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Breaking Bad Episode Title Meanings

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This is where you can find the meanings of the title names of every episode.

Season 1

Pilot

  1. A television "pilot" is a standalone episode of a television series that is used to sell the show to a network, as was the case with Breaking Bad and AMC.
  2. On most home video releases, the episode is alternatively titled "Breaking Bad," which of course references Walter White beginning to make meth or, as Jesse Pinkman puts it, "break bad" (Vince Gilligan defines the term as "to raise hell").
  3. "Pilot" can also refer to the pilot light used to light a stove and start the reactions needed to cook.

The Cat's In The Bag

This phrase commonly means "I can keep the secret." The secret, in this case, being:

  1. The cancer from Jesse and Skyler.
  2. The deaths of Emilio Koyama and Krazy 8.

...and the Bag's in the River -

  1. This episode concludes the crisis that began in "The Cat's In the Bag."
  2. Walt stops keeping his cancer a secret.
  3. "Cat's in the Bag...and the bag's in the river" is a quote from the film Sweet Smell of Success, spoken in reassurance that a situation is being handled.

Cancer Man -

  1. This episode directly focuses on Walt's cancer.
  2. An alternate name for the Cigarette Smoking Man, a villain on The X-Files (the show where Vince Gilligan made his big break). This may also foreshadow Walt's own transition into a villain. See references to The X-Files.

Gray Matter -

  1. The name of Elliott Schwartz's company.
  2. Gray is a mixture of white (Walt's last name) and black (the English translation of Elliott's last name). It is later revealed in the episode "Granite State" that this was indeed Elliott and Walt's inspiration for the company name.
  3. A type of brain tissue.
  4. Emphasis on the show's gray morality.

Crazy Handful of Nothin' -

  1. A quote from the film Cool Hand Luke, paraphrased by Marie Schrader in reference to Walt's poker bluff.
  2. May refer to Jesse trying to sell Tuco Salamanca a pound of meth but getting robbed instead.
  3. May ironically reference Walt's handful of explosive mercury at the episode's climax.

A No-Rough-Stuff-Type Deal -

A quote from the film Fargo, referencing Walt's desire to avoid violence during his ventures in the drug business; in both stories, things end up going wrong and leading to unwanted violence.

Season 2

Seven Thirty-Seven -

  1. $737,000 is how much Walt estimates he needs to secure his family's future.
  2. This is the first of the four episodes with the pink teddy bear flashforwards, whose titles combine to read "737 Down Over ABQ" ("737" refers to one of the planes that will crash in the Season 2 finale).

Grilled -

  1. Walt and Jesse are "grilled" (i.e. interrogated) by Tuco.
  2. "Grill" refers to Tuco's dental jewelry.
  3. Tuco makes burritos on a grill.

Bit by a Dead Bee -

A quote from the film To Have and Have Not, referencing Walt and Jesse being in jeopardy because of Tuco, who is dead.

Down -

  1. Walt and Jesse both spend the episode in metaphorically low conditions (Walt receiving cold treatment from Skyler, and Jesse being homeless).
  2. This is the second of the four episodes with the pink teddy bear flashforwards, whose titles combine to read "737 Down Over ABQ."

Breakage -

  1. Jesse uses the word in reference to Skinny Pete's incident.
  2. Walt exceeds his usual self and breaks through to become a criminal.
  3. Hank Schrader experiences mental breakdowns, stemming from his shootout with Tuco.

Peekaboo -

Jesse plays Peekaboo with the little boy at Spooge's house. He later has the boy cover his own eyes the same way to prevent him from seeing Spooge's corpse.

Negro y Azul -

  1. The name of the song performed in the opening teaser.
  2. Spanish for "black and blue," a slang term for bruising or general pain.
  3. The respective colors of Walt's "Heisenberg" attire and meth.
  4. Skyler wears a black and blue dress for her first day at work.

Better Call Saul -

The slogan of Saul Goodman, whom Walt and Jesse indeed call when Badger is arrested.

4 Days Out -

  1. Walt and Jesse spend four days in the desert.
  2. Walt's test results take four days to come in.

Over -

  1. Walt plans to retire from the meth business.
  2. This is the third of the four episodes with the pink teddy bear flashforwards, whose titles combine to read "737 Down Over ABQ."

Mandala -

Mandala is Sanskrit, meaning circle of life — the episode begins with Combo's death and ends with Skyler going into labor.

Phoenix -

  1. Phoenix is where Jane Margolis was born, as revealed in the next episode.
  2. At the bar, Walt and Donald watch a news story about the Phoenix Lander on Mars.
  3. The Phoenix is a mythological creature capable of dying (by engulfing itself in flames) and being reborn from its own ashes. This mirrors the death of Jane and the birth of Walt's daughter Holly, albeit reversed.

ABQ -

  1. The airport code for Albuquerque International Sunport
  2. This is the last of the four episodes with the pink teddy bear flashforwards, concluding (and fulfilling) the phrase "737 Down Over ABQ."

