Why Breaking Bad is Full of Swimming Pools
Why Breaking Bad is Full of Swimming Pools

“Hey Sky maybe it’s time
to get out now, what do you think?” Breaking Bad violates the sanctity
of the swimming pool. This classic status symbol
has long signified domestic bliss, family fun, and a badge of material success. But in Vince Gilligan’s show,
it becomes the site of harrowing events. In fact, over the course of the
show’s five seasons, it’s difficult to think of
anything *good* happening near a pool. So what does this symbol of the
swimming pool mean in Breaking Bad? And why do terrible things keep
happening around it? Let’s take a look at how the pools
in the story get at the nagging guilt and discontentment that
drives these characters, and give us a secret mirror into what they’re feeling
throughout the story. Before we go on,
if you’re new here, be sure to subscribe
and click the bell to get notified about all our new videos. When human beings attempt to interpret
the meaning of their dreams, it’s generally accepted that *water*
is connected to our emotions. Whereas the ocean might stand
for collective emotion, a swimming pool is contained, cut off,
like the emotions of an individual. And in Breaking Bad, the Whites’
swimming pool is a mirror reflecting Walter’s emotions at any given point. Most saliently,
Walter’s relationship with his pool visualizes his obsession
with contamination– “And I am not going to expose this batch
to the open air and contamination.” which is a stand-in for his guilt
over what he’s done. The incredibly fastidious Walt
takes every precaution to avoid contaminants getting into his cook– “We need to take this very seriously.” But he can’t stop his life becoming contaminated by the consequences
of his actions– “I keep the work at work, Skyler, and nothing will ever
impact you or the kids.” “You don’t know that.” And this is represented
by the detritus that invades the symbolic emotional space
of swimming pools. In season two, a charred pink teddy bear
plummets out of the sky, landing face down in Walt’s pool. He looks up to see that two planes
have collided in the sky, a tragedy that he inadvertently
set into motion when he let Jane Margolis die, sending Jane’s father into a depression
that made him unable to do his job as an air traffic controller. Thus, this teddy bear infiltrating
Walt’s pristine pool is like a rude awakening from the heavens, sending him the message
that he is responsible for the deaths of 167 innocent people. Walt avoids this truth. “–Recent air disaster in which
167 persons died was rushed to an area hospital early this morning,
apparently the victim of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police won’t say whether or not–” He even complains that he’s a *victim*
of this crash. “[Shouting]I told you that my house
was in the debris field. Do you have the remotest inkling
of what that means?” “Sir, calm down.” “Hellfire rained down on my house–” “Sir, I need you step back–”
“–where my children sleep!” “–I need you to step back right now.” “There were body parts in my yard!” But while this master of denial
lies to himself that he can keep his home life free
of any traces of his crimes, the figurative space of
the swimming pool subtly reveals to us
what he’s feeling under the surface of his lies. He can’t keep the poison
of what he’s done from seeping in and infecting his home life. “[Whispers]You killed Hank.” “What?!” “No no no.” “You killed him.” “[Shouting]No, no, NO!” On the deeper, subconscious level, his feelings of guilt have penetrated
his clean water and no amount of denial or striving for control
will allow him to clear the stain. That teddy bear, which haunts
the cold opens of season two episodes, has a missing eye. And some have seen this eye
as representing the “Eye of God” or of the universe judging Walt
for all he’s done. And that leads to
an intriguing question, why does Walt hold onto this eye? If he’s in such denial, why does he hang on to this reminder
that the universe is judging him? It’s clear over time
that there are two people within Walt battling for his soul, and while one of them ingeniously
evades responsibility– “I can’t be the bad guy.” the other is tortured by guilt. In the episode “Fly,” “There’s, uh, been a contamination.” Walt’s fixation on a fly
that’s penetrated the meth lab, is really about his feeling
