AMC’s addictive meth-centered series, Breaking Bad, aired the premiere of its final eight episodes last Sunday. I sat front and center, clutching my pillow every agonizing second of it.
A few of my Facebook friends launched a discussion about how much they hated Skyler White, who is the wife of Walter, the anti-hero/villain. This was news to me; as much as one can like the willing accomplice of a methamphetamine drug lord, I rather like Skyler’s character.
Here are a few reasons why I get down with Skyler (oh, and I spoil plots shamelessly; if you are behind in watching, read at your own risk):
She is a bulldog when it comes to her kids. One great example of this is the span of time when she kicked Walter out of the house, into a separate apartment, for dealing drugs. She also demanded that his dealings be kept away from her children, as much as they could be. She even shipped them away to her kleptomaniac sister!
She is a gangster in her own right. It was easier to feel sorry for Skyler in the beginning of the series, when Walt engaged in two-celly deception and stashed money beneath floorboards without her knowledge. But once she learned of his side business, she bucked up, demanded her fair share (whatever that means) and undertook the laundering side of the operation. She deals with Saul Goodman.
Skyler is her own mastermind. She devised a plot to set up a laundering front business. She threatens wimpy German connects. Who is canny enough to realize that no one washes a rental car? Skyler White, that’s who. Skyler hasn’t killed anyone yet but I think she could nag anyone to death.
She gives as dirty as she gets. We love Walter White because he has grown so amoral that he cannot see the evil in himself. Skyler, in a sense, is Walt’s enemy because she stood at cross purposes with his mantra to cook blue meth or die trying. So we hate her. When she does dirt, like vindictively sleeping with grimy Ted, we despise her for Walt’s sake. We hate her when she dumps Ted like a sack of manure and we hate her when she takes Walt’s money to bail Ted out. And that awfully awkward dinner with Jesse? Classic. She and Walt deserve each other; we would have even more contempt for an angel of a wife in this series.
Her flaws make her human, whereas Walt grows invincible. I love what the writers have done with Skyler’s character. Juxtaposing Walt and Skyler, there is a clear point where Walt continues to break bad and Skyler…just breaks. My heart crumpled when she walked herself into the pool. I honestly thought she would need psychiatric help, of the straitjacket variety.
Skyler has a problem with follow-through on her threats (divorce, snitching, kidnapping) and that is her greatest weakness. She does criminally what needs doing, but she does not shoulder it well. We want her to suck it up. Her misgivings define her, humanizing her in stark contrast to the monstrosity of Heisenberg she sleeps next to every night.
Skyler is the bride of Frankenstein and she is wearing the meth out of her role. Slow clap.