As the penultimate episode of the hit AMC show comes to a climax, I’ve enjoyed the see-saw world Walter White and Jesse Pinkman became embroiled in. Like most people watching the show, I was captivated by the story which unraveled from the very first episode. As we explored further into the rabbit whole it became apparent there would be no easy route out for Walt and Jesse.
Not to worry – I won’t be giving away any spoilers, just in case you have not watch the last episode. Instead I’m thinking about the morale and ethical stance the two main characters take and how money can affect a person’s personality.
Breaking Bad, A Quick Summary
From the first episode I was hooked on Breaking Bad and it was immediately evident that it was a smash hit TV show. Both in America and across the world, Breaking Bad was the topic of conversation. It became a cult show almost overnight and one which pre-occupied teenage and adult conversations alike.
Jesse, a failed high school student was selling drugs on the street when Walter approached him to work in partnership. Jesse was using drugs and his life was in disarray; he wasn’t in contact with any family and his friends were similar people to himself. Walter started as a happily married, proud family man with one teenage son, Walt Jnr. Walter was a high school chemistry teacher and a simple man who believed he could have achieved more in his life. He was a founding scientist in a business which went onto make millions of dollars in profit every year. However, Walt sold his shares and got out the company early, leaving him without the inherent fortune the business was to make.
Walter became a desperate man when he was informed he had cancer. With family debts and an outstanding mortgage, Walt realised his family would not be able to support themselves without his salary. Walt’s wife, Skylar, wanted Walt to get treatment, which would mount to hundreds of thousands of dollars and believed they could somehow afford the treatment.
Walt’s brother-in-law Hank, a drug enforcement agent, was highly rated within his field with a promising career. During a conversation with Walter he explains drug lords are making millions “cooking” methamphetamine. However, it’s Hank’s job to stop them. Walter’s eyes light up as he opportunistically believes he can solve all of his problems. He can “cook” better than the crack den dealers Hank is used to busting up and he’s much more savvy! The money made can go on protecting his family when he is gone and their lifestyle can be maintained.
Breaking Bad’s Walter and Jesse Hunger for Money
What I think made the show such a success were morale and ethical questions we all asked ourselves, such as
Would you do the same in Walt’s situation?
Jesse’s life seemed a mess and he was already selling, and using, drugs. In this instance, would you do the same as Jesse?
If you had mere months to live, what would you do to protect your family?
Does your morale compass change depending on the other social variables?
Walter’s life was a financial struggle before he decided to break the law and sell drugs. Yet, he didn’t get involved in making and selling drugs until he was given news that his cancer was terminal. Walt’s ability as a chemist meant he was making the purest form of crystal meth on the market and soon became the leading supplier of the drug in the west of America.
It was the desire to make money which drove Walt and Jesse to take the actions they did. Walter, initially, wanted to simply make life easier for his family and didn’t care if he was punished by the judicial system. Jesse felt like his life had hit rock bottom and there was little to lose in getting involved in making drugs.
My Take On Breaking Bad
Prevention is better than a cure, is my opinion. The show often came to the conclusion that “Walt was doing it for his family” or “Jesse was trying to better his life” but I can’t help by consider the crucial factors that became apparent as the show went on.
Walt sold his shares in the business he helped build too soon. But, why didn’t he try another venture? He could have went onwards and upwards, instead of settling as a chemistry teacher. There’s nothing wrong with being a chemistry teacher by the way, it’s just in perspective.
Walt knew his finances were tight and it reminds me of people living without a life insurance policy because they can’t afford it. When you have a mortgage and family to care for, life insurance is vital. There’s no point saying, “It won’t happen to me” because it could. A life insurance policy would have covered the house and paid out money to Walt’s family, meaning he didn’t have to make or sell drugs.
Walt maneuvered his drug business to be one of the best in the world. His business attributes were outstanding. Why couldn’t he have used his “powers for good?”
Jesse, I can understand.
He was already involved in the drug world. He had little to lose and was used to the police system. He was likely to find his way into a long term prison sentence at some point, some getting deeper involved was inevitable.
Fact from Fiction
The truth is that Breaking Bad is a fictional story – it didn’t happen. However, it’s plausible that it could… in a very weird world.
Given the fact that the above ideas (insurance etc) didn’t happen, I’m left to question, “What would I have done?”. The truth is I probably would have wanted to do the same as Walt, minus some of the more gruesome acts. However, I couldn’t have gone through with it. I would have tried every other option.
In truth, I’m now financially savvy because of my poor experiences with money. By the worst case scenario happening I took precautions to protect my family, should the worst happen. Insurance policies are essential in my opinion and if you don’t have them then you run a potential financial risk.
So, what would you do? In the worst situation, how far would you go to support your family? Could you even become a drug dealer?