Is Walter White's Cook Finally Over?
Walter's Empire Seems To Be Over
Just when he decides to get out he finally makes his mistake. I mean, come on, Walter. Who leaves an incriminating book that links you to your methamphetamine empire in your bathroom literature collection? Especially, when you are having your DEA agent brother in-law over for a dinner party! But, for all of the ridiculously hopeless situations Walt has gotten out of, it does seem fitting that he gets caught in such a nonchalant way.
Breaking Bad's season finale was Sunday and it all led up to Walter's seemingly inevitable downfall. When the show premiered this was a man everyone could root for. A financially struggling high school chemistry teacher with a cancer diagnosis decides to put his skills to work and cook meth as a means to provide for his family. Although, the illegality surrounded him, his intentions shone through. Plus, who wouldn't root for a guy running for his life in his whitey tighty underpants.
Walter paired up with a former student turned drug dealer who he stumbles across and the cooking begins. Using his student, Jesse's connections, they forge an alliance and take over the southwest with their "blue meth". Walter's chemistry skills give the drugs the purity missing from other products getting the local population stoned, thus giving him control of the market.
Walter and Jesse's continuous dealings with crazier and more ruthless drug lords put the pair in some of the most intense scenes ever seen on television. Although, the show does a brilliant job at building tension not through violence but foreboding. Some of the dinner scenes throughout the series have had me cringing.
If the drug lords weren't enough to contend with, Walter's brother in-law Hank, is constantly on his tail searching for the elusive Heisenberg, Walter's alias. Hank is always one step behind Walt's cunningness but the proximity to the truth that he nears is overwhelming when watching.
Hank's true fault in not figuring the truth behind Heisenberg is in his apparent underestimation of Walt's capabilities. He looks down on him as a husband, provider and a man. He likes Walt but doesn't even imagine all that his cancer ridden in-law can do.
Another factor in Walt's equation is his terrible wife, Skylar. As the show starts their relationship seems as most married for twenty year marriages do, all the romance gone and going through the motions. As the show progresses, affairs and revelations about where Walt's money is coming from turn Skylar into a terrified but combative figure against Walt. She promises to launder his money but after he beats the cancer inside him confesses that she can't wait for it to come back and kill him.
All this weighs heavy on Walt, but his greed for power and relevance that he's never had is his greatest enemy. After beating cancer, the logical answer would be to get out while you still can and try to rebuild your life. Not Walt, he likes the feeling of power he obtains from his Heisenberg persona. He continually thinks the worst is behind him while we, the viewer, sense that the worst has yet to come.
The turn to the dark side is a slow one but was completely apparent at the end of last season when it became clear he poisoned a child to help his own cause. The corresponding countless murders he orders this season put his badness over the top. We still root for Walt because he's just that great. But when you look at this man you know he has fallen far from where he started.
But then, out of no where comes Walt's unexpected line, "I'm out". He tells his wife he is done after she shows him enough cash for ten lifetimes. Did it get through to him that he doesn't need to cook anymore? My theory is no, you can see in Walter that urge to be the best and not to stop until he is. His business partners offer of overseas markets that would double his profits was too much to turn down, I think.
Regardless, Walt says he is out and the next scene is a dinner party sometime later. All seems happy and calm until Hank asks to use the bathroom. The book he find links Walt to the case he is working on and the show ends. Is the cook over?
The only question apparently left is the random scene that shows Walt one year later. This scene opened the season and showed a much different Walt using a new name while celebrating his birthday in a diner.
An exchange of keys with a faceless man in the bathroom takes Walt to the trunk of a car where he stares blankly at the largest gun I could have ever imagined. What in the world could have happened from the happy, quiet dinner party to the insanity that is surely to follow once Walt grabs this gun? We will all find out next summer.