*(WARNING: spoiler alert)*
The show chronicles the transformation of Walter White, from a Nobel award contributor, and high school chemistry teacher, into ALBUQUERQUE ’S meth king-pin supremo. Far from being the protagonist of the series, WALT proves to be the catalyst for the disintegration of all that is good around him, and we are witness to how he becomes the embodiment of the TUMOUR that threatens his own existence.
Chemistry is the study of change
Chemistry, and not Walt, however, is Breaking Bad’s most notable character, and specific credit must be given to the show’s refusal to dumb down the science references used. Instead, the writers relish in the opportunity to meticulously describe, visualise and explain the complex chemical processes used by MR WHITE and his tragically humorous side-kick, JESSE.
Beakers, conical flasks, volumetric flasks, test tubes and clamps set the scene, and a black light along with a special delivery of DRY ICE from Chillisticks added the finishing touches to the display.
A high proportion of screen time focuses on the pair’s METHAMPHETAMINE manufacturing facilities, as well as demonstrating how Walt applies his technical GENIUS to building brilliant devices, concocting poisons and mastering the technique of “living tissue” disposal (the infamous “bath tub” scene in season one is quite apt for a Halloween appearance!).
It may be blue, but it’s the bomb
Cinematographers have succeeded in developing a rich visual identity for the show, with COLOUR playing its own significant role. Frame by frame, colour is used to distinguish between characters, moods and landscapes, and the vibrancy of the show’s enhanced pallets are striking.
BLUE, in particular, pervades the series, as word of the chemical purity of HEISENBERG’S signature blue crystal spreads across the South West, beyond the border into cartel country, and later into Eastern Europe.
Walter White + Elliott and Gretchen Schwarz = GREY MATTER, Marie’s obsession with the colour purple, Skyler and Jesse PINKman are further examples of how colour saturates the show.
As an English Literature graduate, and having elected to enrol on a number of critical theory classes, I love how multi LAYERED Breaking Bad is, and has proved (with hindsight) to be. Its imagery and symbolism is boundless, and provides a vast catalogue of interpretations ready to be devoured by all literary criticism enthusiasts.
It’s vivid deep CERISE hue and two-face-esq burns have continuing significance from season two onwards, and particularly for the shocking finale of season four. If you are yet to watch the show, or wish to rediscover it (which I would, by the way, certainly recommend), you could have some fun and play a game of Where’s Wally/Waldo, with Wally/Waldo substituted by this pink teddy. There are at least three other sightings of him in season two…
Just because you shot Jesse James, don’t make you Jesse James
Ozymandias: I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it.
At its heart, Breaking Bad is a good old-fashioned MORALITY play, with undertones of a classic Western. Refreshingly DARK, Breaking Bad really does deserve all the hype and critical acclaim it has received during its five year run, and I for one, will certainly miss it!