Forget Gus: Todd is the most dangerous villain on 'Breaking Bad'

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Image Credit: Ursula Coyote/AMC

(Spoilers ahead.)

Before Breaking Bad fans start threatening me with a kitchen knife or melting my body in acid (shudder), hear me out: Gus was amazing. Tio was brilliant (ding!). The Cousins, Tuco, Krazy 8, even Don Eladio in his two-episode appearance — all memorable, ruthless villains for Walt and Jesse.

But Todd (Friday Night Lights‘ Jesse Plemons) is more dangerous than any of them.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, put that ricin away. I’m not arguing Todd’s a better, or even the greatest, villain; I’m saying he’s the most dangerous. Think about it: He’s a cold-yet-utterly calm young man following in his neo-Nazi uncle’s footsteps who has the guts to tell a man who witnessed his brother-in-law’s death, “Sorry for your loss.” That’s not just deeply unsettling — that’s showing the makings of something much worse.

I know what you’re probably thinking:

But Todd doesn’t look all that intimidating. He’s just a kid.

No, he’s not the strongest character the show’s ever seen (that honor probably goes to the Cousins), but has muscle ever truly mattered on Breaking Bad? This is a show about a milquetoast high school chemistry teacher dying of lung cancer who slowly transforms into a drug kingpin. Episodes are more prone to shootouts than fistfights, and deaths occur in the wildest ways: Walt has run over foes with his Aztek and hit them with poisonous gas (yeah, science!). Same goes for Gus, whose preferred weapon is a box cutter. There’s no need for a villain on this show to be bulky, and Todd’s look only makes him more threatening because he looks so, well, innocent, like a weirdly twisted version of Norman Bates.

Okay, then what about brains? Todd’s nowhere near as manipulative or as cunning as his predecessors.

That’s exactly the problem: Todd’s not a calculating villain. He’s reckless and unreasonable, and that makes him do unexpected, terrifying things. Did he think twice before shooting Drew Sharp? Did he consider the moral ramifications of sending his uncle’s gang to coordinate the murder of 10 prisoners? Does he know what “consequence” means? Gus also ordered killings, including one of a child, but he did so to protect his empire. Todd’s instincts told him to pull the trigger, no other reason needed. Without a moral compass, he’s remorseless, nonchalantly chaining Jesse up like a dog, forcing him to cook — a fate much worse than death.

Fine, but you still can’t call him the most dangerous Big Bad on Breaking Bad. He listens to his uncle, and his uncle’s a bigger threat.

That’s true in some ways — we saw him quick to agree with Jack that the batch he cooked for Lydia appeared blue in “To’hajiilee,” and also heard him loudly brag about the “Dead Freight” train heist to him and Kenny. But Todd’s need to impress his uncle just makes him scarier: He’s a yes-man type henchman for a white supremacist, and he’s in the perfect position to learn how to succeed in crime. He already easily convinced Jack to let him take Jesse away for torture; a few more stunts, and he’ll be next in line.

Todd still has weaknesses. What about Lydia?

His crush? Please. Todd’s relationships are superficial: Just look at how he interacted with Walt. He certainly respected his former mentor, but did he try to help him out? Just a “Sorry for your loss,” while Jack decided to leave Walt one barrel of money. Todd feels no need to do anything beyond those four words if he doesn’t get anything out of doing more. Lydia should stop playing off of his pseudo-affection, because sooner or later, she’ll be in trouble, and Todd will abandon her too.

Ultimately, the most dangerous quality about Todd isn’t what we know about him; it’s what we don’t know. He’s a forgettable, passive face, a villain who doesn’t appear to be a villain — and might not even mean to be one in the first place. (He’s even expressionless when he shoots.) He doesn’t have a multi-syllabic alter ego, à la Heisenberg. He doesn’t run a business. He’s just Todd. Cold, calm, disturbing Todd, polite to the point of creepy, incapable of reason, fully capable of killing.

So I’m calling it now: With two episodes left, Todd’s about to cause more trouble because there’s no telling what he’ll do. That’s what makes him more formidable than anyone Walt’s met — aside from Heisenberg himself.

Of course, I could be completely wrong. Todd may never become a leader of a gang or drug empire, never shoot another person and never deal with his uncle again. Who knows? PopWatchers, what do you think Todd will do in the next two episodes? Sound off in the comments below.


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