The Colorful World of Breaking Bad
Breaking Bad has used color as symbolism from the beginning, the most obvious being in the names Walter White and Jesse Pinkman (a nod to Mr. White and Mr. Pink from Reservoir Dogs? Who knows). Walter White also lives on Negra Arroyo Lane (Black Stream/Creek), an obvious statement on his journey from mild-mannered schoolteacher, to murderous, drug kingpin. The light vs dark/good vs evil isn't the only color scheme the show presents us with. A wide palette of colors appear--some slowly manifesting into our consciousness after several episodes or seasons. Last Sunday's episode, the half-season finale Gliding Over All was not only packed full of Godfather-esque lighting set-ups, action and a shocking, cliff-hanger ending, but there was an over-stimulation of color. I'm still picking up on the color patterns after several viewings. Seeing how this show and the characters are so interconnected, and having seen interviews with Vince Gilligan about his process for the show, I have no doubt the color choices-- just as the characters, plot, camera and lighting--have a motivation behind them.
This is a big one. They make blue meth--the blue color is the signature trait, and all the other would-be meth makers, including Gale, "cannot account for the blue color."
In a couple episodes back, Skyler White had a sky blue wall in her office. She was also wearing a blue skirt when she fell into the blue pool which is reminiscent of the blue meth in its liquid stage--her life is being consumed by Walt's involvement in the meth manufacturing business. Remember this?
In Gliding Over All, Skyler comes home to find Walt sitting beside the pool at night. The lighting is ethereal--they push the glimmering blue lighting to the limit here, almost like the blue has a life of its own.
Skyler says to Walt "Take a drive with me" and this is when the Blue gets intense. Both Skyler and Walt are wearing blue shirts. The hallway in the storage unit is white with all blue doorways. If done wrong, it could've come off as cheesy and too "on the nose" but moments like these are when the show becomes highly stylized and feels like a Kubrick movie--we're shown that they live in a bubble, in a double life, a world of secrets, and their world is meth. Blue meth. Their world would be blue.
Remember the meth super lab was red, and that didn't end so well, and blood is red, so maybe we can assume blood means death? There was so much red in this half-season finale.
-The news anchor giving the news about the prison deaths was wearing red.
-Lydia's nails were red.
-Lydia's mug is red (and Walt almost killed her with the ricin) and Skyler's mug that the Crystal Blue persuasion montage connected them with was red.
Most striking to me was that the tarp the big pile of money was on, was red AND in a mirror image, the blanket that baby Holly gets laid on in the playpen was red.
Marie suddenly starts wearing yellow in this episode despite her life being ridiculously full of purple.
Here's a reminder of the insane amount of purple in Hank and Marie's house from Gliding All Over (Also notice the news anchor on the television reporting the prison deaths and her red outfit).
When Marie is sitting in the living room with Skyler, we can see a little of a yellow shirt underneath her purple one.
Then when they're all outside on Walt and Skyler's deck, she's wearing a yellow shirt and yellow bracelets. This is a huge change, considering Marie has worn purple almost every single time we've seen her. What does it mean? Does it signal a change in her role in the story now that Hank has just made a huge discovery? I can't wait to find out.
To tie the BLUE, RED and YELLOW together, baby Holly is being pushed around by her brother in a little toy stroller that is, you guessed it, BLUE, RED and YELLOW!
At one point during the amazing crystal blue persuasion montage, Lydia, Skyler and Walt are all wearing grey--perhaps to represent the new "Grey Matter" Empire?
Check it out around 1:20! (plus, the green barrels--money? And Lydia's red nails!)
For more on color in Breaking Bad check out The Changing Colors of Breaking Bad
Or check out my weekly Better Call Saul Rundowns for season 4, including the colors.