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The Breaking Bad Detail That Hinted At Heisenberg Turning Back Into Walt

There's a reason his name is Walter White. 

Color symbolism has always been a major part of Breaking Bad's story. From the bright yellow of the hazmat suits Walt (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse (Aaron Paul) wear while cooking meth to Marie's purple ... well, just about everything, set decoration and character wardrobes were always chosen with an eye toward revealing character and the broader arc of the story. The black porkpie hat that became synonymous with Walt's criminal alter-ego, Heisenberg, was a reference both to the similar headwear donned by Gene Hackman's Popeye Doyle in The French Connection and the Western trope of white hats for the good guys and black hats for the bad guys. Walt may be the protagonist of the show, but there's no doubt which of those categories he falls under once he puts on that hat. 

As he becomes more ruthless, the black of the hat creeps downward, darkening his entire wardrobe and moving him further from the light. And so Walt's journey is a descent not just into evil but also down the contrast bar from light to dark. Never again would he be so naive as to be caught out in the desert in his briefs. But his journey also featured moments where he briefly trended back toward his old self, and his wardrobe told that story as well.

When does Walter White return to the surface?

The most notable of these blips, as pointed out by Showbiz CheatSheet, comes after Walt is told his cancer has returned during season 5. Whether it's an unconscious return to the beginning or a symbol of his newfound vulnerability, Walt retreats back into more of his old wardrobe, more light colors, more beiges. After all, the cancer is not the sort of problem that can be dealt with by Heisenberg. It's Walter White's body that is sick, so this particular trouble sits squarely on Walter White's shoulders.

However, by that point in the series, Walt can't stay in khaki forever. The gravity of Heisenberg's misdeeds is too great. He is past the event horizon. His murders and his cover-ups, the consequences of his near-misses with Hank (Dean Norris) and the DEA and Todd (Jesse Plemons) and the Aryan Brotherhood can't be escaped, despite his eventual efforts to leave them behind and flee to New Hampshire.

But even though he switches back to dark colors during the course of the final season, when he makes his final stand against the Aryan Brotherhood, it's in green and white — a shirt and jacket in this case, not his briefs — the same colors in which he first graced our screens. He chooses to go out not as Heisenberg, but as Walter White, performing one last good deed. So is Breaking Bad ultimately a redemption story? As the aphorism goes: The clothes make the man.