Someone has to protect this family from the man who protects this family.
|― Skyler White about her husband|
Skyler White (née Lambert) is the tritagonist in Breaking Bad. She is the wife of Walter White. Skyler and Walter have a teenage son, Walter White Jr., and an infant daughter, Holly White. Skyler cares for Walter very much, but their marriage becomes increasingly strained due to his unexplained absences and bizarre behavior, ultimately leading to their separation.
Later, once Walter reveals his involvement in the meth business, she initially seeks a divorce but ultimately ends up aiding him in laundering his illicit funds. At Skyler's behest, the Whites eventually procure the A1A Car Wash that Walter once had to work at. As Walter slowly becomes more of a "hardened criminal," she becomes increasingly frightened for her and her children's safety, attempting to get Walt Jr. and Holly as far away from their father as possible.
Background informationBorn on August 11, 1970, Skyler Lambert studied accounting and met Walter White while she was working in a restaurant near the Los Alamos National Laboratory (where Walter worked at the time). They soon married and moved to Albuquerque, buying the house in which they live in for the majority of the series. By then, Skyler is seen to be pregnant with Walter White Jr. (""). The only member of her immediate family that is known is her younger sister, Marie. Their parents are never mentioned throughout the series, so it is likely they are both deceased.
At some point, Skyler worked as an accountant at Beneke Fabricators, a company that was owned by Ted Beneke's father, Mr. Beneke. Skyler eventually stops working at the company apparently due to the poor condition of the facility ("").
After Walt abruptly leaves a breakthrough of a multi-billion dollar company Gray Matter Technologies and sells his financial interest for $5,000, Skyler becomes unemployed. In order to contribute to the family's financial security and gain a source of income, Skyler writes short stories and sells various items on eBay ("").
In the beginning of the series, Skyler is a loving, albeit controlling, housewife and mother of one with another on the way. She holds no formal employment, instead stating that she writes stories, sells things on eBay, and other miscellaneous sources of income. Her personal life is even more empty than that of her aging, repressed husband's, Walt's. Already concerned for his husband's health, she prepares him a birthday breakfast consisting of scrambled eggs topped with veggie bacon shaped in a "50".
Later that day, she organizes a surprise, and scolds her husband for showing up late, not knowing that he has just been humiliated by students at a carwash. Later that evening, Skyler performs a half-hearted hand job on her husband while on her laptop. Later, as Skyler and Walt go to the Family 1st Clothing store to buy a new pair of jeans for Walt Jr., they witness several high school jocks making fun of Walt Jr.. Walt tells Skyler to leave the situation alone, which allows them to continue making fun of their son. As Walt leaves the store, Skyler attempts to confront them, but Walt bursts back into the store and kicks the jock in the back of his knee, to Skyler's shock and Walt Jr.'s amazement. After Walt's first day as a meth cook, he comes home behaving in an unusually sexually aggressive way towards Skyler. This, along with Walt's decision to hide his cancer from his wife, causes her to become suspicious ("").
The following day, Jesse Pinkman leaves a message to Walt impersonating as a telemarketer. She traces the call and discovers a profane message containing a number. She searches this number on the web and comes across an offensive thug-like page belonging to Jesse. She later has a sonogram, which reveals that the baby is a girl. She takes the opportunity to confront Walt over the message, leading him to confess that Jesse is his pot dealer. She later ambushes Jesse, who is trying to dispose of a corpse. She warns Jesse just once to stop giving Walt marijuana or she will call Hank. As she leaves the premises, she advises him to consider a career change ("").
While painting a room, Skyler chats to Marie about writing a story she claims to be writing about a pot dealer. Marie erroneously thinks that Walt Jr. is a pothead, despite Skyler's assurances to the contrary. She later finds out Walt has been fired from the carwash, and tells Walt off via phone, claiming he is running late. She later breaks down in tears, causing Walt, having recently returned from strangling Krazy-8, to confess that he has cancer (""). Skyler is convinced that Walt got the cancer from laboratory chemicals and books an appointment with a top-rated oncologist. She asks if it is curable, to which the doctor prefers the word "treatable." She asks Walt about pressing ahead with treatment, but Walt is reluctant ("").
