Friday, July 20, 2012

Skyler White Is a Habit I Can't Kick (Breaking Bad)

Dan Ingram of Fear the Cacti and Crossover Appeal is now a regular contributor! You can read his previous posts herehere, and here.

I’ve been on a bit of a “Breaking Bad” bender over the past few days. It’s a show that I tend to binge on whenever I do watch it, having viewed seasons 1 & 2 in a single weekend. To be completely honest, the ending of season 2 left me feeling like something was missing; especially with the amount of coincidences that appeared to be mounting.

I will do my best not to spoil a whole bunch of the show for anyone, and that should be fairly easy considering I’m only about part way through season 3 at the moment. Though I am aware of what happens at the end of season 4, I don’t know the road the characters take to get there.

However, there’s one character in particular that has really surprised me over the last season or so of BB. Her name, is Skyler White.

“I shall create a meth the color of your eyes to profess my love.” – Walter White in my imagination.

When the show starts, we all know what happens; Walter White is a mild mannered chemistry teacher that finds out he has terminal cancer and takes up cooking meth to provide for his family once he’s died. It starts off simple enough, but soon Walt is in really deep with the cartel and his family finally gets suspicious. After a few incidences, Walt eventually spills the beans to his wife.

Now one would think that she would be appreciative of all that he’s done. I mean Walt has seen a few people die at this point, both tangentially related to his drug cooking and because he actually killed them with his own hands. And he’s not a pushover anymore; in fact his anger management skills have degraded severely. But Skyler can’t believe that Walt would do something like cook meth, and she asks for a divorce.

Waah waah.

At first I found this a little frustrating as a viewer because of the exact reason I stated above; Walt did kill a couple guys and earn a lot of money to take care of his family and now Skyler wants out.

What I find fascinating about Skyler is that when Walt moves back into the house after their initial separation, she doesn’t just welcome him back, get over everything that’s happened and say, “I was wrong the first time, I can see clearly now what you did and I am grateful.”

Instead she goes out and sleeps with her boss.

“Who has two thumbs and looks like he belongs in an ED commercial? This guy.” – Not Ted

In one of the most brilliant scenes I’ve ever watched on TV, and I really don’t know why because it’s mostly silence, Skyler TELLS Walt. She’s not ashamed, or even confused about what she wants; she knew all along and wanted Walt to know that she knew and had always known.

Damn woman. You cold.

Eventually Skyler does see the fault in her plan and realizes somewhat that Walt was trying to do what was right for the family. But then he signs the divorce papers and that’s when Skyler sort of loses her shit.

She doesn’t go crazy or anything, but it’s like her heart turned to stone after that. She’s out for self-preservation at this point, knowing that she can’t deal with telling her son Walt Jr. that his father is a meth dealer. Or have her brother-in-law, the DEA agent who is now officially my favorite character on the show, feel the shame of knowing that the elusive “Heisenberg” was hiding right in front of him the whole time.

I don’t know where she’ll go from here, but the chances of her becoming less interesting to watch are probably pretty slim.

This is a new trend for me too, I’ve become increasingly interested in the characters of TV shows that frustrate me to the point of near hatred then at some point I realize their nuances and go, “Holy crap this is amazing.”

Skyler is a great example of a percentage of people, a pretty high one too I would think, who would have this reaction under these circumstances. She can’t stand what Walt’s become.

She is a good person, and she never wanted Walt to do the things that he did, and the fact that he’s done them now repulses her. It’s a weird cycle I think, her inability to accept her husbands transgressions pushed her to seem like a worse person than her husband. And that guy choked a dude to death with a bicycle lock in a basement. 

“This is for not sharing the bike lane!”

What I think is most interesting about Skyler and Walt is that effectively, they’re trying to do exactly the same thing: look out for their family. Unfortunately their viewpoints on how to achieve that goal are juxtaposed to the point where they basically hate each other. Walt is mad at Skyler because he once again feels underappreciated and Skyler is mad at Walt because he’s a felon that put her livelihood at risk.

I can’t say I blame her either. I can’t blame either of them, and I think that’s what’s so wildly interesting to watch about the two characters. At the end of the day, they both want the same thing, and they’ll go about any means necessary to get it, but those means could destroy both of them at any moment. I am in love with this show.

Plus, I mean, come on. Hot mom alert.

Dan Ingram works in television and has his Master's in Screenwriting from New York Film Academy. He also watches too much TV. But in a good way.

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