Throughout Breaking Bad‘s five compelling seasons, Vince Gilligan and the show’s writers have been sneaking in hidden references to past episodes as winks to the audience. These so-called Easter eggs are easy to miss upon first view, but since Breaking Bad is a cultural phenomenon and fan forums abound, many of these references have been unearthed and heavily analyzed. It really makes you wonder how the show can be so consistently good and provide these little gems to fuel fans’ theories. How do you fit so much awesome into one show? Vince Gilligan and crew, we bow down to you. (WARNING: Spoilers ahead if you’re not caught up.)
One popular theory is that Walt likes to pick up the traits of his victims (crustless sandwiches via Krazy 8, Volvos and towels via Gus Fring, and rocks via Mike). However, by the second half of the fifth season, Walt starts to pick up the traits of characters who are still alive, most notably Skyler (when he spells out “52” with his bacon) and Jesse (whose army jacket he wears in the flash forward scenes that end up playing out in the series finale). One could argue that they are also Walt’s victims, victims of the consequences of Walt’s decisions, but now Walt is taking on the traits of the people he wants to save. Walt is shedding the last remnants of Heisenberg. Further evidence of this is when Walt goes back to ordering his drinks neat, without rocks, as he did at the bar in New Hampshire where he watched Gretchen and Elliott on Charlie Rose. And by the end of the series finale, Walt may have had to put on his Heisenberg thinking cap (although not the actual pork pie hat), but his mission of righting all of his wrongs is all Walter. The cops who find him laying in a pool of his own blood will say that they finally got the elusive Heisenberg, but viewers know that it’s Walter White that they find.
Here are five more of our favorite Breaking Bad Easter eggs.
In “Ozymandias,” Walt is seen rolling his barrel of money across the desert. In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot, there’s something familiar in the foreground. Could those be the Dockers that Walt left in the desert in the pilot episode? If we know Vince Gilligan, then the answer is yes. What a brilliant and sneaky nod to the first episode.
Faces are another big recurring theme on Breaking Bad. As you can see in the following shots, images often echo each other, signifying how each character and incident is tied to one another in the larger context.
Gus watches his partner, Max, get executed by cartel leader Don Eladio right in front of his eyes:
Walt watches his brother-in-law, Hank, get executed right in front of his eyes:
Half of Gus’s face gets blown off in a bomb explosion:
Half of a pink teddy bear’s face gets blown off in an airplane crash, an eerie image that pervades season two and signifies Walt’s decline into his moral void.
Another hidden gem from “Ozymandias” is this shot of the white king chess piece, which looks to be very poorly guarded and vulnerable. This shot of the fire station precedes Walt leaving Holly with the firemen. That “White king” was also now out in the open, unprotected and vulnerable.
One of my favorite references actually refers to the future. Not exactly an Easter egg, it’s more a significant bit of foreshadowing, written when much of the show hadn’t even been planned yet. In season one, during one of Walt’s chemistry classes, back when Walt was still best known as a chemistry teacher, he tells his class: “Chemistry is the study of . . . transformation.” And as the show proves, the transformation can be astounding.