that his life has been corrupted by his evil actions. “What about the contamination?” “It’s all contaminated.” The “good” Walt
is making a brave attempt to surface. “I’m sorry about Jane.” So by hanging onto
the teddy bear’s eye, this largely defeated better self
in Walt is trying to cling to his guilt, so that his soul
can somehow be recovered. Yet that Walt is losing the battle. At the end of Season 4,
the camera moves from the pool over to Walt’s Lily of the Valley plant, revealing that it was Walt
who poisoned the boy Brock in order to manipulate Jesse. “Who do you know who’s okay
with using children, Jesse? Who do you know who’s allowed
children to be murdered? Hmm? [Shouting]Gus!” By positioning this poisonous plant
next to the pool, the moment turns the water
into a reflection of how villainous, even evil his soul is becoming. In season five,
as Skyler sinks into the deep end, this represents the way that Walt
has dragged his family under. His wife wades into his guilty water, just as she has
become his accomplice, justifying her actions
as a necessary evil. “Someone has to protect this family
from the man who protects this family.” And the underwater image reflects
Skyler’s emotional state, despite her attempts to
manage the situation. “This has to be convincing.” Instead, she’s drowning in feelings
of despair and powerlessness. “She’s gonna come up, right? She has to.” She’s overwhelmed by emotion, as represented by
the water pulling her under, while her face is expressionless,
showing that this overload has made her numb, unable to connect
to the enormity of what she’s feeling. The visual matches the way
she has described herself as a prisoner in her own home– “I’m not your wife, I’m your hostage.” and gets at how psychologically damaged
she’s going to be in a lasting sense. “Is that what your pool stunt was about? Trying to protect my children from me?” “Not just you. There’s blood on my hands too.” The pool, which often
gives off an eerie blue glow, could also be a visual metaphor for Walt’s love affair
with his blue meth. “The special love I have for you,
my Baby Blue.” As some viewers have noticed, moments around the pool
can be interpreted as reflecting the state of affairs
of Walt’s drug empire. We see Jesse throw money into it,
just as the product is a cash cow. When Skyler has
her breakdown in the pool, surrounded by the blue water
and even wearing a blue skirt, it’s as if her broken mind
has chosen to submerge itself in the blue poison
Walt has forced upon her. Later when the pool is empty
and being used by skateboarders, this corresponds to the period
when his business has run dry. Like Walt’s “baby blue,” the swimming pool appears beautiful and appealing, but it attracts trouble and drags people under. The blue meth casts an ominous shadow
over the Whites’ home life, visualized by the deceptively ethereal
and entrancing waters of the swimming pool lit up at night. And in this way,
the pool is a great use of visual storytelling
to get at the theme of temptation. It shows the way Walt falls in love with this siren which fuels his ego and makes him feel like a big man. “Say my name.” Even if he doesn’t actually use drugs, he gets hooked on
the high of tasting power, to the detriment of
everything else in his life. “[Shouting]You,
and your pride and your ego! You just had to be the man!” The most memorable pool scenes
in the series revolve around Gustavo Fring, and the pool is a clever mirror
of his emotional makeup, too. In a flashback, Hector Salamanca kills
Gus’ business partner, and possible lover, Max
at Don Eladio’s pool. And in this moment, we’re shown Max’s blood
dripping into the pool. While it’s often hard to read what Gus feels underneath
his composed exterior, this blood in the water offers us
the key clue to his secret emotional life. The bottled-up Gus we know
in the present was formed by this moment. After his loved one’s blood seeps into the clean water
of his feelings, revenge becomes his
entire emotional life. “Now the Salamanca names
dies with you.” We never see him express
a genuine emotion unless it’s centered around Hector
and his burning desire for vengeance. “This is what comes of
blood for blood, Hector.” This all-consuming need for revenge leads to his elaborate plot
to poison the Cartel around the same swimming pool, even though his plan is
uncharacteristically risky and even irrational as it relies
