What do you tend to think of when looking at a pool? It’s a place to relax, to have fun, and to just kick back and unwind. Unless it’s a pool in Breaking Bad, since then it becomes another part of the overall symbolism that was continuously present in the show from start to finish, well, almost. If a person was paying attention they would notice that very few people ever just relaxed by the pool, save for a few scenes that would eventually turn into something far deadlier or more melancholy than anything poolside really needs to be. Walter’s pool is definitely one of the more morose settings in the show, especially since very little ever happened there that could be described as peaceful, since from the charred teddy bear that landed in the pool during one season to the fact that Skyler tried to drown herself at one point, the White family pool was not unlike a promise of serenity that was ignored, misused, or allowed to slip into the background as its primary purpose was just to be there as a means of showing that there was a possibility of relaxation if the family would just take it. Of course, that wasn’t the point of the show, to relax, but as a small creature comfort, one can’t help but think that if the White’s might have taken the time to simply sit around the pool just to breathe and take in the day, things might have been a little different.
Another pool in the series that was even less relaxing belonged to the late Don Eladio, who was responsible in a big way for who Gus Fring eventually became, as he killed Gus’s friend and partner Max while keeping Gus alive. The pool was subjected to acts of violence more than once in the series, but two times stand out since Gus was forced to look into Max’s eyes by Don Eladio’s henchmen while being kept alive due to the Chilean connection that the Don cited. But once again, a pool that might have been seen as a calming and relaxing spot turned into a place of great controversy and tension, since even when there was no hint of deception or conflict yet, Don Eladio’s poolside, which did feature people trying to kick back and relax, was a spot filled with a deadly promise of things to come since anything involving the cartel was bound to end badly for someone, especially considering that in Breaking Bad there was always a chance that something was about to go terribly wrong. In terms of symbolism though, the pools stand out as places where peace and relaxation are continually upset by the surrounding tension, bastions of calm and peace that are easily shattered by happenstance and deadly intent.
Breaking Bad is still a popular topic of discussion since it stood as one of the shows that was provocative enough to draw people and keep them coming back due to the content but also to the characters since from Walter White to Jesse Pinkman to everyone that came after, the story was fashioned in such a way that it created a network of individuals that might not have even known about each other in other circumstances, but were thrust together for this one series. Nearly everything had some type of meaning in the show, and the swimming pools weren’t exactly the biggest part of the story, but they had their place and time and when that time came they were meant to be a vehicle for the story to use to drive things forward a little more. A swimming pool generally instills in many people a host of different thoughts that range from diving in and enjoying the water to worrying about how to take care of the thing. But being a landing pad for a charred teddy bear or the finishing touch for a perfect act of revenge isn’t something that a lot of people would think about from the start since such acts are pretty random and don’t tend to happen that often. But in Breaking Bad, people were eventually conditioned to look at everything and attribute meaning to many things since to do any less was to miss out on a lot of the story and its eventual plot twists that came on a regular basis. The pools in this series were forlorn and largely unused sites that promised everything that a person needed to relax, but instead became a part of the story that could be said to represent the unattainable and easily shattered peace that people needed so badly in the series.
Everyone is going to read something different into the pool scenes in Breaking Bad, but one thing to agree upon is that the pools did serve a larger purpose.