For months the internet has been breaking down “Breaking Bad”, the landmark television drama which comes to an end this Sunday.
What more really needs to be said about the greatest tv drama of all time (no argument)? What new perspective can anyone possibly offer on the deconstruction of Walter White?
Well, probably none. That being said, here’s my final, personal take on the man they call Heisenberg: This all could have been avoided.
If only someone had handed Walter a copy of Ecclesiastes! If he could have read how the pursuits of this world are meaningless, maybe he could have been saved!
Yeah, maybe not. Perhaps his pride was too great a barrier. Perhaps his memory had done what my friend Sean Taylor talked about in an excellent post on his blog: rebuilt the truth in his head about what his family needed of him.
All along as he’s traveled from cancer-stricken Chemistry teacher to murderous drug kingpin, Walter White believed he committed all his crimes for his family.
What’s been revealed over the final season though is Walt has always been in the game for himself. His greatest sin has always been pride.
As he made one last desperate cry to his son in the penultimate episode, Walter White’s true character bled through his deteriorating body.
Go back and watch the final scene where Walt calls Walt Jr. A.K.A. Flynn from a payphone somewhere deep in New Hampshire. Walt begs his son to buy into his scheme to send the family $100,000 (a meager sum compared to the mega millions he accumulated at one point).
Not once in the course of the phone call does Walt apologize for all he put his family through. He doesn’t apologize for abandoning the family. He doesn’t apologize for the death of Uncle Hank. He doesn’t apologize for wrecking his family’s life.
Walter White, at his withering core, somehow still believes his hideous actions were justified. He pride deafens him from what his family tried to say for the past year.
His family never needed his money. They never had money in the first place. Skyler and Holly and Flynn are getting by just fine 6 months after Walt’s disappearance without any of his blood money.
What Walter White’s family needed all along was the one thing he refused to give: they needed him. They needed a father and a husband, even one battling cancer who could no longer provide for them.
The fall of Walter White reminds me of another one of my favorite pieces of art, the overlooked 2006 movie “The Fountain”. The movie finds Hugh Jackman’s character desperately searching for a cure for his wife’s cancer. He tragically spends his wife’s dwindling time on this earth in a lab trying to recreate the proverbial fountain of youth and extend his wife’s life, missing their final moments together.
Walter White made the same mistake. He spent the course of “Breaking Bad” looking for all manner of ways to establish his legacy. Instead, why didn’t he just go to Pollos Hermanos with his family?
As Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter put it in his deconstruction of the “Granite State” episode:
Had Walt never broken bad, maybe the entire White family would have taken a final vacation somewhere and stood around thinking, “God, this world is amazing in its every detail.” But nope. Walt opts to cheat the rules in hopes of a better life for his family, and the karmic bounce-back is pretty damned awful.
With one episode left and a flash forward full of machine guns and ricin pills still to be answered for, there may be no saving Walter White. It appears his pride will eat him alive faster than his cancer could.
The tragedy is this all could have been avoided. You may not have fallen into meth-cooking mayhem yet, but you can avoid the heartache of pride.
Walter White believed the world owed him everything. He believed the world owed a man of his character and intelligence a better life. He believed the world owed him a legacy to pass down to his children.
Leave the idea of legacy behind. Lay your pride by your side.
Instead, make the most of the opportunities the world sets before you. See the plans of the Lord as greater than your plans and embrace the hardships he puts before you. The breaking is not bad.
When you move past the point of believing the world owes you anything you will be free to enjoy all the world has to offer. You will be set free to give rather than receive. You will be transformed into living a life of abundance rather than trying to accumulate abundance.
Life is really kind of beautiful once you embrace it, pain and joy and devastation and elation and everything in between. You won’t get everything you ever wanted. You will find more than you ever needed right before your eyes.
Lose your life to find it. Tread lightly, and walk humbly. You’ll be amazed at what God will cook up when you do.
What do you think will be the legacy of “Breaking Bad”? What will you take away from the story of Walter White?