Breaking Bad is by far my favorite television show of the past decade. I remember being drawn in by the premise: A mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher with a newly pregnant wife and a teenager with cerebral palsy gets diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Determined not to leave his family destitute, he begins cooking crystal meth in an RV with an old student. He gets good at this — very, very good. Since those early days, I’ve been absolutely blown away by what creator Vince Gilligan has done with the storyline and Walt’s character, who changes more than any other TV character I’ve ever seen. And Bryan Cranston has come a long, long way from his Malcolm in the Middle days.
As demonstrated by Huffington Post video editor Amber Genuske, the most recent episode of Breaking Bad shared a number of parallels to a seemingly very different show: Lost. And the similarities aren’t limited to the fact that Walt seems to be in his own mysterious universe, or to the plane crash that happened at the end of season 2.
SPOILERS FOR BREAKING BAD BELOW!
There’s the obvious parallel of the name, Walt. Thankfully, though, Bryan Cranston wasn’t approaching puberty during the filming of the show, nor was he abducted by bad guys on a boat (yet). Still, with all the characters yelling his name, it’s hard not to remember (not without a little eye-rolling, I’ll admit), Michael running around the island, screaming for his son.
Breaking Bad has been employing flashforwards for a while now, though unlike Lost, it uses them sporadically and effectively (sorry, I got really sick of the incessant use of flashbacks and flashforwards on Lost). Season 5 of Breaking Bad, which has been split into two half-seasons, the last of which is now airing, has offered a few glimpses of Walt roughly a year from “now,” no longer bald, and toting a massive amount of firepower in the trunk of his car. As with Lost, we know Walt won’t die — at least, not until the present narrative catches up with the flashforward, but the flashfowards have a Lost-like eeriness, a sinister quiet, as though warning us not to take much at face value in those scenes.
The biggest parallel, immediately apparent during last Sunday’s episode, is the use of important numbers and lottery tickets. Walt, in danger of being exposed, buries plastic barrels of cash in the desert (although I maintain that it would’ve taken him far, far longer than an evening to do this, especially in his physical state) and memorizes the GPS coordinates (and, never leaving the details to chance, then smashes the GPS device). Lest he forget the coordinates, he buys a lottery ticket with the numbers. Fans have been speculating about whether the numbers themselves have some sort of meaning or whether they’re just accurate GPS coordinates of a location in New Mexico. What would be awesomely ironic is if Walt won the lottery with those numbers and received yet another massive pile of cash, but I doubt that’ll happen. Instead, I’ll bet on someone else finding the lottery ticket he’s got on the refrigerator door and figuring out what those numbers are about. Walt’s luck has been a lot better than Hurley’s…so far.
And speaking of numbers, remember Lost‘s hatch? That was such a great reveal on the show, and in my opinion, the show started its decline not long after. The most recent episode of Breaking Bad featured a hatch as well, though it was quite a bit easier to figure out what was happening in that hatch. Still, a shot of someone peering down into a vertical tunnel will always remind me of Lost, even if it’s actually just a meth lab down below.
I love this mash-up and enjoy teasing out parallels between shows, but here’s hoping that this is the end of the Lost similarities. The last thing Breaking Bad needs as it closes out its stellar five-season run is to resemble Lost (or Battlestar Galactica, which I see as having succumbed to largely the same fatal flaws) in its ending. No black-and-white chessboards, no gods, no angels, no devils — except Walt, of course. And I’m pretty sure no one will want to get back on this island once they leave.