Few genres are as durable as the White Messiah story: a white man shows up in a foreign culture and turns out to be better than the natives at whatever their specialty is, or the only person who can save them, or (preferably) both. Think of Karate Kid or, more recently, Avatar or the Christopher Nolan Batman films. Even Alice in Wonderland has been recast as a messianic narrative of this kind.
After reading some tweets from Malcolm Harris pointing out that in the current episodes, basically all non-white characters have been killed, it occurs to me that Breaking Bad is a weird kind of variation on the White Messiah theme — based on the hugely racist premise that the characteristic talent of Mexicans is drug dealing. He and Jesse make better meth in their RV than the cartel has been able to produce in their ample super-labs. And despite their general incompetence and their tragically sacrificed moral sense (totally lacking in the Mexican characters), they somehow manage to outlive all the ruthless killers they come in contact with. We have to wait until next summer to figure out the precise shape the “redemption” will take, however.
A FOOTNOTE: I’ve also been noticing more explicitly spaghetti Western themes in my second viewing, which I’m not sure how to connect with the White Messiah theme. For instance, one could see Hank, Walt, and Tuco as parallel to the trio in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (where the “ugly” Mexican protagonist is also literally named Tuco). The nom de meth “Heisenberg” also indirectly evokes the namelessness of Clint Eastwood’s character (called “blondy” by Tuco). I’m sure that if I rewatched the Sergio Leone trilogy, I’d see a lot more parallels.