“You see, technically, chemistry is the study of matter, but I prefer to see it as the study of change: Electrons change their energy levels. Molecules change their bonds. Elements combine and change into compounds. But that’s all of life, right? It’s the constant, it’s the cycle. It’s solution, dissolution. Just over and over and over. It is growth, then decay, then transformation. It’s fascinating really. It’s a shame so many of us never take time to consider its implications.”
-Walter White Season 1, Episode 1, Pilot
I don’t think there has ever been a more perfect quote at the exact perfect time in the small history of this blog. And because of the sheer magnitude of BREAKING BAD followers and new followers (I’m sure) it just seemed fitting as this is my goodbye to the greatest show on television. Period.
For the newbies to this column and to the BREAKING BAD uninitiated, there are no spoilers here. For this quote is from the pilot episode, uttered by a man, a chemistry teacher named Walter White; and quoted before we “the fans” could really understand what to expect or experience.
For this IS Walter White. It tells us everything we need to know about the man. Not only does it fit perfectly into the character arc and journey of a true antihero but it also illustrates the genius of Vince Gilligan, the show’s creator. He knew exactly where he was going and this quote shows a map of the psyche of Walter White. Also, it demonstrates the use of foreshadowing (way to go writers!) that could even be fastened to the pilot and explored throughout five years of television…
The epic, satisfying conclusion of last night’s finale can be attributed to this quote.
“The study of change” Walter White says, his true feelings on the matter bubbling to the surface as the brilliant, soon to be “dying man” fascinates his students. For the mind of Walter White is the true reason audiences fell in love with the show. And it’s his beautiful mind that divided an audience putting people into teams throughout the run. And many people stayed on Team Walt until the very, very end.
And I can see why, just by this quote alone. It is growth, then decay, then transformation…
I couldn’t have put better words into a character’s mouth like Vince Gilligan did here with Walter White. Essentially providing the audience in episode one with the theme of the show, uttered by a man that will ultimately grow into a drug dealer (cooking meth to support his family), decay as the cancer strips Walter of his previous skin, like a snake shedding to make room for a new layer; and transformation, the decayed man that was once Walter White transforms into the kingpin of drug dealers, adopting the new name of Heisenberg… a name EVERYONE KNOWS.
This is the most brilliant illustration of character, writing and since we know BREAKING BAD continued to just get better and better – lastly – it shows just how extremely talented the creator, actors, directors, writers and production staff were to pull off such a memorable run in television history.
All from one quote, in the pilot no less, do we now see just how perfectly thought out this series was.
So thank you Vince Gilligan and the team behind BREAKING BAD. I will miss you dearly. But your brilliance will continue to shine bright for the ages. I am just glad I subscribed to Netflix
Also, a big shout-out goes to my buddy Ariel Joseph Towne for discovering this quote and posting. It alerted me to its brilliance and meaning when it came time for me to quote something from Breaking Bad. Genius.
And another big thanks to Andy McDonald for the creation of the Gif above. Nailed it.
So… with Breaking Bad heading off into the Sunset, I have a very serious question for every one of the fans out there…. Now what?
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