At this point in the series, chemist/teacher/cancer victim Walter White has just begun chemotherapy and is lying to his family about where he’s getting the money to pay for his $1,500.00-a-pop treatments (his HMO won't cover them). He wants to do the right thing by his family, but this has already begun to leave a wake of destruction in all other facets of his life. This duality within his character is further demonstrated by his choice in pseudonym: Heisenberg.
Werner Heisenberg was a physicist who came up with the Uncertainty Principle, which basically states that one cannot accurately measure the position of a particle while also predicting that same particle’s path. This principle illustrates Walt’s character in profound ways. Like a particle identified in space, where his character is going—the certainty of his future and the direction his life is heading—is impossible to gauge. The Uncertainty Principle also covers the ambiguity of enigmas like light, which behave both like waves and particles. Walter is as if two men concurrently; he is the particle and the wave, the good family man and the ever-corrupting methamphetamine cook.
This duality is skillfully demonstrated in a scene in which his hair begins to fall out from the chemotherapy. He stands in front of the mirror, looking at the image staring back at him as he takes the shaver from the bathroom counter, contemplating. The camera cuts to a shot of a crystal jar on the counter with a clear sphere as its handle. For that quick moment, we see Walt’s reflection in that as well, upside-down because of the curve of the sphere. Because of that moment, we understand that Walt’s life has been turned upside-down. He leaves the bathroom bald and transformed.
What makes BREAKING BAD so exceptional is that every episode I’ve seen contains a similar level of layers, symbolism, and profound connections. It is like fine literature on a television screen, far from what one would expect from a storyline about a man who decides to become a methamphetamine cook … and that is most likely precisely the dichotomy AMC was looking to create.
Go to http://www.amctv.com/shows/breaking-bad for more information on this mind-blowing series.