ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Darkly Changing Life of Breaking Bad's Walter White

Updated on June 17, 2017

The first season of AMC's Breaking Bad reveled in truly ingenius dark humor. Eliciting laughs from episodes dealing with cancer, drug addiction, and methamphetamine production in not exactly an easy task for writers. Amazingly — and morbidly — they did so. The lead actors deserve enormous respect for credulously making the dark comedy work.

The dark comedy side of the series did not last for long.

The tale of Walter White's descent into a life of crime started out humorously. As the series progressed, the humor faded and a foreboding sense of menace and suffering took over the series.

The adventures of Walter and his partner, Jesse Pinkman, slowly transitioned from black humor slapstick to complete tragedy. Walter's motives are somewhat understandable. Stricken with life-threatening cancer, he chooses to cook and sell meth to provide for his family. Ironically, in death, Walter White is able to provide for his family. This he could not do in life.

More ironically, his ill-gotten gains pay for previously out of reach medical care. The medical care saves his life as the cancer goes into remission.

Walter White's life, however, is ruined because he has reinvented himself as a criminal. The life of a criminal is not what Walter White is cut out for. Its not who he is, but it is who he becomes.

Breaking Bad Means Breaking Into A Disjointed Life Transition

Both Zen and western empirical philosophy suggest life is the result of experience. The things one does in life -- the experiences undertaken in life -- craft and shape a personality. A person's perspectives on life are shaped by how he or she lives life.

Breaking one's life in a different direction means major changes. Walter White is not a criminal or so he believes. His perception of himself is that of a man providing for his family. Perceptions mean nothing as they are simply biased perspectives on experiences.

Experiences flutter through the lens of the mind. The human mind has the potential to be rational. The human mind is often irrational. Human actions do frequently follow the path of the irrational.

Walter White may not perceive himself to be a criminal. The motivations behind his actions create a shield designed to rationalize his actions and free him of guilt or misgivings.

Perception is irrelevant. Walter White is a criminal.

Personal perceptions and self-serving moralizing mean nothing. The actions Walter White takes turn him into a criminal. White suffers because his transition to a criminal was far rockier and rushed than found in the life of "traditional" criminals.

Walter White's suffering derives from his lack of life experience as a criminal. Walter White remains, in many ways, the person he was before entering a life of crime. Once he moves into his new life, Walter cannot properly balance his prior persona of a family man with his new persona of a criminal. No complete transformation occurred. White's half-measured approach to embarking on a life of crime is the source of his pain and misery.


Breaking Bad and No Going Back

Walking a balancing act between beloved family man and a member of the criminal underworld is not possible. At least not for Walter White. In the world of Breaking Bad, any involvement with the drug syndicate requires an acceptance of clinical murder. Lives are to be extinguished in a cold-hearted, emotionless, and calculating manner. Ruthless criminals perceive murder no different from how any business terminates an employee. A criminal syndicate's approach to termination is much more final.

Anyone can be terminated at any time. Lives are to be extinguished without warning and without any second thoughts, moral qualms, or guilty misgivings. Walter cannot go that far. His inability to look the other way at the violence, death, and nihilism around him. Walter White's inability to fully absorb the criminal life create the conflicts that prevent him from "taking yes for an answer."

Walter White's refusal to fully embrace criminality is selective. White kills others. He attempts to kill others. The actions are born of self-preservation. While Walter White may maintain a moral code, the code is limited. And quite honestly, the code breaks down at numerous points as the series progresses.

Breaking Bad is exactly what Walter White does. Walter White travels to a place he cannot come back from. The uncontrolled nature of the universe causes Walter to break bad in an uncontrolled direction. Chemistry and lab experiments may take place in a controlled environment, but the chaotic nature of life is not so easy to measure.

Walter White chose the path of breaking bad, but the path took differnet courses and Walter White ended up breaking bad in ways he neither wanted nor could imagine.

Should he have expected any other outcome?

FURTHER READING OF INTEREST:

THE TRAIN FINALLY COMES TO A HALT FOR CULLEN BOHANNON

Hustling the Homefront: Showtime's Ray Donovan Balances A Life Of Crime And A Family Life

Archetypes of Dark Fantasy and Darker Reality in the Novel and the HBO Game of Thrones Series



Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Fullerman5000 profile image

      Ryan Fuller 

      16 months ago from Louisiana, USA

      Awesome, I will definitely have to check them out. I just binged watched GOT not to long ago. Always wanted to see because I heard nothing but good about it. Jon Snow is another badass. I cannot wait for the new season.

    • TCaro profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony Caro 

      16 months ago

      AMC always delivers. I added links to my Hell on Wheels (and Ray Donovan and Game of Thrones) pieces to the end of the article.

    • Fullerman5000 profile image

      Ryan Fuller 

      16 months ago from Louisiana, USA

      Hell on Wheels was amazing also. Cullen is one bad ass man. Common was great on the show as well.

    • TCaro profile imageAUTHOR

      Tony Caro 

      16 months ago

      Yes - great show. AMC airs a lot of great programming. I truly enjoyed Hell on Wheels as well.

    • Fullerman5000 profile image

      Ryan Fuller 

      16 months ago from Louisiana, USA

      Breaking Bad is one of my favorite TV series. And one of the best ways to end a series. The show just got crazier and darker as the seasons went on. This show was amazing.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)