dr. jekyll and mr. white: a look back at ‘breaking bad’ season 3

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Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

dr. jekyll and mr. white: a look back at ‘breaking bad’ season 3

bryan cranston breaking bad walter white

much like legions of other people, the buzz during the first and second seasons of breaking bad grew more and more deafening and finally led to my skeptical viewing of season 1, episode 1 last september. and then episode 2. then 3 and 4 and so on. i was a late adopter, but when i finally caved, boy did i ever cave. over the course of about 2 weeks, i devoured the first 2 seasons and became not only a fan, but an obsessed breaking bad evangelist.

the show has, in fact, become a casual obsession over the course of less than a year, joining both fans and critics alike in heaping praise on the masterful writing, keen acting and never-disappointing plot intricacies.

season 3 ended sunday night with a scene that has stirred, already, quite a bit of debate and speculation about what the future of season 4 holds. if you didn’t see it, the final scene has walt being taken to be executed because of his involvement in the death of some of his boss’s drug dealing underlings. as walt faces imminent death, he’s forced to enact what is likely the most devious and morally bankrupt plan he’s ever been involved in. in order to save his own life (and, potentially, the life of his drug addicted/dealing partner, jesse), he’s forced to kill his meth-cooking would-be successor, gale. unable to do the deed himself, he has to call on jesse to proceed with the plan. the final moments show jesse arriving at gale’s house, shaking and in tears, pointing the gun at gale’s head. as the camera pans around to where the viewer is looking down the barrel of the gun, the screen goes black and a gunshot rings out. whoa.

because i’ve spent the last paragraph butchering the final sequence of events, you can watch it for yourself here.

so, we now wait and wait and then wait some more for season 4. if the schedule continues as it did last year, we’ll likely wait nearly a year for the next installment. in the meantime, we can only look back on season 3 and speculate about season 4.

in looking at season 3, we see, even more, walt’s descent into an enigmatic split personality. walt, of course, is cast as protagonist, but this season, we’re more and more uncertain if he’s actually the antagonist. throughout the first couple seasons (and even season 3, to an extent), walt is deeply troubled any time his meth adventures create direct harm to others and he takes measures to avoid those situations. while he attempted to avoid them in season 3, his plan to murder gale was the first time he actually devised a plan to take someone’s life or bring harm to a relatively innocent party. in the next to last episode, when jesse shares his plan to kill two rival drug dealers, walt lectures jesse, telling him that he isn’t a killer. in the end, walt—not jesse—turns out to be the one to end their lives.

the enigma, though, comes in the fact that walt’s genuine motivation—as far as i see it—is altruism. in the beginning, walt begrudgingly enters the meth production business so that his family can be provided for. walt killed the two drug dealers not because he had a vested interest in their death, but because he’s learned to deeply care for jesse (who was about to be killed by them) over the course of their business relationship. the question, though, is at what point walt’s consistent deviant behavior turns from altruism to selfish ambition.

ok, enough with the obsessed analysis. the show is amazing. i’m sure you can gather that for yourself. there’s a lot of unanswered questions and open plot lines to make for an exciting season 4. so what will the upcoming season hold? i expect more devolvement of walt’s motives and a more blurred line between protagonist and antagonist. i think we’ll see walt still employed by gus’s operation, but i think we’ll see more of an enslavement than a mutual agreement. i think we’ll see skyler get involved with walt’s illegal activities, only to find how deep his dealings go. i think hank will independently discover at least some small bit of what’s going on with walt and jesse. i’m not sure if he’ll understand the extent of the operation, but i think something will be discovered. ultimately, i just expect more great writing and excellent (emmy award-winning) acting.

i’ll leave you with a quick video that was posted on the amc website that shows the cast giving some off-the-cuff predictions for season 4. enjoy.