The One Who Knocks

“Chemistry is the study of matter, but I prefer to see it as the study of change.
Now, just think about this.
Electrons, they change their energy levels.
Molecules change their bonds.
Elements, they combine and change into compounds.
Well that’s… That’s all of life, right? It’s the constant, it’s the cycle…
It’s solution, dissolution, just over and over and over.
It’s growth, then decay, then transformation. It is fascinating, really.”

-Walter White, Episode 1.1 Pilot

Remember my name

Disclaimer: I will do what I can to avoid any spoilers, but no promises.

Breaking Bad is a show about Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with cancer. After realizing that his death would leave his family in great need of money, he figures out he needs to find a way to provide for them after he is gone. After his brother-in-law takes him on a DEA ride-along, Walter seeks the partnership of his former druggie student in order to cook meth together. The series proves to be the ultimate transition of Walter White into the meth drug-lord Heisenberg. In his pursuits, he is able to manufacture the purest meth in the region. The series basically explores what happens to Walt after he finds the need to cook meth to make money for his family; it goes through the results of Walt breaking bad. The series outlines the rise and fall of the great Heisenberg. They will remember his name.

Characters
(there will be some spoilers. For characters with big spoilers, I will note.)

The actors all did a phenomenal job at showing us the insides and outs of these intricate and complex characters. Their performance, in general, deserves an A. I have not seen a TV show better written, better acted, and better presented.

All of the characters throughout the series have some sort of passion; they each have something or someone for which they would do anything and give their life.

Marie Schrader (played by Betsy Brandt)

There seemed to be Marieat least one constant throughout the entire series: Marie was a highly unlikeable character. I can’t say I ever really liked her. She was a whiny, kleptomaniac narcissist. She made everything about her (or her husband, but mostly how that affects her). She didn’t like to admit that she was in the wrong. She always wears the color purple, which represents royalty. She believes herself to never be in the wrong, putting herself high above everyone else. She talks about how everything affects her. Everything is about her. She mostly serves the purpose of contributing to the actions/goings-on of those around her.

Passion: Herself; her husband, Hank Schrader

Hector Salamanca, and ‘The Cousins’ (SPOILERS)

Involved Hectorin the cartel, these three characters are related to Tuco, the crazed drug dealer killed by Hank Schrader. They would do anything for their family. The cousins are called to take revenge on Walter White, the man who ‘betrayed’ their cousin Tuco. Because of their ties with the Mexican cartel, they don’t like the DEA. While they want revenge for Tuco, they would never rat anyone out to the DEA. CousinsAfter Gus’s insistence, the cousins stop their search for vengeance in Walt. However, they do go after the one who murdered Tuco: Hank Schrader. They end up giving their lives in this vengeance, because Hank was tipped off and was able to defend himself. After having been betrayed by Gustavo Fring, Hector and Walt team up in order to kill Fring, Hector giving his life in the process.

“La familia es todo.”

Passion: Family

Walter White, Jr./Flynn (RJ Mitte)

Walter White, Jr. is an interesting character. He doesn’t seem to represent a big role Walt Jr.throughout the series, mostly just showing up for breakfast or raising money for his dad. He holds his dad, Walter White, in the highest esteem. He makes the statement several times that his dad is his hero. He seems to be the face of that for which Walt cooks meth and makes money. He holds his father in the best light. He loves to be associated with his dad. However, whenever Heisenberg’s life seems to spill over to the White household, Walter Jr. doesn’t want to be associated with his dad; he seems to have a disdain for him. He even rejects the name which reflects his father, wanting to be called Flynn. Whenever Walt becomes ‘victimized’ by Skyler, Walter Jr. points out that his name is Walter Jr. and not Flynn. While he’s mostly known for eating breakfast and hanging out with Louis, Walter Jr. acts as the moral compass for Walt when it comes to his family. He doesn’t always pay attention to it, but it always shows him how he is treating his family.

“Absolutely. Ask anyone, anybody.
He’s a great father, a great teacher.
He knows like everything there is to know about chemistry.
He’s patient with you, he’s always there for you.
He’s just decent. And he always does the right thing
and that’s how he teaches me to be…
Oh yeah, yes ma’am, totally. My dad is my hero.”