on a number of variables and close calls. And in the end,
Gus’ emotionally driven insistence on going to see Hector
in person, one last time– “It’s better if I–
if I do this myself.” “I do this.” is what gets him killed. The most striking thing about
the swimming pools in Breaking Bad is that almost nobody ever swims in them. The pool is a fixture
of the well-off American suburban home. A stand-in for the American dream, a symbol of happy times
of togetherness in the sun, and the holy grail of material comfort. While the White family is in dire
financial straits at the start of the show– “Walt, the Mastercard’s
the one we don’t use.” their house with the swimming pool
in the backyard tells us they’re still projecting
the outward appearance of the comfortable American life. Yet it’s no accident that,
apart from Skyler’s breakdown, nobody is actually shown
using the Whites’ pool. Walter Junior vomits in it. Hank emasculates Walt near it
at family barbecues. “Jesus, Walt, you’re burning
the shit out of them.” But we don’t get a single warm, fun swim. The swimming pool, devoid of people
using it to frolic and have fun, represents what’s lacking
in the Whites’ home life. These people aren’t connecting,
and there is little genuine joy here. “Veggie bacon. We’re watching
our cholesterol.” In his society, Walt is encouraged
to provide his family with comforts like a swimming pool, as if this will magically
yield contentment. And it’s exactly this kind of flawed,
materialistic narrative of “family,” with its implied expectations
of the masculine breadwinner, that fuels his self-deception that he’s doing all this
for his wife and kids. “Skyler, it’s charity.” “Why do you say that like
it’s some sort of dirty word?” But when see other houses
with much bigger pools, nobody is actually
swimming in those, either. The size of one’s pool is
a clear marker of social status. Walt’s former business partners
Gretchen and Elliott flaunt their wealth during a pool party. They even make their guests watch them publicly open gifts
to be judged by the crowd, underlining that this is
a kind of materialistic ritual to make everyone feel reassured
by how much money they all have. “It’s a Stratocaster!” “N-N-Not just any Strat. That’s one of Clapton’s.” The cartel leader Don Eladio’s pool
is even larger and grander. But it was bought with blood money, so it’s a corrupt image of what material wealth costs
on the spiritual level. In fact, the swimming pool symbolism zeroes in on why Walt breaks bad
in the first place. Countless scenes show Walt
staring vacantly into his pool, giving the distinct impression
of being greatly disappointed. We know why the Walt
we meet at the start is unfulfilled. Yet even when he has more cash hidden away
than he can ever use, he’s still staring into the depths
of that pool in discontentment. For such a brilliant man, Walt is disconnected from
the state of his inner pool. He doesn’t understand the real source of his unhappiness. The siren of the ever-larger swimming pool
embodies the lie Walt believes: that money buys domestic happiness. He and others chase
that bigger, empty swimming pool, and it’s this materialistic
view of the world, in which no pool will
ever be big enough, that leaves them dissatisfied. “How much is enough? How big does this pile have to be?” For all his rhetoric of family, he doesn’t truly understand
what makes a good family man. “[Softly]I got dipping sticks.” Just as duffel bags of drug money
won’t really help your loved ones, recreating the picture of
a perfect American family doesn’t make it so, not unless you make the time
to swim in the pool together. Water is associated with life. We drink it, we bathe in it, we’re baptized in it,
and we need it to survive. But in Breaking Bad,
the pool is most often a conduit for death, destruction, emotional voids
and dark feelings. The clever visual symbolism of the dirty water
and empty swimming pools plaguing Walt adds another layer to the show’s exploration of morality and the effects of our actions
on our inner, spiritual selves. Once Walt’s soul has been corrupted, the water of his life has gone bad
and it destroys everything it touches. In Breaking Bad, the water
is anything but fine. Hey, guys, it’s Susannah. And Debrah. And we are The Take. So some of you support us
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100 thoughts on “Why Breaking Bad is Full of Swimming Pools”

