Thursday, October 3, 2013

Man Down, Heisenberg! Hats Off, Vince Gilligan


I broke bad when I broke faith with Vince Gilligan and the six other writers who sculpted each episode to bring us to the beautifully appointed piece known as the final episode. Where shall I find a crow for my dinner?

In spite of my fears, Walter White came to a just end. He stared at the man in the mirror and confessed. Like Sophocles’s Oedipus, Walter acknowledges his own volition in all the wretched deeds that defined him. He admits to Skyler that he descended into an inescapable crevasse because the darkness made him feel alive. Then he tries to alter destiny for Jesse Pinkman, the thugs that enslaved him, and the surviving members of the White family, Skyler, Junior and Holly.

Walter orchestrates an elaborate home invasion, using his victims to funnel money to his wife and children. Neither Skyler nor Junior wants any of Walter’s meth money, but Walter’s scheme will allow them to believe the money is their due, a gift from generous, compassionate people for three people tainted by Walter’s seed. None of the White lies attached to gifts of money went undiscovered, however. The source of Walter’s wealth was exposed, the cash gifts to pay for Hank’s rehabilitation became a weapon in a war between Walter and Hank, and even money laundered in a car wash didn’t come clean. It too fell into the hands of icy, greedy killers so I have to believe Walter’s scheme may not endure, but Walter dies believing his family has a good chance at a good start.

Next, Heisenberg re-enters the ring. He plants Ricin in Lydia’s Stevia supply, insuring her death. He then turns his attention to Jesse’s rescue and the execution of Todd, Jack and their minions, a plot less certain than Lydia's end. Still, Walter's good pal, Luck, appears, and he succeeds while sustaining a fatal wound, one that permits the ultimate escape from suffering associated with lung cancer and conscience.

Skyler persists, tobacco-addicted, but holding her own to protect Junior and Holly. By swearing off Walter’s money, she’s purged herself of some guilt, and she’s clearly suffering, a pariah, subject to IRS and FBI inquisitions for the rest of her days. Nevertheless, she allows Walter one last look at Holly before he leaves to hide and steal one last look at his son.

Jesse, true to his nature, cannot kill his nemesis. He tries, but he’s not a killer. He never was, and he’s not a Drug Kingpin either, capable 

Of carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts,
Of accidental judgments, casual slaughters,
Of deaths put on by cunning and forced cause,
And, in the upshot, purposes mistook
Fall’n on the inventors’ heads (5. 2 Hamlet)

Jesse is a ruined boy haunted by a dream in which he makes something people can use, of transforming warm wood into beautiful cases, producing objects that do not kill. I’d like to think he finds a place and a way to make his dream come true.

This fading rose is for you, Jesse. Photo by Al Griffin

Reading Challenge:

Read tales of “carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts.” Read Macbeth, Hamlet or Breaking Bad.

Writing Challenge:

Write a eulogy for Walter White.