A Writer’s Thoughts on Breaking Bad

One of my favorite things to do during my self-imposed (and mandatory) downtime each evening is to watch television. I have a few series that I love, although most of them have reached the end of their run.  Some of these include the BBC version of Being Human, Game of Thrones (duh), Boardwalk Empire, and a few others.  To qualify as a great series in my series (in my opinion), it has to have complex characters.

One of my favorites is Dexter. I love the dichotomy between caring brother and (fairly attentive) father to psychopathic serial killer. I love the rituals he engages in prior to the kill, from the clothes he wears to the set-up of a kill room. In fact, there is nothing I don’t like about Dexter. I love how complex his relationship is with Deborah. I love how he is able to separate out science while questioning the deeper meaning of life.

But like all good series, they draw to an end. And when Dexter and Being Human ended, and Game of Thrones went on hiatus, I was forced to seek my weekly entertainment elsewhere.

So we’ve been watching Breaking Bad.

We DVR’d the entire series, and every night we spend a couple of hours watching episodes (we learned that by the time we got to Season 3, it only took us 2 hrs to get through 3 episodes because the more popular it got, the more commercials they piled into it).

So, what do I love about Breaking Bad? (Beyond the premise of the show, which is brilliant).

Simply put, what I love most about Breaking Bad is the character of Jesse Pinkman.

I understand they were initially going to kill him off at the end of season 1 and I think we can all agree they were wise to keep him in the mix. While Walter is interesting, it’s my personal feeling that Jesse is the heart of the show. Jesse represents the human side of the equation.  He’s the one who consistently sees the “end result” of those the drugs impact. He turns his house into a crack house. He becomes an addict. He cleans up, he dives back in. He is the one who consistently reminds himself about what the results of his actions.

The dichotomy between Walt and Jesse is simple – it’s as simple as viewing religion vs. science. Or good vs. evil. Their relationship is reminiscent of Jack vs. John Locke on LOST (my other favorite series). While Walt immerses himself in the science; Jesse immerses himself in life and death.

Of course, a lot can still happen. I fully expect Walt to go “full Heisenberg” soon, but that just makes him a predictable character. Jesse, on the other hand, still has the potential to surprise me. He’s still standing on that precipice between good and evil. He still experiences regret, anger, and self-loathing – but (at least by Season 4), he has moved beyond fear – and that’s when things get interesting…

The most growth comes when a person has the least amount to lose. And I think that holds true in life, which is why it’s even more important for characters in books and movies to reach that level. They have to – or there would be no growth at all.

I know everyone else in the world has seen the series already, but I just thought I would put my two cents in as we move through the series for the first time. I’ll let you know how I’m feeling at the end of Season 4 and more importantly, at the end of Season 5…