Before the Breaking Bad Finale: A Look at 10 Geeky/Pop Culture References
There is no disputing that Breaking Bad has become a pop culture icon that will be long remembered after the last credits roll. Recently, The Guinness Book of World Records announced that the show would be listed in its 2014 edition as “The Highest Rated Television Show.” No, that’s not Nielsen Ratings… thankfully. It’s based on a score of 99/100 from users and critics at MetaCritic.com.
A great man—Isaac Newton—once said that people that go (see) far, do so because they stand on the shoulders of giants. This is a good idea to keep in mind no matter how successful a person becomes. To go where no one has gone before, takes building upon what someone else has done before. Vince Gilligan has said that he has been influenced by a number of films. The road map for Walter White was stated to be a transformation from the title character of Good-Bye, Mr. Chips, to that of Scarface. Mr. Gilligan, like many filmmakers, also has referenced Casablanca, particularly for his goal of crafting a bittersweet, but satisfying ending for the series.
Lots of influential reference tidbits abound. Here are ten awesome examples to start:
Badger and Skinny Pete: Babylon 5 Fans?
I’ll admit: It takes a major geek to discuss the finer points of the J. Michael Straczynski space epic. It has been compared to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, but many sci-fi fans maintain that it has more intricate plots, better world-building, and dynamic characters. This shout-out prompted a renewed interest in the show. But one problem: It isn’t available to stream in its entirety on a subscription basis anywhere. No Netflix. No Amazon Prime video unless you cough up $1.99 per episode. I’ve been considering plunking down the money for a series/movie box set for a long time, but have never made the splurge. Warner Bros. is odd regarding how it treats some of its properties. Some get the works as far as promotion and are squeezed for every last merchandising dollar. Others are lost opportunities.
In any case, the three hours that Jesse spent listening to these stoners gab show theory seems to be a way to mirror the lengths that superfans of a show will go to speculate about anything that may seem like a breadcrumb, theme, or ulterior motive.
Star Trek Script
Considering that Star Trek practically invented fan fiction, or at least made it extremely popular, this alternate scenario was sure to make quite a few geeks laugh. Some of us may delve into the world of fanfic, admittedly or not. (I plead the fifth.) Others may just have their own personal scenarios that are referred to in fan-speak as “head canon.” The “I can do it better” mentality seems to be prevalent among some hardcore Trekkies lately. However, Badger got a few canon details wrong, which is sure to bring his geek cred down a notch…
Someone took this story further into another realm of fandom fun: Vidding. Check the animated version of Badger’s story.
This tall-tale has been treated like an Easter egg by some of the fan message board regulars — one that may present the endgame for the show. Not so sure about that, as a vet of uber-theorizing fave shows, who has seen more well-thought-out ideas get shot down when the show plays out. (Although Fringe did surprise fans when they realized that the Glee-happy-FOX-mandated Season 2 musical episode, “Brown Betty,” turned out to foreshadow many events in the show.)
Sometimes a pie-eating-contest gone wrong is just that.
Saul Goodman was very concerned about his beating resulting in a scar in a familiar place…
This one may not be intentional, but fans of the J.J. Abrams mystery-crazy drama will always think of Oceanic Flight 815 when they see a plane rip apart in the sky like it did here.
Then there is Mr. Cluck’s versus Los Pollos Hermanos…
The Lottery tickets with the coordinate numbers for the money stash… “Bad” numbers?
Ice Road Truckers
In a bid to try to get to know him, as work buddies, of course, Walter asks Jesse what television shows he likes to watch. Suggestion for Mr. Pinkman: Watch more TV with your buds…
Beavis and Butthead
There was an episode of the Mike Judge animated MTV show that featured the two idiots chasing down an annoying fly, while destroying everything around them in the process. Not sure if BrBa’s “Fly” was inspired by that, but it definitely came to mind. (Yup, I watched B&B when I was growing up, and this episode is actually one of the funniest. Been there!)
Sure, it’s an afternoon cartoon classic for many thirty-somethings, and it spawned a
frustrating fun NES game, but most viewers likely never expected to hear it referenced in BrBa.
Walter swimming in his money is a funny image, but it was pretty cool when Saul’s goons, Kuby and Huell, sort of tried it before tossing it all in barrels.
For every child that was terrorized by the film… No. Just No. “Rabid Dog,” or not… *sniffles*
This episode takes us back to where the Walter/Jesse partnership really started: where they first cooked. Lots of references abound here, particularly from Jack. (James Bond, the Hulk, Rat Patrol.)
The title of the episode that airs September 15th is based on a poem that details the decline of a leader’s influence and of his empire. Ouch.