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all jekyll, no hyde: the dark evolution of ‘breaking bad’s’ walter white

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Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

all jekyll, no hyde: the dark evolution of ‘breaking bad’s’ walter white

ok, so i’m sorta into breaking bad

yes, long-time (or even short-time) blog readers (as well as my twitter followers) know that i’ve got what doctors call an “obsession”. in all seriousness, week in and week out, breaking bad is a show that continues to compel me and draw me into this incredible story of walter white and the spiraling world around him.

prior to the start of this season (season 4), writer and producer vince gilligan talked candidly about how this was the season that walt would finally (completely) turn the corner from a heroic father to a self-focused monster. certainly, we’ve slowly seen that unfold in the first half of the season. as walt’s paranoia toward kingpin gus grew, we saw him begin to embrace violent and illegal means to his ever-growing power hungry ends.

ward cleaver has become scarface.

dr. jekyll has said farewell to mr. hyde.

one of the most key and telling scenes of the entire series occurred a couple weeks ago in an exchange with his wife, skylar. the night before this conversation, walter—fueled by his need to be the kingpin—told his DEA agent brother-in-lawn, hank, that his suspicion that gale boetticher (who was murdered at the command of walt) was the elusive “heisenberg” (which is actually walter) was likely incorrect. in effect, walt’s prideful and flippant remarks are what has now caused hank to reopen his investigation. due to that, this conversation between walt & skylar occurred:

walt’s pride is ultimately what is (and has been) fueling this dark transformation. not to take this to the “gospel according to…” side of things (which i’d love to do, actually), but the root of pride is a hyper-self-focused worldview. i and me become the dominant characters in the story you’re writing. it’s the fundamental assumption that you and you alone are what controls and writes the greater narrative.

in a recent scene, walt goes to get his regular cancer screening. while waiting for the screening, he sits next to a man who has just recently been diagnosed. when the man opens up about his thoughts about getting cancer, walt displays one of the most callous displays of narcissism that we’ve seen from him.

with only 5 episodes left this season, i think we’ll see the downward spiral spin any faster. i don’t have too many predictions (though i sorta think a major character will die), but i think it’s safe to say that walter will continue his journey from mr. hyde to dr. jekyll.

2 Comments

  1. […] on developing characters and writing plots to suit the gradual evolution of humans and not events. Breaking Bad and Mad Men are two such TV shows. Even Game of Thrones, with George R. R. Martin‘s writing […]

  2. jimbob says:

    “i think it’s safe to say that walter will continue his journey from mr. hyde to dr. jekyll.”

    so you think he’ll turn from the ‘monster’ into the good intentioned dr. jekyll. you seem to be confusing the characters. it’s the evil mr hyde Vs the good doctor jekyll.

    and that scene where he talks to the just diagnosed man? If nothing else that’s a motivational speech. you are in charge, not the cancer. until your time is up, you are in control. that’d make me feel a bit better.

    I realize this is about 2 years old. I also don’t care.

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