Passion: His father, Walter White (not Heisenberg)

Todd (Jesse Plemons) (SPOILERS)

Known by many as Creepy Todd, Psychopath Todd, or Meth Damn, Todd Alquist is Toddan interesting character. When we first meet Todd, he seems like a meaningless character who’s just there as some filler or just a character to utilize from time to time. However, it’s not until Todd shoots an innocent kid on a dirt bike that we begin to get a bad feeling about him. He just shrugs it off as ‘shit happens’ (which was actually criticized by Skyler a few episodes before in Fifty-One). We see Todd with his trophy for the kill, not regretting his decision in the least bit. As Todd’s character develops, we see that he enjoys showing off/flexing whatever he seems to have or have done. He takes part in the shooting against Hank and Gomey and then apologizes for Walt’s loss of Hank. Todd takes Jesse captive, tortures him, and makes him his meth-cook slave. He tries to act like he is a friend (to Walt and to Jesse), while still acting rather cruelly toward each of them. Todd breaks into the Whites’ house to make sure Skyler didn’t talk about his love interest (Lydia). He is an inconsistent character: while he remains proud of getting rid of Drew Sharp, Todd doesn’t see a need to kill off Skyler. Todd is such a complex character. He is simple-minded, not understanding the necessity of certain actions. At the same time, he brags/shrugs off certain actions that he does to protect the mission or impress the girl.

“We can talk money once I get this right.”

“This is millions, Uncle Jack. No matter how much you got,
how do you turn your back on more?”

“Sorry for your loss.”

Passion: I have no idea. Money? Personal gain? (By any means necessary)
[Charming romantic who wants to impress the girl? Psychopath? Who knows?]

Hank Schrader (Dean Norris) (SPOILERS)

Hank Schrader, throughout the series, pours everything into his work as a DEA agent. He does all that he can to prove that he can successfully catch ‘the bad guys.’ He seems to always be compensating for something, for something he lacks. His relationship with Marie does not seem to be a thriving one. HankHe is a crude character, always making sexual jokes. When he actually has a big experience/encounter within his work environment, he experiences some shell-shock; he can’t handle the adrenaline rush. He experiences episodes of difficulty breathing, with his heart racing. He puts everything into his work to try to overcompensate, creating a strength from his weakness. However, all this results in is more difficulty. He never breaks the façade when around other people. He wants others to see him as strong. He tries to take out his weakness on other people. He makes it his life’s work to find the drug-lord Heisenberg. He nearly loses his job to search for Heisenberg, even when he’s thought to be in prison. He literally gives his entire self to taking down Heisenberg. He makes an indirect promise to catch Heisenberg, even if it’s the last thing he does.

Look, the day I go in with this, it’s the last day of my career, Marie.
I’m going to have to walk in there, look those people in the eye
and admit that the person I’ve been chasing the past year is my own brother-in-law.
It’s over for me. Ten seconds after I tell this story, I’m a civilian.
Then how can we help Skyler when she comes to her senses?
When I go in there, I’m bringing proof. Not suspicion.
I can be the man who caught him, at least.

Passion: His job, catching Heisenberg

Skyler White (Anna Gunn)

Skyler White has quite the infamous reputation. She goes off on her own for hours on end, not telling Walt where she goes. She smokes while pregnant. She’s very passive aggressive to her husband. She has gotten so much flack for how she treated Walt. However, she is practically the female version of Walter. They would both go out for hours on end, not telling each other where they went. Walter is a really bad liar. It is always easy to tell when he is lying. Whenever Skyler would lash out after Walter lied to her, one just wants strangle her. SkylerHowever, she is no worse than Walt. As Anna Gunn points us, people don’t want to see a strong woman fighting her battle. She definitely has her battles to fight, with Walt. There were definitely times when I cheered her on: when she stood up to Marie. Marie definitely needs to her that every once in a while. Skyler White is a woman who knows how to choose her battles. At times, she just remains passive aggressive, letting Walt know that she doesn’t like what he’s doing. Then there are other times when she lets him have, times when it’s exactly what he needs to hear. She has a tough job, being married to Walt. We find it necessary to sympathize with Walt. But why? Skyler is a victim of her husband’s mistreatment of her. She has the right to react in the ways she does. While I definitely don’t like her at times, Skyler holds her own; she does what she can to survive her marriage, always protecting her children, seeking to provide for their good.

