When did the bad guy become the bad guy on Breaking Bad?
If there was ever a question about Breaking Bad’s protagonist, “Ozymandias” seals the deal
SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t seen this week’s Breaking Bad, you probably shouldn’t read this yet.
That’s it. Now we know for sure, if there was ever a doubt: Walter White is not only the protagonist but also the villain of AMC’s Breaking Bad. It’s not that he hasn’t done tons of questionable things before, but in tonight’s episode “Ozymandias,” Walt shows just how deplorable he has become over the course of the show’s five seasons. And finally, I get to hate him and not feel guilty about it.
Whereas the title character of Dexter has always been the serial killer you love even though you shouldn’t, and, to some degree, remains so even in the final episodes, Walter White is the sociopath you want to love but ultimately can’t.
“We’re a family,” he says near the end of tonight’s episode of Breaking Bad, whose series finale airs September 29. Well, that’s been the heart of this show since the beginning, hasn’t it? So how did we get here?
Walt stole our hearts when he learned in the pilot episode that he had cancer and turned to meth cooking as a way to provide for his family upon his death. We knew there would eventually be a change; it was only ever a question of when it would happen. When would Walt do something that showed us just how evil he was, and how long could he tell himself that he was doing all of this for his family? I thought I’d seen that moment before—several times over, in fact (HINT: see every season finale so far)—but I only realized tonight, with “Ozymandias,” that I hadn’t. And this is why:
“You stupid bitch.”
With that line, spoken to his wife in a desperate phone call that changes everything, I lost the last bit of respect I might have had for Walt. Which was a shock because I didn’t think I had any. The entire phone call was horrendous, but that line, for me, was the moment when it really hit me: Walt is the devil. Because you don’t say that to your wife. Ever.
Suddenly, Walt’s attempts to save his brother-in-law Hank from death in the opening scene of the first act went by the wayside (not the teaser, which was way cool, by the way, but the first act). Many times throughout the show, including those early moments of “Ozymandias,” Walt has toed the line, crossing it briefly and then returning to the side of good. It’s clear from tonight’s ending that, this time, he won’t be returning.
Actually, there was a moment after that phone call where I thought he would upstage himself. I really thought, for just a second, that he was going to kill his infant daughter Holly. That would have taken the cake.
But instead, Walt leaves the baby at a firehouse and then puts himself in the underground version of witness protection. Never to see his family again.
Suddenly things are clear: this show was never about family. It’s always been about Walt. A selfish man. Afraid to die.
What other bad things has Walt done?
Here’s a recap of three of the more heinous crimes Walt has committed in Breaking Bad’s five seasons:
- He poisoned a child with ricin…to save his own ass.
- He blew a nursing home to pieces to kill Gus Fring and…save his own ass.
- As mentioned in tonight’s episode, he had a chance to save Jessie’s now-deceased girlfriend but didn’t…to save his own ass (and keep control of Jessie).
What are your top three Walt crimes? Or do we need a top 50?
UPDATE: I didn’t see the angle that Walt was absolving Skyler to save her. It still feels like he meant what he said. That phone call was horrible.