With 16 days remaining until the premiere of the final eight episodes of Breaking Bad, it’s time to start developing Breaking Bad theories again. This one, developed over on Reddit, contains a brilliant, spot-on observation, though the theory that comes out of it is a little specious.
There is a lot of history in Breaking Bad with Walter White’s Pontiac Aztek. Like Walter White at the beginning of the series, the White family car was a piece of ugly, plastic junk. It was missing its original wheel, the paint job was faded, and like Walter, the hybrid car never knew quite what it wanted to be: An SUV (a wealthy chemist) or a boring old mini-van (a high school chemistry teacher and a family man). Crucially, that Aztec was a beige color, which doesn’t actually exist in the real world (Pontiac has never offered Aztecs in this color). Vince Gilligan specifically had Walter White’s Aztec painted beige. Why? Because it represented who Walter White was in the beginning of the series.
There’s boring old Walter White from the pilot episode. He’s wearing a beige sweater, a color you see Walter White wear less and less of throughout the course of the series, as he transforms into Heisenberg and wears darker blues and blacks, bolder, more vibrant colors. And like Walter White throughout the course of the series, the Aztec takes a beating, including several broken windshields, like the time the planes crashed and sent debris into White’s windshield, or the time White used the Aztec to mow down two guys threatening Jesse. At another point, Jesse throws a cement block into the windshield, and at another, Walter runs the Aztec into oncoming traffic to avoid taking Hank to his hidden meth lab. But Walt always manages to get it fixed, and as his mechanic suggests at one point, “This car has nine lives.”
So does Walter White.
That Aztec was one of the few things that kept Walter White grounded, the last vestige of his former identity. So when Walter White sold the Aztec to the mechanic for $50 in the opening episode of season 5, it was like Walter White was selling the last bit of his soul. He’d exchanged it for $50, which is about how much value Heisenberg placed on the soul of Walter White. That is the point that the Redditor is making here, with his observation:
I absolutely love the metaphor, and given the fact that Vince Gilligan chose a certain car and had it painted a certain color, it’s clearly an intentional connection we’re supposed to get. That White pulls out his Heisenberg hat cements the connection: Walter White is dead. Heisenberg is all that’s left. It’s probably no coincidence, either, that in the very same episode, Skyler — abandoned fully by Walter and saddled with Heisenberg — walks into the deep end of a pool.
What does Walt buy next? A Chrysler 300, a car strongly associated with America’s gangster/drug culture. It’s also black, just like Heisenberg’s soul. Long live Heisenberg!
Seriously, Gilligan’s attention to detail is unparallelled.
Beyond the observation, I’ll also mention that the Redditor, MrNat96 also developed a longer theory based on the selling his soul observation, which had to do with leaving the Denny’s waitress a $100 tip, which MrNat96 suggested had something to do with White seeking redemption, by trying to buy back his soul through a tip? That’s a stretch, but the initial observation is spot on.