Breaking Bad: “Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!”

August 5, 2013 1:29 pm

Spoilers ahead – you’ve been warned!

August 11th; the one date other than Christmas and family birthdays that is surely in everyone’s calendar by now. The day that our beloved Breaking Bad returns to our TV sets (or our laptop screens, for us unlucky Brits) for one last adrenaline handout. AMC even recently released a promo featuring Walter White – flawlessly portrayed by Bryan Cranston – reciting the famous Shelley sonnet ‘Ozymandias’, as if the tension building up wasn’t too great anyway.

After five years of cooking meth, it’s finally time for Walt and Jesse to hang up the lab coats and meet their fates… or is it? Many theories and predictions have been thrown about by the community as to the next step in Breaking Bad‘s notoriously unpredictable plot, but naturally the show has been left so open-ended that the possibilities of where it can go are endless.

So, with less than two weeks before Walt, Jesse and Skylar return, all that’s left to do is wait. But watching the promo for the second half of the fifth season got me thinking about what could possibly happen next, especially after such a tight ending to the first half.

Breaking Bad

Let’s recap. At the end of the last half of season five Heisenberg and Pinkman were off the hook; the authorities had been shaken (again) and Jesse had opted out of Walt’s growing empire, much to his mentor’s disgust. But, in true Vince Gilligan fashion, the pair went from the frying pan and into the fire. The final shot was of Hank, Walt’s brother-in-law, coming to the apparent realisation that Heisenberg was in fact Walt all along after finding incriminating evidence in the White family bathroom (specifically a copy of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass).

Cue a bombardment of online predictions, most of which stem from the fact that Walt mistakenly left the book of poetry in his bathroom. This is a point of view I take issue with, though; partly due to the fact that it’s a little bit too obvious for the show’s exceptional attention to detail, but mostly because Walter White just isn’t that clumsy (for the most part). Why would such an important piece of evidence even be in the toilet in the first place if Walt didn’t want it to be found? I prefer to think that Walt meant for Hank to discover it.

Throughout the show’s five seasons, we’ve seen Walter’s desire to win come to surface time and time again. From episode five, where he turns down Elliott and Gretchen’s charity to pay for his cancer treatment for a life of crime, to his open hints to Hank that his drug kingpin may still be out there, we notice Walt’s egotistic nature almost get him into trouble constantly.

But for Walter, this is exactly what he wants. After being diagnosed with cancer, his attitude towards life becomes both bold and reckless. He doesn’t give a shit about anything anymore, and this is accentuated through his alter-ego, Heisenberg. When’s he’s out of the line of fire, he wants to go straight back in for more – something that is repeatedly pointed out by many of the other characters who are in on Walt’s activities; namely Jesse, Saul and Mike.

In reality, Walt has had an ulterior motive this whole time, which he explains to Jesse towards the end of the first half of season five. Being cheated out of the company, Gray Matter, that he started with Elliott Schwartz has led him to want to rebuild his empire. It’s really the feeling of power and achievement he gets from being Heisenberg that keeps driving Walt to break bad over again – not the ability to provide for his family which the morally righteous Walt uses as an excuse at the start of the show. Winning isn’t enough for him, he wants people to see him win. Whilst this may seem inaccurate with Cranston’s worried, uneasy portrayal of the character, think back to how many times you’ve screamed at Walter for almost giving himself away to Hank at the dinner table.

Trying to delve any further into the story is doing the show an injustice, but Walt has ties to every character in Breaking Bad and each one has a different influence on his actions. Which ones – dead or alive – will play a key role in his fate we will soon find out, but you can be sure that Heisenberg is prepared for any kind of outcome.

What does this all mean for future episodes then? Again, and this is just my opinion, I believe Walt meant for Hank to find Leaves of Grass. Not only would this satisfy his need for constant danger, but it would also mean Jesse – who has refused to continue working with Mr. White – would be in danger of being caught, forcing him back into Walt’s empire and control.

How will everything else end? I have no idea, and it’s best to just go with the flow when it comes to Breaking Bad. One thing’s for sure though, if you reckon the finale to perhaps the greatest show on TV today is going to be bloody, emotional and satisfying, you’re goddamn right!

Let me know your thoughts and predictions on the final season of Breaking Bad in the comments.

‘My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away”.


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