Breaking Bad's episode titles have long been laden with double entendres. The solution to the second season's mysterious flash-forwards, which turned out to chronicle a plane crash, was embedded in a series of episode titles: "Seven Thirty-Seven," "Down," "Over," and "ABQ" (or "737 down over Albuquerque"). "Face Off," the fourth season finale, was indeed a face-off between Walter and Gus Fring — but it also hinted at Gus' ultimate fate, which saw much of his face literally blown off by a bomb.
And now, as Breaking Bad prepares to walk off into the sunset with its last-ever premiere episode on Sunday, AMC has released the titles of the show's final eight episodes, and they're just as full of possibilities as the titles used in the rest of the series.
I've scoured the titles for potential clues and hidden meanings, and I think I've uncovered a plausible (though by no means conclusive) arc for what will happen in the final eight episodes. Judge for yourself, and feel free to share your own theories in the comments:
1. "Blood Money"
"Blood Money" is as self-explanatory as Breaking Bad gets. At the end of last year's midseason finale, Walter was sitting on a ton of money. But we've also seen how Walt built his empire: On the backs of an ever-increasing pile of corpses. Walt may consider himself retired, but he's still sitting on a pile of blood money, and something tells me he's not done paying for it.
At first glance, "Buried" is an ominous title, but it's also a confounding one. We've seen how Walter and Jesse dispose of bodies, and burying has never been a part of it. With that in mind, I'm betting on the other major thing that's buried: Walter's double life. We know from last year's midseason finale that Hank has finally realized Walter is Heisenberg. Knowing Hank's sense of justice, I can't imagine he'll let Walter's secret stay buried for long. The real question is who he'll tell — and what he'll do about it.
Breaking Bad is absolutely loaded with people who need to make confessions. There's Walt, who's sitting on a laundry list of secret crimes; Jesse, whose sense of guilt is constantly on the verge of bubbling back to the surface; Skyler, who has played a reluctant but key part in abetting Walt's meth empire; even Hank, who missed Walt when he was right under his nose for more than a year. But unlike "Buried," I'm going to read this one literally: Hank is going to bring Walter (and maybe Jesse and/or Skyler) into the DEA's office for an intense round of questioning as he tries to crack the cover Walt has maintained since the beginning of the series. In the end, I suspect that Walt, like Mike in last summer's run of episodes, will be savvy enough to slip out of the DEA's net for the day — but also savvy enough to know that he needs to take serious action before the evidence against him reaches a tipping point.
4. "Rabid Dog"
If Walter knows he's on the verge of getting caught, he'll have no choice but to take Hank down — and I have no doubt that he's become ruthless enough to do it. The title "Rabid Dog" feels like a callback to season four's "Problem Dog," in which Jesse tearfully half-confessed to murdering Gale Boetticher by telling his support group about a time when he shot and killed a "dog." Who, at this point in Breaking Bad's, could be described as a "rabid dog"? Hank Schrader, who was once the subject of an internal investigation after attacking Jesse on his own doorstep. I'm betting that "Rabid Dog" will be a tense, tragic thriller of an episode, as Walter and Jesse are forced to re-team and conspire to kill Hank.
It's only a matter of time before Walter and Jesse — despite their best efforts to cover their tracks — will be forced to flee from both the DEA and their former allies in the meth trade, who will want both men dead as soon as they learn they're under investigation and could theoretically inform on them. But where could such wanted men hide safely? I'm guessing that the answer will turn out to be the To'hajiilee Indinian Reservation, which is less than an hour west from Albuquerque.
Though it spans more than 121 square miles, its population is less than 2,000 people. If Walter and/or Jesse need to hide out — or dispose of a body — it seems like an ideal place to do it. I'm crossing my fingers for an episode that riffs on season two's superlative "Four Days Out" or season four's "Fly": A final showcase for Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul that focuses solely on the unique dynamic between Walter and Jesse one last time.
The title of the episode is a reference to Percy Bysshe Shelley's 1818 poem of the same name — and there are plenty of signs that Breaking Bad's "Ozymandias" will be a major turning point for the series. The show has placed a unique emphasis on the importance of poetry; Hank discovered Walt's criminality by reading the inscription in his copy of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass, and a line from the same poem was used as the title for last year's midseason finale. AMC has prominently used Bryan Cranston's gravelly rendition of the poem in Breaking Bad's final marketing campaign.
The implication is obvious. Walter White is a modern Ozymandias, whose meth empire is on the verge of collapse — and by the end of the series, none of his works will remain.
7. "Granite State"
We're coming full circle, with Walter's empire in ruins as he goes on the run. The first episode of Breaking Bad's fifth season began with a mysterious cold open set on Walter's 52nd birthday. He had a full head of hair and a beard, and used a New Hampshire driver's license. The episode was titled "Live Free or Die," which is New Hampshire's state motto. And what is New Hampshire's nickname? The Granite State. By the time Breaking Bad reaches its penultimate episode, the incongruity of that opening scene will finally make sense, as the show comes full circle to explain how Walter ended up so low — and why he needs an M60 machine gun as he makes what looks to be his last stand.
And finally, we reach "Felina" — which is an anagram of the word "finale." But there's another, deeper resonance embedded in the series finale's title. In 1959, country/western singer Marty Robbins released a song called "El Paso," telling the story of the singer's love for a beautiful girl named Felina. After killing a romantic rival, the song's narrator flees for "the bad-lands of New Mexico" before he's gunned down by a fleet of avenging cowboys.
There's an inherent narrative richness to the concept — that Walter White could be shot to death, by either the police or by his former allies, in the same desert where the show began. (If the show's writers are really feeling cute, they'll have Walter record a non-confessional confession video for his family, as he did in the pilot.) In the closing lines of "El Paso," the song's narrator imagines Felina cradling him in her arms and giving him one last kiss as he dies. I'd be surprised if Walter received even that much respite in his final moments.