There have been a ton of Breaking Bad theories; Easter Eggs; cool references to The Godfather, Tarantino, Scarface, etc.; Chekhov’s guns; fun bits of foreshadowing; and scads of callbacks over the course of five seasons of Breaking Bad, and our obsession with spotting them has become both all consuming and terrifically enjoyable. I watch every episode of Breaking Bad once for a literal perspective on the series, and a second time with the pause button at the ready to catch any clues, hints, or Easter Eggs buried in the background.
This week’s episode, per usual, provided a several fun little treats for viewers, most noticeably the GPS coordinates that Walter White had documented on a lottery ticket, as a kind of homage to Lost. The numbers, of course, were meaningless: The GPS coordinates were those of the Albuquerque production offices for the Breaking Bad. Despite devoting entirely too many hours of my life to figuring it out, however, I still haven’t figured out the meaning behind B24, the number of the interrogation room.
There was also some other things that were fun, too, like this spectacular shot suggesting that the scales of justice aren’t tipped in either direction between Saul and Walt:
There was also the cool “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” gag that a Redditor spotted.
And then, of course, the nod to a confessional booth in the final scene, which is also likely a tip off to the next episode, “Confessions.”
But what I was struck by most this week came not from the second viewing and the search for clues and hidden meanings, but the first viewing and the ongoing narrative that can occasionally get lost in the Easter eggs. What I began to wonder is, why did Walt go back to his old house in “Blood Money” to get the ricin, and who is that ricin for?
I think it’s for Skyler.
I came to this conclusion both by a process of elimination, and because ultimately it makes the most sense. If Walt is going back to his house, no doubt at a great personal risk and likely with the full knowledge that he’s about to enter his last stand, it has to be for revenge, and it has to be revenge against a formidable foe. Who fits that description? Hank? I don’t think so. Walt has the upper hand on his brother in law, and I don’t think there arises a situation where Walt would want to kill Hank out of some kind of revenge. Jesse? Not a chance. He’s practically catatonic, and again, I don’t think there could realistically arise a situation, even if Jesse joins forced with Hank, in which Walt could develop so much hatred for Jesse that he’d want to poison him with Ricin (besides, Jesse already knows about the Ricin). Lydia? Absolutely not. Lydia is a minor player in Breaking Bad, and a stand-off with her would be anticlimactic. A new character? Vince Gilligan couldn’t introduce a new character that would be reviled enough to warrant ricin poisoning in six episodes.
Who does that leave? Skyler.
But here’s why it also makes sense: Walter White basically made Skyler a prisoner in her own home. He drove Skyler to a suicide attempt in order to get her children to safety. Skyler hates Walter, and though that hasn’t been as apparent since Walt “quit” the meth business, there’s nothing in Skyler’s personality that suggests that she would suddenly have a change of heart and let that slight go. Skyler is competitive, and arguably, just as competitive, egotistical, and driven as Walt. Remember how she schemed with her low cut blouse to spare Ted from the IRS?
She likes to make the money, too. She likes to assert control. She likes to maintain agency over her life, and Walter took that away from her. Remember how angry she was with her cigarettes and her contemplation, and how she spitefully told Walter that she was biding her time until the cancer killed him? What if she didn’t want to wait that long? What if she, like Heisenberg, wanted more than “not losing.” What if she wanted to win. A dignified death to cancer is too easy for the man that took away her agency. I think Skyler wants Walt to suffer. I think she wants more than simply to get away from him, I think she wants to take him down. I think she wants him to die a pitiless, sad, humiliating death with nothing to show for himself. Like Heisenberg, she wants to win.
There are a few subtle clues, too, that track with this theory, like the fact that Skyler is not wearing her wedding ring in this week’s episode, though Walt is.
There is the fact that she was evasive when Walt asked her if she was happy that his cancer had returned (“I don’t remember the last time I was happy,” she said, adding fuel to the suggestion that she’s not over what Walt did to her). What about the fact that she met Hank in, of all places, the restaurant where she and Walt had their first date? Was that a coincidence? Or was she contemplating a strategy to take Walt down from the place where it all began?
If Skyler confesses to Hank, she likely gets taken down with her husband, and they both, in effect, lose. This is not the end game for Skyler, who has developed her own Heisenbergian ego.
But how does she do it? How does Skyler take out Walter without involving Hank? What ally could she possibly have?
Lydia, of course. Why would Vince Gilligan create that scene between Skyler and Lydia unless it was to establish a future relationship? Aside from Jesse, Skyler never knew who Walt’s business partners were until now. Now she knows who to contact. She knows that Lydia is a former business partner of Walt, and she knows that Lydia wants Walt back. Could their interests not align? Skyler can’t take down Walter by herself, but she can be the mastermind behind his downfall, and that is exactly what this Ozymandias-themed season is about. Someone is going to take down Heisenberg, and that someone is likely the intended recipient of the ricin.
Skyler makes sense. She’s not cooperating with Hank. She has the motive (she hates Walt and wants the money). She’s ambitious (see how quick she took to laundering money for Walt). And in Lydia, she has possible conspirators. I still think that the machine gun is likely intended for Todd and the Aryan Brotherhood, but the ricin? That’s personal. That’s for Skyler, the one who took down the one who knocks. Maybe Walter took Lambert, Skyler’s maiden name, as his fake identity not because he’s already killed her, but because that’s who he is intending to kill. After all, Walter is not wearing his wedding ring on his 52nd birthday, either.
Plus, he’s already got a perfect vehicle for the ricin.