With articles on the significance of college hockey games and fictional New York Times columns marking the hours until we at last get a Breaking Bad thinkpiece on the thread Todd pulls from Lydia’s jacket (It symbolizes his creepiness!), we are left—like an exiled Walter White—with only Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. And while some might have assumed that the mention of the Dustin Hoffman family film was just a throwaway joke, as well as a way of illustrating the depths of despair to which Walter White has dug himself, those people clearly haven’t learned anything about how everything in Breaking Bad has some significance. Even that principal lady has a backstory you didn’t actually see.
As Swiftfilm’s Husain Sumra recently pointed out, Mr. Magorium concerns a dying man who’s looking to leave his business to a younger protégé—in this case, a giant toy store. And after all, what is the meth business if not a giant toy store? But while one might quibble with the parallel between Mr. Magorium entrusting his Wonder Emporium to Natalie Portman, and Walter White abandoning his drug empire to be run by Todd (even though Mr. Magorium is also deeply troubling), the most meaningful connection may be Hoffman’s King Lear-quoting speech, in which a once-indestructible man finally faces the end:
When King Lear dies in Act V, do you know what Shakespeare has written? He's written "He dies." That's all, nothing more. No fanfare, no metaphor, no brilliant final words. The culmination of the most influential work of dramatic literature is "He dies." It takes Shakespeare, a genius, to come up with "He dies." And yet every time I read those two words, I find myself overwhelmed with dysphoria. And I know it's only natural to be sad, but not because of the words "He dies." but because of the life we saw prior to the words… I've lived all five of my acts, Mahoney, and I am not asking you to be happy that I must go. I'm only asking that you turn the page, continue reading... and let the next story begin. And if anyone asks what became of me, you relate my life in all its wonder, and end it with a simple and modest "He died."
Whether this is explicit foreshadowing of Walter’s fate, a sentimental benediction to Breaking Bad fans, or an admission that the creators couldn’t really come up with anything brilliant for the finale, but hey, even Shakespeare kind of just ended it, we won’t know for sure until Sunday. Still, it’s yet another thing worth pondering—unless you’re the director of Mr. Magorium, Zach Helm, who tells TMZ that all he took from the episode was yet another reminder that his movie sucks.
Helm says that, at last, Breaking Bad finally crossed the line of plausibility by suggesting anyone would have two copies of the movie he himself now hates, saying, “That is exactly two more copies than are allowed in my house.” Helm added of his own detested creation, “Having myself endured the ignominy of watching the Technicolor train-wreck that is Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium multiple times every day for over a year, I can attest to it being the perfect Kafka-esque Hell for a character of such moral ambiguity as Walter White.” So… perhaps Walter White is already dead, and Hell is a lisping Dustin Hoffman?