Skyler White, the wife of Walter White (a.k.a. Heisenberg) in the AMC series Breaking Bad was put in a tough position. Not only was she informed that her husband was dying of cancer, but then she bore witness to his descent from being a loving family man and high school science teacher to a frightening drug lord.
What do you do in such a situation? Support your husband through the good times and bad, ‘til death do you part? Even if he’s prone to murderous tendencies, up to mysterious dealings, mingling with dangerous criminals, putting you and your children in harm’s way? Oh, and let’s not forget essentially backing you into a corner so you have no choice but to get involved to avoid capture or, worse, death? This was not what she signed up for!
Nonetheless, there were times when viewers totally sympathized with Skyler, and others when they couldn’t help but side with Walter and wish she’d just get on board, already! He’s doing this for you, Skyler! (Well, sort of.) With that said, here are 5 times that Skyler was actually the villain, and 5 times she was the hero.
10 Villain: When She Treated Walter Badly
While we’ll cut her some slack for being pregnant, we get the feeling from the way Skyler was portrayed at the beginning that she was never a totally supportive wife.
She’d constantly scold Walt, scream at him for being late, and half-heartedly do things like prepare him breakfast and, um, please him in the bedroom. She made all of the decisions, and was clearly very controlling, which potentially had an emasculating effect on Walt, to some degree.
9 Villain: When She Sticks Her Nose in Business
Skyler had a habit of sticking her nose where it didn’t belong. Sometimes, it was welcomed, and she always had good intentions. But when she approached Walt’s former partner in Gray Matter, Elliott Schwartz, at his birthday party to try to get him to hire Walt for a high-paying job, that went too far.
To her credit, Walt got the job offer, likely out of guilt. But his pride was too big to take it. Plus, he was busy with other things by that time that Skyler had no idea about.
8 Villain: When She Lashes Out Against Her Sister
When Hank tries to get Skyler to support her sister, who’s apparently a kleptomaniac, Skyler is more concerned with her own issues, and wanting support for herself. Sure, she gets to play the pregnancy card, and her husband did have cancer.
Plus, there were issues with their son’s moodiness, financial burdens, and a water heater that wasn’t working. But still, sometimes you have to put aside your own issues to support others.
7 Villain: When She Started Smoking, Flirting
Sure, Skyler was going through a lot. But when we discover that she is sneaking off to smoke while being pregnant, then again nearby her newborn baby, that’s just too far. To her defense, she claims to have only smoked 3.5 cigarettes when she was pregnant before feeling ashamed.
So we’ll give her points for that. But then she went on to pursue her ex-lover and boss, too, even sleeping with him to make Walt jealous out of anger. That’s low, Skyler. Even if your husband has become a drug lord known for making the purest blue meth.
6 Villain: When She Abandoned Walt
Like many of the entries on this list, it’s difficult to grasp how someone in Skyler’s position could possibly be considered a villain. But viewers so passionately sided with Walt, despite his transgressions, that Skyler was simply viewed as the annoying wife getting in the way of him building an empire.
When Walt confronts her with his iconic “I am the danger” and “I’m the one who knocks” speech, and we see the sheer terror in Skyler’s eyes, we feel for her. But then she threatens to accuse Walt of spousal abuse (admittedly in an effort to keep her kids out of the house and away from danger). But the lowest: when she tells Walt her only option is to wait until the cancer comes back and he dies. Ouch.
5 Hero: When She Picked Up the Financial Slack
After Walter leaves Gray Matter Technologies, selling his interests for just $5,000 (after which the company is worth billions) and Skyler loses her job, she picks up small jobs to ensure the family is still taken care of, including writing short stories and selling stuff on eBay.
A mom has to do what a mom has to do to support her family. Though not as lucrative as Walt’s eventual side venture, she helped out any way she could in the beginning (and up to the end).
4 Hero: When She Helps Him Launder Money
As an experienced bookkeeper, Skyler’s talents proved useful when she decided to save her family by helping Walter in hopes that everything would go away once he passed. She suggests they purchase the A1A Car Wash where he used to work, the most logical and easily explained solution to their “what do we do with all of this money?” issue. And it’s an easy business to launder money through.
Then, she handles the books, helping Walt funnel his ill-gotten funds through the business. She even goes so far as to write a script that explains away the extra cash and marital strife to her sister by suggesting that Walt had a gambling addiction.
3 Hero: When She Mothers Jesse
When Skyler first starts suspecting that something is up with Walt, she smartly follows the trail when Jesse calls, successfully identifies him, then confronts him about who she believes him to be – Walt’s pot dealer.
Looking out for her husband, she warns Jesse to stop giving her husband drugs or she’ll tell Hank, her brother-in-law who works for the DEA. But before leaving, she makes sure to also suggest to Jesse that he consider a career change. Once a mom, always a mom.
2 Hero: When She Starts Working For Walt
It sounds so strange to anyone who hasn’t watched the series, but when Skyler appears to hit her groove and enjoy helping Walt launder money, we can’t help but see her as a hero. She’s finally on board, storing mountains of cash in a storage shed, and feeling appreciated given her great abilities as a clever bookkeeper.
She also starts warming to Walt once again, seemingly abandoning their ideas of divorce, and remaining loyal to him even when Hank figures out that he’s Heisenberg, if for no other reason than the sake of her children. She is even, at one point, willing to have Jesse killed to save their butts. “We’ve come this far,” she says, “What’s one more?”
1 Hero: When She Tried to Help Ted Pay Off the IRS
Sure, she put the family in grave danger by using the money. But Skyler was thinking long-term when she decided to secretly give Ted more than half a million dollars to help him pay the IRS after they realized fraudulent behaviors at his company (she really knows how to pick ‘em!)
The idea, in her mind, was to avoid the IRS looking into her as well, knowing that she used to work for his firm. Way to take initiative, Skyler.