It always seemed to me that Marie's shop lifting was an arc in Breaking Bad that the writers abandoned. So why was Marie's shop lifting arc abandoned after the third season or so? How did the stealing fit in the theme of things?
That story arc seemed like it was abandoned, but it did a lot to establish character relationships early in the series. When Skyler confronts Marie about her stealing, we see that Skyler is strongly against breaking the law, and that she encourages her sister to do the right thing by returning a stolen gift. We also see that Skyler can see through a lie when Marie denies any wrongdoing. This is interesting for a couple of reasons:
Walt is apparently a much better liar than Marie, as he's able to hide his crimes from Skyler for a lot longer.
The relationship between the sisters is reversed by the end of the series, when Hank and Marie find out about crimes commited by Walt and (eventually) Skyler.
To me the entire premise of Breaking Bad was that no one is entirely good or bad. The writers, knowing that the best characters are flawed characters has made each cast member have both positive and negative attributes. Analysis of the entire cast shows their dichotomous nature:
- Walt - The mild mannered school teacher who becomes a drug lord
- Jesse - The drug addict with a conscience
- Hank - The experienced cop who survives (for a great while)by pure luck
- Skyler - The loving wife and mother who has an affair
Marie needs to have another side. She seems like a stepford wife on the surface with everything going perfect. Her shoplifting was added to even out her perfect nature.
the shoplifting arc wasn't abandoned, (its mentioned that she was seeing a shrink about it by Hank, which would explain it's absence for a while) but in Season 4 episode, Open House, Marie began shoplifting again (most likely a subliminal cry for help due to Hank's verbal abuse while he was bedridden and collecting "minerals"). after she was arrested for trying to steal from an open house, she was bailed out by Hank's cop buddy Tim. Tim then asked for a favor in return, for Hank to look at a case Tim was working on, which was the homicide of Gale Boetticher. Which, of course, had major consequences. so if Marie wasn't a shoplifter, Hank would have never discovered Gus' secret, and Hank wouldn't ever have seen Gale's Walt Whitman quote in his lab notes, and made the connection to Walter in season 5.
I think the whole shoplifting arc had a lot to do with Hank. The moment Marie started it al her relationship with Hank was not good at all. Marie tried her best too fix it but Hank had is own troubles about going to Juarez if I recall correctly. After that it stoppped for a while, but when Hank gets in recovery after he gets shot. Mariage problems started up again. Hank won't talk too Marie. And when Marie couldn't take it anymore she started imposing as someone else and going to open houses. And eventually stealing stuff again.
I don't think the shop lifting theme was abandoned in the series but they have put it to an end. Here's my interpretation.
Initially, Marie was shown to us that she shop lifts for fun and no profit. But when Skyler finds out about that, as mentioned in Bill the Lizard's answer, Skyler was completely against shop lifting and gives lecture and goes hard on Marie to stop doing it.
It's been a long time but I definitely remember Hank makes her to visit a shrink to deal with her problems like shop lifting. After that, there were no scenes regarding Marie's shop lifting for so many episodes, But when Hank is paralyzed from waist down, Marie starts stealing again few expensive antiques or other objects, posing as different persons but this time it's for profit or money because guilt consumed her because she's taking her sister's money for Hank's treatment.
While stealing, she gets caught and was taken to prison and we were shown that Marie cries and realizes her mistake. For me it makes perfect sense that No person like Marie would again do the same mistakes like stealing after going through a lot of humiliation and also putting a dignified officer like Frank in the spot for her release from prison.