Walter Jr.

I never really warmed up to Breaking Bad's Walter Jr. aka Flynn (R.J. Mitte) though friends of mine say he was everything from the moral core of the otherwise sick White household to the innocent victim of his parents' disabling dysfunction. I didn't agree with these characterizations because I always felt those calls were too easy and conventional for a series that was anything but. I've been re-watching the series lately and I have a better idea of where I am with Walter Jr. now, and it actually has more to do with all of the other players in the drama than with him. Like other minor characters (and I mean minor as in age and not necessarily importance) on television, Walter Jr. was not an active player; he responded to what the loony adults around him did, often with irritation and opprobrium. That's not to say he was unimportant,  just that he was not an agent and so it was difficult for me to emotionally invest in him. I never really knew what he wanted from life except a "car" and a "six pack of beer." His only friend, Louis, was a cipher, without context or connections. The only time we saw Walter Jr. with other friends, they were trying to get an adult to cop beer for them. Their interaction was brief and unproductive and we never saw the friends again. In short, Walter Jr. was a device. He was a tool (and in this case I mean both in attitude and in application). Maybe the audience was to take his cerebral palsy as the reason for his ill-temper and snarkiness.  I had a tough time buying it. I thought the kid was a prick and probably would have been even if he did not have those challenges. I did buy that he was the reason his parents were so indulgent, and used him as a chip to control one another and their in-laws. It actually may be a common occurrence that people use their children to threaten one another in this way. If so, I think that is terribly sad. But, in the case of Breaking Bad, because Walter Jr. was someone to be indulged and protected, I don't think Skyler and Walt Sr. ever felt like his parents, this was probably more true of Walter than of Skyler. The dynamic between Walter Jr. and Uncle Hank is revelatory, and contributed to Walt Sr.'s rashness and monomaniacal drive to outsmart his DEA agent brother-in-law.  I also thought the bonding that developed between Walter Sr. and his meth cook partner and surrogate son, Jesse Pinkman, was compensation for the disconnection he felt with his own son, who seemed to prefer another "dad" to him.


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