“You know what, Walt? Someone has to protect this family
from the man who protects this family.”

Passion: Her family, her children

Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) (SPOILERS)

A former cop, Mike Ehrmantraut is the guy that people call to get a job done. He’s the muscle under Gus Fring. Mike EhrmantrautHe cleans up any situation that might screw things up. He’s basically the voice of reason throughout the show. He tells everything like it is. He isn’t afraid of telling anyone when their ideas are stupid. He does what he’s told. He protects what/who needs protection; he kills who needs to be killed. He has a soft spot for his granddaughter, Kaylee. The only times we see him smile are when he is with Kaylee. His face is usually expressionless. Though he did see potential in Jesse, Mike really doesn’t like Walt or Jesse once Gus is gone. But he does what he can to keep his money and get it to his granddaughter. In the end, he gives his life to defend his integrity against Walt.

“We had a good thing, you stupid son of a bitch! We had Fring.
We had a lab. We had everything we needed, and it all ran like clockwork.
You could’ve shut your mouth, cooked and made as much money as you ever needed.
It was perfect. But, no, you just had to blow it up.
You and your pride and your ego!
You just had to be the man. If you’d done your job,
known your place, we’d all be fine right now.”

“Now I don’t know what kind of movies you’ve been watching,
but here in the real world, we don’t kill eleven people as some kind of prophylactic measure.”

Passion: (seems to be) His granddaughter, Kaylee; justice; doing his job

Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk)

Though he may be a crooked lawyer, Saul Goodman seems to have some very good intentions. He wants everything to work out. Yes, he definitely has an obsession with money. Yes, he represents and defends criminals. However, he wants to do all that he can in order to help the criminals win. AP on TV-Breaking Bad-OdenkirkHe just sees them as people and as clients. He wants to help them. He sympathizes with his clients. He takes joy in the successes of his clients; he is saddened by the failures of his clients. Saul Goodman is a an optimistic realist motivated by materialism. He sees things as they are, but he always looks for the silver lining (S’all Good Man, as his name suggests). He tries to shows everyone that there is a good side to every situation. But ultimately, Saul is motivated by money. He likes to have that safety net of money. And he is that guy who has the connections. If you need something, Saul knows a guy who knows a guy, etc. However, in the end, he wants to save himself. So, yes, he’s selfish and materialistic, but he has good intentions and wants to help.

“Walter never told me how lucky he was.
Clearly his taste in women is the same as his taste in lawyers:
only the very best… with just a right amount of dirty!”

Passion: Money; protection

Gustavo “Gus” Fring (Giancarlo Esposito)

Gustavo Fring is a businessman. He views what he does as the business it is. When something seems to threaten his business, Gus takes care of it, Gus Fringor gets someone to take care of it. He does whatever he can to defend his business. He is intelligent and meticulous. He’s not afraid to get his hands dirty, but he does whatever he can to make sure that nothing traces back to him. He likes to have control over his company. He does what he can to manipulate his employees. Gus owns Los Pollos Hermanos, which acts as the money laundering cover. He helps out and hangs around the DEA. He has a kind-hearted and easy-going façade. No one ever suspects anything of him.

“You are a wealthy man now. And one must learn to be rich.
To be poor, anyone can manage…Never make the same mistake twice.”

Passion: His business (his meth business more than Los Pollos Hermanos)

Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) (SPOILERS)

Jesse Pinkman is just a kid who is still trying to find his place in the world. He can’t figure out what he’s supposed to do in the world.Jesse Pinkman He just wants to find niche. He is a well-intentioned man. There are times when you can see his sensitive side. For example, in Season 2 Episode 6 (Peekaboo), while Jesse waits for Skinny Pete, we see him examining a beetle. He lets it crawl on his hand, and he just looks at it. When Skinny Pete smashes it, we can see how everyone else treats what Jesse cares about. Everyone else involved in Jesse’s drug life just takes everything away from him. He can’t seem to catch any luck. Walter takes away from him everything he seems to find.

