lundi 14 octobre 2013

Breaking Bad Finale

Is Walter a bad guy? Creator Vince Gilligan's idea was to tell the story of a protagonist who becomes the antagonist. An idea which seems antithetic to television. But Badger and Skinny Pete in one of their geek conversations, mention JM Straczinsky Babylon 5, the complete TV series which was conceived and told over five seasons, a model for Vince Gilligan.

In his mind, Walt is the hero, he provides for his family. Even at the end, when in a moment of lucidity, he acknowledges that he did for himself because he was good at it and he felt alive, it's hard not to sympathize with him. He has issues common to gifted people, feelings of a lack of recognition which overtime turned into resentment toward his partners Gretchen and Elliott Schwartz. But few of the characters around Walt elicit sympathy.

The character of Skyler White (but not the actress of course) deserves all the illwill she's gotten. Right from the start the handjob she gives Walt as a birthday present while she tracks an ebay auction makes her unlikable. Certainly she is lied to continuously by a manipulative Walt but she's got all the characteristics of a castrating, emasculating personality. The scene with the talking pillow and the one when she goes into the pool show how manipulative she can be herself. As Jesse says, it's her who wears the pants.

The pants is the first image of the show, pants not worn, flying as the mobile home starts in a hurry. At least three male characters are manipulated by their female counterpart. Walt Junior is a study in passive-aggressive behavior. He has none of the smarts of his father (but is Walt his father? Remember when Ted Beneke says the kid has "good genes"?). Yet Walt never shows any of the frustration that he must feel over his retarded son.

Jesse, who becomes a sort of surrogate son, one who learns from Walt, is originally a two-bit loser but due to Walt's influence, he starts having flashes of brilliance. His moral awakening gives him sympathy points but he doesn't find his freedom by himself.

 Hank has moments of brilliance but he's out of his depth too many times and would have lost his life if not for Walt. His inability to face emotional issues makes him putty in the hands of Walt such as in the scene where Walt puts spy software in Hank's computer. This is in stark contrast with his exterior bluster as a DEA agent.

Marie Schrader is borderline crazy (substitute "seems to have unresolved psychological issues" if you prefer politically correct nonsense). Generally speaking, women on the show are often annoying. Consider Lydia Rodart-Quayle.

 The Pinkmans (Jesse and his parents), the Whites and the Schraders show us a very dysfunctional image of the suburbian American family.

So not only Walt's entourage isn't endearing but there are always more unsavory characters: the Salamancos, Gus Fring, the Cartel, Todd Alquist, his uncle Jack and his gang are worse. Mike Ehrmantraut, putting money aside for his grand-daughter and fiercely loyal to his men (therefore very much like Walt) is nonetheless a cold-blooded killer.

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