August 9, 2013
Great points about the nature of evil as portrayed on Breaking Bad. I don't think these count as spoilers, but I love how Gilligan and his team show such different reactions to evil among the various characters. In addition to Walt, there's Skyler's cold pragmatism, Jesse's despair (which has come and gone over the course of the show), Hank's anger... I've especially enjoyed Hank's development. Originally, he was portrayed as a doofus and bit of a meathead. Without removing those elements, we've come to see his passion for justice, yet also seen how difficult it is for him to keep his anger under control when he's pursuing justice. Sin is still sin, even if a person's orientation is towards good.
Both the article and the first comment are great insights. I heard cultural critic Chuck Klosterman say (and I'm sure I'll bungle this, my apologies to Mr. Klosterman) that while people will love Mad Men for the art, The Sopranos for being groundbreaking, he thinks that Breaking Bad is the best of the modern dramas. He said that when the Mad Men treat women poorly, you can blame it on the times. When people in The Wire make bad choices, you can blame it on socioeconomic ills. But when Walt continues down his road, he has total moral agency, yet he continues to choose the wrong path. And somehow we are still rooting for him, at least up to a point.
While Walt is the antihero at the center of the show, to me the real heart of the show is Jesse, because he's the one we love, in all his surreal naivete and brokenness. This season, for me, is going to be more about what happens to Jesse, though I'm waiting impatiently to see how Walt comes out as well. Maybe it's easier to put ourselves in league with someone who seems vulnerable, who is used by the more evil one, and who deep down has a conscience, rather than to align ourselves with Walt. But we can find ourselves in both of them.
I feel it also shows the ends do not justify the means; indeed the means may completely change the end. In addition, it show the fallacy of doing evil that good may come of it.
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