“Felina,” the title of the final episode of the show “Breaking Bad,” means “Blood, meth, and tears.”
While “Breaking Bad” concluded with its final episode, “Felina,” in September 2013, the internet continues to debate the meaning behind the title. The hit show about a high school chemistry teacher turned meth manufacturer was the subject of countless fan theories over the years, but some have endured and gained popularity. For those who have not yet seen the show, this article is filled with spoilers.
This tweet in particular claims that the episode title “Felina” is a portmanteau of “Fe,” “Li,” and “Na,” which make up the chemical compounds for iron, lithium, and sodium. Each of these respectively are said to be key elements of blood, meth, and tears, supposedly making the title of the final episode representative of “blood, meth, and tears.”
There are a number of holes in this theory. Firstly, the creators themselves have not addressed it as being an inspiration for the finale’s title. In the Breaking Bad Insider Podcast, the show’s creator Vince Gilligan described the inspiration behind “Felina” as coming from the Marty Robbins song “El Paso,” which plays as actor Bryan Cranston’s character, Walter White, tries to steal a car toward the beginning of the episode. The song’s lyrics are:
Out in the West Texas town of El Paso
I fell in love with a Mexican girl.
Night-time would find me in Rosa’s cantina;
Music would play and Faleena would whirl.
Gilligan described how they changed the spelling of the song for a particular reason:
If you listen to the words of the song, ‘Wicked Faleena’ is the girl that the cowboy is in love with in the song ‘El Paso.’ You hear him singing about her, and he kills a man for her, and then he flees town, and then his love for her is so great that he has to ride back to town on his horse because his fear of death is less than this pain in his heart he feels. And he gets killed on the way back. I guess we knew at the point we started breaking it that that was more or less what was going to happen with Walt. So ‘El Paso’ on some conscious or subconscious level seemed to resonate. And then what Gordon Smith and Jenn Caroll made me realize is that the name ‘Felina’ — although I have to stress it’s spelled a little differently than Marty Robbins spelled it, but the way we spell ‘Felina’ — is an anagram for ‘Finale.’ […] Robbins spelled it ‘Faleena,’ which is not an anagram, but we took a little liberty there.
It is still possible that the writers also saw the connection between the chemical compounds and the name of the show title. The symbol for iron is indeed Fe, and it is a mineral that is needed to make hemoglobin in red blood cells. The normal amount of red blood cells are between 35.5% and 44.9% of blood volume for adult women and 38.3% to 48.6% for adult men.
Lithium — with the symbol Li — is also used as an ingredient in making methamphetamines, or meth. But in the show, White relied on a number of different methods to make meth, which some argue did not require lithium. In early episodes, White used the so-called “Nagai method” — which, according to Vice, employs “pseudoephedrine as a precursor, which is reduced with hydroiodic acid (HI) to yield methamphetamine.”
The show’s drama also draws from the main character’s efforts to get methylamine, which is made up of ammonia and a methyl substituent. Donna J. Nelson, a professor of chemistry at the University of Oklahoma and science advisor on the show, wrote a book called, “The Science of Breaking Bad,” in which she details the chemicals used to carry out their meth manufacturing. In a shopping list White gave to his protegee, Jesse Pinkman, in season one, lithium was not mentioned. It was not mentioned at any point over the series whether they relied on lithium as a major ingredient.
Our tears are mostly made up of water that tastes salty because of the sodium compound within them. Sodium is a small component of our tears, however.
While the writers may have intended to use these chemical compounds in the title of the last episode of the show, they have not spoken about it, and the creator of the show indicated a different meaning behind “Felina” entirely. However, fan theories exist because multiple layers of meaning can be derived from any creative work, and so we cannot entirely dismiss all of them. As such, we rate this claim as “Unproven.”
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