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Why Breaking Bad's Episode Count Is More Important Than You Think

Breaking Bad isn't considered one of the greatest TV shows of the 21st century for nothing. The story of Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a milquetoast chemistry teacher who becomes a ruthless meth kingpin after a cancer diagnosis throws his life into chaos, has a depth and scope that can truly be described as Shakespearean. But it's not just the story and characters themselves that make Breaking Bad so great. The writing throughout all five seasons of the show is exceptional, and one thing its creators always excelled at was packing the show with rich symbolism.

The show's penchant for symbolism isn't surprising when you consider that creator Vince Gilligan worked on The X-Files, a series that dwelled in the world of conspiracy and clandestine connections. Breaking Bad's symbolism is most notable in episodes like "Fly," and the metaphor that kept on giving that was the pink teddy bear from season 2. However, this attention to detail wasn't limited to big story moments and important episodes. Now that the series has been off the air for a number of years, fans have discovered that even something as banal as the show's episode count may have a deeper meaning.

The possible Breaking Bad symbolism behind the number 62

During its time on AMC, Breaking Bad ran for five seasons and a total of 62 episodes. Considering how lauded the show's final season was, it's clear that the number of episodes was just enough to successfully tell the story without overstaying its welcome. But according to some eagle-eyed viewers, the fact that the show had 62 episodes isn't random.

Since the show finished airing, fans have taken to platforms like Twitter and Reddit to point out that 62 is an especially symbolic number given the plot of the show. On the periodic table, the 62nd element listed is Samarium, a rare-earth element that has a number of uses. One of the most important of those uses is in a drug called Quadramet. Quadramet is used to treat bone pain caused by several different types of advanced cancers, including lung cancer. Of course, the entire story of Breaking Bad kicks off with Walt being diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer.

Whether it's purely a coincidence or a fun Easter egg planted during the planning of the series, it's not the only instance where the periodic table of elements has been used to convey Breaking Bad's symbolism.

The hidden meaning behind Breaking Bad's title sequence

Anyone who has seen even one episode of Breaking Bad knows that the periodic table of elements plays a big role in the opening title sequence for the series. Elemental symbols float over a green background, until the symbols "Br" and "Ba" pop up, from which the title of the show then spells itself out. On one hand, the show could have just gotten lucky with the fact that their title so easily coincided with the symbols for two elements. On the other, there might be something more to the specific elements used to spell out the name.

Writing for Screen Rant, Kara Hedash noted that Br and Ba are the symbols for the elements Bromine and Barium. One of Bromine's uses is in fire retardants, while Barium can be found in some fireworks. More specifically, Barium nitrate is used to give fireworks a green coloring, similar to the green background of the title sequence. Hedash also notes that the two elements used to create the title are used to put out fires and to start them. This could be a clever nod to the two sides of Walt: the sensible husband and father, and the reckless drug lord.

Using the elements as symbolism is clearly important to the ethos of the show, because it doesn't just happen in the show's opening credits — it's also found in the series finale.

What fans realized about the title of Breaking Bad's final episode

Breaking Bad's final season was an intense journey that concluded with the immensely satisfying finale episode titled "Felina." The first allusion contained within the title is to a Marty Robbins song titled "El Paso," which can be heard at several points during the episode (via AV Club). The song is a country ballad that tells the story of a cowboy who gets into trouble while vying for the affection of a woman named Feleena. His obsession with her leads him to grave danger, but the protagonist states, "My love is stronger than my fear of death."

Gold star if you noticed that the woman the protagonist of "El Paso" is in love with is named Feleena, and not Felina. While we can assume the Breaking Bad version of the name is pronounced the same way, the alternative spelling likely wasn't a mistake. A popular interpretation that began making the rounds on sites like Reddit posits that the alternate spelling of "Felina" correlates to the periodic symbols FeLiNa, or Iron, Lithium, and Sodium. Each of those elements are key components in blood, meth, and tears, respectively. While the protagonist of "El Paso" is willing to die for the love of the woman Feleena, Walt is willing to do the same for his own love, his drug empire. Oh, and it's also an anagram for the word "finale."

Whether all of these allusions were intentional or just the product of overactive imaginations, the fact that Breaking Bad is giving its fans something to chew on long after it stopped airing is yet another testament to the show's greatness.