Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Nutshell Analysis: Breaking Bad *SPOILERS*

Personal Note: Although this series didn't resonate with me as a type of story I'd particularly enjoy telling, it has such a great reputation as a well-executed story with excellent cinematography that it seems to be too important for me to not not write about.  Since the scope and content of a TV series is massive, especially compared to a 2-minute short, this will probably be an ongoing article with new content being added even after its published.  

Logline: A financially poor high school chemistry teacher dying from lung cancer reluctantly cooks crystal meth to provide money for his family, but, over the course of time, eventually loses his soul to the work and turns into a ruthless drug kingpin

Concept Statements:
  • Good intentions do not justify terrible actions
  • Giving in to our worst impulses does not make us a badasses - it makes us monsters

Things I liked:
  • Rich cinematography that has great storytelling images
  • Irony, which creates instant conflict
    • Walt commits crimes and lies all in the name of love for family, but he horribly scars them by doing so
    • Jesse Pinkman is a leader who thinks he's a follower
    • Drug Kingpin whose brother-in-law is a DEA Agent
  • Symbolism
    • Chemistry explains Walter White's character arc, which is supported by a quote the Pilot
      • "You see, technically, chemistry is the study of matter, but I prefer to see it as the study of change: Electrons change their energy levels. Molecules change their bonds. Elements combine and change into compounds. But that's all of life, right? It's the constant, it's the cycle. It's solution, dissolution. Just over and over and over. It is growth, then decay, then transformation. It is fascinating, really."
    • In the pilot episode, Walter is on an stairmaster, which represents him "stuck running in place"
  • Jack's Death: Killing him off mid-dialogue really makes an impact on how powerless and dislikable he is

Storytelling Images

Mise-en-scene: Reflections symbolize Walt's duality.  These are shots from right before
"Heisenberg" is about to surface

Things I didn't like:
  • Although Walt's purpose is fulfilled and his story came to a full close, the resolution to a few of the other characters, although works structurally, still felt unsatisfying and flat since they had arcs of their own and had monumental screen time throughout the series.
      • Although this is Walt's story, how do the rest of the main characters view life as a result of his actions by the end of the series?  Having family betrayal of a Walter-White level obviously left everyone cynical and hurt... but is that really it?  We know everyone hates Walter at this point, but I wish the show was more specific as to how everyone has specifically changed with the aftermath of Walt's betrayal instead of just showing them numb and despondent. (Does Walt Junior still hold anything against Skyler?  How does Walt Junior deal with being a   How does Marie deal without Hank in her life anymore?)

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