Heroes And Villans By Mike Alsford

1648 words - 7 pages

What could make a person transform from a family-man-school-teacher to a weapon-wielding-meth-cook? The first season of the television series, Breaking Bad, shows Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher, beginning to adopt traits and perform actions that would be described by Mike Alsford as those of a super villain. Unlike many characters discussed in Alsford’s book, Heroes and Villains, Walter White seems to lack a definite arc of good slowly giving way to evil in his development. Precisely stated in an article by Sean T. Collins for Rolling Stone, "Walter White doesn't have a character arc. He has a character slope." The villain inside takes over quickly once awoken out of necessity, as if it had always been a part of him, resting in a state of hibernation until Walt’s life is drastically altered by the devastating news of his impending death from cancer.
In as early as the first three episodes, Walter is already dealing with the unethical expenses of his new business, namely the expense of human lives. The attempt at starting work in an RV lab and selling a batch of methamphetamines with his DEA-evading former chemistry student, Jesse Pinkman, puts Walter in a position of using violence to protect himself. When he throws red phosphorous into a pan while being held at gunpoint, Walter is aware that his action may cause two deaths. This could mark his first true act of villainy, but he still shows remorse and conflict as he stands with a gun to his throat at the end of the pilot. By episode three, Walter is faced with choosing murder or freedom for his captive. Realizing his prisoner, Krazy 8, has armed himself with a piece of broken plate, Walter uses this knowledge as the excuse to end the man's life. While adjusting to his new lifestyle, Walter is still conflicted and sorry about his crime, but he knows this game is all about survival. Collins wrote about the murder, "At this point, Walt still has the decency to be devastated, but the killing is a step in the wrong direction, as his ability to bounce right back makes clear." After the killing scene, Walter parks on a bridge and becomes lost in thought. He remembers a conversation he shared years ago with his former colleague, Gretchen Schwartz, who brought up the soul as a possible factor in an equation. He had responded to Gretchen, “The soul - there's nothing but chemistry here." At that moment on the bridge, Walter experiences a sense of emptiness; perhaps he is nothing but the soulless chemist, a scientist without the moral constraints of soulful humanity.
Episode four acts to recover the approachable, human side of Walter White, which is starting to fade as the lies and insidious activities take over his consciousness. The family finding out about his cancer reconnects him with their love and concern, but his pride is swelling, and he is looking at a grim future. The most climactic scene in this episode shows Walter silently enraged by a belligerent businessman who has stolen...

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