The final 8 episodes of Breaking Bad are being filmed right now. It gives us a chance to look through the seasons again—especially at color symbolism and the changing color patterns. In addition to my other blog post The Colorful World of Breaking Bad, I had a few more thoughts about it.
In the pilot episode Walt, dressed in all beige and tan, stands before his high school class and discusses his favorite topic and passion in life—chemistry—while laying out a thesis for the entire show in one quote.
“Chemistry, well, technically, is the study of matter, but I prefer to see it as the study of change.”
He then sprays a flame from a Bunsen burner with three different spray bottles—green, blue and red (money, meth and death?). This is the intro to his story. His life changes drastically and we rarely see him wear beige and tan again, but those colors appear over and over--the blue meth, the blood, the red meth super-lab, Jesse's red clothing, the green money.
Later, in Season 4 episode 4 “Bullet Points” Hank is recovering from his gunshot injuries in his crazy purple bedroom.
He’s taken a bizarre interest in “minerals” and is showing Walt Jr. a mineral when Walt cuts in and re-states the color thesis of the show.
Walt Jr: "What makes it be all pink like that?"
Hank: "Well that's the Manganese part, ok? It oxidizes, like, like rust."
Walt: "Exactly, Manganese can have an oxidation between minus three and plus seven which takes it through a range of colors--purple, green, blue--but it's most stable state is plus two... which is usually pale pink."
When I first saw this episode, I thought Walt was referring to Jesse; Jesse Pinkman is the pink color, and through all the ups and downs the two of them have been through, all the emotions and the colors to represent these emotions, in this moment, after Gale has been murdered and Walt is more concerned about evading the DEA and making money off meth, the most stable character is still Jesse because he’s the moral compass of the show. He’s re-lapsed again with the drugs but there’s a pretty significant reason why—he had to kill an innocent person and he can’t handle it. This is a normal reaction opposed to Walt’s narcissistic drive to save himself no matter the consequences.
Jesse struggling with the consequences of his actions by turning his house into "skid row" as Walt calls it.
At a second look, I also think the mineral quote is referring to Walt and Jesse’s relationship. They created the world of Breaking Bad, this bubble of meth manufacturing, digging themselves deeper into the lies, the murders and law-breaking. When they’re torn apart either from fighting each other or having other people plot them against each other, things go very badly. But when they work together, their messed up world is the most stable, hence Mr. White + Pinkman= “its most stable state is plus two...which is usually pale pink.”
One last thing I wanted to point out is the connection made between Gale and Jesse. Do the lightning bolts mean anything? I think Gale's death always plagues Jesse. Also, Walt officially made a statement to Declan and the cartel that Jesse is as good a meth cook as he is now, perhaps equating him with the level of mastery that Gale had of chemistry.
A closer look at Gale's infamous notebook.
Jesse's lightning bolt t-shirt in season 5
For more colors in Breaking Bad, check out The Colorful World of Breaking Bad.
News from the Captain's Quarters.