How Walter White Became A Weapon

Walter White Pilot Breaking Bad

Tracing Heisenberg’s violent arc ten years after it began.

One of the most exciting things about video essays is how they allow us to analyze characters whom countless writers have already examined, in new ways. Characters like Walter White.

For fans of Breaking Bad, it may come as a surprise to learn that last week, the show celebrated its ten-year anniversary. Since the show’s premiere, Walter White may have established himself as the greatest TV character of the last decade. (If he’s not your top choice, he must at least be in your top five, right?)

Either way, Heisenberg is one of those characters that will appear on the cover of film textbooks forever. His journey from science teacher to drug king; from protagonist to antagonist; from good to evil, is one of those character arcs that have defined our generation of television.

In a video essay published by Filmscapel, Larry Erens examines the role of weapons in Walter’s character development. The essay, “Where a Gun Begins,” takes us from the pilot, where Walt can barely hold Hank’s handgun, to the show’s finale, where the mastermind builds a machine gun of his own. The strictly visual journey Erens takes us on articulates an argument about Walt that words can only hope to achieve.

The juxtaposition of shots capturing Walt’s relationship to various weapons (guns, cars, chemicals, henchmen, etc.) show not only his path to extreme violence but also his transformation into a weapon himself.

Walter White began the series as a timid man who failed to commit suicide with a handgun. By the end, he has built an automatic weapon that kills a dozen men and succeeds in bringing about his demise.

This video essay tells that story.

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Wannabe scribbler, newspaper lover, TV owner, and film & media student at Middlebury College.