Breaking Bad is one of the most critically acclaimed television shows of all time; it received widespread praise from viewers and critics alike. While almost every single episode drew admiration, there is one that has polarized opinions and divided fans. “Fly” is the tenth episode of Season 3 and has caused much debate among viewers, due to the fact that it is so distinctive from the rest of the series.
“Fly” is a bottle episode, which means it focuses on a limited cast in just a few locations in order to save money. Generally, these episodes are produced on a much cheaper budget with few effects and sets in order to allow money to be spent on other, more expensive episodes in the season. The Breaking Bad "Fly" episode is no different - it features just the main two characters, Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, and takes place almost entirely in the laboratory where they make their meth.
Although many fans simply disregard the less action-orientated episode as filler, “Fly” is full of intrigue, emotion, and drama. It deserves to be counted among Breaking Bad's best episodes.
Breaking Bad became well known throughout its run for its unique camerawork. “Fly,” directed by Rian Johnson, stepped up with point-of-view shots from the fly's perspective. They were joined by camera angles from inside grocery bags and close-ups that framed objects perfectly.
One of the best things about “Fly” is it acts as a sort of calm before the storm, giving viewers the chance to catch their breath before the season concludes in spectacular fashion. Season 3 had offered an intense amount of action and drama up until this point, so "Fly" gave the writers a chance to develop the characters more and gave viewers the opportunity to better understand the relationship between Walt and Jesse.
This was especially important for the spectacular one-two punch finale that was to come, "Half Measures" and "Full Measure."
One of the reasons Walt got involved in the drug trade, in the first place, was to feel like he had some measure of control over his life after he was diagnosed with cancer. Throughout Season 2, the former high school chemistry teacher slowly lost control of his operation to an outside distributor, Gus Fring. In Season 3, Walt was not in charge of the overall operation, so he micromanaged the lab as a way of trying to regain some sort of authority and power.
Trying to swat the fly that intruded upon his only refuge shows Walter fruitlessly grasping for control of his lab - and his life.
As the series progressed, it became clear how much Walter wanted power - and just how far he was prepared to go to get it. “Fly” foreshadows Walt's descent into insanity by showing him completely obsessed with a seemingly harmless creature. He wanted it wiped out simply because it was not part of his plan and not under his control - mirroring his relationship with other characters in the future.