What makes Walter White such a successful liar and manipulator? He has no fear of death. He told Hank that he’d never slept so good since his cancer diagnosis. He told Skyler that he felt alive doing the things that he did to “provide for his family”.
Walt’s ability to survive was his willingness to die. He knew it was all a game anyway. The title of the next to last episode, Ozymandias, gives it away. Except that Walter was greater than Ozymandias. He knew that he would pass and that his legacy would die. Therefore, others would as well. There was no victory, only living and dying. So as long as he could live through one more challenge, the game continued, and he became emboldened.
Just look at how far he was willing to go when he poisoned Brock. His manipulation of Jesse was so complete, so perfect, because he was 100% willing to let Jesse kill him. His willingness to die to try to convince Jesse that Gus had poisoned the boy overcame Jesse’s instinctual knowledge that Walt was the guilty party.
If you have nothing to lose, you have everything to gain. And while Jesse was certainly not up to the task to discuss the moral benefits of poisoning children, Hank valued no life, not even his own, so it was all gain in order to win his game.
This is my second go-round on this series. The first time I watched this episode, I did not know what was happening and believed him myself. This time, the transformation from Walter White to Heisenberg is complete. He expands his territories outside of the guilty parties, and infects those that are free of his grips. At this point, he is no different than the neo-nazis that killed Andrea to make Jesse cook. In fact, he’s worse, because he was deceptive the entire time, whereas the NNs were straightforward in their purpose and intentions.
Walt is one sick son-of-a-bitch. And at the same time, the perfect anti-hero, because as much as you hate him, the scenarios in which he finds himself, his winning seems better than the enemies he stands against.