At first glance, it might seem like a no-brainer; only one man has been left standing, despite a long battle of the wits and some ruthless plays on both sides. Still, had Walt’s timing been even slightly off or had Hector decided last-minute against the plan, the outcome could easily have resulted in another victory for Gus.
In order to determine which of the two really is the bigger baddie, let’s compare them point by point:
- While we don’t know exactly what pushed Gus into the meth business, we do know, at least from what we’ve been shown, he’s had a backbone of steel from the start, as evident by his bold approach to the Cartel with his proposition that its leaders consider a shift from cocaine to meth. While we see his vulnerable side after his “brother’s” shooting, he hardens quickly. Walt, on the other hand, turns to meth manufacturing only after receiving news that he is likely dying. His fear of dying, and thus his ensuing brashness, only begins to deteriorate after he already believes he’s facing certain death. Like Gus, his vulnerability is his family—even if their dynamics take dramatic shifts as the seasons progress.
- Gus manages to elude the DEA at nearly every turn, only falling into their radar after the numerous mistakes Walt and Jesse both make. However, most of these mistakes are the result of their inexperience in the business. Both Walt and Gus show tremendous backbone in their personal dealings with the DEA, even doing business directly under the noses of agents. Most notable is Gus’ execution of Leonel Salamanca amid the heavy congregation of police officers at the hospital, using a gift of free chicken as a ploy to explain his presence there and to lure everyone away from Leonel’s room. Comparably, Walt stays as close as he can to brother-in-law, Hank, playing him for a fool as he runs his expanding business right under the man’s nose. Just the same, Walt makes the fatal mistake of leaving the Whitman novel signed by Gail in his bathroom, a mistake Gus would likely never have made.
- The level of organization that had gone into Gus’ distribution ring was admirable, but we learn in the most recent season that Lydia is the true mastermind behind it. With that said, Walt seems amiable to taking his distribution further than Gus ever would have, which may ultimately contribute to his undoing.
- The most telling difference between Walt and Gus is where each has drawn the line in regard to whom they’re willing to harm or kill to keep their business safe. Gus is adamantly against involving children, whereas Walt has proven no one is safe in his wake. This is most evident in his poisoning Brock, the son of Jesse’s love interest, in order to manipulate Jesse into helping him take down Gus.
There are points in favor of both men, each having committed terrible crimes, so I ask: Which of the two do you think is the bigger baddie, and why?
Leigh M. Lane is a speculative fiction author whose works span from sci-fi to horror. Her most recent full-length works are The Hidden Valley Horror, Finding Poe, World-Mart, and Myths of Gods. For more about her work, go to her website at http://www.cerebralwriter.com.