Film and TV

Breaking Bad Half Season Finale: Can We Ever Forgive Walter White?

(Spoiler like whoa) On Sunday, the Fifth Season of Breaking Bad came to its inevitable "season" conclusion. The season as a whole/half was just OK as compared to its high standard of excellence. This is not to say that there weren't moments of brilliance, as well as the many understandably necessary plot points that got us to the place we all saw coming. There have been moments that were at their best unbelievable and at their worst eye-rolling. Suspension of disbelief has been something of a standard for this show, and at the same time the world that creator Vince Gilligan has fashioned is absolutely believable. That being said, there were moments this season (the methylamine train heist episode) that felt shark-jumping.

Whether this past season, which featured half of the series' last 16 episodes, was as paramount as previous seasons is open for debate; regardless, Breaking Bad is still the best show currently on television, if not of all time.

What makes this show so brilliant is the way it puts its characters in an indeterminate place between good and evil. It's almost exasperating, in the most wonderful way. Last season the Internet swelled with nasty comments over Skyler White's behavior. First she cheats, and then she joins forces with Walt, and what the hell was going on with her overly-collagened face? This season, Skyler is a woman on the verge. She fears for her children's safety and in that motherly desperation, she has found redemption. And her face looks back to normal.

Sidekick Jesse has encouraged and shook his own demons multiple times. While Jesse has always been a revered character, recall Season Two's various screw-ups and poor choices that often made you want to kick the dude in the face.

When the show first introduced number two man and "cleaner" Mike Ehrmantraut, he seemed like the worst of the worst. Mike has proven to be one of the finest characters on the show and worthy of a spin-off.

Even Gus Fring, who should have been the most appalling character, unveiled his good side. He was lover of highbrow food and entertainment with a sympathetic past.

Literally every character in this series has given cause for fans to think, "alright, if I was in your place, I would probably do the same thing," except for the show's main protagonist/antagonist Walter White.

When the series began, Walter's reason for taking up the profession of "meth cooker" was understandable, even relatable. He was this generation's Jean Valjean; a man placed in extenuating circumstances causing him to "break bad" to do what he felt was the right thing for his family. Walter's reasons to cook meth, and inevitably kill people, were justifiable. By Season Three, Walter displayed some of the earliest signs of demented behavior, but with each reprehensible step there was vindication. Small acts of kindness, toward Jesse in particular, dragged Walter (kicking and screaming) back from the dark side... until this season.

Walter White's behavior in Season Five has been downright disgusting and at times laughable. He's like Ben Affleck's character in Dazed and Confused; we all sort of think you are a dick but we are waiting for the last straw to break the news. For the past eight weeks we have watched Walter slowly grab at that last straw. He has turned into the antithesis of his former self. Rather than saving Skyler and kids from a life without him, he has forced his family to save themselves from a life with him. He has turned his back on Jesse, the one ally he had. His ego has been inflated to the point of no return, donning his "Heisenberg" hat and sunglasses like a Hollywood superstar at the most cringe-inducing moments. Despite all of the horrific acts that Walter White has done, previously, there was still a glimmer of hope that our old buddy, the high school science teacher, would come back to us unscathed; now that guy is gone.

After the shocking murder of Mike the cleaner, Walter White found the last straw and he put it in his mouth and chewed it up.

So the question is, can Walter White redeem himself? This week's season finale asks us to excuse Walter again for the hundredth time. Hey, if Jesse and Skyler can exonerate the guy, who are we (the audience) to judge? But is Walter White forgivable any longer? He is a murderer, and he is not just a guy who kills people because they may or may not kill him (which felt like a good enough reason at the time). No, this Walter White is cold-blooded. He is a liar and not just the regular kind that makes stories up because they find themselves in uncomfortable situations; Walter is a liar that has no remorse. He is, by all intents and purposes, a psychopath. And he does not deserve our pity any longer.

Sadly, the Breaking Bad-loving audience has an entire year to decide whether Walter White can atone for his sins or not but, at this point, I see no way that is possible.

Damn! There is a whole year to wait for the last eight episodes of Breaking Bad.

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Abby Koenig
Contact: Abby Koenig