Walter White at the end of time

I have no secret knowledge of how Vince Gilligan and Breaking Bad‘s writers plotted how to finish Walter White’s story, writes James Poniewozik in Time today, resisting the urge to celebrate the show’s Emmy win.  “I have to wonder if the scenario we saw tonight was considered, at one point, as the end. images-2Walt isolated, thousands of miles from home, dying alone, knowing that everything has gone wrong, knowing that his child hates him, knowing that his plan to enrich his family has failed–and powerless to do anything but, wait, and know, and think on what he has done.

“It feels in a sense as if these past few weeks have tried on several alternative endings for the story of Walter White. His surrender to Hank in the desert, as I said then, was one way it could have gone down. His disappearance into the horizon, last seen in the rear-view mirror of Vacuum Guy’s minivan, was another. (Hell, the end of last season’s run–Walt retired, successful, free and in the bosom of his family was, before Hank found Leaves of Grass as bathroom reading, the end for a very dark, cynical version of Breaking Bad.)

“The Shield’s outstanding finale left its antihero/villain, Vic Mackey, alive and chained to a desk, presumably to ponder his crimes forever. Walt’s exile in “Granite State” might be considered the Shield alternative for Breaking Bad–letting Walt “escape,” but in such as way as to be tortured by his deeds for the rest of his short life. So his world ends, as another New Hampshire resident posited, not in fire but in ice.

“There’s something purgatorial about Walt’s New Hampshire; we’ve spent so much time in the red-and-brown sun-baked vistas of New Mexico that emerging from the propane tank into New Hampshire feels like entering another world. As Vacuum Cleaner Guy–played, in an in-retrospect obvious bit of genius casting, by Robert Forster–says, it’s the kind of place where Walt could rest and get some much-needed thinking done. “If you look around,” he says, “it’s kind of beautiful.” Continue reading “Walter White at the end of time”

The science of Breaking Bad

images-3Breaking Bad is into its final few episodes, with fans already speculating how the story of a teacher-turned-drug-producing-criminal-mastermind will reach its denouement. Now a BBC story asks, “How many of the frequent science scenes reflect reality, asks chemist and physicist Dr Jonathan Hare.

 Walt is a brilliant research chemist who has to leave his work and take up a career teaching high school chemistry. After discovering he has terminal cancer, he turns his skills to methamphetamine production in collaboration with former pupil Jesse Pinkman.

“With his background as a chemistry teacher, there are times when Walt instructs Jesse as if he is still back in the classroom. Jesse was a very poor science student at school, but while “cooking” meth with Walt, he starts to pick up and respect the chemistry that’s so essential for a good product. Continue reading “The science of Breaking Bad”