Friday, September 6, 2013

Breaking Bad - How It Will End?

How a docile and harmless chemistry teacher turns into a ruthless drug dealer is what Breaking Bad all about. After being diagnosed with a cancer, Walter decided to cook crystal meth in order to provide for his family. Progressively, he descended into the abyss of moral destruction. The irony? This was after the factor that led him to "break bad" had disappeared: his cancer.

How this TV series would end is the one million dollar question. Whatever Vince Gilligan, the creator of Breaking Bad, has in mind, there are two moral complexities that need some resolution.

First, every action has its consequences. The idea of justice is ingrained in us and we are taught since child that consequences will follow. No crime goes unpunished. Revenge, is the default response whenever feelings or rights are violated. Thus, Walter has to face the ultimate judgment from all people whose lives and freedom he had raped for the pursuit of his drug empire. To let him off the hook seems to be offensively simple - a fairy tale.

On the other hand, some of us secretly wish that fairy tale does come true. We all know how dire circumstances awaken the Dr Jekyll in us, and the impossibility of extricating ourselves from the spiraling journey down. Part of us wish that forgiveness is not too much too ask; a jewel that the world can still readily dispense.

The reason Breaking Bad captures the heart of many viewers is because, to some degree, the story of Walter White is a story of us. It reveals a frightening nature of human. Given the right ingredients - power, absence of moral authority, wealth, duress - people "break bad".

I believe Breaking Bad is not a story about personal change, but about situational change. The more Walter's drug empire grows and the more obstacles he overcomes, the more convinced he is of his invincibility. His crime begets another crime, but the better he is at damage control, the more God-like he feels. Steadily, as the circumstances increase, he decreases. Under this escalating situational change, Dr Jekyll has totally overtaken Mr Hyde. It is this self-inflated Dr Jekyll who looks straight to his wife and says, "I'm not in the drug business, I'm in the empire business".

Breaking Bad runs on a frightening moral principal: every one of us can turn into season-6 Walter White. It shows, in a modern twist, what Philip Zimbardo had concluded in his famous Stanford Prison experiment: Dr Jekyll is not a hell of our own making, but a hell exist all along inside us.

At this point, no one knows how Breaking Bad is going to end, and I trust Gilligan will bring this challenging dilemma to a satisfying conclusion. Whether it would end with the idea of justice and love being mixed into a beautiful concoction still remain to be known. If yes, then Breaking Bad would be the closest tale of grace in today's modern culture - the return of the prodigal son, Walter White.

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