Walt’s involvement in Jesse’s life is not all bad. Jesse gradually becomes more mature, less childish. If you look at the relationships Jesse has with which to begin, he has the dude-let’s-get-high-and-do-nothing sort of friendships. However, as his partnership with Walt progresses, we can clearly see a change of character. Jesse seems to take on a stronger role of responsibility. He develops his ability to view his meth-dealing as a responsible business. He truly develops as a person as Walt forces structure and responsibility on him.

However, throughout the series, ultimately, Walter White’s involvement in Jesse’s life acts as a sign of loss. Even from before the series, Walter brought failure and loss into Jesse’s life. Walt failed Jesse when he was in his chemistry class. When Jesse seemed to be getting out of the meth game, Walter pulled him back in. He lost the love and respect of his family. He got kicked out of his house. Happy JesseThere are many times throughout the series when Jesse gets back on drugs because of his involvement with Walt. His relationship with Jane comes to an end when Walt watches her choke on her own vomit. Jesse feels lost and in pain by all that Walter asks him to do. Hank beats him, making him realize how alone he is and how lost he is, because of Walt’s involvement in his life. Several times throughout the series, Jesse becomes so in pain that he feels the need to become numb to the world around him. Whenever Jesse is at his worst, another character comes in and takes him under his wing, working to do what they can to rehabilitate Jesse. Any relationships that Jesse develops are ruined by Walt. Walt nearly takes the life of Brock because he needed Jesse to help him. No matter how much he feels free of Walt, Jesse always seems to be pulled back in. After Jesse leaves the game for good, psychopath Todd brings him back by force, practically making him his slave. Todd then takes the life of Andrea. Jesse only becomes free once Walt has left this world for good. Jesse is able to take the life of Todd, the man who did so much to degrade him, practically making him his slave. Todd was the ultimate symbol of Jesse’s loss of freedom. He is last seen driving off. Where does he go? It doesn’t even matter. That expression of pure elation he has as he speeds away is all we need to see.

“Look… look, you two guys are just… guys, okay?
Mr. White… he’s the devil. You know, he is… he is smarter than you,
he is luckier than you. Whatever… whatever you think is supposed to happen…
I’m telling you, the exact reverse opposite of that is gonna happen, okay?”

Passion: Freedom; Respect

Walter White/Heisenberg (Bryan Cranston) (SPOILERS)

“My name is Walter Hartwell White.
I live at 308 Negra Arroyo Lane, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 87104.
To all law enforcement entities, this is not an admission of guilt.
I am speaking to my family now.
Skyler, you are the love of my life, I hope you know that.
Walter junior, you’re my big man.
There are… there are going to be some things,
things that you’ll come to learn about me in the next few days.
I just want you to know that, no matter how it may look,
I only had you in my heart. Goodbye.”

Walter White is a soft-spoken, easy-going high school chemistry teacher. He’s often mocked Walter1by his DEA brother-in-law for being such a timid person. Once he’s diagnosed with lung cancer, he feels even more helpless and paralyzed. He’s worried about how he’s going to provide for his family. When he realizes how much money is in the meth business, Walt seeks Jesse Pinkman’s partnership to manufacture and sell meth. He, at times, seems like blathering idiot as he tries to be a meth cook. He takes it out on his family some times, though he seems to have them in mind. Early on, Walt appeals to our sympathy. He gains our sympathy and desires for us to feel sorry for him, bringing us to his side.

Passion: According to him, his family

As he gets deeper into the meth business, he takes on the name Heisenberg. The fiWalter2rst time he uses that name, he basically threatens Tuco. Heisenberg becomes the name for him as a meth cook. Heisenberg is the name associated with the famous blue meth. After Tuco is gone, Walter wants to take over the market. He wants to expand their territory, which results in the deaths of dealers, putting them in danger of the DEA. All he cares about is being able to make the money. While there are times when Walter wants to give up cooking meth, you can still see his desire to get back into the business. Throughout all of this, Walter grows distant from Skyler and the family. He goes missing for hours; he blatantly lies to her. Once Walt begins to move back toward the family, Skyler begins to fall away. He has some spats with Skyler, eventually getting kicked out of the house. Once Skyler finds out about him being a meth cook, she wants to file for a divorce.

