Walter White

Breaking Bad

Spoiler Alert: I will be revealing a major portion of Breaking Bad’s final season. If you have not seen it or plan on seeing it, stop reading here and click on other links. For those who have seen the show, I have a little commentary on the episode called “Ozymandias.”

In one of the final scenes of this episode, Walt realizes that he was cornered and his capture was imminent. Walt’s wife and son turn on him after a terrifying knife fight. With the knife in hand, he stands up and yells, “What the hell is wrong with you…we’re a family!! At this point in the series, Walt realizes that everything he had been working on is lost. Walt picks up their 18 month of toddler Holly out of her crib in a fit of rage, walks out the front door, puts her on his lap in the front seat of his truck and drives off recklessly.

Later, Walt feels ashamed after the kidnapping when the toddler asked for her mother while he was changing her in a bathroom. Walt calls back to the house. During the conversation, Skyler says, “You took my child.” Walt responds with, “Because you need to learn!” Skyer shouts, “You bring her back!” The last we see of Holly is the toddler in a car seat at a fire station. At this point, we know the child will be safe.

If you saw the scene, how did it make you feel when you saw Walter kidnap Holly? Were you shocked? Were you enraged? I’m positive that the mothers who watched this scene felt strongly about what they saw.

The feelings of despair we saw in Skyler as she was crying helplessly on her knees as the truck turned the corner is similar to the range of emotions many men feel after a visit to family court. Fathers usually have a profound feeling of loss after so much is taken from them due to outdated laws that govern domestic relations. One day we could be in charge of our surroundings and family, the next, the state has power over the father and all of his assets…and children. It is quite fitting that the title of the episode is called Ozymandia because it is a poem about loss. The mighty king has literally fallen, and so has everything he accomplished.

The knife scene is one of the most intense ones I can remember in the entire five seasons. I don’t want to get too deep into the plot of the show and its deeper meaning. Other people write about this show on a daily basis much better than I ever will, but I do feel a few things from this episode really stood out.

When Skyler tells Walt he took HER child, I wondered how amnesia took hold of her brain cells. She suddenly forgot the little fact that Walt helped with the creation of this little human being. Many women seem to feel that a child is theirs when things fall apart in a relationship. The father of their children suddenly vanishes from the entire creation process, especially when they plead their case in court for custody.

The other thing that plucked a nerve was the fact that Holly was used as a pawn. This time however, it was the father who took the child. I thought it was an interesting twist on the tale of the mother “taking” the kids away from the father. What are people really thinking when they use children a pawns?

Here is a little fact that many people probably don’t know. A spouse can take their child anywhere at any time for any reason. I found out the hard way during my divorce. I came home from work one evening to our apartment with no future ex and no children after an intense fight. No, it wasn’t nearly as intense as the one I described above. My ex-wife took our children to her mother’s house in Philadelphia from our home in New York City. There was very little I could do except go retrieve them, or file for a writ of habeas corpus. I chose to wait until our court date two weeks later. But, the range of emotions I felt after I realized my wife took our children away from our home, and the helplessness I felt, was similar to what I saw on Skyler’s face on Breaking Bad.

My ex did not fare too well after the supreme court judge in our case realized what she had done. The judge was visibly angry and put the hammer down on her lawyer. She used our kids as pawns in a futile attempt to manipulate the outcome, but I saw the long term goal and won the chess match. Our kids are better off because of it because I am a major part of their life.

Did you notice how I used the word OUR children in the preceding paragraphs? I had to remind my ex of this fact during the entire time we were in court. They were never her children, and never will be. This is one of the reasons we have joint custody and I pay her nothing in child support and alimony. I remind her every day that these are our children and we will share them. It seems that many parents get extremely possessive during custody battles and lose all sense of reality.

I know from several stories I have heard over the years of mothers taking children away from fathers. As we all know, our family court system is still biased in favor of mothers. It seems that we still have an uphill battle when it comes to custody issues but fortunately, the tide is turning.

Watching a father doing the kidnapping and hostage taking of a child was pretty remarkable, especially on a show as popular as Breaking Bad. I hope more people felt Skylar’s pain as they watched this show. Perspective taking requires humans to exit their self-centeredness and egocentricity to see the real world from another’s vantage point. What I liked about the fight scene was that I know it caused many mothers to gasp once they saw Walt run out the door. In the heat of a battle, our emotions tend to get the best of us. It is clearly not wise to make major decisions in this mindset.

The decision Walt made in that moment had potential long-term consequences. Fortunately, he realized his mistake as soon as Holly asked for her mother. Most people never see the mistake they make until it is too late. The long lasting effects of rash decisions in family court rear its ugly head every day. The evidence is the epidemic of widespread fatherless homes in our country.

It’s true that when it comes to custody and divorce, some people are clearly pathologically narcissistic. At times, there is little one can do but to hope an adversary comes to their senses or a judge on a higher level than family court sees the truth. Some people are just not compassionate and there is little that can be done to change their mind. But the truth is this; fathers love their families just as much as mothers do. We do not want to be manipulated and have our children used as pawns.

Breaking Bad is arguably one of the greatest TV shows ever made. There are many details that are discussed about this phenomenal show on a daily basis. Writing a scene where a father kidnaps his own child to use her as a pawn was one detail many followers might have overlooked, especially since the exact opposite that occurs every single day.

