Thursday, July 18, 2013

"A Breaking Bad Marathon"

What if there really were a Breaking Bad Marathon?
No, I don’t mean a ton of past episodes played back to back to back. I mean if all the characters took part in an organized 26.2 mile run? How awesome would that be.

The final episodes are coming soon, and the show is tremendous. Sure, there's a Walter White inside of all of us, but what makes the show work is the distinctly drawn characters. They are all the heroes of their own story and running their own race. So, as they run, here’s my version of:


Marie Schrader – (Hank’s Wife)
Shoe: Saucony- Color purple
Finishing Time: 4:16

Marie has an ideal marathoners body and the neurosis of a runner. She finishes the marathon smooth and easy at 4:36. It would have been faster, but she had to dip into some stores for some shoplifting.

Skyler White
Shoe: Asics
Finishing Time: 4:22

When Skyler first starts to run, every step she takes makes you crazy.  You want to tell her off like Walt finally did when he says,  “Right now what I need is for you to climb down out of my ASS. Can you do that for me honey? Will you please, just once, get off my ASS. You know, I’d appreciate it.”

But as Walt breaks beyond Bad into something worse than Bad,  Skyler becomes someone you feel for. Her plight to protect her children becomes increasingly sympathetic as Walter's madness grows.  Running a marathon may be just what she needs to stop calling herself a “Coward.”

 At the end of the race, all she could say was, “I’m just waiting for the cancer to come back.”

Jessie Pinkman
Shoes: Nike
Finish time: 3:59

His race is perhaps the most emotionally tumultuous. Jessie has some swiftness in him. Some youth. Some bravado. Some impulsive immaturity, YO, and someone who is sick of hearing  others say to him; “apply yourself.”

The marathon is his chance. It will be something that can finallly make his mom and dad proud. He trains hard, and starts to realize that the Runner's High is like Meth but less costly.  He has parties at his house where runners crash for days on end and play loud music from their running playlist.  He brings them stacks of fat cash and makes it rain. They buy shoes. Jessie buys in.

Runners' Resting

But then on race day emotions pour forth for Pinkman as often happens in a marathon. Ghosts of girlfriends overdosing on heroin run alongside of him. Friends and children shot and killed to cover his tracks claw at his heels. He tries to wipe these memories away like sweat at his brow but they stick to his skin.  Screams start from his insides but then blast outward at mile 23 as he cries to the heavens.  “It’s all so Kafkaesque.”

 At mile 24 it seems Pinkman may not finish, but he pulls out a Gu packet and has a snort of Meth (Heisenberg Blue) that electrifies his whole brain.  He runs past the finish line and all the way home, too tweaked to stop for his medal.

Mike Ehrmantraut
Shoe: Brooks
Finish Time: DNF (did not finish)

Mike. Poor Mike. He’s cold-blooded yet with a noble sense of justice in his twisted world.  He’s the guy you trust that you shouldn’t.  In some ways he’s sad.  In some ways he’s a hero. A smoker runner. 
So what does he do in the marathon? He moves along just fine, trotting steady and sure at a 13 minute per mile pace, slightly grumpy, slightly charming. When he sees his granddaughter with a sign in the air saying “Go Gramps Go” he flashes a crooked smile.  “There she is, Kid,” he says to Pinkman. 

Then Walt trips him. Mike’s old age can’t handle the fall to the pavement. Walt tries to apologize.  “Shut the fuck up. Let me DNF in peace,” says Mike as if he’s muttering his last breath.  We move on.

 Gustavo Fring
Shoes: Addidas
Finish Time: DNF

The marathon is an opportunity for Gus to shine under the community’s watchful eyes. In fact, Gus’s chicken place, Los Pollos Hermanos, actually sponsors the marathon.  The “Los Pollos Hermanos” logo is on the back of every marathon shirt, and at the finish line, there is free “Los Pollos” chicken for everyone.   Gus runs the marathon with a conventional smile and eloquent speech to thank those who cheer him on. He thinks he’s going to finish just fine until he runs into his old nemesis in the wheelchair.

Yep, Hector opens up his colostomy bag sending Gus slip-sliding away until he falls on the pavement and rips the side of his face off.

