Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Breaking Bad

For the last week or so, I have not been making time to blog. The reason for this can be found on Netflix. Joel and I have been obsessively watching the AMC TV series, "Breaking Bad." We can't stop and frankly, we don't want to.It has been a long time since I have encountered a TV series that is as well done as this one. This show was written and created by Vince Gilligan and aired for the first time in 2008. It is still currently on the air now, midway through it's 5 season. 

It idea behind the show is brilliant. The main character, Walt White, is diagnosed with stage 3a lung cancer and is given a few months to live without treatment. He has just turned 50 and his wife is a 40 year old who is expecting an unplanned baby. They have a 15 year old son who has cerebral palsy. Skyler, his wife, is a stay at home mom and Walt is a chemistry teacher at his son's high school. Needless to say, the first episode had us hooked as we realized that Walt has to figure out how to provide for his family and cope with his own imminent death.

Walt could be any man with a mid-life crisis and an expiration date. He spends the first show seemingly waking up to the fact that he has been living on automatic pilot for so long that he hasn't really even lived at all. However, like all characters, Walt has a dark side. 

As a student of psychology and religion, I cannot help but be completely engrossed in this story because all that unravels from the pilot episode until now comes down to humanity's most basic sins, beginning with pride. 

Because of Walt's pride, he will not accept help from his former business partners who are now millionaires. He will accept nothing from his DEA agent brother-in-law who offers to aid in any way that he can. Instead, he decides to use his genius with chemistry to create the world's purest, most potent, crystal meth available. Thus beginning his career in the dark and deadly world of drug trafficking, production, cartel and junkies. 

He teams up with a former student, Jesse (who is one of my favorite characters) and they start small, mastering the streets. They will eventually work their way up to the largest meth production lab in existence. 

Before all of this happens, the audience is led on a suspense-filled journey of masks, lies, deception, creativity, lots of good luck and the continual derailment of all that Walt and his family could have ever written down as good and whole in this world.

I don't usually find myself attracted to displays of destruction but for Breaking Bad, the story would not be interesting without the consistency of that message: There is a price to pay for all your choices. Walt makes the decision to cook meth and from that choice spawns a slew of deaths, ruination, and eventually loosing everything he loves and was ironically, working to provide for. 

As I have spent the last couple of years pondering the Fall of Man, this story seems to embody the rabid, wild-fire spreading of sin across the planet. To me, it is a hopeful reminder of just how connected we all are. Walt uses his God-given gifts out of fear, pride, greed and the fruit of those motivations touches thousands and thousands of lives with harm, including his own. 

This reminder in itself is intense to me; just as you can choose to use your gifts for yourself, you can use them for others. Walt's pitiful life could have embraced thousands of people with growth, love, and transformation just as easily as it did with pain.

What is most fascinating to me is how difficult it is to walk away from sin once you have muddled yourself in it. The temptation to assume control over your life and other people's lives is intoxicating. It has been quite a revealing journey to watch Walt corrode into a human being that doesn't resemble for a moment, the man he was in the beginning. 

If you are looking for a TV show that is imaginative, realistic, well written, suspenseful and incredibly well acted, then you have found it here. If you are busy doing something else you enjoy in your free time, then don't even start watching it. You will become as addicted to it as the junkies in the series are to the blue meth that Walt makes. 

It is a slippery slope, my friends. Breaking Bad has served me well in remembering just how important our seemingly insignificant daily choices truly are. We are all connected and we are called to remember that with our daily motions.

Photo by Huffington Post