This week on Breaking Bad, welcome to Walter White; the delusional egotistical megalomaniac. Walt has been on this path and devolving for awhile, but in this week's episode he really seemed to solidify this status in every situation and everywhere he turned. Just because I was curious I went ahead and looked up the exact definition of megalomania and found it is 1. A psychopathological condition characterized by delusional fantasies of wealth, power, or omnipotence. 2. An obsession with grandiose or extravagant things or actions. Walter White has become so close to this definition that you can only believe that the writers are creating his character in this way with a distinct and strong purpose. I also find this interesting, because in the past this show has been pretty methodical about keeping things hidden from the audience that we will stumble upon later (e.g. the plane crash, the lily of the valley). However, it is interesting watching Walter White function right now, because it is almost reversed. Right now, everything he thinks he is doing is so right, but for the first time we as the audience know that this is leading him down a very sordid and dark path that most likely is not going to end up well for him. I know I bring it up all the time, but again, this makes me think about the opening scene of the season and the fact that this just reinforces the upcoming demise of Walt's life in some way, as we have in our heads and know something bad is coming in some way. In this week's episode, we see this irrationally egotistical behavior all over the place and in almost every interaction that Walt has with any character.
It starts out with Skyler and the fact that he has become so domineering over her that he no longer discusses their life plans with her. Over and over we have seen Skyler tell Walt that he is not allowed to move back into the house yet because she isn't ready. However, with no discussion he just moves himself back in and coldly states "it's time." It also was amazing to see the complete and total change in Skyler's personality. At the end of last season, she was actually operating with Walt and working with him and for a moment, I wondered if she would even end up kind of running the business with Walt. However, now all we have seen of her is a depressed, anxious shell of a woman that is so terrified of her husband and life that she literally cannot speak. Her voice is quieter, and she is nowhere near the strong woman she used to be. This is interesting, especially in regards to the fact that when she later has her breakdown in front of Marie, all she can say is "SHUT UP." While this is directed at Marie, (who will not stop incessantly asking questions,) it is also directed at Walt and her entire life. All she wants to do is tell Walt to stop and tell him to shut up, but since she is scared of him, she feels a complete lack of control and power and begins to lose it in a big, mis-directed way.
However, I'm not sure if her breakdown is even the point (it's important, but we all know she's going downhill), but rather, it is the way in which Walt handles the situation with Marie. When she questions him about what is going on with Skyler, it is only for a brief few minutes that we wonder how he is going to get himself out of this. Yet, when he opens his mouth to speak, it is so easy for him to lie that I almost started to believe what he was saying myself. It was terrifying that he has become so great at covering up and making up these stories that he doesn't even have to think anymore. On the other hand, it also shows the complete disregard and lack of respect that he actually has for his wife that he would tarnish her image in the eyes of her sister without even a second thought. Yes, Skyler did cheat on him, but she has stood by him through some of the most disturbing behavior and chose to actually stay with him, when she should have left with Ted Beneke. Now, Walt has no problem using that to protect himself, and you could almost detect a slight smirk showing that he was very pleased with himself for coming up with this.
A side note, before getting back to Walter's character and interactions, can we talk about how brilliant the writing in this show is that they come up with the idea of "cooking" inside of houses that are being fumigated? When they kept going to each factory it felt so been-there done-that, and then all of a sudden bam…I will never be able to have my house bug bombed without thinking twice (and locking up all my valuables). This also brought the introduction of Jesse Plemons, and if you know my love for Friday Night Lights, I was so excited about this it was unbelievable. He is such a great character actor and I wonder what addition to the show his character will bring. Could he perhaps become Walter's new "pet" replacing Jesse and creating a large wedge between Walt and Jesse? I think it would be very interesting to see how Jesse would react to Walter treating someone else in a fatherly manner and what havoc it might cause.
Speaking of Jesse, we then we see just how demonic Walt can be with his supposed partner and friend as in one five minute conversation, he purposely takes away the only joy that Jesse has in his life. I'm not sure if it is that Walt is afraid that Brock might somehow reveal that he poisoned him, or if he just doesn't want anyone in Jesse's life, but it doesn't really matter what his reasons are, and more than anything they probably are because he thinks it is the right thing to do and he is always right. Walt doesn't actually care about Jesse's happiness, and so he completely fucks with his mind and makes him think that it was better for him to break up with Andrea. It makes me sad for Jesse, and even more sad because he thinks that Walt had this conversation with him to protect him and his secrets, but really it was only to protect Walt's interests.
Now, we get to Walt's interactions with Mike and where we truly see the un self-aware megalomaniac emerge. I don't know that I could say it better than Mike himself when he simply states, "Just because you shot Jesse James, don’t make you Jesse James.". If that isn't the most telling line of the episode, I'm not sure what would be. Ever since Walt killed Gus Fring he has been functioning as if he IS actually a drug kingpin like Gus. Since he was able to outsmart Gus and kill him, Walt believes that he is just as smart, if not smarter than Gus was. He believes he knows what he is doing and knows how to run the business. Yet, when looking at it, this could not be farther from the truth. Mike has to school him on every single step that doesn't have to do with cooking the meth, and the worst part is that Walt doesn't seem to be listening or paying attention. Instead, he thinks he is the only one that knows what he is doing and everyone else is wrong. After his lecture about "legacy pay" Walt still doesn't trust Mike and tells Jesse about the fable of Icarus, warning that he might have to get rid of Mike if he starts getting too audacious. Yet, Mike is the only one that actually is functioning in the real world and has any hope of keeping them safe in this mess. This whole scene just made me want to shake Walt and say "do you know what you are doing?!" "You don't know what you are doing! You are going to get everyone killed!" "Listen to Mike!" "AHHHH!"
I must also say that I don't think I was surprised to see the appearance of Scarface somewhere in the series, but I am now worried about Walt's statement when Skyler looks on at her family as he casually says "everyone dies in this movie, don't they." It could be a moment to show Skyler's fear, but I also worried that it is a moment showing how oblivious Walt is to the fact that this is the life he has decided to involve his family and it is a scary one. He doesn't realize how close he is to being involved in something he can't handle or control, and I really wish the megalomaniac would wake up and get some self-awareness before he goes and gets everyone killed. I also thought this image was brilliant because in film and television we are used to seeing drug kingpins live these over-the-top outrageous lives, as in Scarface, yet here we are watching the same type of character sit at home in his suburban living room with his two children and low-budget furniture. It contributes to the sense of realism that Breaking Bad brings to each and every episode and why it is such an incredible and effective show.