There are lots of phrases with “the line” in them.

A fine line. Draw a line in the sand. Throw someone a line. The party line. Fall into line. Walk up to the line.

Cross the line.

I was thinking about “the line” this morning when I woke up after watching three episodes of “Breaking Bad” last night. I’m far into the final season.

When the series began, Walter White, physics teacher and scientist, never broke the rules. He lived the life of a good family man. He could always be counted on to do the right thing.

Then there was his young protege, Jessie Pinkman, who was not applying himself to much of anything but drugs. He was a drifter. In the old days he would have been called a hoodlum.

Then as the series progressed, the roles shifted. Walter, who has lung cancer, walks closer and closer to the line. Until one day he crosses it. Jesse ends up crossing it as well. But after awhile, the way they end up feeling about it changes.

The difference is, Walter is emboldened by this step. And Jessie ends up utterly defeated by it.

Jessie simply does not have the stomach for how far Walter is willing to go. And with every step he follows in the footsteps of who he calls “Mr. White”, the more demoralized he becomes.

The more money Walter makes, the more he wants. The more money Jessie makes, the more he sees it as blood money and ends up tossing it away to the disadvantaged on the street.

Walter and Jessie in their meth lab

Two dichotomies at play here. If you were watching the first season of “Breaking Bad”, you probably would have decided that Jessie was going to be the bad guy.

But the roles reverse and Walter seems to become immune to the violence involved, while Jessie withers in the wake of it.

Walter trying to convince Jessie that what they have done is all right

We all cross the line from time to time.

Some of us decide it’s too risky on the other side and step back. Others love the excitement at having crossed the line and keep on going.

Walt comforting Jessie

The very definition of “cross the line” is: to go beyond the limits of something by doing something unacceptable. It’s pretty clear cut.

Or is it?

When you cross a line there’s no going back. You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.

It all comes down to what you can live with.

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11 Comments

  1. One of my favorite quotes
    “Once you cross the line there is no comparing it’s just that side of the line”
    I forget where I heard it.

  2. I haven’t dug into this series yet, still catching up on Downton Abby, which I’m thoroughly enjoying. Thanks for the description! Sounds like a good watch.

  3. You made some astute observations. I’ve watched all of the series and never thought of it exactly like that, with the role switching. Thanks.

  4. I loved that show, Probably one of the reasons is I’m fascinated by human behavior. Guess that is why I became a counselor. I am not a line crosser though. I can’t even tell a little fib. LOL

  5. I loved Breaking Bad. Such unique directions and story line. One has to have a pretty strong stomach for violence but the story is great. Promise me you will watch El Camino on Netflix so you will know what finally happened to Jesse.

  6. You got the uniqueness of Breaking Bad described pretty well. They seem to swap positions. As you watch, you actually swap positions as you suddenly find yourself cheering for the bad guys earlier in the story. So the lines you talked about are all over the place! Jesse’s humanity breaks through and it’s very touching. The new movie on Netflix that just came out El Camino takes up where the series ended but I haven’t watched it yet. I’m glad you decided to watch BB, there’s nothing like it.

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