Watching Breaking Bad a second time drastically changes the perception of the series, specifically when it comes to Walter White. The series starring Bryan Cranston originally debuted in 2008 and ran for five seasons before it came to an end in 2013. Many viewers decided to give the award-winning series a rewatch to gear up for El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, which hit Netflix in October.
During Breaking Bad‘s initial run, viewers were enamored by Walter White. He was presented as a family man who felt like his job as a high school chemistry teacher was meaningless. Add in his tragic cancer diagnosis and he became the key character to root for. After Walt turned his sights to his budding meth empire, his actions were questionable but his motives seemed to remain understandable. Walt’s transformation into Heisenberg gave the series a complex antihero and despite the horrible things that he did, fans stayed sympathetic toward the lead character. No matter how hard he “broke bad,” Walt could do no wrong because he was doing it all for his family.
By the end of Breaking Bad, Walt killed his colleagues, manipulated his partner, and hurt his family beyond repair. Much of the conflict with those closest to Walt was a surprise to many viewers. His character shifted as a power-hungry drug lord who lost sight of his original motivations. Walt’s actions led to his demise but his death was so tragic because all he had at that moment was his legacy as Heisenberg. He already lost the support of his family and his morals. Upon watching Breaking Bad for a second time, a viewer has that knowledge which causes Walt to be shown in a different light from the very beginning. Fans have even been vocal on Reddit about how they can now only see Walt “as absolutely vile.”
How The Perception Of Walter White Changes
Knowing what Walt becomes by the end of the series, it’s very difficult to be sympathetic towards someone who completely turns on those around him. This notion of Walt being a family man is also less convincing a second time around. He constantly lies to his family and paints Skyler in a bad light to act as though she is the problem within the marriage. Walt also constantly put his family’s life in danger while trying to justify his actions by claiming that he was doing everything to financially support them. Even when his actions end up getting his brother-in-law, Hank Schrader, killed, Walt still has trouble understanding why his family won’t stick by his side.
Similarly, Walt takes advantage of a young and impressionable Jesse Pinkman. Walt makes Jesse promises and often puts thoughts into his head about the greatness he could achieve. In reality, Walt is just manipulating Jesse for his own gain. Rather than stick to being a mentor, Walt turns into one of Jesse’s many abusers in life. Just like with his family, Walt pushes aside Jesse for his own personal aspirations. It’s very difficult to root for someone through the second rewatch when his grim actions are rooted in complete selfishness, but at least the greatness of Cranston’s performance as Walt hasn’t changed in the years since Breaking Bad ended. The actor’s portrayal of the complex character is as brilliant as ever, whether you’re on your first watch or your fifth.