Moral Emotions, Antiheroes and the Limits of Allegiance
According to its creator, Vince Gilligan, Breaking Bad (AMC, 2008–13) describes the moral corruption of a normal man, the conversion of Mr Chips to Scarface. In ‘Full Measures’ (3.13), the moral and emotional complexity of the story is encapsulated in a seemingly incidental scene. We see Walter White in his living room, giving little Holly a bottle of milk. A close-up shows how the baby grabs at his glasses, and in this moment of paternal tenderness, the writers cunningly re-humanize a character who just executed two thugs and minutes later ordered the death of his lab partner, as if to remind us that, at heart, ‘he’s really just a family man’ forced by circumstances to take matters into his own hands. This important step in the metamorphosis of Walter is again mitigated by several factors: children, the family and everyday domestic life. Self-defence is, of course, the justification for these deaths, but the devotion of a father towards his little baby also enter into the moral and emotional equation that characterizes Breaking Bad.
KeywordsMoral Judgment Moral Emotion Moral Evaluation Serial Killer Moral Sympathy
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