Albuquerque, New Mexico will forever be a tourist spot thanks to Breaking Bad. The monumental success of the AMC series left it's blue-tinted mark on pop culture history during it's original run from 2008-2013. With a flawless cast and a plot that became almost as addictive as meth, Breaking Bad became a television kingpin. Walter and the gang earned 16 Emmys and a Guinness World Record for best rated TV show of all time thanks to a 99 out of 100 rating for it's final season on Metacritic.
Breaking Bad's impact on society is immeasurable. 62 episodes was all it took to capture Walter White's transformation, the impact it had on his family and those around him- winning the attention and the hearts of the world. There's a reason Breaking Bad fans are some of the most vocal and passionate ones you'll ever come across: the show is much more than 62 episodes of pure adrenaline and emotion, it's an experience. When a television series can catch the attention of so many people across so many walks of life, you know it's doing something right. In Breaking Bad's case, it was doing everything right.
Creator Vince Gilligan, along with his co-writers and crew, were able to deliver one of the most intricate and well-filmed shows ever. With easter eggs galore and some well placed foreshadowing, there are many reasons to go back and watch the entire series all over again. These hidden pieces of imagery and symbolism are more than deserving of the praise the show has gotten over the last few years. Every time I watch it, I notice something new. From use of color, science, mythical lore and clever character arcs to repetitive prop placements, there are so many goodies to find inside of Breaking Bad. I'd like to share some of my favorites.
Color Me Emoted: The Clothing Speaks
One extremely interesting concept is that psychologists around the world pay attention to their patients' clothing. The reason? We subconsciously dress in a way that complements our feelings: we literally wear our emotions on our sleeves. Its no surprise that Vince Gilligan wanted color choice to play a key role in Breaking Bad. Being all about the story beyond the surface, he wanted viewers to be able to see the arcs in each character's evolution to be brought out in every way.
An article published on Slate perfectly explains how color plays a key role in Breaking Bad. The evolution of each character can be cataloged by the colors they wore throughout the entire show. For example, Walt starts out with very washed out hues. As he grows into his alter ego, the colors become bolder, brighter and bluer (to match his product). When the happenings are all too heavy, Walt wears more black. As the cancer returns: washed out tones return. The same is true for all of the characters and seeing their wardrobe choices laid out like barcodes in the image above kept me thinking on it for hours. It was a subtle yet crucial element to place in the show. Vince Gilligan is thorough and epically creative with his work: a master of his craft.
Walt/Heisenberg: A Lesson In Uncertainty and Duality
The name Walter chose for his alter ego was not the result of a moment of scholarly whimsy. Werner Heisenberg is the name of a renowned physicist that historically contributed to the world of quantum mechanics with his research involving subatomic particles. His work became known as Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. Simply put, the principle states that photons of light can act both as particles and as waves, therefore they exist as the possibility of both at the same time. We can only observe these particles in one state or the other, ergo we may be uncertain as to which state it is in and must choose which to see it as.
In Reflections on Heisenburg: The Uncertainty of Breaking Bad, Infobytes explains in detail how the Uncertainty Principle relates to the story of Walter and his struggle with Heisenberg, his other self. Basically, we can only see him as Walt or Heisenberg. There is no and. This explains why Walt eventually and truly "breaks bad" and decides to carry on as Heisenberg and leave the life of Walter White behind.
The video also references an episode in which Walt is teaching his chemistry class about chiral molecules. These molecules are like mirror images of each other, the same yet different. As Mr. White explains:
"Although they may look the same, they don't always behave the same"
This speaks to Walt's duality. He and his alter ego are chiral personalities. They cannot be joined together despite how similar they are. He and Heisenberg are not able to coexist. Although he is teaching this very principle, Walt is reluctant to come to terms with this harsh truth. This scientific allusion coupled with the distinct use of mirrors throughout the series may be a reference to a doppelganger, an evil mythical entity that is essentially evil twin of a human being.
The image above does a wonderful job of portraying how this Breaking Bad science lesson is relevant. This entire commentary was intriguing and educational. If you take the time to watch it, you won't regret it.
The Little Things Are The Big Things: Easter Eggs And Hidden Messages
Breaking Bad has a ton of foreshadowing and symbolism: it also has an abundance of easter eggs! Most of these "did you knows" are already known to most, but I felt the best ones still had a home in my article. Vince Gilligan was meticulous in placing so many hidden eggs and references to other episodes, things to come, even things that have passed. It's just plain fun to look back on these! Did I list one that was new to you? Spoilers!!!
1) The first time Walt and Jesse cook, Walt loses his trousers in an attempt to speed away from their cook site and avoid discovery. In the tail end of the series, Walt is rolling the one barrel of money he has left across the desert. He rolls it right past his pair of trousers.
2) The titles of the four season 2 episodes that included the black and while trailer intros (foreshadowing) come together to say: 737 Down Over ABQ. I see what you did there, Vince!
3) The license plate in the series finale says "Live Free or Die" on the top. Isn't it funny how in the end, Jesse lives free and Walt dies?
4) The strangulations come full circle. Walt's first murder victim, Crazy 8, was strangled to death with the bike lock that was used to restrain him. Jesse's final victim, Todd, was killed with a chain.
5) The charred teddy bear did more than foreshadow the plane crash. It also foretold Gus' death and also made an appearance on the mural Jane painted in her bedroom.
6) There are 62 episodes of Breaking Bad. The 62nd element on the periodic table is Samarium: used to treat lung cancer.
7) Walt takes on the traits of the people he kills. With Crazy 8, he starts cutting the crusts off of sandwiches. After killing Gus, he starts placing towels under his knees when he gets sick. Following Mike's death, he begins taking his whiskey on the rocks instead of straight up.
8) Going back to the color codes I mentioned earlier: the Golden Moth chemical label on a methylamine barrel at Madrigal is coded 00892-B. This is an HTML code for a shade of green. The van Walt uses to transport his barrels of bucks has a licence plate that reads D4DD31: another HTML code, this time for a shade of yellow. Green and yellow are worn the most by? Yep, Walt and Jesse.
10) The final episode, Felina, is an anagram for finale. It also contains the elements Fe=Iron, Li=Lithium and Na=Sodium. We know that Lithium is a key ingredient in the production of meth, therefore the final episode's name boils down to: Blood, Meth and Tears
Breaking Bad left behind a legacy that will live on for many years to come. It was able to tell such a heartbreaking story in a thrillingly entertaining way. Leaving no detail out, Vince Gillian, the crew and the cast came together to create what will go down in history as one of the most revered television shows of all time. From simple easter eggs lying on the ground to large scale messages that required digging to discover, there were so many interesting things to take away from Breaking Bad. Its a show no one should ever take at face value.
What are your thoughts? Did I leave out an easter egg? If you discovered or have another science connection, why not leave a comment! Check out this Honest Trailer for Breaking Bad for some laughs and follow me here for more awesome posts!