Respect the chemistry: a reflective on “Breaking Bad”

Contributing Writer

“Technically, chemistry is the study of matter. But I prefer to see it as the study of change.”

With those words, Walter White managed to encompass everything Breaking Bad has come to represent in its superb five-season run.

Audiences were first introduced to White and his story in 2008.  Since then, the show has been nothing less than spectacular.

When viewers first meet White, he is living a relatively normal life. He is a struggling high school chemistry teacher, has a pregnant wife and a son with cerebral palsy.

The Whites are making it day to day just like any other family until Walter is hit with the horrendous diagnosis of inoperable lung cancer.

Upon learning that his time is short, White resorts to a life of crime. He teams up with an unusual partner, Jesse Pinkman, who was once one of his students.  With the chemistry and street intelligence, the team begins producing and selling methamphetamine in order to provide financial security for his family.

One of the greatest things about Breaking Bad is White’s tragic fall from grace. He is transformed from a sympathetic man trying to provide for his family to an extremely dangerous man that no one wishes to cross paths with.

His change from “Mr. Chips to Scarface,” as creator Vince Gilligan describes it, is not a hasty transition. The writers did a fantastic job of gradually revealing the transformation until the Walter White we saw in the pilot is nothing but a distant memory. At a certain point in the series, he is no longer the hero of the story, but some viewers still viewers defend his every action.

The audience has watched him do so many awful things. Even I eventually questioned on whether or not I should sympathize with his character.  There are brief moments when the old Walter White reveals himself.  During these times, the stellar writing makes us fall right back into supporting this malevolent man.

Despite all of Walter’s horrible actions, a small part of me that wishes he could be redeemed. The incredible plot and writing is simply addicting.  I could not tear myself away from the television and kept coming back week after week.

There are so many reasons as to why Breaking Bad could be considered to be the perfect television series. The writing, acting and direction are all phenomenal. None of the episodes contain unnecessary filler.  Every detail has a distinct purpose. The final episode tied up every loose end and delivered an indescribably satisfactory conclusion.

“Breaking Bad” will always be remembered for Walter “Heisenberg” White.  His gradual and gut-wrenching descent from light into darkness will forever be a part of television history.

The whole series was far more than simply entertainment.  It was the “study of change.” It was growth, decay, then transformation.

Always, respect the chemistry.