The UOS Times
CultureReview
Review: Breaking Bad
Jang Beom-gyu  |  jjangbg1023@uos.ac.kr
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[153호] 승인 2019.12.27  
트위터 페이스북 네이버 구글

A long winter vacation has come. In the cold winter, it is better to watch dramas at home than to go outside. “Breaking Bad,” is a drama that never drops out of the list of recommended dramas. It is clear that this four-time “Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series” winning drama is already a classic. It was aired from 2008 to 2013. This drama is even more interesting in that it conveys the message of morality through the provocative subject of drugs. Recently, the drama’s sequel “El Camino” was released, so The UOS Times would like to take this opportunity to introduce the drama Breaking Bad.

“Technically, chemistry is the study of matter, but I prefer to see it as the study of change”
- Walter White.

Walter White was an ordinary chemistry teacher at Albuquerque High School. He studied chemistry at Caltech and founded a company called the Gray Matter Technology together with his partner, but their relationship went sour, and he eventually became a high school teacher. One day, he finds out that he has lung cancer. After he was diagnosed, he did not know what to do. Meanwhile, he had a chance to see his brother-in-law Hank, who works for DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), raid a drug-making scene. There, Walter saw one of his students, Jesse Pinkman. It leads Walter to make drugs with Jesse to raise a large sum of money to pay for his treatment and to help his family live after he dies. This completely changed Walter White’s life from the timid, docile chemistry teacher Walter White to the drug maker Heisenberg.

Jesse and Walter were both inexperienced drug dealers. With Walter’s knowledge of chemistry, they were successful in producing very high purity methamphetamine, but they were unable to reliably obtain materials, and it was even more difficult to sell drugs. To create a stable drug sales route, Walter contacts a gang, Tuco Salamanca. With him, Heisenberg got famous in the drug market. Therefore, DEA began tracking him. DEA eventually found Tuco’s workshop, and Tuco kidnapped Walter and Jesse who were trying to escape to Mexico. After the pursuit, Hank succeeded in killing Tuco, and Walter and Jesse escaped undetected. Then, they meet another drug retailer Gus Fring, who runs a fast-food chain ‘Los Pollos Hermanos,’ a chain set up for the distribution of drugs. Can Gus and Walter remain as good business partners? What will happen to Walter’s fate, who became a ruthless drug maker Heisenberg from an ordinary teacher?

In the world of crime, words like “trust” do not match with its society. Gus plans to figure out the secret recipe of his drug by hiring a chemistry Ph.D. Gale Boetticher, and then remove Walter when he is not needed. Walter sees this, and he orders Jesse to kill Gale, and Walter kills Gus with a bomb. This was the end of their relationship, but there is something interesting. When Gus first reached out to Walter, he had continued to reject the offer to make methamphetamine. He only repeated saying that he would retire and that he was not making drugs for money, but for his family. However, Gus changed Walter’s mind by saying that ‘it is the role of a father.’ In fact, Walter’s cancer has been cured a lot at that time. If he was really making drugs for his family, it would have been okay to stop making drugs. That means he accepted the offer not because he thought it was his role as a father, but because he wanted it. Ultimately, there was no more high school chemistry teacher Walter. Heisenberg, a cruel and competent drug maker, was the only left. Under the false cause of doing it for the family, his twisted desire grew steadily. Only when his end is near, he admits that his choice was not for his family but for himself, saying “I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And I was...really... I was alive.”

The charm of Breaking Bad is its unique characters. Especially, Jesse Pinkman, Walter’s student and colleague, is a very attractive character, and watching the change in his relationship with Walter is also a big part of the drama. It is also very interesting to see him constantly agonizing over the evil he has done, and growing internally. He is also one of the few fully empathetic characters in the drama. Moreover, Saul Goodman, a criminal lawyer who helps Walter and Jesse, is also a cunning, witty and loyal character. There is also a drama prequel featuring him, so I recommend watching it if you are interested.

Another attraction of this drama is that it keeps the viewer thinking. Usually, when we watch dramas, we feel empathy for the main character, but this drama is a little different. At first, we sympathize with Walter, who has lung cancer. He even left a video when he first made methamphetamine saying that he loves his family, and did it for them. It shows his love for his family. However, Walter’s choices leave us unable to empathize with him. Walter’s former colleague offered to pay for his treatment, but Walter refused. Rather than getting help from a colleague, he chose to make drugs. To keep his faith, he ultimately sacrificed everything, even his family. In the drama, Walter’s choices and actions allow viewers to reflect on themselves, without being interrupted by empathy. Of course, there is no doubt that it is fun enough to just enjoy without thinking about those complicated things.


Jang Beom-gyu
jjangbg1023@uos.ac.kr

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