Perhaps, like me, you fear you’re forgetting the intricacies of Breaking Bad in the wake of replacements like True Detective and Girls (as young Horvath’s moral degeneration is starting to seem inspired by Walter White’s). Like any deceased television show, the twisty plot lines that once monopolized the less twisty plot lines of my own non-meth-cooking life are fading into one scintillating, distant lump of desert, drugs, blood, and chicken. Luckily, Hungarian designer “Zsutti” (Zsolt Molnár) has created a poster for all 62 episodes; clicking through the slideshow on Uproxx creates a sensation akin to flipping through a family photo album, awakening dormant memories I’d taken for lost. (Ah, how I’ve missed Uncle Gus’ stoic intimidation and that adorable half-face of his; I’d been meaning to catch up with Cousin Severed Head Atop Tortoise, but we’ve been playing endless phone tag.) Here are some highlights from the poster series:
Season 2, Episode 6: “Peekaboo”
In the horrifyingly titled “Peekaboo,” Jesse finds himself in the hellish household of a family who ripped off Skinny Pete; while Jesse is held hostage, he plays the titular game with their neglected child, while the meth-head matriarch kills his father by dropping an ATM on his head. This poster not only perfectly sums up the episode, but simply depicts the show’s continuous insinuation that human life is the price of greed.
Season 2, Episode 9: “Four Days Out”
This dreamy poster illustrates the lethal beauty of the New Mexico landscape that nearly does Walter and Jesse in — and turns them against each other — when their trailer breaks down. By far one of the series’ best episodes, we get a sense here of the surrogate-familial venom that will lead Walter and Jesse to want to hug and kill each other so many times.
Season 2, Episode 2 “Grilled”
“Grilled” introduces one of Breaking Bad‘s best characters: the mute, disabled Hector “Tio” Salamanca – with him, it likewise introduces a recurring weapon of mass destruction: Salamanca’s bell, an object so iconic that it recently sold at auction for $26,750. The poster underscores the menace behind the cutesy innocuousness of its “dings.”
Season 3, Episode 3: “I.F.T.”
Paralyzed by her attempts to keep her husband’s crimes from impacting the lives of her children, Skyler’s life wasn’t much fun for the run of the series (to fully understand the extent of her misery, it’s best to imagine a brunch between her, Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha), and fans lambasted her for being the token killjoy. So it was always a relief to see her act out against victimization — moments where she tried to sabotage or hurt Walt were well deserved. The curious acronym title of this episode actually stands for “I Fucked Ted,” which she impassively declares at the end of the hour. It’s a big moment of resistance for a character who so often can’t make a move.
Season 5, Episode 4: “Fifty-One”
In a sequel-moment to the last poster, this depicts (three seasons later) Skyler’s coded plea for help in the guise of a nervous breakdown. By the beginning of Season 5, Skyler is a literal hostage to her marriage, and the only thing she can do to protest is walk into the pool, fully clothed, during birthday drinks for Walt with Hank and Marie. In a show where characters so often resort to violence to exert power, Skyler’s surrealistically tranquil submersion reads as just as powerful an attack as any of Bad‘s axings or machine-gunnings.
Season 3, Episode 10: “Fly”
Though “Fly” was created as a minimalistic self-contained episode because the show was over budget in its third season, the trivial, hour-long chase of a housefly became lauded as one of Bad’‘s best episodes. With the rush of the chase overshadowing the inevitable disappointment of its outcome, we see that Walter isn’t after any end-result in life (he doesn’t even ultimately see Jesse squash the fly); he’s after an infinite chase — any idea that conflicts with his mortality.
Season 2, Episode 8: “Better Call Saul”
It is so fitting that in this poster series, the disreputable, performative lawyer Saul is only represented by his ad on a sidewalk bench. Depicting him as a sort of amoral Doctor T.J. Eckleburg, the eyes of Saul Goodman don’t stare and judge so much as glimmeringly beckon all wrongdoers toward his lair of cunning and sleaze.
Season 2, Episode 13: “ABQ”
The recurring, inexplicable-until-this-episode image of the singed teddy bear throughout Season 2 led many to wonder whether it was foreshadowing the death of Walt and Skyler’s daughter, Holly. Little did we know that it was actually portending the death of some random child, accompanied by 166 other people on board a plane that Walt indirectly leads to crash. I wonder how teddy-bear sales fared that year.
Season 5, Episode 8: “Gliding Over All”
This poster illustrates the turning point in Walter and Hank’s relationship, when, reading a Whitman book formerly belonging to “Heisenberg” atop a toilet, Hank realizes that W.W. stands not only for the great American poet, but also for his brother-in-law, the great American meth kingpin. By sharing this intimate scene of feces-induced-thought, Breaking Bad made us feel just a little closer to the already beloved Hank, making it that much harder to say goodbye.
Season 4, Episode 14: “Face-Off”
With this poster, Zsutti exhibits the episode’s amazing usage of double entendre (a far more graceful dual meaning than that employed in the movie Face-Off, where Nicholas Cage and John Travolta literally trade faces). Gus Fring had to meet his end, and it’s a good thing he did it with such style — calmly adjusting his tie, sans half a face, before collapsing.
Season 2, Episode 7: “Negro y Azul”
The designer here gives us another of Breaking Bad‘s most tender moments — exhibiting the love between a man’s severed head and his friend, the tortoise. You know, before they explode and leave a police officer limbless.
Season 5, Episode 5: “Dead Freight”
This fuzzy little guy used to belong to a child… before Walter White’s henchman Todd killed the child for accidentally bearing witness to their freight-train heist. If anyone had had questions about Walt’s level of “badness,” his entrenchment in this act of infanticide certainly works as a clarifying device.
Season 5, Episode 16: “Felina”
A beautiful poster from that scene at the end of the series after Walter and Skyler move to Tahiti, where Skyler starts a book club with meth snacks provided by Walt, and Walt Jr. whines about having to adapt to island life and Holly giggles while gumming a coconut. Thank goodness that after all that tragedy, the perennially stressed couple finally gets some R & R!