Breaking Bad: Walter White's Report Card
by Allison Waldman, posted Jun 25th 2009 11:03AM
Now that the second season of Breaking Bad is in the books, it's time to evaluate high school science teacher Walter White's performance. He's been giving out the grades to students for years, but who's been monitoring this high school teacher?
It's time for this Breaking Bad character to be graded. Here's a report card for Mr. White, and whether he's using the name Heisenberg or White, we're turning the tables on "teach" and giving him some grades across the board.
Science – A+
When it comes to chemistry and the physical sciences, Walter White is tops in his field. He has mastered the Periodic table and understands the data thoroughly. In every laboratory experiment, Mr. White has not only replicated the result, but also shown that he can improve on them. Case in point, when asked to create crystal meth, White was talented enough to come up with a variation that is better than all predecessors. The blue stuff is a modern marvel of chemical achievement. If it were legal, Mr. White might qualify for a Nobel Prize.
Math – B
Mr. White has shown that he is good with numbers; in particular, rapid calculations done entirely in his head. He can do simple mathematics like multiplication, division and percentages without difficulty. He has also done well with algebra, understanding formulaic equations and taking the steps necessary to make x = y when all is said and done. The only coursework that holds Mr. White from being an "A" student is geometry. He can be obtuse and on occasion has failed to project all the angles. Getting trapped in the desert after cooking meth all day while relying on Jesse Pinkman to get him home was a classic case of not thinking through the problem from all angles.
History – B
With his steel-trap mind, Mr. White has the ability to learn and retain many historical facts and incidents. He has failed, though, to learn the most important lesson in all social studies. That is, of course, that history repeats itself. Mr. White knows that Jesse Pinkman is an addicted drug user and historically has failed to come through in challenging circumstances. Armed with that knowledge, Mr. White should have known better than to assume Jesse would keep clear-headed and attentive to the business. History should have also made it clear to Walter that lying about the second cell phone to his wife, using Gretchen as an alibi, and faking a fugue state by walking into a supermarket stark naked, were incidents that were initially deceptive but unable to endure simple questioning. The most egregious example of not learning from history is the old adage, "When you lay down with dogs, you get up with fleas." Saul, Tuco and Jesse all qualify as dogs.
Humanities -- D
Mr. White does not seem to have a grasp on morality. He's blurred the lines between right and wrong. In his course work, Walter has consistently twisted facts to justify the results. In other words, he believes that the end justifies the means. Despite his good intentions – including taking responsibility for himself and providing for his family in the future – Walt has done things that are outside the rules. His instincts are good, but his rationalizations make me question his understanding of basic morality. Failing to revive Jane when he saw her choking on her own vomit was a case in point; the right thing to do was to save her life and call 911.
Creativity – A
If there is one subject, outside of science, in which Walter excels, it's creativity. There are few students who are as adept at telling stories. One story that was particularly inspired told of a man who had to explain how he wound up naked in the supermarket after disappearing for three days. Walter has displayed the ability to think on his feet and improvise. With his facile mind, he could someday be a successful fiction writer.
Conduct – C+
Walter is respectful and courteous, especially with his peers and authority figures. However, there have been some flair ups from him that may signal deep resentment and the potential for violence. Defying his brother-in-law Hank's advice not to force Walter Jr. to try multiple shots of tequila was inappropriate behavior. In Walt's defense, he was contrite and apologetic after the fact.
Communication Skills – D
Walter has to work on his communication skills. He continues to keep too much inside and must learn to share. Wife Skyler, for instance, has reason to be concerned about his use of the cell phone. Clearly, owning two cell phones is too many for Walter White.
Physical Education – Incomplete
Although recovering from lung cancer, Walter has managed to maintain his physique and is getting stronger. In trials in the desert, he's held up well over long distances. In other extracurricular activities, home repairs and driver's education, Walt has excelled in the former. His installation of a hot water heater was more than proficient. However, his attempt to teach driver's ed to Walter Jr. left room for improvement.