Season 3

No Más -

Spanish for "no more," representing:

  1. Walt's desire to leave the meth business.
  2. Jesse's heroin cessation.
  3. Skyler's desire to end her marriage with Walt.

Caballo Sin Nombre -

  1. Spanish for "Horse With No Name," the song Walt sings at the beginning and end. While arguing with the officer at the beginning, Walt also says "This is America," the name of the band that wrote the song.

I.F.T. -

Short for "I fucked Ted," which Skyler says at the end of the episode.

Green Light -

  1. Gustavo Fring gives Walt the "green light" to start cooking again. To symbolize this, the episode ends on the image of a green traffic light.
  2. Hank wants Merkert to give him the "green light" to continue his search for Heisenberg.
  3. Possible foreshadowing of Walter's story to Marie in the cafeteria scene of "I See You".

Más -

  1. Spanish for "more," representing:
    • Walt's return to the meth business.
    • Hank's search for more RVs.
  2. The name is also juxtaposed to the first episode of Season 3 "No Más" where Walt decides to leave the meth business where as he changes his mind in this episode.

Sunset -

  1. Gus meets the Cousins at sunset, giving them his permission to kill Hank.
  2. The proverbial sun has set on the RV, foreshadowing that darker times are coming.

One Minute -

  1. In the opening flashback, Hector Salamanca holds Marco's head underwater and speculates that he has one minute of life left. This telegraphs Marco's death at the end of the episode.
  2. Moments before Hank encounters the Cousins, Gus warns him, "You have one minute."

I See You -

  1. Leonel Salamanca recognizes Walt in the hospital.
  2. A play on words, as both Hank and Leonel are rushed to the I.C.U.

Kafkaesque -

  1. The group leader uses the word to describe Jesse's situation, and Jesse repeats it while talking with Badger and Skinny Pete. Franz Kafka's stories often present a grotesque vision of the world in which individuals burdened with guilt, isolation, and anxiety make a futile search for personal salvation.
  2. Given the definition, "kafkaesque" may also foreshadow Jesse's emotional deterioration following Gale Boetticher's murder which takes place in "Full Measure," a process which ultimately began with this episode as Jesse, Skinny Pete and Badger decide to start selling again at the NA therapy meetings.

Fly -

The episode focuses on Walt and Jesse's attempts to kill a fly in the lab.

Abiquiú -

The episode opens with a flashback where Jesse and Jane look at a painting by Georgia O'Keeffe, who once resided in the town of Abiquiú. Its pronunciation is also very similar to that of "ABQ."

Half Measures -

Mike Ehrmantraut warns Walt against taking "half measures" (inadequate methods) to solve his problem with Jesse.

Full Measure -

  1. Juxtaposed to the previous episode's title "Half Measures"
  2. Continuing from the previous episode, Walt and Jesse end up reaching a "full measure" in order to save their own lives.

Season 4

Box Cutter -

  1. Gale uses a box cutter to unpack the meth lab equipment.
  2. Gus later uses the (presumably) same box cutter to kill Victor.
  3. Gus responds to Walt and Jesse's actions (killing drug dealers, killing Gale) by showing them the deadly monster that he really is on the inside, so Walt and Jesse's actions could be a metaphor for a box cutter by letting the said monster out of its box.

Thirty-Eight Snub -

Walt buys a .38, and practices killing Gus with it.

Open House -

  1. During his party, Jesse's house is literally open to anybody.
  2. Marie goes to open houses and steals objects to get the stress off of her mind.

Bullet Points -

  1. In the opening teaser, the Pollos Hermanos truck is attacked and riddled with bullet holes.
  2. As Walt and Skyler prepare to act out a conversation in front of Marie and Hank, Skyler stresses for Walt to read the bullet points that she outlined.
  3. Walt discusses the possibility that the DEA will be able to find Jesse from the prints on the bullet casings.

Shotgun -

  1. Jesse sits in the passenger seat (riding shotgun) of Mike's car for most of the episode.
  2. A man threatens Jesse with a shotgun, spurring his actions to become a hero.

Cornered -

  1. Skyler corners Walt with several questions, as well as incentive to give up Walter White Jr.'s car.
  2. Skyler may feel cornered into leaving because of Walt's actions.
  3. Skyler visits the Four Corners Monument.

Problem Dog -

Jesse tells his rehab group about a "problem dog" that he killed (when he's actually talking about killing Gale to save Walt).

Hermanos -

  1. "Los Pollos Hermanos" is the name of Gus' restaurant chain.
  2. May imply that Max Arciniega and Gus are the brothers (good friends) of Los Pollos Hermanos, as "hermano" is Spanish for "brother."

Bug -

Walt bugs Jesse's car. Also a reference to the episode "Fly".

Salud -

Spanish for "cheers" or "health," depending on the context. Gus says it at Don Eladio Vuente's house, right before he poisons the cartel with his alcoholic gift.

