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The Whitewashing of Walter White

The Whitewashing of Walter White

Season 4 and Season 5 of Breaking Bad

In previous discussions on rewatching Breaking Bad, I’ve often talked about how our minds play tricks on us. Going over the final two seasons, I was shocked by how much I had whitewashed Walter White’s character. I remember him being a somewhat complex figure near the end, when in reality he was a kind of cartoon villain. I was most amazed to realize that I had misremembered how he killed Mike. I thought it was an accident! The fact that I got something so basic wrong indicates either that I was twisting reality in my mind at the time or I’ve done so over the last decade, probably influenced by the blaze of glory through which he went out.

Jack and Todd with guns in the desert

Of course, the way Walt finally gets his revenge on the Nazis seemed ridiculous at the time, and it’s even more ridiculous in retrospect, given we were expecting that outcome and not experiencing the surprise and overwhelming awe one feels when seeing it for the first time. We also reflect on the famous jailhouse murders.

I present to Chris my theory of how the Nazis seem to show a remarkable number of virtues in a way that other criminals don’t. His interpretation of the series holds that individuals are often brought down by their fatal flaws. For Hank in particular, it might have been his toxic masculinity. But for the Nazis it was actually their compassion and sense of honor that did it! What were the writers trying to tell us?

Perhaps the most interesting part of our discussion is when Chris convinces me that Walt went back in the end to rescue Jesse from the Nazis. I actually hadn’t considered this, either during the original watch or this time around.

I realize that this is now the twelfth conversation I’ve released on Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul. See below for the previous discussions, which are listed in chronological order, just above the video and transcript. There’s been a lot to explore in this universe, and I hope others have enjoyed this journey with us. I’m open to suggestions regarding what to watch next.

The Breaking Bad Universe

Better Call Saul: S6E7, Plan and Execution

Better Call Saul: S6E8, Point and Shoot

Better Call Saul: S6E9, Fun and Games

Nietzschean or Christian? Marc Andreessen on Breaking Bad and Saul

Better Call Saul: S6E10, Nippy

Better Call Saul: S6E11, Breaking Bad

Better Call Saul: S6E12, Waterworks

Better Call Saul finale with Chris and Marc Andreessen

Rewatching Breaking Bad, S1 and S2

Rewatching Breaking Bad, S3- S4E4

The transcript below is AI generated, and has not been checked for accuracy. I’ve added my own transcript because the Substack version doesn’t differentiate between speakers, which makes it seem useless to me. I hope they fix this, because it would be nicer to have actually usable transcripts integrated into another tab. But if you want to use the Substack version for whatever reason, you can.

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The H&H Podcast
Connected to the Richard Hanania Substack. Discussions with Chris Nicholson on war, Rob Henderson on movies, TV shows, and culture, and more.