“I am the man that I am, son, and there’s plenty that I would change
about that but, here we are and this is just what it is.”

Passion: According to him, his family

However, after failing to be able to sell enough meth on his own, Walt accepts a deal with Gus Walter3Fring: $3 million for 3 months. He appreciates the business-like manner and approach of Gus. He now has the environment which encourages the magic of chemistry that is involved in meth cooking. As his involvement becomes threatened by the DEA and his brother-in-law, Walter becomes willing to do whatever it takes to defend himself, including killing and faking an accident involving his sister-in-law. The more and more he becomes threatened, the more and more the identity of Heisenberg becomes apparent. He wants to find reasons to get rid of Gale. He convinces Gus to bring Jesse in. Once Gus is gone, Jesse and Walt try to find another way to sell and cook their meth, having destroyed the lab and lost many ties.

“Who are you talking to right now? Who is it you think you see?
Do you know how much I make a year? I mean, even if I told you, you wouldn’t believe it.
Do you know what would happen if I suddenly decided to stop going into work?
A business big enough that it could be listed on the NASDAQ goes belly up.
Disappears! It ceases to exist without me. No, you clearly don’t know who you’re talking to,
so let me clue you in. I am not in danger, Skyler. I am the danger.
A guy opens his door and gets shot and you think that of me? No. I am the one who knocks!”

Passion: According to him, his family

Walt and Jesse begin to use Vamanos Pests as their cover for their meth manufacturing. However, after Jesse decides to leave, after Walt takes the life of Mike (it was quite the sad moment), he decides to leave the business. After a few months of sticking with the carwash, Hank discovers Walt’s secret. Walter4The two of them begin to go at it, threatening each other. Walt hurts his wife and his son, and kidnaps his daughter. He says he did it so that his wife wouldn’t appear responsible. In the end, we find out that he never did it for his family. It was all for him. Because it was something that was his, something that made him ‘alive,’ Walter liked it. He could have stopped, but he didn’t want to. He did it for himself.

“Skyler, all the things that I did,
you need to understand…
I did it for me. I liked it.
I was good at it. And I was really..
I was alive.”

Passion: Himself (and his empire)

The entire series outlines Walter White’s gradual development into a sociopath. He turns from Walter White into Heisenberg. There are times when both identities seem apparent. However, it can be clear when Walter is present or when Heisenberg is. Heisenberg wants to claim everything as his own. He wanted to get caught. He is a narcissistic sociopath who wants nothing more than to be discovered for that which is his. Walt SociopathHe takes advantage of people’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities. There are so many times throughout the series when he stresses that things are HIS (‘my house,’ ‘my son,’ ‘my bottle,’ etc.). Walter White needs control over everything in his life, which can be clearly seen in many small ways (and some bid ways) throughout the series. He thrives off his own achievements. He doesn’t want to make meth. He doesn’t want to make money. He wants to make an empire (‘the empire business’), with his name, Heisenberg, on it. There are many events throughout the series that turn him more and more into the great Heisenberg. Throughout the series, he claims that he did it all for his family. However, in the last episode, Heisenberg finally accepts and admits that he did it all for himself. Ultimately, in the end, you know that he has to die by his own hand. As he brings down his empire, he brings down himself with it.

(There is so much more that goes on with Walt, and all the characters, throughout the series. These are just my short and simple analyses.)

“The hell with your cancer! I’ve been living with cancer
for the better part of a year. Right from the start it’s a death sentence.
That’s what they keep telling me. Well guess what?
Every life comes with a death sentence. So every few months
I come in here for my regular scan knowing full well that one of these times,
hell! Maybe even today day I’m gonna hear some bad news, but until then.
Who’s in charge? Me! That’s how I live my life.”

