse Pinkman for being linked to the blue meth that is flooding the streets of New Mexico.

As the show progresses even while White is in remission from his cancer, you sort of know how things will end for him while Jesse Pinkman’s outcome is up in the air. I don’t want to divulge how the show ends but ultimately this quote by Walter White is exactly the trajectory the show takes.

“Chemistry is the study of matter. But I prefer to see it as the study of change. It is growth, then decay, then transformation.” –WW

This show is a must watch if you are looking for a good anti-hero plot to follow. The acting is spectacular and the plot of the timid chemistry teacher turned villainous meth kingpin will keep you riveted to your seat. This is binge watching at its best. #iamthedanger #letscook.

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