Breaking Bad Finale: A Perfect Reflection
We will be posting a podcast about the Breaking Bad Finale this weekend. We will have David Bushman on from The Paley Center to put this entire series in its place in television history. For now, I want to focus on two scenes from the Finale. They were two mirror images of our society and they brought me right back to the wonderful Pilot of Breaking Bad. To me, Breaking Bad was never about Mr. Chips turns into Scarface. It wasn't about drugs, a cop show or a family drama. It was all about the monetary divide that this country has adopted in the new millennium. The first 200 years of this country we had an idea that you could be born at one income level and die in another. You work, you earn, you try, and you can succeed. That changed in the 2000's. By the time Walter White got diagnosed with cancer, our country took up a new idea. If you are poor and you get sick, we would really appreciate it if you would just die quietly. Walter White had a problem with that plan.
In the final episode, Vince Gilligan framed two incredibly long scenes. One set in Elliott and Gretchen Schwartz's house. One set in Skyler's new house. They spent probably 5 minutes out of the 75 minutes just looking at the inside of the Schwartz's house. Did you notice that Gretchen didn't just have a 4 digit pass code to turn off the alarm? It was like a 12-20 digit code. Even the super rich's passwords are better than yours. They had a remote for their fire place, classical music played as they entered, and they come home to a fine bottle of wine. Their front door was almost the size of Skyler's entire house. Skyler, Holly and Walt Jr. now live in a small trailer park of a home. One room that rolls right into the kitchen. Remember these are two groups of people who started out at the same level. Also remember that the Schwartz's got their money by being criminals as well. It was just that their way is approved by capitalism. They stole the business from Walt. They were just as much of a criminal as Walt. I find it hard to believe that the writers aren't trying to make a point out of the fact that the only way Walt could go around the law and give his family money was by going to the top 1%. In that world, there is no government to take your money away. I am not saying that Walt deserves to give that money to his children but I am saying that right or wrong, the rich can do it.
I have always felt that Breaking Bad isn't about Walter White going from a moral man to a corrupt human, it is about our country doing that. 99% of the country is just working away for a wage that doesn't allow them to provide for their children while the upper part of the country takes more and more. And yet, we do nothing. We are still going to the car wash after working an 8 hour day. We are still taking our cancer and being quiet. How much longer will Americans take it? If you think I am over selling the point, you may want to notice how many times our congress has tried to repeal the first act of trying to give poor people health insurance. For now, we are all still being good Walter Whites. I just wonder when and if anyone will go Heisenberg on us. It is this larger point that will keep Breaking Bad from ever being duplicated. This was a brave topic hidden inside an action show. Thanks to Vince Gilligan for bringing one of the most important issues of our day to television. We will discuss this topic among many others on this weekend's Podcast.
Listen to our podcast that covers the other Breaking Bad episodes from this season.