The Killings of Walter White: Season 4 (*SPOILERS*)
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(Link: Part 2)
(Link: Part 3)
The Killings of Walter White: Season 4
Throughout its run, “Breaking Bad” has focused in part on killing, and its morality in various situations. However in the fourth season, the show focuses almost entirely on killing, and whether Walter will be able to kill Gustavo Fring.
Walt’s motivation is similar to his motivation during confrontations with past enemies. Walt is trying to survive, just as he was when he killed Emilio, Domingo, Tuco, and Gale, but being held under Gus’ thumb, being constantly monitored, having his movements regulated to ensure he can be killed at a moments notice, has made survival a power game. I have heard it said of cancer patients that every day lived is a victory, and a warped version of this axiom is at play here. Staying alive isn't merely a matter of survival; it is a triumph over an oppressor, a triumph over weakness, and in a way, a triumph over death. He is the one who knocks.
One of the best scenes in the entire show.
There is a scene in the second season when, after being told that he is in remission, Walt punches a towel dispenser grunting “Yeah.” This shows us the attitude that Walter White has towards triumphing over death. But now death has been personified, a grim figure in a black suit, holding the box cutter of Damocles over Walt’s head, always watching, waiting for the exact moment that Walt becomes unnecessary. Killing Gus becomes a matter of triumphing over the seeming inevitability of death, and at the end of the season, as Walt put it, “I won.”
A more complete recap.
That was all that mattered to him in the end. Hector Salamanca’s death was inconsequential, and was in some ways beneficial, as it fully eliminated the threat of the drug cartels. The two men Walt killed in the lab were necessary to ensure the police would think Heisenberg was dead, and they were nothing but grunts to Walt. The quality of his victory was only added to by the fact that this was the first of Walter’s plans to ever go off without a hitch, and for which he suffered no negative consequences. And all that he needed to do was poison a child.
Walt’s poisoning of Brock and lying to Jesse about the poisoning marks this as his lowest point thus far, but his actions are justified by the same reasoning he has used in all of his killings up to this point. Walt and his family are in imminent danger, as Gus has sworn to kill them in retaliation for Walt’s actions. Walt has shown that he has no problem with manipulating others to commit or help facilitate his killings when caught in this position, justifying the manipulation of Jesse and the assisted suicide of Hector. And, he is entirely willing to let the innocent die to save himself, thus justifying the poisoning of Brock.
Some have tried to downplay the impact of Walt poisoning a child by saying that Walt knew that he wouldn't die from the poison, but this is entirely inconsequential, as it relates to what the writers are trying to communicate about Walt. Would Walt’s actions have been in any way different if the poison had been fatal or not? He has shown that he is willing to let the innocent die in his name, so why would he value the life of this boy? He has no connection to Brock, and he was willing to endanger Brock’s life for personal gain. The fact that Brock lived is inconsequential because at this point it did not matter to Walt whether Brock lived or died.
Breaking Bad Season 5 Part 2 starts tomorrow, August 11th at 9pm EST. Hope ya'll are ready.
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