Skyler and Walt later attend a birthday party for Elliott Schwartz, and give Elliott a pack of ramen as a present. She approaches Elliott about giving Walt a high-paying job with his old company, which infuriates Walt. Skyler later arranges an intervention with the family using a pillow as a device to let people air their opinion to convince Walt to commence treatment. This backfires when Marie—and eventually Hank—side with Walt. "I don't want him to die at all!" screams Skyler. The following morning, Walt eventually relents, but declines Gray Matter's offer, preferring instead to cook meth (""). The suspicions aren't alleviated, however, when she notices Elliott hasn't provided them with a check for the treatment. She also remains convinced Walt doesn't want her around anymore ("").
Despite this, Skyler is happy with Walt's improved vigour, culminating in the two of them having sex in the back of the car. Later on, Skyler is the beneficiary of a baby shower, and is surprised at a gift that Marie gives her: a white gold, diamond-studded baby tiara. She decides to return the tiara to the store, but discovers that it was stolen. As a result, Skyler is detained and the store owner threatens to press charges. She responds by faking labour and is released. Skyler chases Marie around a women's clothing boutique, asking her why she stole the tiara. Marie says she doesn't know what Skyler is talking about. She discusses the incident with Walt, who tries to rationalize Marie's behavior on the basis that she was doing it for her family. Skyler then tells Walt that he wouldn't want to know what she'd do if it turned out Walt had stolen the tiara ("").
Angry at Marie's betrayal, Skyler starts ignoring Marie's attempts to contact Skyler to make amends. This leads to Hank coming around to tell Skyler to provide support for Marie to recover from her kleptomania, which irritates Skyler further. “I need support! ME!” exclaims Skyler, citing her pregnancy, a husband with lung cancer, a moody son, an overdrawn checking account, and a defective water heater as problems more pressing than those of her "spoiled, kleptomaniac, bitch sister" ("").
Walt's increasingly erratic behavior is not helping Skyler either, and things get complicated when he is kidnapped by Tuco. During his disappearance, Marie lets slip that Walt might have a second cell phone (""). Although relieved that Walt is found unharmed, Skyler raises the possibility of the second cellphone, to which Walt denies the allegations. Unconvinced, Skyler refuses to let Walt kiss her ("") and becomes emotionally distant, as well as makes unexplained trips out of the house. Despite Walt's attempts to apologize and reassure her that he is not cheating, Skyler remains unconvinced. "Congratulations," she tells him. "Shut up and say something that isn't complete bullshit." It is later revealed that she has taken up smoking again as a stress relief mechanism, despite being pregnant ("").
When the White family visit the Schraders, Skyler finally confronts Marie over the tiara. Initially resistant, Marie finally breaks down and apologizes when Skyler says, "I need my sister back." Later on, Walt confronts Skyler about the cigarette packet she had flushed down the toilet. She confesses that she had smoked three and a half cigarettes before disposing of them due to shame ("").
Still frustrated, she seeks solace in other ways, first by sneaking a few cigarettes while she was pregnant and later by encouraging Ted's romantic overtures (""). However, the attempts immediately halt when she learns about the fraudulent practices Ted is engaging in to protect his company ("").Upon Walt unknowingly confirming that he had a second cellphone while under sedatives for an operation, Skyler waits until Walt recovers from surgery to tell him she can no longer take his lies and is leaving him. Walt offers to confess the truth, but for Skyler, it is too late. She gives Walt a few days to gather his belongings and she leaves the house with Walt Jr. and Holly. "Whatever it is," she says, "I'm afraid to know" ("").
Season 3Eventually, Skyler does learn that Walt is a drug dealer and her relationship with Walt begins to crumble as she finds out more about him. Walt refuses to break off contact with Skyler or their children and forces himself back into the house against her wishes. Skyler tries to get back at him by having sex with Ted ("").
However, resigned to her fate, she begins to help Walt manage the financial aspects of his business, and seeks help from Saul Goodman for advice to launder money. Though Saul suggests to invest in a laser tag business, Skyler suggests to buy the car wash where Walt used to work.
Season 4There is a growing perception that Skyler is beginning to enjoy her new life as a criminal accomplice, becoming much more confident in her abilities to carry out the money laundering operation and becoming less concerned about his criminal transgressions. Skyler and Walt's relationship also begins improving as they make love for the first time since Skyler learned of Walt's meth cooking (""). They buy the car wash from Bogdan Wolynetz, which they use to launder Walt's money, and establish a gambling addiction story to explain their rocky relationship and newfound wealth to the other members of their family.
