New book takes scholarly look at ‘Breaking Bad’

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Walter White, the lead character in the hit television series “Breaking Bad,” will have his guns blazing in the series finale, predicts the author of an upcoming book on the series.

University of Southern Maine professor David Pierson said he expects White will have a showdown with a gang of thugs that has stolen some $70 million of his money in the series’ final episode, which airs Sunday night.

Pierson’s new book on the Emmy-winning show, “Breaking Bad: Critical Essays on the Context, Politics, Style and Reception of the Television Series,” is scheduled to be published in November. The book is an edited collection of essays from academic scholars that offers diverse perspectives of the show.

“Breaking Bad” revolves around Walter White, a chemistry teacher turned drug lord who produces and sells methamphetamine with former student Jesse Pinkman so he can provide a secure financial future for his family after his lung cancer diagnosis.

An avid fan of the AMC show, Pierson said the series has fervent fans in part because of White’s transformation from a put-upon chemistry teacher with a pregnant wife, a son with cerebral palsy and a small bank account into an assertive entrepreneur — even if it’s a life of crime — to provide for his family in Albuquerque, N.M.

The book contains 11 essays with different viewpoints of the series, written by scholars in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom and Italy.

One essay explores the role of masculinity in the series, while another looks at how Latinos are represented. Other essays examine the series’ cinematic style and its use of sound and music. Pierson edited the essays and also wrote one about how neo-liberalism is portrayed in White’s free-market criminal enterprise.

Pierson, who teaches media studies, has written a book on “The Fugitive” TV series from the 1960s, as well as articles on the TV shows “Seinfeld,” ”CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and “Mad Men.”

As for the “Breaking Bad” finale, Pierson predicts that White will come out of hiding to take on the gang that stole his millions — and maybe to set Pinkman free from captivity. He believes both White and Pinkman will survive.

White, he said, is still somewhat of a sympathetic character, even after his metamorphosis into a ruthless and feared killer.

“What he’s been doing has been for the good of his family,” he said. “However, with what’s happening the second half of this season, I think the chickens are coming home to roost on Walt because all the rationalizing and decisions he’s made are starting to come back on him.”

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