-Walter White, Breaking Bad

Viewer Friendliness

Rated: TV-14 (DLSV)

Drugs/Alcohol

Well, the entire TV Bluemethshow is based around the manufacture of methamphetamine – ‘meth.’ It would be an understatement to state that there are instances of drug use throughout the series. The series involves a lot of dealing drugs. There are ‘meth-heads,’ ‘potheads,’ and also some interactions with heroin. However, most instances of drug use are not disturbing or explicit in any way. While we do see them take drugs, their drug trips are more humorous than disturbing.

Any instances with alcohol are fairly minor. There are times when characters turn to alcohol in response to their issues, but the presence of alcohol is not very strong throughout the series

Rating: 7/10

Language

This series is truly not one for anyone who cannot stand the utterance of foul language. Throughout the first season, Science bitchf**k is used at least once in every episode. For the following four seasons, f**k is used once per season. The word s**t is used quite often throughout the entire series. Jesse’s catch-phrase, so-to-speak, is b***h. He calls nearly everyone a b***h, referring to nearly everyone in that way. He says in when excited, when angry, in nearly every situation. Other language is used throughout the series. However, these are the main words that are used often. If you have any issues with any of these words, I would recommend avoiding this show.

Rating: 7/10

Sex/Nudity

There are a couple times throughout the series where you see Walt’s bare butt. In the non-AMC version of the first episode of the first season, there is brief upper-female nudity.Fugue State That is the main nudity throughout the entire series. Since it was on AMC, there was a very high limit to the nudity that could be shown. There are many conversations throughout the series of sex and various sexual discussions. There are some prostitutes and discussions of their services. There is also a scene that takes place in a strip club with near upper-female nudity. There is discussion of/acting on thoughts of infidelity/adultery. Since it was on cable, there could be no graphic sex scenes. However, there are times throughout the series when it is obvious that they have sex, because of making out leading up to it, some moaning that accompanies it, etc.

Rating: 5/10

Violence/Disturbing Images

There is much gun violence throughout the series, some more graphic than others.Tortuga Some characters throughout the show experience opposition from the Mexican cartels, which brings about violent reactions. There are many violent scenes, some bloody, some not. Walt must resort, at times throughout the series, to murder, taking out people who stand between him and his meth empire. In the end, it is obvious that these murders are what make Walter White the Heisenberg he is. The primary method of disposing of bodies involves using acid to melt the bodies, to get rid of the evidence. Some of those scenes involve graphic images of the melted/dissolved bodies.

Rating: 7/10

Breaking Bad is a complicated show to watch. In most shows, we can easily determine who the bad guy is, who the good guy is, and for whom to root accordingly. However, the main protagonist turns out to be this man who breaks the law and compromises his morals consistently. He lies, cooks meth, kills. He does this all ‘for his family.’ However, this show represents something about us: we are Walter White. There is a part of each and every one of us that acts in ways contrary to how we would normally act. However, we constantly tell ourselves that we are doing it for our family, or for our country, or for our significant other. We just give ourselves more of a reason to do it as we rationalize our actions. “The ends justify the means.” However, by acting as we do, we begin to lose ourselves. We become someone else (Heisenberg), until we are truly gone. The only way our new self can be destroyed is by 1) admitting that we did it for ourselves, and 2) destroying that part of ourselves. We root for Walt, because we can sympathize with him. We don’t want to root for Walt, because we see ourselves in him. Breaking Bad is an accurate representation of the fallen human person. While some may see it as a tragedy, I can view the ending as comic (not a Ha-Ha comedy). Walter shined through Heisenberg in the end. He saw that he was killing off the Walter White that he and everyone else knew. Walter White destroyed all that Heisenberg had created. He brought down his empire. In taking out Heisenberg, Walt took out himself. However, he was finally free.

There is so much more about Breaking Bad that I could write. But here is my initial review. I would be greatly interested to here your feedback on the show. And if you would like to hear my thoughts on anything in Breaking Bad, be sure to let me know.

“Maybe it’s because we’re Walter White.
We are all broken bad and desperately in need of redemption,
but woefully unable to extricate ourselves from the dire circumstances of our lives…
In Walter White we see the judgment that is rightfully due us,
and yet we hope that circumstances or God or the universe
or something will intervene before it all goes to hell.”

The Gospel According to Breaking Bad, Blake Atwood
On why we want Walter White redeemed

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Duc In Altum

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