Breaking Bad’s Hidden Meaning – Season 5 – Earthling Cinema

Breaking Bad’s Hidden Meaning – Season 5 – Earthling Cinema


Greetings, and welcome to Breaking Bad Week
on Earthling Television. I am your host, Garyx Wormuloid. Today’s artifact is Season Number
Five of Breaking Bad, a show that single-handedly kept the AMC network afloat for the next half
century thanks to spinoffs such as: Better Call Saul, The Disappearer, Chile Con Fring,
Skyler: The College Years, Tsk Tsk Marie, Flynn It to Win It, and Holly Jolly Christmas. Season Number Five begins with drugs kingpin
Walter White at the height of his power, fresh off the murder of a fast food employee. Unfortunately
for him, his wife loves fast food and gives him the colder shoulder. Undeterred, Walt goes about expanding his
business, which involves a bit of indoor camping and a good old-fashioned train drain. But
before you know it, another kid gets killed and Jesse starts whining again. Resident grumbler
Mike Ehrmantraut puts in his two week notice as well, but Walt can’t wait that long. After a quick performance of the prison ballet,
Walt teams up with a new distributor and conquers the international markets like a shitty Will
Smith movie. If only he’d focused on the domestic. Hank gets mad at Walt for having a derivative
taste in poetry and starts getting all up in his krill. Then Walt’s Nazi friends take
it too far — like Nazis always do — by stealing Walt’s money, murdering Hank, and locking
Jesse away as their chemistry slave. Walt retreats to a cabin in New Hampshire
to unwind. But when he sees his old friends “dissing” him on TV, his pride draws him
back to Albachichi for one last episode. He gives them some unwanted financial advice,
and then pays a visit to the Nazis, where it’s D-Day all over again. While Jesse discovers
his need for speed, Walt puts on some Badfinger and takes a much deserved nap on the floor. Series creator Vince Gilligan once said that
Breaking Bad is about a man who transforms from Mr. Chips to Scarface. And while it’s
unclear who either of those people were, it’s safe to say that Walter White does indeed
transform. Besides his words and actions, this is most
evident in his choice of wardrobe. The more compromised his morals become, the darker
his clothes. Until he gets to black, since that’s pretty much as dark as it gets. One of the key episodes in Season Number Five
is titled “Ozymandias,” or “Ozzie” for short. Inspired by a poem written by Percy
Shelley, Ozymandias describes the barren empire of an arrogant ruler. The poem’s speaker boasts, “Look on my
works, ye mighty, and despair,” but ironically, nothing of those works remains, only an empty
desert. The fallen statue of Ozymandias is reflected
in both Walt and Gus at their greatest moments of despair. Despair registers as a key component throughout
the season. Even though Walt may have achieved the so-called “baller status” he’s so
long pursued, he’s lost his family in the process. Echoing a moment from earlier in the series,
Walt sees a familiar painting, a haunting reminder of the low-quality artwork that adorned
Earth’s hotels in that era. Another reason for Walt to despair is that,
like every single other job on Earth, it becomes a dehumanizing grind. After all this time freaking out about everything
standing in the way of success, his success itself is reduced to a repetitive, albeit
groovy montage. Furthermore, by this point everyone is just recycling old dialogue. In fact, Walt habitually plagiarizes people
he has killed, sucking up their mannerisms like one of Spike Lee’s vampires. He cuts
the crusts from his bread. He kneels on a towel when vomiting. And as if murdering Mike
wasn’t enough, Walt jacks his drink order! Perhaps the extraordinary Walter White is
merely part of a larger and endlessly dispassionate system of cruelty. Team Rocket blast off at
the speed of burnt. But if Walt has fully realized his position
as the puppetmaster in Season Number Five, it is Jesse who is treated like a puppet — by
Walt, by Todd, by Hank, even by a local production of Avenue Q. When Walt urges Jesse to shoot
him in the final episode, it’s not just 66% of the Nike slogan. It’s the latest
in a long line of teacherly demands. And just as Walt begins the series by breaking the
chains that bind him, so too does Jesse finally cut his strings. With each passing season of Breaking Bad,
Walter White becomes less and less sympathetic, and yet the series received more and more
critical acclaim. Did Earthling audiences share Walt’s casual attitude toward violence?
By wearing his costume, quoting his catchphrases, and throwing the occasional pizza on the occasional
roof, were they tacitly endorsing his winner-take-all philosophy? Were they each, in their own
ways, simply itching to break bad? I guess it doesn’t matter now. For Earthling Television, I’m Garyx
Wormuloid.

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