In the middle of the first season of Breaking Bad, Walter White decided to shave his head instead of lose his hair as a result of chemotherapy. This marked a shift, not only in his character, but in the whole tenor of the show. It was the first step in the death of Walter White, the friendly chemistry teacher and doofy-haircut-and-pathetic-mustache-haver who things happened to, and the creation of Heisenberg, the menacing goateed meth kingpin who happens to things. The man who took out rival drug dealers in dramatic fashion. The man who ordered carefully orchestrated jailhouse murders. The man who would let nothing, and no one, get in his way, and who instilled fear in his enemies using only a black hat, a stern word, and a pair of sunglasses. By taking his own hair before the world took it from him, he changed from a man of reaction to a man of action, and it affected the lives of everyone he came in contact with throughout the show’s 54 episodes.
But what if he had a Justin Bieber wig?
Seriously. What if, after shaving his head, Walter White looked in the mirror and realized he had a lumpy, misshapen skull? That can happen, you know. You don’t know what your head looks like until you shave it. And what if he decided that no one would take a drug dealer with an ugly cratered head seriously, so he decided to drive to the wig store to find something to cover it up? And what if he picked a Justin Bieber wig?
It would have changed EVERYTHING. Like, imagine Walter’s first meeting with Gus Fring in Los Pollos Hermanos. Gus Fring, the careful, bespectacled Chilean businessman, staring at this middle-aged white man in a Justin Bieber wig, who supposedly cooks the best methamphetamine in the known world. He would have thought Walt was totally unhinged. There’s no way he would have chosen to do business with him. And with no Walt in the picture, Gus and Gale and Mike would probably still be around today, cooking pretty dang good meth and raking in money hand over fist while Walt struggles to find a distributor and barks at Jesse to grab him a hair tie so his “hair” doesn’t get tangled in his gas mask. Again.
And imagine how his family would have reacted. Skyler would have worried about his mental state at first (because Skyler worries), and Hank would have busted his balls (because Hank busts balls), but think about Walt, Jr. Poor, poor Walt, Jr., getting driven to school by his dad — a teacher — who was now explaining science to his peer group from underneath an obvious, floppy hairpiece inspired by a then-teenaged pop star. It could have shifted the entire family dynamic, with Walt, Jr. now siding with his mom on every decision because he was so ashamed. It would have been unbearable for him. Almost as unbearable as getting that PT Cruiser.
But most of all, imagine that speech. You know the one.
Imagine Walter White screaming at his wife that HE IS THE DANGER and HE IS THE ONE WHO KNOCKS, but having to pause two or three times to brush his uncooperative bangs out of his eyes. She wouldn’t have taken him seriously at all. “Yeah, okay buddy. You’re the danger. Got it,” she would have said while rolling her eyes so far back into her head that she’d be able to see her own brain. “And maybe ‘The Danger’ should think about cleaning out the gutters this weekend.” One of the greatest and most memorable television moments of the last 10-15 years would have essentially become a tantrum a flustered teenage girl would throw because her mom showed up at the mall in sweatpants in front of all her friends.
And so, instead of where Walter White is now, as a possibly retired drug lord who terrorized or killed everyone in his way and is currently sitting on a pile of money big enough to shape into a fair-sized love seat, he’d probably be a weird-looking chemistry teacher who is flaming out of the drug game and whose family views him with either pity, shame, or outright contempt. All because he bought a Justin Bieber wig, and none of which we’d get to see, because that would have made for a terrible television show that AMC mercifully canceled after two seasons, tops.
I’m glad Walter White didn’t buy a Justin Bieber wig.
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