  1. The Take says:

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  2. Katherine Boquin says:

    Amazing content, thank you so much

  3. 665 Demon Dog says:

    Hank emasculating Walter, Flynn throwing up, Walter standing up to Hank, Pinkman throwing money on it, Walter throwing the barbecue grill, Skylers suicide attempt, planes crashing, oh and Eladio did swim in his pool in Better Call Saul. Jimmy also swum in one during better call saul (i guess since better call saul is a happier show)

  4. John Wilson says:

    Why do you keep throwing in these little tidbits of 9th grade vocabulary words that nobody uses? Talk like a regular f**** person crying out loud

  5. John Wilson says:

    I love how you try pointing out how Walt's family scarred forever even though it took place over the course of a year yeah how about you try being homeless for 10 years on the streets because you lost a job when you have mental problems when you get shoved away and shunned by Society people who underestimate your talent try dealing with that and then returning to the real quote-unquote real world we're supposed to have emotions and feelings try that on for size

  6. John Wilson says:

    And you know why Walls family is not successful and why the bags of money do not satisfy his struggle to become a provider full circle with this family has because they let feelings get in the way it's a problem people need to discover how to turn off their feelings in to become so apathetic that nothing around them does anything to their psyche or provokes any kind of different outcome of any scenario that they would encounter. That's the problem with people you have to care about yourself care about your family don't care about anything else that's it

  7. Jason G says:

    Start doing videos on the blacklist

  8. ThatBobusGuy says:

    My GF never watched BB. Of course I made her binge it…with me so I could watch it for the 5th or 6th time.
    She asked me if Gus was gay. I never thought about that being a possibility…and then I hear it again, here. What the hell did I miss all those times lol

  9. Chin Checka says:

    Gus and his possible lover?

  10. Patrick W. Dunne says:

    Now do a video about dipping sticks

  11. Tanner Ewing says:

    I always thpught its because it resembles the meth before its broken, sort of.

  12. Micah Hill says:

    These videos are seriously top notch awesome work

  13. .hayden. says:

    The secrets in the swimming pools?
    There’s one. 0:25

  14. Alyssa Rose says:

    Possible lover!?

  15. Rayquaza_Is_Da_Boi says:

    8:01 possible lover?!?!?!

  16. Legendairy says:

    8:00 "possible lover max" gus isnt gay, he has children, when anywhere did it say they were lovers, ive watched the show like 5 times.

  17. Cormac Heisenberg says:

    Gus is gay!?

  18. Stoned Collective says:

    I like how she just casually assumes Gus is gay lmao

  19. Dave Jeffries says:

    Deep, deep deep, this is so on point. Like a pool, deep.

  20. Mr Lloyd says:

    They have a pool but only one toilet 🤷🏻‍♂️

  21. supido wagon says:

    Max was Gus' "possible lover"? Where did you get that from?

  22. Brandon Rodriguez says:

    is this the watch mojo girl?

  23. Temple ODoom says:

    As a former lifeguard this resonates with me

  24. David AC says:

    Gustavo Frings possible lover?? WTF

  25. Daisy Bell says:

    There's a dried up pool in El Camino too. Hmm…

  26. fiestadancers says:

    Wow, these video analysis of the show makes me love the show even more. Great job!

  27. Mohamad Tadayon Nejad says:

    Thank you so much

  28. D Mer says:

    This is stupid

  29. Steven DelGatto says:

    Walter broke rule #1:Never get high on your own supply

  30. FUCK YOUTUBE says:

    eye of horus=satan NOT GOD. its the devil and angel on his shoulders.

  31. Abdel Sayed says:

    12:20 he’s got dipping sticks

  32. Shannon Young says:

    Gus’s possible lover? That’s his brother, wtf

  33. Pauline Triage says:

    In the teddy bear scene Walt also wears a sweater that matches the color of the teddy bear, the only time we ever see him wearing this bright pink color. It is jarringly atypical of the clothes he usually wears too.

  34. Mr. Brightside says:

    This is deeply profound. Excellent job girls!

  35. scoresandry says:

    These these are just pools it sounds like your schizophrenia is connecting dots that don't exist. If what you are saying was true where was Jesse's, Saul's or Mike's pool… was Mike's pool the one at the hotel in BCS? Tuco definitely should have had a very dark pool right?

  36. Ebbelboiz says:

    Anyone else who's never had the thought that Max was Gus' lover? I mean it's an interesting take on things but I've never seen it that way…

  37. Kaz Miller says:

    The take sounds like an English teacher

  38. cutcc says:

    This is my favorite BB analysis video to date

  39. josiahflexican says:

    8:01 WORD?

  40. NOBISH says:

    Do you think maybe theres pools because its just hot and a pool is a great way to beat that summer heat

  41. Bartholomew Kuma says:

    JUST WAIT A SMALL SECOND HERE what do you mean possible lover Max? Was it ever hinted Gus had the big gay?

  42. ANTHONY R.C. says:

    Gustavos business partner and "POSSIBLE LOVER"? Did I hear that correctly???

