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 t...
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...lighted pivotal moments in the show “Breaking Bad”.
I quoted Collins directly twice in this essay.
“Pilot”, “Cat’s in the Bag”, “…And the Bag’s in the River”, “Cancer Man”, “Gray Matter”,
“Crazy Handful of Nothin”, “A No-Rough-Stuff-Type Deal”. Breaking Bad. AMC.
Dir. Vince Gilligan, Adam Bernstein, Jim McKay, Tricia Brock, Bronwen Hughes, Tim
Hunter. Perf. Brian Cranston, Anna Gunn, Aaron Paul. Writ. Vince Gilligan, Patty Lin,
George Mastras, Peter Gould. Breaking Bad is the television show reviewed in this essay.
I used quotes, paraphrases, and examples from the first season to fulfill the purpose of
Seitz, Matt Zoller. “When Did Walter White Become Heisenberg?” Vulture. Web. 2013.
Seitz analyzes Walter White’s alter-ego, Heisenberg, in this article. I used a quote about
the metaphor of cancer portrayed in this character development.
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