NB. CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THOSE POOR SAPS WHO HAVEN'T YET SEEN BREAKING BAD UP TO AND INCLUDING THE PENULTIMATE EPISODE.
Breaking Bad has now breathed its last, and with it, Walter White's journey "from Mr Chips to Scarface", as its creator Vince Gilligan put it. And much of the appeal of that journey, I think you'll agree, lies in the fact that we inevitably put ourselves in Walt's position, and wondered how we would go about ruthlessly building our own cross-continental drug empire. No? Just me, then.
Oh well, either way, in recent series I have found myself looking at Walter's decision making and wondering if his wisdom has sometimes been suspect, and not just in the ways it is supposed to be for the plot's sake.
I know a thing or two about criminal enterprise. At the age of seven, I stole several packets of marbles from my local toy shop. I had a bit of a break and went straight after that, but just last week I didn't touch in OR touch out with my Oyster card while traveling on public transport in London. And call me a sociopath, but I barely broke sweat.
So I've drawn up a list of THINGS I WOULDN'T DO IF I WERE MASTER CRIMINAL WALTER WHITE. Don't try these at home. Or anywhere else, for that matter.
IF I WAS WALTER WHITE, I WOULD NOT...
1. Screech around every time I arrived at or left my house, thereby suggesting to neighbours that I am possibly not a friendly neighbourhood carwash owner, but am in fact a practising drug dealer, gangster and increasingly dangerous psychopath.
2. Spy on people from a parked car about 30 yards away and expect not to be seen. Or sit in parked cars to have secret conversations with people I really don't want to be seen with. In my entirely hypothetical plan to emulate Heisenberg, I will rely on way more robust surveillance and counter-surveillance techniques.
3. Dig a hole in the middle of the desert to bury things or people in broad daylight. Assuming others might be using the long-distance surveillance equipment that Walt doesn't, why do your dirty work where people can potentially see you for miles around? Might I suggest we sneak behind one of the many large rocks around us to find our secret hiding place?
4. Have my contract killers say 'It's done' over the phone from prison. I know this is just what they are legally obliged to do on the telly and in movies, but can I suggest a code word in case - particularly after six or seven separate murders in the same prison in the space of a couple of days - the prison phones are being bugged?
5. Plant a bug in my brother-in-law's office while he's nipped out to make coffee. I would at least pretend to have dropped something, in case he comes back to ask me if I take sugar.
6. Leave the French windows open at the back of my house. Given that Walt is a marked man by this point, and there is also bags of incriminating evidence in his home, you'd think it might be worth securing the place a little more carefully.
7. Walk into a drug deal meeting in a hat and dark glasses to meet a visibly nervous lone woman in stupidly enormous dark glasses who pretends not to know you but openly kicks a suitcase towards you then immediately leaves. I think I would make strenuous efforts to look a bit less shifty and, I don't know, try and pretend to be old friends meeting for a coffee, or something.
8. Wait in clear view, without disguise, by the side of a busy public highway with bags packed, waiting to be whisked away by a man giving me a false identity, the morning after having half-murdered my wife, abducted my baby daughter and claimed to have killed my brother-in-law.
9. Leave my car abandoned in the Denny's parking lot with New Hampshire plates, after having had a memorable conversation with the waitress of that establishment mentioning that I am from New Hampshire.
10. Work with burglars. When Walt, Jesse and Mike go back into business, they use a pest control operation as a cover, despite knowing that Ira and friends' real business is copying the keys and locating valuables to facilitate their operations. Burglars are only a couple of rungs up from muggers in the criminal food chain, and no serious wrong-doer should have anything to do with such amateur scumbags who leave a trail of stolen goods all around them. You could easily find an equally shady pest control firm who nonetheless aren't quite that shady.
11. Avoid totting up a kill-list that would make me the most prolific serial killer of the 21st Century. I mean, omelettes, eggs... there are bound to be casualties and dirty deeds to be done in the line of business you've chosen. But really, do they all have to go? I suspect not. A body count that makes Mexican drug wars look like Strictly Come Dancing is likely to draw a spectacular amount of heat, way above and beyond my trifling sideline in methamphetamine manufacture and distribution.
12. Sell a car for a suspiciously small amount of money to a scrap dealer, while trying on a hat that says 'I fancy myself as a badass', before treating myself and my son to a flash sports car, which I will screech around my cul-de-sac, once again causing them to wonder what in God's name I am up to.
13. Keep exactly the same appearance throughout the time I am under suspicion, with a neatly trimmed beard and the same specs and not so much as a hood over my distinctive bald head (which, besides, is never the best look for a man trying not to look like a psychopath) even when I am trying to disappear to the other end of the country.
I reckon with those extra precautions, my drugs empire would be in safe hands.
What do you reckon?
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