Walter is a man, who upon realizing he was dying of cancer also realized he had nothing to show for his life. So, he, a Chemistry teacher, naturally (JOKE) began to make the purest form of crystal meth in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The show then follows his slow degradation from a nice but weak, push over school teacher to this now hardened drug dealer. In the course of the show, his personality changes so completely that you barely even recognize him as you first met him in the first season. This drift is so clear and so imperative as you follow the show. Choices are made that degrade Walter deeper and deeper into this abyss of losing himself and this decline in his humanity in my opinion is a large part of the shows purpose. It is so well done and so subtle that it is hard to pick parts of earlier seasons where this all began to seriously go down hill.
At one point, Walter brings reflection to this and he pinpoints verbally the point in which it all began to spin out of control. It’s that moment and that choice not to do something he should have done that then sends him on a fast track to total depreciation and depravation. So, now, with that short synopsis, let me again say: I AM Walter White.
Many who watch this show have decried the simplicity with which Walter shifted from good to bad. Many share their lofty thoughts of this being improbable, that the human condition is not ultimately as bad as the subtext of the show highlights, but instead the human condition is good and as humans, we are in a good place. I whole-heartedly disagree. I feel that this show accurately depicts the rate at which one can lose themselves completely. The human condition is much more fragile than we are willing to admit to.
I know for myself, that I could easily end up where Walter ultimately ended up. My humanity is indeed broken enough that falling to such depths could be done easily. The problem is that for many of us, we like the masses around us decry the idea of such a condition. We simply neglect the integrity to be honest enough with ourselves, and others that we could in fact fall to this level of depravity without that much difficulty. I know my thought life and you know yours, why can’t we just admit that deep down within our human heart there is deep brokenness barely being hidden?
In our current culture, we see shows like this and become addicted to Walter White and his story not so much because we enjoy the narrative, but rather might I suggest it’s because we connect to it. If Walter’s degradation were to be much more drastic than it was, or much less severe than it was we could not connect to his narrative. Yet because it was so well written as to be basically believable it attracted a large audience and continues to attract a following. Somewhere, in our core we can nod our heads to the reality that we too could become this lost and wayward. Nothing was holding Walter back, he was about to lose it all and so he stopped caring about the mundane and dug deep in order to get what he truly desired.
Walter wanted: respect, money, prestige and the ability to last as a legacy both to his family and the world. He was too much of a push over before cancer. We see this reality in the fact that he was part of the development of a highly recognized formula that was acclaimed and highly praised for it’s brilliance. Yet he received no accolades for this or financial gain because he allowed his friends to take all the credit. He was now going to regain what he lost.
The death sentence served as a switch to his soul. Somehow, we almost want to excuse all of his behavior because we know he’s going t die of cancer. The original human response to such a story is a feeling of pity and an allowance for Walter to go ahead and do as he pleases. What we fail to connect to is the reality that this was in Walter’s heart all along…as it is in the heart of broken humans everywhere. The story didn’t begin at cancer for Walter. I know, because I am Walter White.
How come I’m not off the wall and doing crazy things like Walter? Well, for me I know it’s because God has redeemed my broken humanity. He has changed my heart completely. Without Him and His Salvation I truly don’t know where I’d be. I’ve gotten real honest with Him and others about the demons in my closet and He has removed them. Those things that would serve to pull me down the path of utter ruin are gone. Yet, I know if it were not for Him I would be more like Walter White than I care to admit…
Are you like Walter White?