Anyone who has watched the AMC’s Emmy-winning series “Breaking Bad” becomes painfully aware of the axiom that actions have consequences. Consequences that can exceed expectations and most normal considerations. But often consequences beyond imagination and reasonable concern occur from non-action. Perhaps the worst of this latter example for our protagonist Walter White is his attempt to help both himself and his meth manufacturing partner Jesse Pinkman from ruining his life through drug addiction. Jesse you see was necessary to help Walter achieve his goals to make a killing in the methamphetamine market in order to provide for his family before he succumbs to the lung cancer he has contracted
Walter’s inaction occurs in this scene where he fails to save Jesse’s girl friend Jane from choking to death on her own vomit as she and Jesse lay in bed passed out from an earlier injection of heroine they took together. Jane becomes a hindrance for Walter in bringing Jesse back to the desired state Walter wants. So allowing her to die on her own upchuck is seen as a necessary sacrifice from Walter’s perspective. However, Walter realizes that his inaction to save Jane ultimately leads to the death of hundreds from a midair collision, which ironically occurs directly over the neighborhood he lives in.
It turns out that Jane’s father is an air traffic controller at the Albuquerque Air Port. His daughter’s death has shaken him deeply and remains distraught a week or so later as he decides to return to work to help him get past this crisis. In his sorrow and grief he becomes careless in his air traffic control duties and fails to see two airliners on a deadly collision course. When Walter learns this fatal accident resulted from the actions of the man whose daughter he could have saved but chose not to, he realizes that his self-serving purposes to protect Jesse and the failure to prevent Jane’s asphyxiation have created the consequences that killed these innocent lives.
But perhaps a more telling segment about how actions have consequences comes in a less dramatic scene weeks later when Walter, sans Jesse, teams with a drug czar who heads a prosperous cartel for North America out of Albuquerque. Gus Fring, the drug czar builds a state of the art laboratory where Walt can make his near pure meth in ideal conditions that Walter is enthralled by as a chemist. He is teamed with another chemists that Gus has prepped years earlier through a college grant specifically designed to open opportunities for people to get their degrees in chemistry.
The assistant chemist, Gale Boetticher, is a likable, nerdy sort who is in awe of Walt’s skill as a chemist. Walt comes to like Gale because they both share a love for the laboratory and during a break in their work he asks Gale, in this scene here, how he got into this line of business. His response got my attention pretty quickly as someone who has watched the self-interests of the libertarian philosophy take over conservative politics in this country.
“Well, there’s crime and then there’s CRIME, I suppose” Gale tells Walter. “I’m definitely a libertarian. Consenting adults want what they want. And if I’m not supplying it they will get it somewhere else. At least from me they are getting exactly what they paid for. No added toxins are adulterants.”