Breaking Down Kenny Powers and Walter White

October 8, 2013

Last week, a certain finale brought an epically proportioned brouhaha to flip the Internet upside down.  Those who were satisfied with the ” target=”_blank”>storytelling level, and who ” target=”_blank”>empire money couldn’t contain, seem different animals at first glance, but these iconic alpha antiheroes share micro and macro properties. The difference however, as Walt knows too well, lies not with the ingredients, but with the chef.

I’ll point to a Power quote from the EBnD premiere to begin the pick-apart. After Kenny peels a structurally destroyed Sebring into the Millennial Rental company lot, he delivers his iced-out boss a fiery sermon rich with classic Kenny Powers fury:  “This little (expletive) parking lot here, this may be your kingdom, your legacy … it’s a piss in the pool to me. From this day forward I’m getting what’s mine: fame, money, respect, chicken chains!” Needless to say, Walt had more than his share of business with ” target=”_blank”>Fantasy Theory. Maybe he died in the car on his way to the wedding.)

No matter. To Kenny, April’s shine only blocks his. And a shine-blocked Kenny isn't only a crime, it's downright insulting. He’s also not afraid to tell her so:

“So because I’m achieving something that makes you a bitch?”

“Yes April! Every single morning I wake up I think about the face that I (expletive) walked away from baseball. I gotta suck my (expletive) soul in, put a smile on my face, and go about my day.”

Both Walt and Kenny have reputations preceding them, but Walt is visibly burdened with filling his reputation’s daunting shoes while Kenny stuffs himself in one toe at a time. Yet the rare cases his grandiose self image aligns with his public image, we can’t clap loud enough. Yes we root for Walt too, sometimes, when we aren’t sickened by his gross deception or reeling from his latest power-hungry exploit. But Kenny Powers captured our hearts and our hopes.

He’s honest. He doesn’t just accept himself, he loves himself. This is the crux of why Walt and Kenny are different. Everyone wants to see an embodiment of unwavering self-respect succeed because it’s what we want for ourselves – success without sacrificing our true fibers or our dignity. Walt’s biggest losing battle is an unwillingness to let anyone in on his Plan. He’s scared of his enemies, scared of his family and scared of himself.

It stands then, that their affinity for employing violence as a communication tool would tout markedly different styles. Walt is meticulous and cautious, producing dire consequences not even he knew he could inflict.  Kenny prefers hot-blooded flesh-on-flesh action, ideally with an American flag backdrop. But while Walt is selective and often unsure of his subjects and his implementation, Kenny’s violence, verbal or physical, doesn’t play favorites. He has nothing to hide from anyone and maintains a 100 percent conviction rate. You’re either with him or against him, and if you’re against him, you better at least bring him a platter of chili sliders and an Arnold Palmer.

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