Editor, White Cover Magazine
Last Sunday, I spent Jesus’s apparent day – for the first time in nine weeks – without Breaking Bad. Without Walter White or any of his ticks, tendencies, or tacky style.
It was always that style – that nerdy, so middle age, so reluctant soccer dad style – that I loved the most. Unlike most who watched Bad, I liked Walter White all the way. I liked him at the beginning, I liked him at the end, and I liked him at his worst. Even when he was poisoning children, murdering multiple jailbirds, for no real reason shooting Mike Ehrmentraut, or mentally torturing Jesse Pinkman, I will admit I cheered for the guy. Completely.
I thought his wife was annoying. I thought Gus had to go. I watched Breaking Bad because it was a show, not because I was looking for life lessons. And, because it was a show, I was relieved to see so many characters – Jane, Ted Beneke, and even Hank – erased from the plot, whether it was natural or not.
The reason why White was so relatable, even as a drug lord, was the familiarity of his act, or of his life. Like a bumbling clown, he steals beakers from his own Chemistry classroom. He doesn’t team up with a wise, intelligent dealer… he teams up with junkie Jesse.
He took to money laundering like local TV anchors take to the Internet.
And, there was his Pontiac Aztek. My personal favourite, by a longshot. The Aztek was the perfect car for a middle-aged, anti-Dexter like Walter White. You just knew he and Skyler picked it out “together”, and you could retro-actively imagine his manhood shrinking a little more every year from the selling of his potential Grey Matter empire to the first episode and his 50th birthday party.
Walter White ripped around Albuquerque in an ugly, faded Game Boy-coloured Pontiac Aztek.
He was a gangster, but gangsters don’t normally worry about the things Aztek owners probably worry about – things like back seat space or 0% down financing.
Does Pontiac even make automobiles anymore?
I always thought the Pontiac Aztek was the evidence to everyone else that Walter White was just a boring-as-hell high school teacher turned former high school teacher who suffered a temporary mid-life crisis.
Honestly, even if Hank had been mentally capable to put together the White-Heisenberg connection, would he ever think a dude driving a beat-up Pontiac would compute as the Southwest United States’s Pablo Escobar?
The Aztek as a vehicle is as untypical a rebel’s car as New Mexico is a rebel’s setting.
Vince Gilligan has said – I think? – that Breaking Bad was about turning Mr. Chips into Scarface.
I’m too young – I think? – to know who Mr. Chips was, but I understand the reference.
I always thought the Pontiac Aztek was Walter White’s last piece of Mr. Chips. As long as he had that car, his innocence seemed obvious. Even Gale, what with his tea and Walt Whitman memorization, seemed like a more devious dude.
The Pontiac Aztek was the greatest of all the little, curious trademarks of Breaking Bad.
Before the show aired, I forgot it was ever manufactured. Now? Well, I guess it will return to extinction.
Well, I’ll give it a couple more Sundays, because I can’t get into Low Winter Sun just yet.