Decoding The 'Breaking Bad' Finale: Four Theories On What 'Felina' Means

  @ericbrownzzz on September 26 2013 9:29 PM

With only a handful of days to go before “Breaking Bad” airs its final episode on Sunday, everyone wants to know how the show is going to end. Only “Breaking Bad” creator Vince Gilligan is sure of that at this point, but it doesn’t mean that fans don’t have ideas of their own. Across the Internet, fans have been analyzing the episode's title “Felina” (an anagram for “finale,” by the way) for hidden clues buried in the name. They run the gamut from well-thought-out hypotheses to crackpot theories, but they’re all interesting.

Here are three of the most interesting theories on how “Felina” will close out “Breaking Bad,” but even if one of them is right, don’t expect anyone to confirm it until “Felina” finally airs on Sept. 29.

Blood, Meth and Tears

According to some theorists on Reddit, “Felina” would be better spelled out FeLiNa, as a reference to the chemicals iron (Fe), Lithium (Li) and Sodium (Na). These, user brtdud7 speculates, are key ingredients in blood, meth and tears respectively. In this theory, “Felina” may not refer to anything that happens in the episode proper, but instead to three things the show is full of. It makes sense as a thematic link, but it might not hold up in the end.

Blood certainly has a high iron content, and tears are obviously composed of salt water, but lithium isn’t actually a component of methamphetamine. In its pure form (chemical formula C10H15N), methamphetamine is composed solely of carbon (C), hydrogen (H) and nitrogen (N), no lithium involved.

However, there are multiple ways to synthesize meth from other ingredients, and several involve lithium. The Birch reduction, also called the “Nazi method,” mixes lithium and ammonia to create a reaction. Another, called the “Shake ‘n' Bake” method, involved throwing lithium and several other ingredients into a single pot to create the drug. Both methods are extremely dangerous, as lithium is a highly volatile element.

Unfortunately, there’s a big hole in this theory: Walt never uses a lithium-based synthesis in the show. As another Reddit user points out, Walt uses two methods throughout the show: first the Nagai method involving red phosphorus and later a methylamine P2P reaction resulting in the famous blue meth. Neither one uses lithium at any point, shooting at big hole in this theory.

At one point, Badger suggests using a Shake ‘n' Bake reaction with lithium, but if Walter White listened to Badger, he wouldn’t have gotten very far, would he?

The El Paso Theory

This is an interesting one. According to Previously.TV’s Andi Teran, “Felina” doesn’t refer to any chemical formula, but instead to Marty Robbins’ classic Western ballad, “El Paso.”

In the song, the unnamed cowboy narrator falls in unrequited love with a Mexican girl named Felina in the border town of El Paso, Texas, only to kill one of her suitors out of jealously. The gunslinger flees to “the badlands of New Mexico,” and when he returns to El Paso, he sneaks past a group of lawmen to the bar where Felina would dance. The song ends as Felina puts a bullet in the narrator’s heart, but she kisses him on the cheek one last time before he dies.

So how exactly does this song relate to “Breaking Bad?” According to Teran, Felina symbolizes Walt’s lust for power and control.

“Felina is a metaphor for Walt’s double life,” Teran writes. “As Heisenberg, Walt becomes obsessed with the power and money that a being a drug kingpin brings. This power is his Felina, his weakness. But its backbone is the obsessive (destructive) love he also has for his family.”

Breaking down the song stanza by stanza, Teran argues that “El Paso” mirrors the final season of “Breaking Bad” almost perfectly, including returning from an exile and avoiding the police. If the parallels are going to continue, someone close to Walt is going to shoot him by the end of “Felina,” and it might be someone you wouldn’t expect.

“In Sunday's episode, Marie stares out the window of a police vehicle. She's in protective custody, being driven home in the wake of Hank's death, only she doesn't get to go home and is whisked away when her escorts discover that her house has been broken into,” Teran writes. "If anyone on 'Breaking Bad' has truly lost everything as a result of Walter White's choices, it's Marie. She's lost her husband, her sister, and now her home. She is alone, swathed in black, and no longer comforted by the warm violets of her environs. Interestingly, in desert gemology, the color purple signifies purpose. And if anyone deserves a shot at Walt -- possibly more than Skyler and Jesse -- it's Marie, the only utterly blameless victim in this whole mess.”

Listen to Marty Robbins’ “El Paso” and decide for yourself. Even if it turns out to be wrong, at least you listened to a fantastic song, right?

Schrödinger's Cat

This one might be a bit of a stretch, but given Walter White’s history of referencing famous scientists in the past, it might have some credence. Felina is a homonym for “Felinae,” the scientific classification for small cats, and Schrödinger’s Cat is the most scientific famous feline of all.

Back in 1935, Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger created a now-famous thought experiment to criticize the prevailing model of quantum physics. In it, he asked students to imagine a cat sealed inside a box with a certain amount of a radioactive substance designed to be released once a single atom decays. While the cat is unobserved one must consider the cat both alive and dead at the same time. Upon opening the box, however, one would clearly see that the cat was either alive or dead. It can’t have ever been both.

All throughout “Breaking Bad,” Walter White has pretended to be Heisenberg and a mild-mannered family man all at once. Perhaps in “Felina,” we’ll see where his true loyalties lie.

Interestingly enough, the Copenhagen method that Schrödinger was criticizing was pioneered by none other than Werner Heisenberg. Yes, the same Heisenberg Walter White named his criminal alter-ego after.

Woodworking

All right, this one isn’t even based on the title “Felina,” but it’s the only piece of evidence we have from Vince Gilligan, so it’s worth examining. Every week, Gilligan appears on the post-show wrapup program “Talking Bad” to obliquely hint at the next episode’s events. After “Granite State” aired last Sunday, he dropped a single hint for “Felina” and the series finale: woodworking.

What does it mean? No idea, especially considering all of Gilligan’s other hitns have been so vague that they might as well be meaningless. Previously, his clues have been statements like “Walt and Skyler go on a staycation” and “Walt gets a new pair of glasses,” so “woodworking” will likely only make sense to viewers once they’ve seen the episode. Still, it’s worth keeping in mind.

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