As an avid viewer and Netflix binge watcher of Breaking Bad over the past year, I have had my qualms with Skyler’s character.
Often thought of as bitchy or weak, I just thought she was an annoying wrench that was often put in Walt’s grand schemes. She was always one of those characters that, as a woman who cares about how women are portrayed in media, I knew I needed to get behind. However, the show setting her up as an antagonist set me against her in the beginning.
I started to really respect Skyler when she learned the truth and left Walt even though their relationship had gotten into some scary abusive undertones. She is a woman who is trying to protect her family at all costs, just as Walt is trying to provide for his family at all costs. For several seasons her and Walt were opposing forces and then unwilling accomplices but this week’s Breaking Bad episode “Buried” showed that she was all-in as Walt’s ally. Finally, seemingly, putting the two on equal footing on the road ahead. And this wasn’t an easy decision for her to make.
The entire episode had a race to the finish feeling with Walt trying to get to Skyler before Hank did. Walt lost the race and started trying to protect himself against Skyler and Hank’s assumed partnership. For Skyler, the race was less about speed and more about strength of will and cunning. Proving her to have a bit of an advantage in the battle to come. She could have chosen to destroy Walt and save herself, but she didn’t. She was smart, she heard Hank out and realized he had no proof without her.
This episode is the first that I feel the writers were on Skyler’s side and helped the audience become empathetic with her character. The diner scene felt like a panic attack in the way that it seemed slow, but unbearably fast at the same time. The directing really put the viewer in the mind of the character better than I have ever experienced. Skyler’s delivery of “Am I under arrest?” was the panic attack’s climax and my heart was beating as fast as I imagine hers was in that moment. In that moment I was all-in with Skyler and will be until the end.
The Skyler and Marie scene was beautiful in a different way. At first you thought Skyler was going to be able to atone without giving up Walt. Then in another unexpected turn the show proved that its women may just be the smartest on the show when Marie pinpointed the exact moment Skylar discovered Walt’s lies. The moment of betrayal between the sisters hurt like a knife and the slap came at the exact moment the knife was being twisted in your heart. Marie trying to take the baby solidified Skyler’s decision to back Walt. She knew if she gave up Walt it meant the end of her family.
Skyler’s final scene with Walt had her delivering more lines than she did in the rest of the episode and had a sense of her holding her breath the whole time and finally being able to exhale. She’s finally come to a point in the show that she feels the most secure with Walt over her own sister and brother-in-law, ironically at the point that Walt has become the most dangerous he’s been in the entire series.
I’m interested to see what this means for Skyler in the coming episodes and I’m excited to see what happens next in this addicting saga.
Breaking Bad season 6, episode 3 (also known as season 5, episode 11) airs Sunday, August 25 at 9 p.m. eastern/pacific on AMC.
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