If you follow me online at all, you should hopefully be aware that I’m releasing The Gospel According to Breaking Bad as an Amazon Kindle ebook on August 11th, the premiere date for the last half of the last season of Breaking Bad.1 In addition to my fandom and other motivations I’ll discuss at a later date, this fascinating quote was ultimately the catalyst for the book.
Show creator Vince Gilligan encapsulates the morality of Breaking Bad in a New York Times interview from 2011:
“If there’s a larger lesson to Breaking Bad, it’s that actions have consequences. If religion is a reaction of man, and nothing more, it seems to me that it represents a human desire for wrongdoers to be punished. I hate the idea of Idi Amin living in Saudi Arabia for the last 25 years of his life. That galls me to no end. I feel some sort of need for biblical atonement, or justice, or something. I like to believe there is some comeuppance, that karma kicks in at some point, even if it takes years or decades to happen. My girlfriend says this great thing that’s become my philosophy as well. ‘I want to believe there’s a heaven. But I can’t not believe there’s a hell.’”
So, I wrote a book to figure out how Gilligan’s interpretation of the world as it is intersects with my particularly Christian take on the world as it is. Though he grew up Catholic, I don’t believe Gilligan espouses any specific religious beliefs. However, the morality of this apparently amoral show shines through its seamy exterior, especially if you’ve been enjoying the RV ride through the Albuquerque desert since Season 1.
To follow the trajectory of Walter White is to see a man change for the worse and to see the hounds of hell gnashing their teeth for justice. Conversely, to see Jesse’s metamorphosis from stoner dropout to the possible moral center of the show is to witness a character striving to “break good” despite the world around him that continually attempts to drag him back into the muck and mire of his previous life.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. You’ll be able to read more of my thoughts about the show when the ebook releases on Sunday, August 11th. There’s much more in the book too, like thoughts about identity, death, justice, power, fate, free will, and the gospel itself, as well as a few ideas on how the series might end.
I’m anxious for the last eight episodes, to see how the darkly comedic tragedy of the life and times of Walter H. White resolves. I’m also anxious to hear responses to the book, since the subject I’m tackling and the perspective I’m taking can both elicit a wide array of responses.
So, for the fans who are caught up on the show, how do you see justice ultimately playing out in Breaking Bad?