Badass Drama: Breaking Bad

THE PLATE
S01E03 – “…And the Bag’s in the River”
Written by Vince Gilligan
2008


CONTEXT:
It’s Walter’s job to kill the drug dealer in the basement. Instead, he makes the guy a sandwich.

At the break in the middle of the clips is a ten-minute long bonding scene between the men while they eat and drink together. As they connect, Walter searches for any reason to spare dealer’s life. When he goes back upstairs, he’s convinced that the man is good and ultimately worth saving… then he remembers the broken plate.

WHY IT’S BADASS:
Breaking Bad has the greatest writing on television since the Golden Age of HBO. It’s bleak and devastating, but hopeful.

When a writer tells a story through images alone, it’s called “Pure Cinema.” Without a word, we watch Walter struggle as he comes to the realization that the drug dealer may have stolen a deadly piece of the broken plate. If Walt finds a missing piece, it means that their bonding time together was a merely a ploy to gain Walt’s trust in order to murder him.

Now here’s the genius behind this simple scene: any other show would have made Walt’s reaction ANGER. A typical character would have searched that trash can hoping to find a missing piece; pissed at the dealer for his deception. But not Walter… Walter is practically praying that the plate is whole! He wants to trust his new friend! He needs to find the missing piece! But when the pieces don’t add up, he knows what needs to be done.

The final silhouette shows Walter as a changed man, less naive, and one step closer to criminal mastermind.

Camera. Music. Character. Story. Props. NO DIALOGUE: pure cinema.

Come back tomorrow and Sunday for more posts about TV’s greatest drama! And remember, the new season starts Sunday night!

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