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Why Swimming Pools Mean More Than You Think In Breaking Bad

Over the course of Breaking Bad, the seemingly normal three-bedroom suburban home of Walter White (Bryan Cranston); his wife, Skyler (Anna Gunn); and their son, Walt Jr. (RJ Mitte); transforms into a storage facility for Walt's blood money and a target for Heisenberg's enemies.

So much happened over the show's five seasons that it's hard not to notice the parts of their property that held significance. These include the notorious pizza on the roof and the hidden money in the crawl space. But the White family swimming pool serves as possibly the eeriest element of the house. 

For most of us, having a swimming pool on our properties signifies relief on hot summer days, exercise, or a central point for a gathering. But for the Whites and a few other characters on the show, swimming pools signify much more. It might seem like a simple backdrop for scenes, but swimming pools pop up in the show at several crucial moments.

Swimming pools highlight Walter White's destruction

Walt is often hanging around the pool. He tosses lit matches into it, encourages Walt. Jr to drink around it, and sometimes just stares into its blue emptiness. The pool is supposed to be a symbol of wealth and joy, but for Walt, it serves as a reflection of his own state of being. As The Take noted: "Walter's relationship with his pool visualizes his obsession with contamination which is a stand-in for his guilt over what he's done."

One of the most jarring images from the series involves the dismembered pink teddy bear floating aimlessly in the White's pool in the season 2 premiere episode, "Seven Thirty-Seven." The bear fell from a Wayfarer 515 after the plane collided midair with another plane. The reason for the collision was Jane's (Krysten Ritter) father, an air traffic controller, grieving his daughter's death and distracting him from his job. Walt could have saved Jane when she was overdosing on heroin, but he chose not to. This action inadvertently caused 167 people on both planes to die. The one-eyed teddy bear floating around in the pool is a symbol of the destruction Walt has caused with his selfish actions.

Another classic pool scene is in the season 4 finale when a zooming-in camera reveals that Walt used the poisonous lily of the valley plant near his pool to poison 6-year-old Brock Cantillo in an effort to manipulate Jesse (Aaron Paul). Walt has gotten so far removed from any sense of morality that he's willing to poison a child to keep his operation running.

Gus Fring uses the swimming pool for revenge and rebirth

Before Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) became a powerful and feared drug kingpin, he and his business partner and potential lover, Max (James Martinez), co-founded the fast-food chain and crystal meth front known as Los Pollos Hermanos. But Don Eladio (Steven Bauer) was not happy with their business and, in a face-to-face meeting with the partners, he had Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis) kill Max, forcing Gus to watch the blood drain from Max's head into the pool. Gus is clearly terrified. But after this incident, Gus becomes a more stoic, intimidating presence on the show. The killing of his partner and his own brush with death changed him. As one Reddit user wrote, "It is safe to say Gus was reborn on that day next to the pool when his friend was shot."

Years later, Gus reunites with Don Eladio and offers him a gift of tequila. Eladio and his crew drink the tequila and soon, one by one, die from the poison within. Gus approaches Eladio, who charges at him but soon falls into the pool dead. Eladio's pool bookends Gus' transformation from a lowly drug pusher into a masterful drug kingpin not to be reckoned with.

Skyler White nearly drowns in the pool

Though the White's pool isn't sentient, the scene in the fifth season in which Skyler White breaks away from a group gathering of Walt, Hank (Dean Norris), and Marie Schrader (Betsy Brandt) shows the power it holds as Skyler mindlessly stares into the glowing blue water. She walks in, going under in an apparent suicide attempt.

At this point in the show, Skyler not only didn't turn her husband in for his crimes but instead helped him launder money using their car wash business. But as her criminal assistance progresses and she sees how much of a danger Walt is to the family, she breaks.

Some fans believe Skyler's fully clothed descent into the freezing pool was the only way for her to "feel alive." Another fan of the show wrote on Quora that she was doing it to protect her kids. "It goes to show what lengths she'll go to keep the kids safe from Walt by creating a crisis in which Walt Jr. and Holly stay with Hank and Marie," she wrote. One Redditor even posited that the pool that "drove Walt insane" was "eating" Skyler.

While the pool doesn't have any supernatural powers, it's certainly a powerful symbol. Whenever it appeared, something significant was happening. When the pool is shown empty in a flash-forward, with kids using it to skateboard, it signifies that Walt's foray into the world of crime is finally over.