“Breaking Bad”: Killing Pablo, Hunting Heisenberg

My wife is so pregnant she mostly just wants to watch TV and squirm uncomfortably and knit. That’s good news for baby because it’ll have tons of beanies to keep its little head warm. That’s good news for me because she wants to catch up on “Breaking Bad” before the new season—the show’s last—begins on August 11.

I’ve been waiting nine months for this! (She is not completely caught up, so she won’t be reading the following yet. If ever.)


Hank Schrader is Walter White’s brother-in-law. He’s also a great cop. Brave. Tough. Smart. Diligent. Professional and honorable. Hank’s bombastic and a little goofy, but he inspires fellow police officers. And he has been obsessed with catching Heisenberg.

Now he knows. We know he knows. Walt is Heisenberg. Has been the whole time. It’s Walt’s fault. All that tragedy. The bullet wounds that left Hank crapping in his pants, unable to walk more than 16 feet in 20 minutes. . . . The rehab was brutal, on top of the head trauma and psychological issues. So many men are dead because of Walt, and Hank was right in the middle of the death spree without ever knowing. He has got to be furious.

A few seasons ago, Walter Jr. had his dad bring him the book Killing Pablo to read in the hospital waiting room after Hank took those four bullets in a shoot-out with Tuco’s ax-wielding twin cousins.

“Looks interesting,” Walter “Heisenberg” White tells his son.

“Uncle Hank gave it to me,” Walter Jr. says.

“What’s it about?”

“Uh, Pablo Escobar, this big drug guy in the ’80s.”

“Yeah, I remember seeing that on the news.”

“Well, it’s about the guys that investigated him and tried to bring him down. Some of them were DEA, you know? Uncle Hank said that they were worth learning about, that everybody knows who Pablo Escobar is, but nobody knows about the guys that brought him down.”

“I guess I never thought about it,” Walt says. He looks horrified.

“He said that good guys never get ink like the bad guys do, so I figured I would read it.”


This has been building to a cop-crook showdown for all time. Walt is an ultimate bad guy, and Hank is the only man who cared enough to track him. Then you add the family element, all those lies. They had dinners together. Hank was trying to help Walt when he came upon Tuco. With Walt and Jesse hidden 30 yards away in the bushes, Hank got into a gun fight with Tuco and brought him down.

That incident led Hank to Texas, and the snitch Tortuga (played by Machete). The explosion was gruesome and killed some of Hank’s men. He started having panic attacks. . . which led to beating up Jesse. . . which led to the shootout with the Twins. Make a fist and hold it up, palm-side toward you. Now quickly open that hand. . . . That’s what the fortuitous bullet Hank fired did to the one twin’s head.

Hank has killed to get to Heisenberg. He lost men to get to Heisenberg. He nearly lost his mind and nearly died (a few different times) to get to Heisenberg.

He deserves vengeance, but has he lost more than Jesse? Jesse lost the love of his life (Jane) to Walter’s evil ascent. Then he lost his soul when he was forced to shoot an innocent man point-blank in the face. He is tortured and angry, yet oblivious to all the terrible things Walt is actually responsible for, like Jane’s death and The Poisoning Of Brock.

Jesse’s good in the sense that he cares, but he isn’t the good guy in this story. Hank is definitely the good guy.

What’s he up against? Walt strangled a man. Walt has killed gangsters with his car and he has shot them in the head. He took out an old man (Mike) he respected and was indebted to; took him out with a shot to the gut. He blew up his worst enemy with a bomb.

These are the elements coming together in this final season. So much killing power in three men. Walt is pure bad-guy; Hank is pure good-guy; Jesse is lost somewhere in-between.

A cornered Walter White is a dangerous creature. He actually calculated the literal loss of his soul to a specific percentage of the body’s chemistry. He’s brilliant, and he’s gone over completely to The Dark Side. He’s a bona fide supervillain willing to do anything, and Hank’s gunning for him. Will Hank bring him down like those DEA guys brought down Pablo?

This can only end badly, and by that I mean extremely well.


. . .

smokebreaking-bad-posterPreviously on The Flip Side’s “Breaking Bad” coverage, we looked at the soul calculation issue (click here), and considered the single moment when Walter broke bad on his journey from Mr. Chips to Scarface (click here).


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