Warning: if you’re not completely caught up with Breaking Bad, you read this post at your own risk. Spoilers are guaranteed.
Tonight’s episode of Breaking Bad left with me with a very uncomfortable feeling–but uncomfortable in a good way because it means the show is living up to its name. Every episode is a masterstroke of drama and tension that pushes Walter White one step closer to the edge; a precise, carefully-balanced formula,just like the one he uses to cook meth, that keeps me addicted. But I think tonight’s episode was a standout, and possibly the definitive point on the timeline of Walter’s transformation into the antihero.
Who is Walter White now? Do you recognize him anymore? For the first time in the series I feel as if I don’t. We’ve known from the beginning that Breaking Bad is a show about a man who goes from good to bad. We’ve been witnessing his disturbing metamorphosis since the first episode, little by little, as he unravels. But up until tonight, I was still kind of rooting for the guy. I can’t say that anymore.
I think Walter has almost completely lost his shit by now. There were a couple of moments tonight that really brought this home: his happy whistling after Jesse’s breakdown over the murdered child, his not-so-subtle power play with Skyler at dinner (was that not the most awkward dinner scene EVER?), and most of all, his insane-sounding tangents about wealth and power that clearly indicate he’s willing to sacrifice everything for it.
As Jesse so aptly points out, when Walter got started in the meth game, his goal was $737,000. Tonight we saw Walter turn his back on $5 million. He claims his business is the only thing he has left, despite the two children he’s been neglecting for several episodes now. Even more chilling is Walter’s skillful manipulation of Jesse’s emotions and the blatant disregard for his well being–as long as Walter continues to benefit from the relationship, it seems he’ll continue to pull Jesse’s strings.
There may not have been much action in tonight’s episode, but I think it will go down as one of the most important in the series for Walter’s character development. He seems completely detached from his former life at this point, spiraling ever downward into…well, what, exactly? How much darker can the show get? To what extremes will Walter go for his “empire?” I have a sinking feeling we haven’t seen anything yet.
By the time Breaking Bad is over, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Walter kill a member of his own family. Or worse.