Crawl Space -

At the end of the episode, Walt breaks down and laughs crazily in the house's crawl space. This may also symbolize the danger closing in on Walt.

End Times -

  1. A term commonly used to refer to times of imminent doom, apocalypse, or (in some faiths) transformation, all of which can apply to Walt's current predicament.
  2. Saul uses the phrase as he tentatively says goodbye to Jesse.

Face Off -

  1. Walt and Gus' final confrontation.
  2. Hector looks Gus in the eyes for the first time in many years.
  3. Part of Gus' face literally gets blown off.

Season 5

Live Free or Die -

  1. Refers to Walt's mentality about being out from under Gus' and the DEA's thumbs.
  2. The official motto of New Hampshire. In the opening flashforward, New Hampshire is the state on Walt's ID, and the motto is seen on his car's license plate.
  3. Possible foreshadowing of Walt's death ("Felina").

Madrigal -

  1. Madrigal Electromotive GmbH is introduced in this episode.
  2. The episode's teaser is set in Madrigal Elektromotoren, Hanover where investigations of Gustavo Fring are taking place and Peter Schuler commits suicide.
  3. Multiple Madrigal executives, including Lydia Rodarte-Quayle meet with agents in the Albuquerque DEA Field Office offering their assistance and co-operation in the Fring investigations.
  4. A "madrigal" is a type of poetic song performed by two or more people, unaccompanied by musical instruments. This refers to the new partnership between Walt, Jesse, and Mike without a boss figure intervening on their business.

Hazard Pay -

Refers to the payments that Mike must make to his imprisoned associates, buying their silence. This plot point is what Mike and Walt argue over at the end, and plays an important role in future episodes.

Fifty-One -

  1. Walt turns 51.
  2. Symbolizes the changing of the balance between Walt and his "Heisenberg" alter ego.

Dead Freight -

  1. Commerce terminology for unused cargo space (or the amount owed back for it).
  2. Walt and co. burgle a freight train for its methylamine in a "dead zone".
  3. Shortly after the robbery, Todd Alquist kills Drew Sharp.

Buyout -

  1. Jesse and Mike have a buyout.
  2. Walt reveals that he had a paltry buyout from Gray Matter Technologies, which is largely what now motivates him to build his own empire.

Say My Name -

Walt uses the phrase as he meets Declan in the desert, forcing the latter to acknowledge him as Heisenberg.

The episode's original title was "Everybody Wins," which is the exact line Walt said at the end of the previous episode.

Gliding Over All -

  1. A poem from Walt Whitman, whose book becomes a crucial plot device in this episode.
  2. Walt's drug business glides over everyone.

Blood Money -

Jesse refuses to accept his share of the money that he and Walt gained from their meth empire, reminding Walt that he called it "blood money" ("Say My Name").

Buried -

  1. Walt buries his money in the desert.
  2. May ironically reference the fact that Walt and Skyler's secrets are no longer hidden, i.e. "buried."
  3. Declan's cook lab is a bus buried underground.

Confessions -

  1. Walt records a (deceitful) confession in order to make Hank back off.
  2. Saul confesses to stealing Jesse's ricin cigarette ("End Times").

Rabid Dog -

  1. Saul likens Jesse to Old Yeller and obliquely suggests that Walt "put him down." Walt uses the actual words "rabid dog" when arguing against the idea.
  2. A possible reference to the episode "Problem Dog," with Jesse himself now the "dog" in question.

To'hajiilee -

The episode's climax takes place at To'hajiilee, the Native American reservation where Walt buried his money ("Buried") and where he first cooked meth ("Pilot").

Ozymandias -

A poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley, themed around the eventual decline of all kings and empires. Literally, it tells of a ruined statue of the once-great ruler Ozymandias, which serves as an allegory for Walt's crumbled life.

In July 2013, AMC aired a Breaking Bad promo that featured Bryan Cranston's voice reciting the poem.

Granite State -

  1. The official state nickname of New Hampshire, Walt's new home.
  2. A metaphor for the rough and unyielding state of all the remaining main characters' lives.
  3. Alluding to the previous episode, the poem "Ozymandias" is believed to have been inspired by a granite statue of Ramesses II. Thus, the title may signify Walt's granite (or statue) state, his current situation being a monument to his fallen reign.

Felina -

  1. A reference to the Marty Robbins song "El Paso," about a cowboy who falls in love with a woman named Felina and gets shot by his enemies. The song plays in Walt's stolen car, and he later sings it to himself while setting up the machine gun contraption.
  2. An anagram for "finale."
  3. Spanish for "feline" or "catlike." This may reference Walt's grace and deftness in evading the police and executing his plan, or the fact that his proverbial nine lives have finally expired with his death.

Another interpretation is that the title references the three elements iron, lithium, and sodium, whose respective chemical symbols are "Fe", "Li", and "Na", signifying blood, meth, and tears. However, since lithium is never used in any of the meth cooking processes in the entire series, this is a misconception.

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