In some of our coverage of “Breaking Bad” over the course of the past few weeks, we have often traced our articles back to one key question, and it is one worth taking a closer look at today as the July 15 return of the show inches closer and closer — can Walter White survive the next last season? And if he does, can the ending still merit the journey?
From the standpoint of being so invested with a particular character, it’s rather bizarre in a sense to be in a position of rooting for someone’s demise. Perhaps “rooting for” is not even the right word for Walter, though — we don’t necessarily want to see him go in looking back on the fonder days of his life, but at this point in time there does not appear to be any other way he is going to get out of his present situation. All of the recent “kings” — including Giancarlo Esposito’s stellar Gus Fring in the season 4 finale — have all met their untimely demise thanks to people working under them, namely Walter and Jesse. Is the line of work Walter is involved with a vicious circle of death and will one of his underlings rise up and take him out? This is a question we are more than interested in figuring out as the final 16 episodes play out.
If you look at the history of crime dramas, it’s never good to be the kingpin. As a matter of fact, there are not too many situations where you see the leader of the pack live to see another day. Even in the case of some of the exceptions (“The Sopranos”), it’s still barely an exception depending on how you interpret the ending. Nucky has been able to survive so far on “Boardwalk Empire,” but that series is still far from over — and the same can be true with Dexter Morgan (even if he is the head of what is really a one-man operation). Walter just has too much going against him to feasibly survive — from a target on his head to the possibility of cancer coming back.
Let’s assume for a moment that Walter does meet his end in the series finale — even if he doesn’t want to be the leader, does Jesse end up taking his place? Another interesting thought may be that Aaron Paul’s character could end up being the one who pulls the trigger on Walter, and in doing so becomes the tragic hero of the series. He has not given into the darkness in the same way that his partner has, and there could be a point where he wants to just take the money and run. It would be almost like something crafted from the mind of Scorsese, but with a bit of this show’s own trademark grit.
The fact that “Breaking Bad” even has us talking about the ending weeks before its season premiere is testament alone to what sort of staying power this series has as a pop-culture talking point. It’s also one of the few programs where we feel that the show is still in an excellent position leading up to its final send-off. Walter dying would be an appropriate ending, and if he finds a way to survive it will be seen as a bold, fascinating risk that will lead to people speculating about his future. People are often too critical of endings, especially since there is no one conclusion that will satisfy everyone.
Do you think that Walter has to die in order for this series to close properly? Be sure to respond in our poll below!