  43. Im not Clean, Sorry mum. says:

    Because it’s hot as fuck in new mexico

  44. Ordonity says:

    Another Breaking Bad video with literally the same thing in every other Breaking Bad a video

  45. CaroPetri says:

    great video! I also wonder what's the deal with the cars on this show. They are used a lot to tell the story and are very important for the characters

  46. AndresitoTuPapi says:

    Ok you guys are pushing it now, this is is just plain stupid

  47. jasonROXcarlySUX Kiki says:

    Another brilliant vid about BB!

  48. Moon Child says:

    Wow..this was deep. Like..a pool

  49. amatacook says:

    Game of Thrones: I am the best TV show ever!

    Breaking Bad: Hold my meth.

  50. Cristina García Ruiz says:

    It's a little bit over analysed I think .

    Yeah it's a status sign but camon, the story occurs in Albuquerque, I assume they have a "pool" culture there and I assume is hot the 12 months of the year.(If I am wrong sorry for my ignorance I am from Spain).

    In terms of cinematography, the blue is so good to create amazing shots and to take away the "burned" photography that episodes normally have(dessert,yellows,light browns..). This adds dynamic to the show and a tunnel direct to Walt's emotions maybe?.

    Generally the blue is combined with black(Walt's scenes most of the time). Those scenes were a break from the bright and exhausting day,in this scenes (At least mysel)I perceived the true battle within Walt and his new persona "Hesseinberg". He chose during several episodes to sit down in the dark, with a blue and relaxing blue background to maybe rethink about the choices he was waking.

    Anyways brilliant video girls. I am so happy to have found this channel.

    Sorry about my english, it's still the day I have struggle to express deep thoughts .

  51. E Hams says:

    damn this show keeps messing with my head in every way

  52. Janet says:

    In breaking bad no one is seen swimming or enjoying swimming pools. In Better Call Saul the prequel , the swimming pools are being enjoyed by people.

  53. Bjorn Ervig says:

    How big does this pile have to be? Sadly, humanity has unlimited greed in a limited world. Can't get no satisfaction.

    Purchase and build a pool for parties. Purchase an Infinity pool for exercise. The cesspool is free once you break bad.

  54. Youssef Aly says:

    Too much metaphors for this show huh

  55. Ethan 15 says:


  56. Phyarth says:

    Werner Heisenberg created matrices quantum mechanics where water pool is positioned strictly in space and time, but Cat Killer 🙂 Erwin Schrodinger created quantum wave theory only waves on pool surface are important in Freud theory this wavy line division between deep water unconscious and surface subconscious are science branch called psychoanalysis, (conscious person becomes when subconscious waves on surface water becomes solid water ice crystal "concrete" thoughts,
    Tommy James & The Shondells – Crystal Blue Persuasion …

    was 1 time on Breaking Bad and parody BB 2 times on Simpsons.

  57. SG 008 says:

    I think the contamination theory is actually quite right….

  58. Soulshine Sunflower says:

    Just read somewhere where Jesse suggested Walt build a robot to get them out of the desert……finale he built that robot to get them out of the desert. Never knew that before.

  59. Potential Propaganda says:

    How was Max Gustavo's lover? He was just his close friend, there's nothing that says they were ever together.

  60. Dan 543 says:

    Did she just say “possible lover”?

  61. Walter White says:

    2:26 what's that pink painting on the wall?

  62. Vendicar Kahn says:

    Breaking bad is full of excrement.

  63. DatSadGuy _ says:

    How could you guys find so much simbolism in simple pools!? Amazing video come on

  64. ERZE says:

    Don't forget about cracking cellphones into two

  65. Shash2216 says:

    This channel is great👍

  66. kurwa707 says:

    i think it can also represent meth itself. it looks like the meth he produces; both are crystal blue

  67. Anthony Gingerich says:

    Probably because the pool looks like a uncrushed batch of blue crystal meth.

  68. Sherlock BONES says:

    The bear eye is Gus's eye.

  69. felix mendez says:

    There are also a lot of cars. i wonder what those cars mean. And houses.

