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Worst Thing Ever

Miko Malabute | Monday, September 16, 2013

The absolute worst thing ever. Such a superlative warrants years of anger, frustration and-if you’re man enough to admit it-tears. Anything else that’s less-than-qualified should in no way, shape, or form have to bear such an awful title. But what I am about to discuss with you, my astute brothers and sisters, is a topic that I know each of you deep down may relate to, and will penultimately feel similar pangs of disgust and hurt the moment you realize that, why, yes, indeed, it is the worst thing ever.

What is it, you may ask?

No, no … see, the question is not necessarily what the worst thing ever is; it is, in fact, who the worst person ever is. Namely, who the worst TV character is. 

Who, you may ask again? 

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you, Walter White of the hit TV show, “Breaking Bad.”

Now, now, before we all are quick to take a side and begin to tear me down as a “hater” or humiliate me with labels such as “Not-A-Fan-Of-Breaking-Bad,” allow me to establish myself as an authority in this field. I am the one who knocks, whenever “Breaking Bad” is on and I want to come inside to catch the premiere. And perhaps if you think even for a second that I don’t love and appreciate the character that is Walter White, than maybe your best course of action would be to tread lightly. 

But wait, you ask me, didn’t you just publicly proclaim Walter White as the worst thing ever? Yes, I did. And it is precisely because of my mixed emotions towards his character that I must leave him left-for-dead with such an absolute title. Walter has become such a complex, desperate and unreachable man that it is absolutely terrifying to ponder what he would and would not do nowadays. A simple look at last Sunday’s episode confirms how far Walter has progressed – or, more accurately, digressed – as the beginning of the episode shows how light-hearted and innocent he spoke, even when he was already hell-bent on lying his way into the methamphetamine business. This stood in stark contrast to the way he spoke and addressed anyone – be it his family or his foes – with the same dark, dangerous, maniacal yet calculated snarl that beautifully depicts the character of a man constantly tiptoeing the line between standing for his own values and committing ruthless crimes to save his own skin. 

Walter has done some despicable things, and with every successive episode, it becomes increasingly difficult to root for him to succeed, if you even find yourself still doing so this late into the series. However, what creator Vince Gilligan so masterfully and wretchedly achieves is a constant angle on Walter, concocting a story arc and camera angle that allows us as the viewers a clear view of the type of monster that Walter has become.  Yet simultaneously, Gilligan allows us to see the “method behind the madness,” as well as some of the reasons as to why he’s committing some of the horrors that he’s been doing.

The absolute worst thing that Gilligan could have done was not just to see what Walter’s been capable of doing and the kind of atrocities he has been responsible for, but also to understand exactly why he’s been doing them. And when we do understand, they are usually for the same reasons that we do what we do, whether legal or illegally – for our family, for their and our health, security and happiness. We see the heart that beats behind “the devil,” as Jesse Pinkman refers to Walter White, and the complexities and torn emotions that accompany such conflict and set Walter White, far and away – as far and away as Belize, where Walter has been known to send a few people here or there to – as the uncontested worst thing ever. 

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Miko Malabute at mmalabut@nd.edu