After the IRS catches onto the fraud at Beneke Fabricators, Skyler secretly gives Ted the $615,000 he needs to pay the IRS debt to avoid jail time. She fears that if the IRS digs any deeper into his business, they'll start digging into hers and could discover Walt's unreported drug money ("").
Ted instead decides not to pay off his debt immediately, possibly in an attempt to blackmail Skyler, so Skyler calls Saul Goodman who sends his "A-Team" to force Ted to pay off the IRS. Walt, unfortunately, was unaware that Skyler had used the majority of their money, so when he returns home to find he no longer has enough to transport his family, he temporarily breaks down in fear of what Gus may do to them ("").
Skyler was until then unaware of the danger she was in, so when the DEA collected her and her family in response to Walter's anonymous warning, Skyler knew Walter was involved. After Walter's confrontation with Gus, Walter returned home to find Skyler still worried and confused. When Skyler asked Walter what happened, he simply replied "I won" ("").
After this incident, she becomes depressed, horrified, and scared of Walt, and helpless, at least monetarily and legally, as the wife of a drug manufacturer/ dealer. At first, she hides this, but first shows signs of it when she meets a wounded Ted in the hospital and threatens him, also breaking out into tears. At work, she lashes at the insanely babbling Marie and screams at her before bursting into tears. Walt thinks nothing of it when Marie fills him in. She is further distraught when she comes out of her bedroom to find Walt Jr. and Walt watching the final, violent scene of Scarface, likely terrified of the possibility that Walt's criminal actions may one day lead to a similar violent fate for her own family. Skyler shows Walt she is depressed soon after and doesn't like the fact he bought nice new cars for himself and Walt Jr..
On the evening of Walt's 51st birthday, Walt, Skyler, Walt Jr., Hank, and Marie finish a low-key birthday dinner in the Whites' backyard. After Walt Jr. excuses himself, Walt points out that it's been a year since his cancer diagnosis. As he reminisces about the early days of his treatment, Skyler slowly descends into the pool, fully-clothed, and sinks to the bottom. Panicked, Marie and Hank rush around the edge of the pool until Walt plunges in to pull her out ("").
As Skyler rests in the bedroom, Walt tells Hank about his marital issues, confirming Marie's story. Marie suggests she and Hank look after the kids until their issues are resolved. At Walt's prodding, Marie admits the plan is Skyler's idea. In the bedroom, Walt tells Skyler that Marie took the kids but asserts it is only a temporary situation. Skyler puts her foot down and says that even though she herself has been compromised, she will not have her children living in a house where dealing drugs and hurting people is glanced over. Skyler threatens to claim spousal abuse if Walt brings the kids home, but Walt mocks this, arguing that she wouldn't want the police involved, nor would she want to hurt Walt Jr. with that assertion. Walt taunts her to come up with a better plan. She finally breaks down, and admits that her only option is to wait until Walt's cancer returns to claim his life, a statement which visibly shocks him ("").
Later, Walt receives an expensive watch from Jesse for his birthday and comes home to find Skyler is smoking once again. When Walt Jr. refuses to leave the family home, and Skyler cannot say or do anything to convince him otherwise, Walt handles it. She sees he is sweaty and covered in dirt, and asks him if he has been out burying bodies. He responds by stating that he'll be robbing a train, puzzling Skyler.
Skyler comes home and finds that Walt is speaking with Jesse, so she cooks dinner for him and Walt. Throughout dinner, she ignores Jesse's attempts at conversation and sits there, drinking wine, almost silently. Jesse compliments her cooking and she brushes him off.