Editor’s note: feature image by Fern&o Palacios

About Clayton Craddock

Clayton Craddock is a dedicated father, a consultant for divorcing fathers, a social reformer, and advocate for fathers' rights (and especially those of their children).

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  • Dean Esmay

    The two things I first noticed in this mult-layered sequence (you’re right about what an incredible show it is) is that Skyler was the one to attack with the knife–justified or not, it was kind of interesting to see someone realize “oh yeah, women will use weapons, enough with the bullshit about comparative strength being the most important thing.” Well that and the fact that Walt didn’t want to be violent at all, and clearly wasn’t, he was just desperate to the the knife away from her… yet the boy immediately perceived it all as an attack on his mother anyway, even though she clearly attacked and wounded him not vice-versa.

    I also viewed Walt’s kidnapping of his daughter as the last desperate attempt to salvage what he could of those he loved most (his children) but of course in the end he made the right decision. The funny part being I’m sure much of the audience thought it was “right” because “a child belongs with/to its mother” (which is bullshit) but because in his situation he was still smart enough to know what a disaster it would be for him and his child to be on the lam with her. Even at his most psychotic and psychopathic, Walt’s parental instincts kicked in correctly. He of course created this horrible situation by following dark paths he rationalized his way into every step of the way, but in the end it may be that his only redeeming factor left is that he still cares about the fate of his children and wants to protect them. (And maybe finally realizing the danger he put his kids in from day 1 when he got into this business was unacceptable.)

  • DarkByke

    I still have this feeling of hate towards Skylar…. she’s just so dumb. Never appreciating anything he does for the family. Oh wait, that reminds me of a certain culture nowadays!
    I think his best move at this point is honestly go MGTOW and gtfo. Keep the money and abandon the family because they certainly don’t care about him at this point.
    I was pretty happy he said the things he did like “you need to learn” and pretty much laying down the law of his household. I still want to see Walt’s success at the end of this show…. but I imagine he will just pass on his money to the family and die in a corner somewhere, or jail cell…. :(

    • Alejandro

      Uh, you do realize he just said those things to make it look like he was threatening his wife so the police would not frame her as an accomplice, right?

      I want to see Walter succeed too. Unfortunately, I do not think there is any way he will end up alive.

      • Dingbatman

        PRECISELY. Anyone who doesn’t realize this doesn’t really know the show or Walt. This was the most obvious thing to me. He doesn’t speak like this to his family. He was protecting Skyler, not actually threatening her. He knew the police were listening and was painting her as the poor damsel held hostage by a maniac, not “laying down the law”… come on people, use your brains.

        • DarkByke

          Don’t ever remember the police thinking she was in on it. My statement still stands, she was undermining his efforts the entire way through.

      • Dean Esmay

        Yep, you’re right on, it was very evident to me that Walt was assuming he was being taped and was doing everything he could to protect Skyler and take all blame on himself. That’s why he was loudly saying things like “you know nothing about my business, you know nothing” in a way to give her plausible deniability.

        Although Walt long ago gave up almost all of his integrity, his family still means more to him than anything. It’s really his only saving grace, if there is one.

  • Steve Brulé

    You got your children back, no child support, no alimony? That is the first time I’ve heard that, congratulations!

    Angry mothers often claim DV, the father is charged. Getting to see his children again can take months or years, and he is treated like a criminal for the rest of his life. And the man is never the same again, inside that is.

    • Dean Esmay

      Clayton managed to make an arrangement that was in the true best interests of his children–and after he did it they changed the law so that more men wouldn’t be able to arrange the true shared parenting arrangement he has, which keeps both parents deeply involved with the kids and keeps the courts the hell out of it.

      The state couldn’t have others getting word that this was even possible, apparently, even though it damn well ought to be the default arrangement in divorce.

    • Jay

      Good sir, I think you would be very aware of that based on some of your documentary work.

  • Jay

    Perhaps if TV shows showed the opposite of what you described more often – the pain a father feels when his children are taken away from him, this would communicate the message better. That is, that father’s love their children as much as the mother.

    I don’t think this scene does anything much other than furthering the feminist stereotype – that father’s are unnecessary.

  • TigerMan

    I loved Breaking Bad but one thing totally spoiled it for me —> Skylar . A great shame because although I thoroughly enjoyed the first two series (sans the bits with Skylar in it that is). I realised that Skylar wasn’t going to be killed off anytime soon and would probably be there to the very end.
    I don’t want to even go into what I didn’t like about that character suffice it to say the characters face always gave a pretty accurate precis of the lack of joys to come from her. :(

    • DarkByke

      Right there with you. She does some good acting though, it’s scarily accurate. :p

  • prince_tybalt

    I’ve been in an ongoing debate over this with a friend. I pointed out that if a husband pulled a knife on his wife, slashed her hand when she tried to take it from him or calm him down, she’d have fully supported the mother running out of the house and taking the child.

    Definitely a double standard.

  • Daniel Kulkarni

    I’m more a Dexter guy myself, all though I almost gave up on the show early on when the abusive ex-husband came back and was about to get custody of the kids or whatever.