I don’t think a few paragraphs can do justice to the amount of hard work the crew has put into making Breaking Bad. But, I’ve been moved so much by this series that I can’t help but pen down my thoughts. I just finished watching final episode of the season finale and I feel extremely satisfied. It’s going to stay with me for many days.
If I were to get a bit poetic about my perception of this show, I’d say it’s a beautiful painting. A painting that you can’t help but admire forever. Strokes of five prominent colours intertwined with each other on a black and white checkered canvas. Five colours being the five main characters of the show and the black and white checks being the contradictory nature these characters display at various levels, various frequencies. One colour influencing all other colours. Oh! it’s beautiful.
Having gone overboard with my admiration to the show above, I wish to deconstruct this work of art below. Namingly, Plot and characterisation, Cinematography, Screenplay, subtexts. A disclaimer well in advance – I have no formal training nor any background in movie making or writing. So do comment if I’ve made any technical mistakes in the below exercise.
Plot and characterisation:
What can I say! A totally well knit fabric of beautiful characters. The plot can be summarised in three lines, it’s that simple. A “good” guy turning a “bad” guy and in the process bringing out the “good” and “bad” of people he deals with. It’s commentary on the struggle of humanity in finding order in a chaotic world. Simple enough ? Yes.
Characters. Well, no character is brought in just to use as a wild card to help the narrative move on. It’s done mostly by some writers when they hit the “Block”, one of the techniques is to introduce a new character and kill the character once its purpose is served. (A callback to the Queen’s Justice of Game Of Thrones.) Breaking Bad on the other hand uses the death of the characters to escalate the situation and the move the narrative. Tuco, Combo, Jane, Gus, Hector, Mike, Hank to name a few.
Like the abstraction above with the painting, the main characters show various shades of themselves through the goodness and the badness, based on how the main character Walter White is interacting with them. This plot here is so amazing, they make the main character stay on top of everything and make the this character script the story, You see the trick there ? With this trick we’re being exposed to how the creator of story is thinking, it’s like the creators talking to us directly through the character of Walter White on how the story goes. Bravo!
Cinematography and Art direction : No effort has been spared to make us feel emotionally connect with the characters, those close up shots really move you. Those wide shots of sprawling deserts, the Point of View shots during intense sequences. If you notice that sequence of Walter white sitting by the pool and turning the gun over and over you’d know what I’m talking about. Just one example that came to my mind as I write this.
Screenplay: I don’t know if there’s a name to this specific technique, but I’ve seen some screenwriters use this. It’s to show how it’s going to go down in the beginning of the episode and build up the anticipation of the audience. There have been certain interplays in a few episodes that are subtly poetic. Such as, Walter having a baby girl and Jane dying the same time while Walter and Jane’s dad sit in a bar and talk about baby girls. Walter helping Jesse – his pseudo-adopted son – while missing his own son’s birthday party.
Subtexts: A ocean of them. Everytime there’s a TV or Radio playing in the background, the content playing on the TV or the radio is foreshadowing the show itself. Pick one and you’ll see what I am saying. Thematic subtexts with color of the costume people wear. Purple. You see purple in an episode you’re sure going to be awed with something critical to the plot. Those conversations between Hank and Walter. Every conversation, Walter challenges Hank in his own way. I am sure I’ve missed quite many, these things come to mind when I think back.
Thank you for reading. Do comment your thoughts 🙂