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Who Lives? Who Dies? A ‘Breaking Bad’ Wish List
Should Skyler become a drug kingpin or does Walt have to kill her?
From its cold open with skateboarders doing tricks in the White family’s abandoned swimming pool to Walt’s warning—”If you don’t know who I am, then maybe your best course of action would be to tread lightly”—the first episode in the final season of Breaking Bad was a doozy. Wherever the show’s writers want to take us, we’re happy to go. But we do have a few requests.
1. Skyler Becomes the New Black
Anna Gunn probably has the toughest job of any actor on Breaking Bad. Skyler is so inwardly focused and so much of her character arc has evolved in reaction to the bold, sometimes brutal actions of the men around her. She’ll never match Walt’s prowess with a chemical reaction, but Skyler has the brains, the business acumen, and, most importantly, the guts to lead a major meth ring. If (or is it just a matter of when?) Walt’s downfall occurs, there’s nobody better to fill his shoes. Despite Skyler’s oft stated desire to escape the drug biz (wethinks the lady doth protest too much), now that she’s had a taste of power, will it be so easy to return to a life spent kowtowing to the Ted Benekes of the world? Either Skyler becomes the new Heisenberg or Walt has to kill her.
2. Marie Must Die
For its entire run, Breaking Bad has toyed with multiple notions of masculinity, most strikingly in the juxtaposition between Walt and Hank. When one is ascendent, the other is struggling. They’re both bombastic, ego-driven guys struggling to be heroes—or at least decent men. The main difference is that Hank has a badge and the backing of society. But when has that ever been proof of true righteousness? A clan can have only one patriarch, and we’re rooting for Walt (see #3 below). That means Hank must suffer. Really suffer. Not with a namby pamby gunshot wound that temporarily saddles him with a colostomy bag. He needs unmitigated, inalterable loss. No secondary Breaking Bad character has been more obnoxious or self-righteous than yappy, kleptomaniacal Marie, which makes her the perfect foil for Hank. We want to see Hank’s fath in himself shattered. We want to see him destroyed. And the best way to do that is to take away his wife.
3. Walt Wins the World
For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Maybe we over-identify with the Bartlebys and Walter Mittys of the world but no matter how many murders Walter White commits, we’re still rooting for the guy. That’s because he knows (or has come to understand) that this world doesn’t give you whatever it is you think you deserve; it gives you what you take. No storyline would better illustrate that than one in which Walt manages to profit from his crimes but isn’t destroyed, isn’t utterly crushed, and isn’t subject to a comeuppance in which “good” wins out over “evil.” Breaking Bad has never trafficked in simplistic dichotomies. It would be amazing to see a finale in which corruption wins and innocents suffer—because in the real world that’s usually how it works.