Category Archive '“Breaking Bad”'

24 Jan 2018

“Breaking Bad” and the Five-Act Structure

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Todd Vanderwerff, at Vox, explains that Breaking Bad succeeded by applying the Shakespearian five-act structure.

[T]he five-act structure gives both the buildup to and fall from the climax whole acts to breathe. Instead of getting stuck in a never-ending second act, much of the story is pushed to the fourth act, or the fallout from the big moment. And on TV, time is everything:

The five acts consist of the following, which I have paired with how each act perfectly corresponds to each of Breaking Bad’s five seasons:

Act 1: Something happens to spark the story into motion, and the characters begin making choices that will set everything else spinning along. (In Breaking Bad season one, Walter begins cooking meth and realizes he kind of likes it.)

Act 2: The characters still have a chance to escape their fates, but something in their psyches keeps driving them forward. (In Breaking Bad season two, Walter delves deeper and deeper into the Albuquerque underworld, meeting figures like Saul Goodman and Gus Fring for the first time. The season ends with a “warning from God,” in the form of a plane crash.)

Act 3: Featuring the “climax,” this is where everything shifts. Something happens to flip everything on its ear, and the story reaches a point where the characters cannot escape what’s coming. (In Breaking Bad season three, Walter leaves the drug business behind for a while, but ultimately decides to join Gus’s empire. I would pinpoint the show’s “climax” as the controversial episode “Fly,” in which Walter has the chance to come clean to his closest colleague and decides not to.)

Act 4: The characters, trapped by fate but not yet cognizant of it, are sucked toward the endgame. In a tragedy, this is often when the body count begins to mount (or the audience can see this coming). (In Breaking Bad season four, the war between Gus and Walter dominates everything that happens.)

Act 5: Everything ends, often in blood and horror. There is some quiet musing on what it all means. A few characters escape with their lives, but even they will likely have long years of therapy ahead of them. (In Breaking Bad season five, Walter takes over the Albuquerque drug world but finds himself pairing up with even more unsavory characters. Eventually, just about everybody dies or has their life utterly ruined.)


06 Oct 2013

A Nation Mourns

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Walter’s Swan Song (the the tune of Marty Robbins’ El Paso):

Out in New Mexican town of Alb ‘Querque
I fell in love with the methedrine world
Daytime would find me in Gustavo’s meth lab
I’d start a batch and ingredients would swirl
Blue as the sky was my brand, ‘Phetamina
Purer than snow with a ninety six grade
Great was the take from this methedrine poison
Buried in barrels till I was betrayed

One day a former meth partner called up
Claims I had poisoned a ki-I-I-i-id
Spiteful and spurning, my cash he was burning
From blue ‘Phetamina
The drug that I cooked

So in panic, I
Drove to the spot where I buried my money
Only to find that nobody was near
Wasn’t aware I’d been tailed by my in-law
Phoned Nazi scum; Jesse’s vengeance I feared
Just for a moment I flopped to the hard ground
Shocked when that Nazi killed Hank with his gun
This was my thought as I tormented Jesse
I had but one chance and that was to run

From my scumbag of a lawyer I heard
How to escape my past li-I-I-i-ife
Hid in a truck’s tank, the air there was so dank
Inside its bowels as away I did ride

Just as fast as, I
Could from New Mexican town of Alb ‘Querque
Out to a cabin in New Hampshire snow…

Read the whole thing.

Two hat tips to Vanderleun.

30 Sep 2013

SNL: “Breaking Bad” ‘s Jesse Pinkman on Obamacare

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