A television "pilot" is a standalone episode of a television series that is used to sell the show to a network, as was the case with Breaking Bad and AMC. (compare that to Better Call Saul, which was green-lit for an entire first season, so "Uno" wasn't a pilot in the traditional sense)
On most home video releases, the episode is alternatively titled "Breaking Bad," which of course references Walter White beginning to make meth or, as Jesse Pinkman puts it, "break bad" (Vince Gilligan defines the term as "to raise hell").
"Pilot" can also refer to the pilot light used to light a stove and start the reactions needed to cook.
Gray is a mixture of white (Walt's last name) and black (the English translation of Elliott's last name). It is later revealed in the episode "Granite State" that this was indeed Elliott and Walt's inspiration for the company name.
Mandala is Sanskrit, meaning circle of life — the episode begins with Combo's death and ends with Skyler going into labor.
As explained by Marc Valdez relating to Mandala's usage to denote traditional Southeast Asian political formations:
"Los Pollos Hermanos is introduced in episode ‘Mandala,’ and the term may refer to the restaurant. Gus administers the polity – the cosmos – of Los Pollos Hermanos (including the tributary polities of the Chicken Farm and the Industrial Laundry), and zealously guards its gates. The front doors of the restaurant are in the form of a reverse-T. Gus guards his mandala’s gates well. It’s difficult for Walt and Jesse to enter this universe!"
The mandala shape recurs throughout the show. For example, the Four Corners monument, featured in "Cornered", is built in the form of a mandala.
At the bar, Walt and Donald watch a news story about the Phoenix Lander on Mars.
The Phoenix is a mythological creature capable of dying (by engulfing itself in flames) and being reborn from its own ashes. This mirrors the deaths of Jane and Combo and the birth of Walt's daughter Holly, albeit reversed.
Allegedly said by boxer Roberto Durán in a match in which he was defeated by Sugar Ray Leonard, leading to Durán’s retirement from boxing. Within a year, Durán reversed his decision and was boxing again. This parallels Walt’s decision to stop cooking meth.
Spanish for "Horse With No Name," the song Walt sings at the beginning and end. While arguing with the officer who arrests him at the beginning, Walt also says "This is America," the name of the band that wrote the song.
A common, but erroneous theory is that the song is about drug escapism, but this has been openly denied by songwriter Dewey Bunnell
The song lyrics describe a man who travels for many days through a desert, perhaps as an analogy for Walt's own loneliness.
A play on words, as both Hank and Leonel are rushed to the intensive care unit (ICU).
Juan Bolsa's death is shown the viewpoint of whomever is wielding the rifle that killed him. It's implied that Gus was behind the federale raid in which Bolsa was killed, metaphorically allowing him to "see" him
The group leader uses the word to describe Jesse's situation, and Jesse repeats it while talking with Badger and Skinny Pete. Franz Kafka's stories often present a grotesque vision of the world in which individuals burdened with guilt, isolation, and anxiety make a futile search for personal salvation.
Given the definition, "kafkaesque" may also foreshadow Jesse's emotional deterioration following Gale Boetticher's murder which takes place in "Full Measure", a process which ultimately began with this episode as Jesse, Skinny Pete and Badger decide to start selling again at the NA therapy meetings.
Gale uses a box cutter to unpack the meth lab equipment.
Gus later uses the (presumably) same box cutter to kill Victor.
Gus responds to Walt and Jesse's actions (killing drug dealers, killing Gale) by showing them the deadly monster that he really is on the inside, so Walt and Jesse's actions could be a metaphor for a box cutter by letting the said monster out of its box.
At the end of the episode, Walt breaks down and laughs crazily in the house's crawl space. This may also symbolize the danger closing in on Walt.
Crawl spaces are also known as confined spaces, usually private and dark and under houses, which could be a metephor on how Walt wants to stay down in a crawl space, confined from the world with everything that is going on around him.
A "madrigal" is a type of poetic song performed by two or more people, unaccompanied by musical instruments. This refers to the new partnership between Walt, Jesse, and Mike without a boss figure intervening on their business.
Refers to the euphemistic payments that Mike must make to his imprisoned associates, buying their silence. This plot point is what Mike and Walt argue over at the end, and plays an important role in future episodes.
Symbolizes the changing of the balance between Walt and his "Heisenberg" alter ego.
51/50 is a Under California Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) 5150, an individual can be placed (involuntary) to a locked psychiatric facility, many of whom a suicidal, which is perhaps a reference to Skyler's drowning suicide attempt, and Walt's counter-threat to have Skyler committed.
A poem from Walt Whitman, whose book becomes a crucial plot device in this episode.
Walt's drug business glides over everyone in the sense of both him keeping it a secret and gliding over peoples heads and it soaring in power.
There is a music montage showing Walt and Todd cooking in various houses while Vamonos Pest fumigates them, and it shows aerial shots over neighborhoods in which the colorful green and yellow tents are set up.
A poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley, themed around the eventual decline of all kings and empires. Literally, it tells of a ruined statue of the once-great ruler Ozymandias, which serves as an allegory for Walt's crumbled life.
In July 2013, AMC aired a Breaking Bad promo that featured Bryan Cranston's voice reciting the poem.
The official state nickname of New Hampshire, Walt's new home.
A metaphor for the rough and unyielding state of all the remaining main characters' lives.
Alluding to the previous episode, the poem "Ozymandias" is believed to have been inspired by a granite statue of Ramesses II. Thus, the title may signify Walt's granite (or statue) state, his current situation being a monument to his fallen reign.
A reference to the Marty Robbins song "El Paso," about a cowboy who falls in love with a woman named Felina and gets shot by his enemies. The song plays in Walt's stolen car, and he later sings it to himself while setting up the machine gun contraption.
An anagram for "finale."
Spanish for "feline" or "catlike." This may reference Walt's grace and deftness in evading the police and executing his plan, or the fact that his proverbial nine lives have finally expired with his death.
Another interpretation is that the title references the three elements iron, lithium, and sodium, whose respective chemical symbols are "Fe", "Li", and "Na", signifying blood, meth, and tears. However, since lithium is never used in any of the meth cooking processes in the entire series, this is a misconception.
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