Later, Skyler helps Walt hide some methylamine at the car wash when he is hiding it from Mike—when she tries asking what it is and if anyone will kill for it, Walt lies and says no. One evening, Skyler asks Walt to take a drive with her to a nearby storage shed. Skyler shows Walt all his money in a gigantic pile, stating that she has no earthly idea how much money could possibly be there. Walt returns to Skyler a few days later, stating that he has retired from the meth cooking business. Skyler brings the kids back and smiles at Walt while they have a party on the patio with Hank and Marie. On their way home, Marie tells Hank that Skyler was talking about her upcoming family vacation in Europe "like it was a second honeymoon" ("").A short time later, Skyler and Walt continue to run the car wash together. Skyler serves Lydia, who confronts Walt in the car wash about the quality of the meth being produced at present. Skyler notices Lydia's expensive ride and asks, "Who washes a rental car?" Walt tells her this is none of his concern, and when Skyler asks who she is, Walt describes her as a former associate attempting to bring him back, which he says he will not do. Skyler quickly and forcefully confronts Lydia and tells her never to return ("").
Skyler soon receives a call from Hank, asking her to meet in a diner. Hank has discovered that Walter is Heisenberg and he seeks Skyler's testimony as evidence against his brother-in-law. When they meet, Hank's demeanor is initially comforting and respectful, but soon changes to demanding and hasty as Skyler begins to see that Hank's true intention seems to be apprehending Walt rather than the welfare of the extended family. After repeatedly and loudly asking if she is under arrest, causing a scene, to which Hank does not directly answer, Skyler angrily leaves the premises. Some time later, Skyler speaks with Marie, who, too, is initially delicate with her, but after a short but tense confrontation, Marie insists that Skyler tell everyone, including Walt Jr., that his father is a drug manufacturer. She physically attacks Skyler and attempts to steal Holly as she thinks that it isn't safe with Skyler and Walt. Hank realizes things have gone too far and intervenes, giving Holly back to Skyler, after which they leave.
Walt returns home from burying his meth earnings in the desert, and collapses. Skyler nurses him back to health on the bathroom floor, stating that she did not say a word to Hank because he is operating on suspicions and not evidence. Walt wants to turn himself in but Skyler disagrees, stating "You can't give yourself up without giving up the money, so maybe our best move here is to stay quiet" (""). Following this, Skyler and Walt are seen in their bedroom filming a confession video. Later on, the Whites meet the Schraders at a Mexican restaurant. They ask that they do not tell Walter Jr. about their history in the meth business since he is already carrying the burden of knowing that his father's cancer is back. Hank and Marie argue and refuse to cooperate, at which point Walt and Skyler leave Hank and Marie a copy of Walt's confession video, which implicates Hank as the culprit. Skyler is later seen in her office when Walt shows up to tell her that the plan worked and that everything's fine ("").
Skyler, along with Walter Jr., are forced to relocate to a hotel after the floor was soaked with gasoline. Skyler notices Walt arguing with Saul while there, and realizes Jesse had broken in earlier. "We've come this far. For us. What's one more?" she asks, trying to convince Walt that Jesse must be killed (""). Skyler then starts to teach Walter Jr. how to ring up customers when Saul arrives to chat with Walt. Afterwards, Skyler asks if there has been any progress on killing Jesse and is then forced to watch as Walt, after taking a phone call, frantically rushes to his car and leaves ("").She is then confronted by Marie, who triumphantly announces that Walt has been caught by Hank. Marie then forces Skyler to reveal everything to Walt Jr. or else she will. After doing so, Walt Jr. tells her off for lying to him and aiding his father in his crimes. Once they get home, they discover Walt is there, frantically packing clothes, as he tries to convince them to leave with him. Remembering that he was supposed to be arrested, Skyler demands to know where Hank is. After Walt confesses, Skyler reaches for a kitchen knife and tells him to get out and leave. Walt refuses and tries to get her to put the knife down, moving forward in the process. Scared and angry, Skyler lashes out, slashing his right hand in the process. The couple then starts to wrestle with the knife but Walter Jr. breaks the two of them up and calls the cops on his father. Walt panics and drives off with Holly, with a blood stained and horrified Skyler chasing behind before falling to her knees ("").
Later that evening, Walt contacts Skyler via a payphone and asks if the police are listening in. After lying to him that they aren't, she is then told off for "crossing him" and being ungrateful for what he had done for his family. After being called a "stupid bitch," Skyler realizes that this call is providing her with an alibi and simply responds, "I'm sorry." After being warned that she will end up like Hank if she makes one wrong move, Skyler asks for Holly back. Before fleeing, Walt leaves Holly in a fire truck with the Whites' address attached to her ("").
