Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Walter White Wins

The Internet is not lacking for reactions to, parsings of, and discussion about Breaking Bad. So, rather than add to the pile, my thought, after watching the season finale last night, was, not to offer up any kind of season summary or broad reaction piece, but to talk about the one moment from this season that sticks with me.







That moment, in a different way than expected, is the very last moment. After last season’s exploding wheelchair of an ending, I had been expecting some kind of similarly monumental shock here, some moment of unspeakable violence. The season had been charting the depths to which Walter White would descend to achieve his ambitions, and several signs had suggested to me we might find him hitting his nadir by finally bringing the violence he had immersed himself in home to his family. Specifically the way Skylar’s plot had developed—the way they made clear just how toxic the marriage had become, the “suicide attempt,” the setting up of a situation where she had taken Walt’s kids from him—had me thinking Walt would end the season by killing his wife so he could rule his meth empire with his children his once again. Add to that the season-opening flash-forward that showed us that, a year from now, Walt will be desperate and living under an assumed identity (and the fact that, in that flash-forward, Walt had to make his own “52” out of bacon, a task normally attended to by his wife—a further clue to her death! That I was wrong about!), and it was clear that a fall was coming. And, presumably, a violent one.
What I didn’t foresee (again, because I am dumb) was that what this season was really about was Walter White winning. He gets what he wanted in the end – an empire that he controls and that makes him rich. And what I really didn’t foresee was that he would then become tired of his empire and give it all up to be with his family, now unburdened by his criminal activity. I have no illusions that the marriage is repaired, but that last scene by the pool suggests some kind of happiness, even if it’s a sad and resigned happiness (and, if the cancer has returned, as the doctors' office visit could be suggesting, a short happiness) was his.

 All of which makes that final moment, of Hank finally getting the clue needed to snap everything into place, so devastating. Not violent. At all. But devastating. I knew Walter White was going to fall. We all did, given that flash-forward. But we didn’t know he would win first. And now we are set up for a final eight episodes in which Walter White is found out and, presumably, 15 different varieties of hell break loose.

 Man I can’t wait.

 Until Whenever


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