Sunday, September 29, 2013

Pre-Breaking Bad Series Finale thoughts: Should Walter White Die?

We're about an hour away from the finale of Breaking Bad and to say people are excited would be an understatement.  This finale seems so unlike other anticipated series enders, partially because you really have no idea how they're going to tie things up.  The only other major finale that I can think of is Lost, and even with that show, you had an inkling of what might happen.  Generally speaking, you understood who was good, who was bad, and which side everybody was on.  This feels different, though.  Not necessarily better -- I just can't even imagine what's going to happen.

It's funny, a couple of years ago, I criticized David Chase for passing judgment on Soprano viewers for wanting Tony to get killed off.  According to Chase, viewers have no right to want Tony to get his comeuppance after cheering him along for all these years.  I argued that fans were ABLE to root for him with the expectation that he would eventually get what he deserves.  And yet, here I am, with Walter White.....and I really don't want him to die.  I'm honestly not sure what he deserves, but I really want him to find redemption, not retribution.  Which is interesting, because while David Chase defended Tony Soprano....Vince Gilligan seems to present Walter (in interviews, anyway) as somebody who can't be saved.  No ifs, ands, or buts.  He's Scarface now.

I don't really see it that way, though.  This season has seemed to be about bringing Walter back to the light side, so to speak.  He ultimately chose his family over his empire.  And despite numerous offers and temptations, he's stayed away from the meth game.  Even in the past few episodes, he's shown moments of humanity.  He consistently fought on behalf of Jesse, and it wasn't until Skyler of all people encouraged him, that he decided to put a hit on him.  And even when he did that, he wanted to make sure it was sudden and painless, and that his girlfriend wouldn't be the one to discover the body.  He also put his own freedom at risk in order to protect Hank.  And when Hank was again in danger, he was willing to give up all he had worked for to save him.  And when none of that worked, and when he had lost everything, he STILL did everything he could to protect his family.  He certainly hasn't been explicitly villainous.

The only current situation where Walter is the "bad" guy would be with Jesse.  While many of Walt's actions could be considered justifiable, his sometimes harsh and selfish treatment of Jesse typically cannot.  He let Jane die when he could save her.  He poisoned Brock in order to turn Jesse against Gus.  And now, he put a hit out on him.  It's the one situation where you really can't root for Walt.

So what do I want to have happen?  Honestly, I kinda want Walt to get a "happy" ending.  I want him to make peace with Skyler and Walt Jr.  I want him to work things out with Jesse.  And if he dies doing so, I'm okay with that.  But I'm not sure I want him to be vilified and to end up with nothing.

What do you all want to see?

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