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Why Did Walt Destroy The Meth Super-Lab In Breaking Bad?

In the history of American dramatic television, few series have been as compulsively addictive as Vince Gilligan's "Breaking Bad," which aired on AMC from 2008 to 2013. The show told Walter White's (Bryan Cranston) complete story across a concise two-year period, from his 50th birthday to his 52nd, and all the drama, mayhem, and violence in his journey from cancer-ridden high school chemistry teacher to fallen drug empire kingpin on the run from the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration). However, at its heart, the program was primarily a searing family tragedy in how it depicted the dark side of the American dream through a life of crime or dysfunctional behavior that most of the characters used to find fulfillment (per The New York Times).

But "Breaking Bad" was also a complex crime story, with twists and turns that kept audiences on the edges of their seats for five unforgettable seasons. For fans of the show, there is so much symbolism and metaphorical context to unpack, with starting points to Walt's evolution into Heisenberg still being debated to this day. Moreover, with so many questions concerning the legal and logistical aspects of Walt and Jesse Pinkman's (Aaron Paul) crimes, it can be an adventure to reassess the episodes even years later. One such open-ended question concerning why Walt destroyed the meth super-lab in Season 4 is a prime example of this.

Walt destroyed Gustavo Fring's lab primarily to eradicate evidence

In the Season 4 finale of "Breaking Bad," Walter White takes down both Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) and Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis) by having Salamanca agree to wire explosives to his wheelchair when Fring comes to visit him — ultimately killing the drug lord and himself (via TV Tropes). We then see the former high school teacher and Jesse setting fire to Fring's meth superlab. Various fan theories about why Walt destroyed the superlab have existed since the episode's airing in the summer of 2011. One idea on the show's subreddit page offers some answers and also some info as to why the meth-cooking duo did not remove all the expensive chemicals from the facility before setting it on fire. 

Redditor whitepangolin added, "Story answer – they needed to destroy all evidence as soon as possible. Artistic answer – cool visual of destroying their lab and ties to Gus. Real answer – they (the producers and AMC) thought the show was ending and they needed their lab and all meth cooking to get tied up." This matches up with what showrunner Vince Gilligan told The New York Times in 2011 when he said, "That is on purpose [the Season 4 storylines wrapping up abruptly]. We weren't sure that we would have a fifth season when we were plotting out the end of Season 4..." He admitted that he and his writers wanted to end on a high note.