I’ll try to make this quick…
Matt Yglesias writes of last week’s Breaking Bad ep that he’s on Walt’s “side” in the Whites’ mushrooming marital conflict:
If Skyler felt that Walt’s post-Fring attitude didn’t adequately consider the risks to their children, she should have just said so plainly. Instead she visited Ted in the hospital, then fell into a dayslong depression during which she was totally noncommunicative with her husband. Then she drops an atom bomb into the family dynamic with a cry-for-help suicide attempt. It’s just not a great way to raise marital issues.
This is one of those “Are we watching the same show?” moments for me. What had Skyler rattled wasn’t that Walt wasn’t “adequately considering risks,” it was her dawning realization that the man she loved, the man she had two kids with, is a monster. That he kills people and likes it. That he’s become so obsessed with the deadly game he’s playing that nothing else matters to him. Not his marriage, not his friends, not his children. (And of course we know that Skyler doesn’t know the worst of it.)
Yglesias’s clipped summary of the next scene between the two of them — “when Walt confronted her directly, suddenly the nonresponsiveness was gone” — is even weirder. Because there are no gray areas in what follows:
Skyler believes that Walt is putting her children in danger. She appeals to him to let her get them out of harm’s way, and he refuses to entertain the idea. Every case she makes, he dismisses. He’s not interested in having a discussion, only in winning the argument. And when she realizes this, and indicates she’s willing to act without his approval, he attacks, viciously. He threatens her — with the police, with institutionalization, with the loss of her children. And he wins.
Skyler wants out. She desperately wants out.
And he won’t let her go.
There’s no “Walter’s side” to this one. There’s no case to be made on his behalf. He’s an abusive husband, clinging to the shell of a marriage through threats and intimidation, and Skyler is rightly scared to death of him. There’s nothing left to like about Walter White, and this episode makes it clearer than ever that the creators of the show want you to know that.