So the big day has arrived, the final episode of Breaking Bad will air tonight on AMC and I’m not going to be able to watch it live, but will have to wait until I arrive home and watch it on my DVR. This is particularly frustrating because I am vacationing in Taos, NM and Breaking Bad was set and filmed in the vicinity of Albuquerque, NM which is only three or four hours south of here. I assumed that Breaking Bad hysteria would be sweeping the state to the point that there would be “Breaking Bad” parties at local bars tonight but I’ve yet to learn of one. And, Breaking Bad hysteria is sweeping the state, and the country, and I am caught up in it though I do not watch a lot of TV and do not tend to get immersed in mass hysteria. But this is not an ordinary TV show. It is extremely well written and well acted and cuts right to the heart like a good literary work would do.
The main character, Walter White, was a high school chemistry teacher who learned he had terminal cancer and was going to leave his family without any means of livelihood. Even though strait-laced and schmucky as he could be, he discovered that he could cook methamphetamine and do so with such excellence that he could make a fortune and leave it all to his family. So, this innocuous high school teacher sets out on an enterprise in which he would “break bad” and these six years of episodes is the story of how this takes place.
This is not a story about drug addiction or even drug culture though each issue is an essential element in the plot. It is a story about how a good man has it in him to be led down a dark path by simple little decisions to a point where he has totally “broken bad.” It is a story about the capacity of the human heart to go places it never imagined it had the capacity to go.
It is a story about human ugliness and it is this ugliness that is the real violence that you will see. Yes, in the course of the six years, there is occasional “blood and guts” but the real violence is seen in the ugliness that emerges when Walter decides that the end justifies the means. This ugliness ravages Walter’s life and the lives of the family he purports to love so dearly and the lives of many other people.