Destroyed, Not Defeated
Breaking Bad, The Old Man and the Sea, and what it means to be a man.
I’ve begun watching “Breaking Bad” again. TV shows have never been my thing, but my wife got me into this odyssey of methamphetamine and madness a few years back, long after the show had concluded, and I enjoyed it from start to finish.
On the first go, I liked but did not love Hank Schrader, the Drug Enforcement Administration agent played by Dean Norris. He reminds me a lot of my father-in-law, whom I love. He is a recently retired cop, bears a striking resemblance to Hank, and has the same temperament. All he’s missing is the Schraderbräu.
But on second look, I have a newfound appreciation for how Norris excavates the interior of Hank, who starts as a cop-jock, really an amalgam of every conceivable stereotype associated with the image of a brutish but effective police officer. Before the end, however, Hank emerges as a rich character whose heroism is more than a match for the show’s antihero, Walter White (Bryan Cranston).
Maybe it’s because I also just reread “The Old Man and the Sea,” but it stuck out to me that Hank’s transformation truly starts with a speech Norris said he could not deliver without weeping.