  70. Viking Daz says:

    possible lover? mind blown

  71. Dana Harvey says:

    I kinda want to disagree with the idea that Walt indirectly caused the plane crash. Jane would have died whether he'd been there or not. Although, would Jesse have been living there in the first place if it weren't for Walt pressuring him into going into business with him? 🤔

  72. 2peasinapod says:

    This is like a GCSE English report 😂

  73. Soirema says:

    Okay honeslty I think you explained greatly in first sentence, that pools are a sign of wealth.
    What is Walt main goal? To bring money to his family.
    What does anyone sell meth? To earn money
    It's just a great reminder

  74. Hiro Filipinas says:

    Thank you!

  75. Clark Alexander says:

    So in no way, shape or form do you not see the pink bear as a foreshadow into how Gustavos dies

  76. Gabriel Calderón says:

    Vince Gilligan: or maybe I just like swimming pools a lot

  77. lana lana says:

    ugh, genius

  78. y33tboy says:

    Now that you bring it there are a lot of pool scenes

  79. Trevor Dustin says:

    Possible love?

  80. Spongebob gives Advice says:

    Because New Mexico is hot

  81. masterzombie161 says:

    Wait when was it ever established that Gus and max were lovers? Gus has kids. It could probably explain why they are not there in the show. But I always thought that because Gus is distant emotionally so that could be why. But if it’s true that Gus and max were lovers then maybe the wife found out idk.

  82. Mr Perfect says:

    You ladies who run this channel are really smart your videos are so awesome especially when i'm stoned!

  83. Some person from some place says:

    I know deeper meaning are real and shit respect to it its just funny to analyze a swimming pool this deep

  84. Jason Lynch says:

    Hey Debra, how you doin.
    Said in Joey Tribianni voice

  85. NES 83’ says:

    It shows that Walt’s pool chemistry is on POINT…

  86. awesomo9 says:

    I always thought (and still think) the teddy bear (and the eye) represented Gus.

  87. wyrlismike says:

    This show is so intense, I wanna watch it again because it's so great but then I remember how easily it makes me feel bad watching it, what I brilliant work

  88. Ashton Brush says:

    Cuz it takes place in the southwest and the southwest is H O T

  89. Imanuel Annoh says:

    Just brilliant

  90. Alfalfa Jones says:

    Well when KilleR Cranston was on the King of Queens ..

    Everyone wanted 2 get Into his pOoL..

    No "Terrible" things there MiZ Mon Frere!

  91. Morgan Kemp says:

    Why is Breaking Bad full of pools?
    Umm… Its New Mexico and 100 degrees Fahrenheit

  92. Sean O C says:

    I just figured it was because the show is set in new Mexico which is like ya know , the desert!!!!

  93. Meme Gimygimy15 says:

    I always hated how spiritually, morally, and emotionally bankrupted and misogynistic that part of the public were that treated Skylar so horribly. The woman just had a baby, has a son with very special needs, has a husband who is “dying” from cancer. Financially and emotionally terrified, and already drowning in debt and sorrow her husband then plunges her family headlong into an illegal Meth trade that will only ultimately end in either her children being murdered or herself or best case scenario the government takes her home, her son’s life is forever traumatized, and she’s kept a prisoner in a marriage or in actual prison eventually. But, yeah how dare she f**** nag him. Just exactly how much would this woman have to go through for these Skylar haters to have the tiniest bit of sympathy for this woman who’s literally drowning in the sh*t Walter White has created in her life? That speaks volumes about how we treat women in the world.

  94. Doug In Texas says:

    Ummm it's located in a desert

  95. Patrick hovard says:

    Guses lover?

  96. Scott Walters says:

    Am I the only one who is like actually glad Jane died? She was honestly a bitch

  97. Juan Fonseca says:

    lol all this nonsense "hidden meanings" of BB props; in other video they say the disfigured teddy bear is a premonition of gus fring's horrible death, so it's totally useless to make infinite theories about these things

  98. Arealfos says:

    Possible lover @8:01 did I miss something? I never thought that until they brought it up, doesn’t Gus have kids and I’m assuming a wife?

  99. Steven Osborne says:

    Its so weird that this is what AP English Lit was training us for. Is this what we were supposed to do with it?

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