Hector "Tio" Salamanca
Shoes: none
Finish time: 2: 28

Speaking of Hector, he of course gets an age group award for the wheelie division. He carb loaded with burritos. He is wearing his pajamas. He hits the bell every mile.

‘Ding. Ding. Ding.’

 Saul Goodman
Shoes: Snakeskin
Finish Time: 3:12 (under investigation)

When the going gets tough, you don’t want a Criminal Lawyer, you want a criminal, lawyer. Saul runs the fastest time of all. But Saul cheats. He knows a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy who figured out how to rig it. He qualifies for Boston, makes the trip to Hopkinton, and stands in the chute wearing his bluetooth handing out business cards.  “Better call Saul”

Tuco Salamanca
Shoe: Saucony Kinvara
Time: 4:10

Tuco runs the marathon tweaking the whole way, and he easily wins the award for the best grill in the event.  He’s also got an infectious, creepy bad-guy laugh.  When  the intensity grows in each mile he was heard to scream out loud: “BOOYAH!!! Kicks like a mule with his balls wrapped in Duct tape.”  Well, Psychopath runners don’t pace themselves well, and Tuco shot out of the chute a bit too fast and eventually limps to the finish.

Tucco’s Twin Cousins: Leonel and Marco Salamanca 
Shoes: Matching Lucchese Leather Boots ( retail $1,195)
Time: DNF

Running hand in hand, matching each other stride for stride, with smoothly shaved heads, they are the best dressed runners in the whole race. They get ejected for an incident whose description is not appropriate for this site. Yeah, it’s like that.  Days later, they sneak into the race director’s house, sit on his bed with a machete, and wait for him to get out of the shower. 

Hank Schrader
Shoes: New Balance
Time: Unknown

The classic Clydesdale runner at 245 pounds and one of  John Bingham's Penguins, the miracle isn't that Hank finished, it's that he had the courage to start. Hank started as the over-bearing, domineering  ass to Walt meekness, but when Hank suffers from Walter's insidious moves, he become the sympathetic guy to root for.  We’ve felt his trauma. At one point, Hank couldn’t walk (yes, due to Walt) and seemed to have given up (Maria got him up again.) He still walks with a limp, so running in the marathon is monumental. He’s the one I’m feeling for now as he rounds mile 20.  His shoes have been bugged, he’s at mile 26, about to cross the line, but first he has to have a showdown with….

Walter White: AKA Heisenberg.
Shoes: Mechanically Altered Vibram Five Fingers
Time: Unkown

Walt first started training for the marathon by sneaking out at night for two and three hour  runs. During the day, he would tell Skylar he was going for diapers and then grind out ten milers. All of this because he was running to fight cancer. It was noble. It was brilliant. Running brought out the parts of Walter that were unrealized. The parts he had put aside to lead his conventional life as a teacher. Running was the empire he was going to build as a chemist at Gray Matter before he took a buyout. We loved watching his mild-mannered nature and steadfast moves. A sense of sweetness. An everyman champion mixing in with the darkest of the running world.  He brought back the Tighty-whitey’s.

Walt shaved his head to run. “Bad Ass,” his son said proudly. Walt had new respect.

Sure he had to whack Crazy 8 in his basement, but who wouldn’t during the madness of a taper? Maybe he missed the birth of his daughter due a long, 20 mile run, but that was just bad luck.  Directly or indirectly, Walters death count piles up, and he may have caused a plane crash or two.

Walter is warned about the danger of Marathoning; of not hydrating, of hitting the wall, of not training correctly, of a million things that can go wrong on race day. He ignores all these dangers, puts on a black hat, and declares: 

I am not in danger, I am the danger!  A guy opens his door and gets shot, and you think that of me? No! I am the one who knocks!"  

So, when Walter White runs a 26.2 mile Breaking Bad Marathon it might teach him some humility. It might shatter that growing narcissism which is making Walter into just a smarter, educated, and sophisticated Tucco. In the long run, Walter will learn that sometimes you are the windshield, sometimes you are the bug, but when you run enough marathons (or cook enough meth), sooner or later,  you’re gonna go splat.

Somehow Walt ends up like this.
A head full of hair, taking medicine, with a machine gun in this trunk.

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