Being bad has never looked so good. Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston portrayed a high school Chemistry teacher turned bone-chilling criminal kingpin for five seasons on AMC and his performance was nothing short of legendary, as a matter of fact, there have not been many television show criminal masterminds' portrayal that rivals Cranston's Heisenberg.
Critics and actors alike have chimed in on the series and its protagonist Walter White (also known as Heisenberg) praising both the series and its lead Cranston. All five seasons of Breaking Bad have became instant classics gaining steam as the show went on, the series finale, which aired on September 29th 2013, may have concluded the best season of the 5 for the award winning AMC series and solidified Walter White/Heisenberg's place in TV folklore. Cranston's depiction of the criminal metamorphosis from stage-IIIA cancer stricken Walter White into the murderous meth cooking kingpin Heisenberg worked flawlessly. As Cranston's character (Walter White and alias Heisenberg) faced the moral and ethical balancing act of his criminal dealings and family life, the actor's Emmy Award winning genius captivated audiences for the duration of the series as viewers hung onto Walter White/Heisenberg's every morality-stripping decision. The further Walter slipped into the drug dealing underbelly of Albuquerque, the looser his grip became over his family life and humanity freeing room his pride and ambition to grow his empire and his python-like constriction over the regions meth cooking operation eventually earning international recognition.
Cranston's Walter White wasn't always bad. Before he began to break from his traditional lifestyle and embrace bad, Walter was a bright chemist and founder of a soon to be billion dollar company called Gray Matter Technologies. However, before this company would reach its billion dollar potential Walter would be bought out for $5,000.00 dollars and find himself working as a conflicted chemistry teacher living and working beneath his potential. Once Walter learns of his terminal cancer diagnosis he decides to head down the crystal meth cooking criminal path, justifying his new mode of income as a way to ensure his family's survival after his presumed death in two years. In season one, the catalyst to Walter's decent from good and acceptance of 'bad' as an alternative was when his former colleague and business partner Elliot offered to pay for Walter's recently diagnosed cancer treatment. His former colleagues gesture dealt a monumental blow to Walter's pride placing a billion dollar-sized boulder on his shoulders that would motivate Walter to create his own wealth and accept no handouts, even in the worst of times.
Heisenberg, Walter White's clandestine methamphetamine cook/kingpin alias, was a moniker selected by the cancer-stricken Walter, which would eventually go from serving as a criminal alias to being associated with the urban legend and protagonist throughout Heisenberg's criminal reign in Vince Gilligan's (Breaking Bad's creator) fictitious Albuquerque, New Mexico based AMC drama. Cranston breathed life into Gilligan's monstrous and unforgiving kingpin using his award winning acumen to portray Walter's break from his traditional life, and destructive meteoric rise to meth cooking folklore and international infamy. Each episode witnessed Cranston's decent from normalcy as a family man and respected teacher running out of options, and would see him plunge further into his alias Heisenberg. During the course of Walter's year of meth cooking chaos, the former chemistry teacher would be regarded as the best and most feared "cooks" in the business working for the one of the largest suppliers in the United States. The more recognizable Walter White and his product (a blue form of crystal meth with a purity level that was unmatched) became, the more prideful and malicious Heisenberg became, adding fuel to a fire already burning out of control.
During Walter's turbulent rise Jesse Pinkman, his meth cooking protege portrayed by Aaron Paul, is one of those caught standing closest to the inferno created by the druglord Heisenberg on the hit series. One of the more powerful aspects of the AMC drama outside of the transformation of Walter White himself, was his often erratic relationship and partnership with his former chemistry student turned criminal meth cooking partner Jesse Pinkman. The intelligent but prideful White played the devil on both of Jesse's shoulders throughout the series influencing Pinkman as he saw fit. As the world comes tumbling down around Walter and those closest to him forcing the former chemistry teacher to resort to violent and murderous solutions, Jesse's fate is often inextricably linked to the results. Jesse's criminal involvement with "Mr. White", as Jesse often refers to him as, gives his character the deepest understanding of just how sinister Walter has become during his twilight zone like departure from the terminally ill man that first started down the criminal path just a year prior.
Walter undergoes a monstrous transformation during his reign as Heisenberg that Jesse eventually does not have the stomach for which adds a volatile dynamic on an already dubious relationship between the two. Mr. White, clashes with several nefarious criminals on his way to meth cooking infamy and Jesse is occasionally a pawn in Walter's schemes being manipulated at his discretion. By the time the series concludes Jesse is a moral shell of his former self unable to find peace with he and Walter's last year (the duration of the series) of mayhem. Walter and Jesse's partnership and relationship come full circle by Season 5's end with both characters forever leaving their marks on one another.
-Mild spoiler alert below-
By series end Walter's relationship with everyone including his own lawyer Saul Goodman (look out for AMC's spinoff Better Call Saul) has deteriorated beyond repair forcing Walter to find absolution on his own. Walter White became the monster Heisenberg to outlast the cartel, drug lords and the DEA, however, when Walter discovers that his cancer is no longer in remission and he has completely run out of options, Walter allows himself to be consumed completely by the monster within finally unleashing Heisenberg. By episode 60 ("Ozymandias") Cranston's protagonist has even less to live for and makes his first morally sound decision by putting the full weight of the last year's mayhem firmly on his shoulders saving his wife Skyler from any involvement in the millions he has made or the murderous rampage that helped him achieve his criminal fortune. Season 5 concluded a series that spent 4 seasons creating a palpable tension between Cranston's Walter White and every single character that crossed his path which resonated with audiences making the final season the most viewed of the series. Without spoiling the conclusion of the series, Walter White the chemistry teacher turned crystal meth king pin ends the series with a tumultuous bang forever leaving Heisenberg's stamp on Gilligan's fictitious drama and cementing Cranston's place in television folklore as one of the 'baddest' villains to ever appear on network or cable television.