You could say the transformation from Chemistry High School teacher to Scarface (as creator Vince Gilligan has said is the narrative structure all along), started in Season 1 when he blackmailed Jesse into cooking meth with him. And there have certainly been key plot points along the way, sealing his status as a criminal and killer and pushing him further into a new identity (choking the guy in his basement with a chain, allowing Jane to suffocate on her own vomit, shooting the drug dealers on the street point-blank) but even as the last episodes of Season 4 unfurled and he was orchestrating Gustavo Fring's death, I rooted for him. I had shifted my allegiance towards Jesse after seeing all he had been through--the ups and downs of addiction, and the way he always ended up in the middle of Walt's convoluted schemes to remain on top. Jesse annoyed me at the beginning of the series, but he matured and became lovable--he's the only one who has morals, who cares if people die, and his love for children is endearing. But Walt's arc has shown an opposite set of traits. Although he started out wanting to make meth to support his family, the money--and more so the power--the meth game has given him has gone to his head and he's became a homicidal egomaniac. It wasn't until this first episode of Season 5 that I felt I feared Walt. I was waiting to see if he really had poisoned Brock. I could understand wanting to kill Gus because his life, Jesse's life and their loved ones depended on it. But that last shot in the last episode of Season 4, when the camera pushes into his backyard and we see the Lily of the Valley plant and we realize Walt manipulated Jesse and banked on his love of children by poisoning Brock was beyond diabolical. He said to Jesse "Who do you know who has no problem using Children?" He meant Gus, but by his actions, he also meant himself. He killed Gus, only to take his place.
I still held out hope that maybe Walt didn't really poison Brock, maybe it really was Gus, maybe it was just a mistake, maybe there was some plot twist that would blow our minds when Season 5 started. But the fact is that Walt is a killer, who unlike Jesse, has no loyalties to anyone but himself and his family--and even that has become questionable as we see Walt in the Season 5 premiere hugging his frightened wife and telling her he forgives her for having an affair with Ted and giving him Walt's money to pay off the IRS. He's not sincere--there's a look on his face of that same manipulation he's used with Jesse and everyone else who's stood in his way. He knows she's scared and he's using that to his advantage. Everything has changed. Saul is scared of him. Even Mike listens to Walt and helps them destroy the last piece of evidence from the meth lab. The premiere episode has set Walt up for his final 16 episodes of the series and the final obstacles and steps needed to be a full blown, hardened criminal. Cable television has become the new "indie film"---the fact that AMC has allowed Vince Gilligan to take a character and turn him "bad" (thus the title) and end it after 5 seasons despite being called "the best show on television" in the name of artistic integrity is admirable. The hard part now is having to wait a week between episodes. It leaves me too much time to guess how Walt and Jesse will end their last meth deal. For Jesse, I hope it ends well. As for Walt...well, we all know how Scarface ended.
After reading Jessica Misener’s article in The Atlantic (“Jack White’s Women Problems”) I tried writing a detailed argument about how I disagreed with everything she said. I balked at her interpretation of his lyrics (Adele can sing about how a man upset her and her retaliation against him but Jack White can’t do the same about women who have wronged him—when probably most are only imagined or stories he’s created? After all, he remained friends and bandmates with Meg White after they divorced. He even kept her last name and made her his 'best man' at his wedding to Karen Elson. When he divorced Karen Elson, they threw a divorce party with friends and family to celebrate their friendship). I rolled my eyes at how she thinks “Girl, You Have No Faith in Medicine” is “patronizing”—it’s one of my favorite songs! “Acetaminophen? You’ll see the medicine!” I hate taking medicine, it’s my anthem! She says he tries to control the women in his life. You really think that he sought out Wanda Jackson, the "female Elvis Presley" and the "Rockabilly Queen" of the 1950s who obviously was capable and independent and strong enough on her own--and controlled her when he produced her album? You think he controlled Loretta Lynn? Watch any interview or footage of the two of them together and tell me who's controlling who. Is it even possible to control Loretta Lynn? His favorite musician of all time is Loretta Lynn, and he admired her because she was a pioneer for women in the sixties, teaching herself how to play guitar and writing lyrics that talked about her own personal struggles—(his words). He's said every band would be better if a woman was in it. He took Meg White’s last name when they got married and has said Meg was in charge of the band even though it was obvious she was not the most musically talented. He played with frontwoman Alison Mosshart in The Deadweather—the opposite kind of woman from the dress-wearing ladies he plays with in his all female band for his solo album (another one of Misener’s misguided points is that he likes to put women in boxes, based on a quote where he says the opposite).
Jack White has been a sort of creative template for my own creative projects. As I state on my "About Erin" page "My creative philosophy can best be described through the music of Jack White, especially The White Stripes—minimalism, do-it-yourself, and the idealism of a child.” I've always said, if I were in a band, I would be in a band with Jack White--NOT because I'm a woman, but because I love ROCK and his style is my style.
Jessica Misener wrote “(White) As a lyricist has been obsessed with women for more than a decade now, perhaps to a greater extent than any other rock star in his generation. Certainly, he's got more girl problems than any of his blues-rock contemporaries.” I think she says it all right there. Jack White has promoted and produced women musicians, collaborated with them, and played with them more than any other visible musician. I think he’s obsessed with women because, well, he surrounds himself with them. He loves them. But being around so many women, and being in relationships with women, is going to bring out the wonderful and the dark side of human relations. And when you play the blues, the real and the imagined, are going to be sung about. Perfect love isn’t interesting. Beng with a woman whose “spike heels make a hole in a lifeboat” is. So in defense of Jack White, I've decided actions speak louder than words. Here are some videos that show his respect for women, his words-in-action view that bands are better if they have women in them (his words!), and his admiration and obvious views on equality. Jessica Misener, maybe you should watch some of these.
Jack White and Rockabilly legend Wanda Jackson cover Dylan on her new album produced by White.
Jack White claims he's Loretta Lynn's number one fan. So he produced her album and did a duet with her.
It's violent, but Jack and rocker Alison Mosshart are on equal shooting terms.
When Jack wanted kids (before he had them). They even had two little girls play in the band with them.
Whew! Does rock get any better than this?? Just Jack and Meg, wow.
Jack White with his all female band for his solo album.
News from the Captain's Quarters.