The call doesn't exonerate her, unfortunately, and she is interrogated by the DEA for information on Walt. Having no idea where he is, she is told to consult with an attorney. Later that night, she is ambushed by Todd and the neo-Nazis while going to check on Holly. She is warned not to say anything about Lydia's involvement in Walt's activities; having earlier met and warned Lydia to stay away from the Whites, she has now become a loose end. It is revealed that Skyler is eventually forced to move into an apartment and takes a job as a taxi dispatcher, having all their assets seized. She still maintains custody of the children, however ("").Upon Walt's return to Albuquerque, he meets Skyler one more time. She seems unsurprised that he shows up and merely sits still, smoking a cigarette. She tells him he looks "terrible" and he responds that he feels good. During the meeting, however, Marie calls, asking for a truce and informing her of Walt's return. Skyler gives Walt five minutes to explain himself. She is told that Walt wanted to give a proper goodbye. He tells her that the neo-Nazis who threatened her will be dealt with and after, Skyler grows angry as Walt says his usual phrase, "Everything I do is for the family." Skyler replies, "If I have to hear that one more time...!"
Walt finally confesses that he built his drug empire due to his pride and because he enjoyed it, not really to help his family. He gives her a lottery ticket with the coordinates for Hank and Gomez's burial with the intention of letting her strike a deal with the DEA for her freedom. Skyler lets him look and feel their daughter one last time before he leaves ("").
Personality and traits
- "Skyler is a pragmatist who will do pretty much anything to keep her family together."
- ―Vince Gilligan
Skyler's character started originally as a housewife who was clueless of her husband's criminal activities. She appeared to be the one wearing the pants in their marriage - making most of their decisions herself without any regard for Walt's own opinions - ranging from their financial decisions to things as trivial as dinner, likely adding to Walt's feelings of emasculation and inadequacy. She was very capable and willing to get her way in every matter that concerned the family and Walt personally, even planning an all-family intervention-style talk with Walter to utilize family pressure to convince him to undergo treatment and acting up when the talk didn't quite go her way. Nevertheless, she stood by her husband through lung cancer and took a part time job to support her family. However, Season 2 concluded with her realization that he had been lying to her about the source of his money, and Season 3 began with her intention of divorcing him after learning the truth. She hates the situation that her estranged husband has put the family in, but she's not willing or able to avail herself to the choice of getting Walt out of her life. She instead decides to do her part to make sure he doesn't go to prison and thus ruin her family. In a very pragmatic sense, Skyler remains married to Walt (a conscious decision because "spouses can't be forced to testify against each other, so there's that") and soon begins explaining his meth-gotten gains as gambling winnings from a card counting system, as well as using her bookkeeping skills to help Walter launder his money—all of which she does in order to help her family.
Skyler is the primary vehicle behind purchasing the car wash, which is, to her mind, the best fiction that she and Walt can tell the world about their source of income. The whole idea of this fiction that allows them to launder this money is very much a creation of Skyler’s, and part of Skyler's wish to keep the family together no matter what. Skyler goes to great lengths to write a script for she and Walt to memorize in order to convince Hank and Marie that they have come into this large amount of money through Walt’s illicit gambling. Eventually, Skyler's transformation into the manager actively laundering Walt's illicit gains deteriorates their marriage, making it somewhat of an unpleasant business relationship. In some ways, Skyler feels there is no reason for her to attempt to be a caring mother and wife when her estranged husband makes no bona fide effort at it either. As Skyler becomes further embroiled in illegal money laundering through the car wash, her survival instincts cause her to be incredibly cautious about making sure her and Walt's story stands up to scrutiny—this is demonstrated when she criticizes Walt for buying expensive champagne and a costly Challenger sports car for Walt Jr., both of which contradict their story of living on the edge.
Skyler's frustration with her situation with Walt gets to her in several ways: she smoked while pregnant and around her baby, started sleeping with her boss Ted Beneke, and staged a suicide attempt to voice her disgust with Walt's moral decline. Skyler, it appears, can sometimes act with pride and a controlling personality. When she goes to make sure Ted Beneke pays his IRS debt and he pointedly brushes her off (she is also frustrated that he bought a new Mercedes with the money and is considering hiring a tax attorney to try and get a better deal from the IRS), she can't help revealing to him that she was the source of the $600,000 that Ted was told by Saul Goodman had been left to him from his "Great Aunt Brigid's" Luxembourg estate.
Skyler's actions for the sake of the family sometimes left collateral damage to those around them, such as the accident involving Ted Beneke. But unlike Walt, she chooses to accept the reality and horror of her actions (as painful as this is to her). She becomes terrified of Walt following the murder of Gus Fring and Walt's voluntary re-entry into the Meth business. But her resolve to protect the family remained in tact, and she seemed to be at greater ease following Walt's retirement (""). Once Hank finally caught on to Walt's former activities, she remained loyal to Walt for the sake of protecting their children. After Hank's death and Walt leaving town, she is forced to defend herself from federal prosecutors accusing her as an accomplice to Walt's crimes. When Walt returns to say help her and say his final goodbye, she is noticeably thinner and appears to be a shell of the person she once was. Once Walt finally confesses that everything he did was for himself, she appears to feel some sense of relief. She is last seen observing Walt feel their daughter for the last time, with what look to be a soft smile on her face ("").
- "I need support. Me, the almost 40-year old pregnant woman with the surprise baby on the way. And the husband with lung cancer who disappears for hours on end and I don't know where he goes and he barely even speaks to me anymore. With the moody son who does the same thing. And the overdrawn checking account. And the lukewarm water heater that leaks rusty looking crap and is rotting out the floor of the utility closet and we can't even afford to fix it! But OH, I see! Now I'm supposed to go, "Hank, please, what can I possibly do to further benefit my spoiled, kleptomaniac bitch sister who somehow always manages to be the center of attention?" 'Cause God knows she's the one with the really important problems!"
- ―Skyler talking to Hank Schrader.
- Walter: "I just worry that he'll blame you for this."
- Skyler: "Oh, he will. Once again, he'll blame his bitch mother for taking away what his loving father has given him. So, thanks for that. But you know what, Walt? Someone has to protect this family from the man who protects this family."
- ―Skyler explains why Walt must return the car he bought for Walt Jr.[src]
- Walter: "Skyler, you can't beat yourself up over this thing. Please. You didn't set out to hurt anybody. You made a mistake and things got out of control. But you did what you had to do to protect your family. And I'm sorry, but that doesn't make you a bad person. It makes you a human being."
- Skyler: "Stop it, Walt. Just stop. I don't need to hear any of your bullshit rationales. I'm in it now. I'm compromised. But I won't — I will not — have my children living in a house where dealing drugs and hurting people and killing people is shrugged off as "shit happens!" We're back at it? Fine. But the kids stay away, and that's that."
- ―Walter and Skyler arguing.[src]
- Skyler: "This is it. This is what you've been working for. I rented this place and I started bringing it here, because...I didn't know what else to do. I gave up counting it. I mean, I had to. It was just so much, so fast. I...I tried weighing it. I figured one bill of any denomination weighs a gram. There are 454 grams to a pound, but...there's a variety of denominations. So..."
- Walter: "How much is this?"
- Skyler: "I have no earthly idea. I truly don't. I just stack it up, keep it dry, spray it for silverfish. There is more money here than what we could spend in ten lifetimes. I certainly can't launder it, not with 100 car washes. Walt...I want my kids back. I want my life back. Please tell me...how much is enough? How big does this pile have to be?"
- ―Skyler and Walt staring at the pile of money[src]
- Skyler's maiden name Lambert is also the maiden name of Vince Gilligan's mother Gail
- Mike Ehrmantraut is the only main character who never met Skyler.
- In the final episode (""), after Walter says goodbye to Holly and leaves the room, Skyler's shadow once she tilts her head to the front resembles for a few seconds that of a woman who hung herself. This could mean that she will eventually kill herself, although nothing is certain.
- This however could also have been an indirect reference to one alternative storyline proposed by Gilligan where Skyler indeed commits suicide, but not through hanging. In that storyline, Skyler does join Walt in running away from home, and get holed up in a motel. Walt would then figure out a plan and assure Skyler (from outside the bathroom) that things will be okay, only to be too late and discover Skyler in a bloody bathtub having had slit her wrists. This idea was however rejected by the other writers, having stated this to be a bridge too far.
- Skyler's birthday is actually the same as Anna Gunn's, though the latter was born on 1968, two years before her character.
- Skyler's vehicles include: