Note: This is the overall critique. For scene by scene critique click here
Note: This is the synthesis. See scene by scene analysis here
|Formatting||9.26||89||The matrix: 9.20||Breaking Bad: 9.26|
|Concept||8.1||77||Squid Game: 8.0||the dark knight rises: 8.1|
|Characters||8.4||73||Killers of the flower moon: 8.3||American hustle: 8.4|
|Structure||8.53||71||Severance: 8.50||Breaking Bad: 8.53|
|External Goal||8.16||69||The Wolf of Wall Street: 8.13||Breaking Bad: 8.16|
|Overall||8.4||68||Killers of the flower moon: 8.3||Avatar: 8.4|
|Pacing||8.47||64||Narcos: 8.46||Breaking Bad: 8.47|
|High Stakes||7.4||57||Suits: 7.3||Labyrinth : 7.4|
|Internal Goal||8.11||56||The whale: 8.03||Breaking Bad: 8.11|
|Plot||8.1||54||The sweet hereafter: 8.0||Vice: 8.1|
|Conflict Level||7.6||51||The Shawshank Redemption: 7.5||Get Out: 7.6|
|Character Changes||5.9||46||Community: 5.8||Breaking Bad: 5.9|
|Emotional Impact||7.3||46||Severance: 7.2||severance (TV): 7.3|
|Story Forward||7.6||33||Community: 7.4||Rear Window: 7.6|
|Dialogue||7.3||22||The Wizard of oz: 7.2||face/off: 7.3|
|Originality||6.05||15||Queens Gambit: 6.00||Breaking Bad: 6.05|
|Engagement||8.11||11||Mind Hunter: 8.10||Breaking Bad: 8.11|
|Story Content||Character Development||Scene Elements||Audience Engagement||Technical Aspects|
|Scene Number||Full Analysis||Tone||Overall Grade||Concept||Plot||Originality Score||Characters||Character Changes||Internal Goal||External Goal||Conflict||Opposition||High stakes||Story forward||Twist||Emotional Impact||Dialogue||Engagement||Pacing||Formatting||Structure|
|2||Walt's Mundane Life||"sad"||8||7||6||6||9||2||2||8||4||0||2||2||0||6||7||7||8||8||8|
|3||Walt's Mundane Routine||"Tense"||9.5||9||10||6||9||2||9||7||7||0||2||8||0||6||8||7||8||8||9|
|4||Family Dinner and DEA Bust||"tense"||8||9||8||8||9||5||8||7||7||0||7||7||0||6||8||9||8||10||9|
|8||Drug Bust||"tense, foreboding"||8||9||8||8||7||2||8||9||10||0||10||8||0||7||6||9||8||10||9|
|9||The Bust and the Boy||"Tense"||7||6||8||5||7||5||8||7||8||0||8||8||0||7||6||8||9||9||8|
|11||Walt makes a risky decision||"Tense"||8||9||8||5||7||6||9||9||8||0||7||8||0||7||7||7||8||10||8|
|13||Setting Up the Lab||"Suspenseful"||8||7||8||5||8||5||9||9||6||0||7||8||0||6||8||8||8||10||9|
|15||Meth Lab Setup||"Tense"||9||8||9||7||9||7||9||10||6||0||8||9||0||7||8||10||9||9||8|
|16||Cooking Meth and Making Deals||"intense"||9||8||9||4||9||7||9||8||9||0||10||9||0||8||8||7||9||10||8|
|17||The Cook's Secret||"tense"||9||10||10||7||9||7||10||9||10||0||10||9||0||8||8||9||9||10||10|
|18||Fire in the Winnebago||"Tense"||9||9||8||7||9||8||8||9||9||0||9||9||0||8||7||9||9||9||8|
Sony Pictures Television
EXT. COW PASTURE - DAY
Deep blue sky overhead. Fat, scuddy clouds. Below them,
black and white cows graze the rolling hills. This could be
one of those California “It’s The Cheese” commercials.
Except those commercials don’t normally focus on cow shit.
We do. TILT DOWN to a fat, round PATTY drying olive drab in
the sun. Flies buzz. Peaceful and quiet. Until...
... ZOOOM! WHEELS plow right through the shit with a SPLAT.
NEW ANGLE - AN RV
Is speeding smack-dab through the pasture, no road in sight.
A bit out of place, to say the least. It’s an old 70’s era
Winnebago with chalky white paint and Bondo spots. A bumper
sticker for the Good Sam Club is stuck to the back.
The Winnebago galumphs across the landscape, scattering cows.
It catches a wheel and sprays a rooster tail of red dirt.
INT. WINNEBAGO - DAY
Inside, the DRIVER’s knuckles cling white to the wheel. He’s
got the pedal flat. Scared, breathing fast. His eyes bug
wide behind the faceplate of his gas mask.
Oh, by the way, he’s wearing a GAS MASK. That, and white
jockey UNDERPANTS. Nothing else.
Buckled in the seat beside him lolls a clothed PASSENGER,
also wearing a gas mask. Blood streaks down from his ear,
blotting his T-shirt. He’s passed out cold.
Behind them, the interior is a wreck. Beakers and buckets
and flasks -- some kind of ad-hoc CHEMICAL LAB -- spill their
noxious contents with every bump we hit. Yellow-brown liquid
washes up and down the floor. It foams in a scum around...
... Two DEAD BODIES. Two freshly deceased Mexican guys
tumble like rag dolls, bumping into each other.
Completing this picture is the blizzard of MONEY. A Von’s
bag lies leaking twenties. Fifteen, twenty grand in cash
wafts around in the air or floats in the nasty brown soup.
CLOSE on the driver’s eyes. He’s panting like a steam
engine. His mask FOGS UP until finally he can’t see.
EXT. COW PASTURE - CONTINUOUS
The Winnebago comes roaring over a berm and down into a deep
gully. Too deep. BAM! The front bumper bottoms out,
burying itself. WAAAAAAH! The rear wheels spin air.
The engine cuts off. Silence again. The Winnie’s door kicks
open and out stumbles underpants man. He yanks off his gas
mask, lets it drop.
He’s forty years old. Receding hairline. A bit pasty.
He’s not a guy who makes a living working with his hands.
He’s not a guy we’d pay attention to if we passed him on the
street. But right now, at this moment, in this pasture?
Right now, we’d step the fuck out of his way.
Underpants man looks at the RV. End of the line for that.
He listens hard. Out of the silence, we hear... SIRENS.
They’re faint, a few miles off -- but growing louder. Our
guy knows he’s boned with a capital B. He HOLDS HIS BREATH
and leaps back inside the RV.
INT. WINNEBAGO - CONTINUOUS
A chrome 9mm is clutched in the hand of one of the dead
Mexicans. Underpants grabs it, tucks it in his waistband.
His unconscious passenger, still strapped in his seat, lets
out a groan. Underpants leans past him, yanks open the glove
box. He comes up with a WALLET and a tiny Sony CAMCORDER.
EXT. COW PASTURE - CONTINUOUS
Ducking outside, he starts breathing again. A short sleeve
DRESS SHIRT on a hanger dangles from the Winnebago’s awning.
Underpants pulls it on. He finds a clip-on tie in the
pocket, snaps it to his collar. No trousers, unfortunately.
He licks his fingers, slicks his hair down with his hands.
He’s looking almost pulled together now -- at least from the
waist-up. All the while, the sirens are getting LOUDER.
Underpants figures out how to turn on the camcorder. He
twists the little screen around so he can see himself in it.
Framing himself waist-up, he takes a moment to gather his
thoughts... then presses RECORD.
My name is Walter Hartwell White.
I live at 308 Belmont Avenue,
Ontario, California 91764. I am of
sound mind. To all law enforcement
entities, this is not an admission
of guilt. I’m speaking now to my
Skyler... you are... the love of my
life. I hope you know that.
Walter Junior. You’re my big man.
I should have told you things, both
of you. I should have said things.
But I love you both so much. And
our unborn child. And I just want
you to know that these... things
you’re going to learn about me in
the coming days. These things.
I just want you to know that...
no matter what it may look like...
I had all three of you in my heart.
The sirens are WAILING now, on top of us. WALTER WHITE, the
underpants man, turns off the camcorder. He carefully sets
it on a bare patch of ground by his feet. Next to it he sets
his wallet, lying open where it can be seen.
CLOSE ON the wallet -- a photo ID card is visible. Walt’s
smiling face is on it. It identifies him as a teacher at
J.P. Wynne High School, Ontario Unified School District.
Walt pulls the chrome pistol from the back of his waistband,
aiming it across the tall weeds. It glints hard in the sun.
Flashing red LIGHT BARS speed into view, skimming the tops of
the weeds. Heading straight for us.
Walt stands tall in his underpants, not flinching. Off him,
ready to shoot the first cop he sees...
EXT. WHITE HOUSE - NIGHT
No president ever slept here. No millionaire ever visited.
This is a three-bedroom RANCHER in a modest neighborhood.
Weekend trips to Home Depot keep it looking tidy, but it’ll
never make the cover of “Architectural Digest.”
We’re in Ontario, California -- the Inland Empire. LEGEND:
“ONE MONTH EARLIER.”
INT. WHITE HOUSE - MASTER BEDROOM - NIGHT
Dark and silent. SKYLER WHITE, late 30s, sleeps peacefully.
Beside her, her husband Walter is wide awake.
Walt reaches over and presses a button on his Sharper Image
alarm clock. It projects the time in glowing blue numbers on
the cottage cheese ceiling: 5:02 AM.
Walt lies motionless. Brain churning. He presses the button
again, staring straight up. 5:02 turns to 5:03.
Close enough. Walt rises without waking his wife. He exits.
We hear an o.s. SQUEAK-SQUEAK as we drift through this room.
We pass an empty crib, Pampers, a baby monitor still in its
box. There’s going to be a new addition to the family.
We come upon the source of the SQUEAKING. It’s Walt balanced
on a Lillian Vernon stair-stepper, just three easy payments
of $29.95. Walt plods up and down in the darkness like he’s
marching to Bataan.
INT. WHITE HOUSE - BATHROOM - NIGHT
Walt sits down on the edge of the tub. We’re watching his
face in the bathroom mirror. He masturbates. Judging by his
expression, he might as well be waiting in line at the DMV.
Walt double-takes, catching sight of himself. Distracted, he
examines the sallow bagginess under his eyes. He draws at
the loose skin under his chin.
Staring at himself long and hard, Walt loses his erection.
He gives up trying, pulls up his sweat pants.
INT. WHITE HOUSE - KITCHEN - MORNING
Walt is dressed for work -- Dockers and a short-sleeve dress
shirt courtesy of Target. An American flag pin on his tie.
He and Skyler eat their breakfast in silence.
Skyler glances up, sees Walt puzzling over his bacon.
Sizzle-Lean. We need to think
about our cholesterol.
Skyler’s cute in a way most guys wouldn’t have noticed back
in high school. But not soft-cute. Not in the eyes.
She’s dressed for staying home -- she’s five months pregnant
and just beginning to show.
When’ll you be home?
I don’t want him dicking you around
tonight. You get paid till six,
you work till six. Not seven.
Seventeen year-old WALTER, JR. enters the kitchen, dressed
for school, hair still damp from the shower. The CLICK...
CLICK of his forearm crutches precedes him into the room.
Walt and Skyler’s son is a sweet-faced teenager who appears
to have cerebral palsy. He moves slowly and awkwardly, and
grinds his teeth as he labors to talk. But he’s a smart kid.
Just seating himself at the table is a trial for Walter, Jr.
His parents don’t give him the slightest help. They treat
him as if he were able-bodied, which is how he wants it.
He shrugs. She gets up, serves him breakfast. Walter, Jr.
squints at the plate she plops down before him.
Sizzle-lean. We’re watching our
Not--me! I want--bacon!
Walter, Jr. picks at his breakfast, annoyed.
What’s this--even--made of?!
He looks to his dad for backup. Walt shrugs, ambivalent.
EXT. HIGH SCHOOL - MORNING
J.P. Wynne High School. Home of the Fightin’ Skyhawks. Two
thousand-plus students, many of them in overflow trailers.
Into the faculty lot motors a 1991 Nissan wagon. It was a
piece of shit when it rolled off the assembly line, and has
not improved with age. It parks in a handicapped space.
A handicapped placard hangs from the rear-view.
Walt climbs out from behind the wheel, checks his watch.
He’s late. Walter, Jr. struggles to get out of the passenger
side. He fumbles with his crutches and his backpack.
(off his son’s nod)
Alright, see you at home.
Walt grabs his briefcase and hurries toward the building,
leaving his son to work it out for himself -- which is,
again, exactly how Walter, Jr. wants it.
INT. HIGH SCHOOL - CLASSROOM - DAY
Hours later. This is a chemistry classroom -- black-topped
lab tables with gas spigots. Walt is lecturing to seniors.
Chemistry is the study of what?
Snickers from the smart kids. Walt smiles.
Chemicals. No. Change. Chemistry
is the study of change.
Think about it. Electrons change
their orbits, molecules change
their bonds. Elements combine and
change into compounds. That’s all
of life, right? The constant...
The cycle. Solution, dissolution,
over and over.
Walt seems to be talking mostly to himself. A pep talk.
Growth, decay. Transformation.
It’s fascinating, really.
Handsome, blonde CHAD sits slouched in the back with his hand
jammed in the lap of his cheerleader GIRLFRIEND. He whispers
to her and she giggles. Walt snaps out of it.
Chad, keep your hands to yourself
please. Is there something wrong
with your own table?
Chad sighs heavily and drags his stool back to an adjoining
table. Doing so, he makes as much NOISE as he can.
Alright, ionic bonds. Chapter six.
Last period. Wide on Walt in the background, who sits alone
in this deserted room. Head down, he grades tests while he
eats a sandwich from home. It’s a lonesome tableau.
A physics teacher, MARGARET, enters. She’s 30s, redhead,
attractive without being pretty. Sexy, more like.
Margaret feeds the soda machine a dollar. Walt stares at her
back a little too long. We feel his interest.
Margaret gets her Diet Coke and turns his way. Walt lowers
his eyes. Margaret joins him at the table, checks her watch.
How’d you know?
Walt shrugs. Smiles. Margaret does, too.
She fumbles in her purse, comes up with a cigarette and
lighter. She notices Walt’s surprised glance.
Be a champ, wouldja? Don’t narc.
(amused by the word)
My lips are sealed.
Margaret lights up and sucks deep. Ohhh yeah. She blows
smoke toward the ceiling, gives it a wave with Walt’s papers.
Walt, you are my hero.
Walt glances up at her once more. She catches him doing it,
smiles back and holds his look. He drops his eyes first.
Those things’ll kill you, you know.
Margaret shrugs, exhales.
Something always does.
EXT. VELVET-TOUCH CAR WASH - AFTERNOON
This is one of those 60s Googie-style structures -- faded
space-age futuristic. Young Mexicans dry the cars by hand.
INT. VELVET-TOUCH - OFFICE - AFTERNOON
Walt’s afternoon part-time job. He works the cash register.
-- Eight, nine, ten, and ten makes
twenty. Thank you. Come again.
The CUSTOMER wanders off, re-counting his change. Walt
closes his drawer and busies himself with record keeping.
AMIR, the middle-aged Persian owner, argues on the phone.
No. Not -- that is not what I
said. What I said to you --
Amir switches to FARSI. The conversation grows more heated.
Finally, he barks something and hangs up. He turns to Walt.
My sister’s worthless son -- piece
of shit! Shit! Fired for good
I’ll run the register.
Amir, no. We talked about this.
Inside only. And only till six.
I’m short-handed, Walter. What am
I to do? What am I to do?
Pissed, Walt unclips his tie, shoves it in his breast pocket.
EXT. VELVET-TOUCH CAR WASH - AFTERNOON
The sun’s sinking low. Walt -- master’s degree, Inland
Empire Science Educator of the Year for ‘92, ‘95, and ‘01 --
is towel-drying cars alongside the teenage vatos. His slacks
and shoes are spotted with soapy water. He’s grim.
Walt is at work on an anthracite BMW 3-Series. As he hunkers
down to Armor-All the tires, we hear:
Hey, you missed a spot.
Walt looks up to see handsome CHAD smirking down at him.
Young master Chad is tickled pink. This is his Beemer, by
the way. Chad’s girlfriend stands in b.g., giggling into her
cell phone. Whispering just loud enough to be heard.
Ohmigod. Oh -- my -- God. You are
not going to believe...
She cups a hand over her mouth, turns away. Walt says
nothing. He needs this job. Off him, scrubbing harder...
INT. NISSAN SENTRA - DRIVING - EVENING
The speedometer vibrates at 86. Walt is alone in the car,
speeding home. Tired and dirty. He’s swallowed a lot of
anger today. It’s way down deep, but it glows inside him.
The needle creeps up to 91. Things rattle and shake. Walt’s
eyes fix on something ahead.
Walt’s POV -- through the windshield, it’s a straight shot
down the freeway. A mile ahead of us is a TRIPLE OVERPASS.
It’s a graceful, swooping thing made of ribbons of white
concrete. It rises up out of the flatlands as we approach,
dwarfing everything for miles around.
Walt studies it. He lets off the gas a little.
Cars crawl the overpass, over and under each other. Endless
strings of white headlights, red taillights. This giant
structure routes them in every direction a person can travel.
Something about it distracts Walt. Occupies him.
Walt coasts underneath it all, staring up at it through his
sunroof. Once he’s past it, he speeds up again. He eyes it
in his rearview mirror, then leaves it behind.
EXT. WHITE HOUSE - EVENING
Walt’s Sentra chugs into the driveway, parking behind a shiny
new VOLVO SUV. Staring at the Volvo, Walt is not happy.
The front door of Walt’s house opens. Out steps a big,
barrel-chested man with a bourbon in one hand. This is HANK,
Walt’s brother-in-law. Hank raises his glass hello. He taps
his watch and shakes his head -- you’re late.
EXT. APPLEBEE’S - NIGHT
Deep suburbia. The shiny Volvo SUV is parked in foreground.
Family night in this chain restaurant. Walt, Skyler and
Walter, Jr. sit in a corner booth with Hank and his wife
MARIE. Marie is Skyler’s sister. We see the resemblance.
Amir, this guy’s name is? Jesus.
Call Homeland Security.
I’m serious. Call the FBI, see if
he’s legal. Might not be. Ship
his ass back to Camel-Land.
Hank shoots a winning grin at his nephew. Walter, Jr. snorts
with delight as he chews a mouthful of hamburger.
I don’t know, Hank. Do they
actually have camels in Iran?
No. Horses. Arabian stallions.
Arabian what? Jesus. Camels,
horses -- a towel-head is a
towel-head. You’re missing my...
... And they’re not Arabian anyway,
they’re Persian. But you’re
missing my point here. This guy is
treating your husband like uh, you
know. Door mat. Here Walt is, got
a brain the size of Wisconsin and
he’s shampooing dried cum outta
some teenager’s back seat?
WALT & SKYLER
(to Walter, Jr.)
Sorry. You didn’t hear that.
You say the word, I’ll go talk to
this guy. I’ll set him straight.
Walt gives a pained little smile, shakes his head.
You sure? Happy to do it.
No. Thank you. Let’s, please,
let’s change the subject.
Hank shrugs and drains his beer. He winks at Walter, Jr.,
who grins. The teenager worships his fire-pisser uncle.
Walt can’t help but notice. Hank is everything Walt isn’t:
bold, brash, confident.
Skyler sips her white wine. Marie stares at her.
You’re sure it’s okay to drink.
After the first trimester, yes.
It was even in “Newsweek.”
Well, I didn’t see that.
Marie disapproves. Prickly. Hank’s eyes are on the bar TV.
Oh, hey! Turn it up!
Hank WHISTLES. The college-age BARTENDER glances at him,
confused. Hank hustles over and keys up the volume on the
nearest TV SET. They’re all wired together. Everybody in
the restaurant, like it or not, has to listen to...
... The local news. HANK, the man himself, is being
interviewed on television. He’s polished and official.
HANK (ON TV)
-- At which point we apprehended
three individuals and placed them
in custody. I’m proud to say that
the outstanding professionalism
shown by my fellow agents of the
San Bernardino District Office
resulted in a substantial quantity
of methamphetamine being taken off
An on-screen graphic identifies him as “AGENT HENRY WELD,
D.E.A.” The real-live Hank gives a smile and a nod, not just
to his family, but to everyone in the place. Such is the
force of his will that strangers APPLAUD him.
Walter, Jr. holds up a hand, which Hank high-fives.
Damn. TV does--add ten pounds.
Ah hah-hah. Sit and spin.
Hank rubs the corner of his mouth with his middle finger,
flipping off Walter, Jr. They’re like two teenagers.
Walt eats french fries and tries his best to tune everyone
out. Something on TV catches his eye.
It’s the spoils of this drug bust. Laid out on a table are
bags and bags of crystal meth and several guns. But also...
eight big SHOEBOXES full of CASH.
Walt chews his food, watches. Despite himself...
Hank? How much money is that?
Almost seven hundred thousand.
Pretty good haul.
The TV lingers on fat rolls of $20s rubber-banded together.
It’s more currency than Walt has ever seen outside of a heist
movie. He’s surprised.
That’s got to be unusual, right?
That kind of cash?
Mmm. Not the most we ever took.
(to the room)
There’s no deficit of total morons
in the drug trade. And they can
make a ton of money, too. At least
until we catch ‘em. But we
catch ‘em eventually.
Hank flashes his great smile around the room. He notes
Walt’s continued interest in the news report. Likes it.
Walt, just say the word and I’ll
take you on a ride-along. You can
watch us knock down a meth lab.
‘Less that’s too much excitement
Walt forces a pained grin and shrugs -- maybe someday.
EXT. WHITE HOUSE - NIGHT
The lights are off. It’s late.
Walt, dressed for bed in sweats and a t-shirt, checks himself
out in the bathroom mirror. He’s not loving what he sees.
He pulls at the skin under his eyes. He COUGHS a little.
In the bedroom, Skyler’s in her nightgown, sitting at the
computer. She’s following the final moments of an auction on
eBay. Walt pads into the room, sits down beside her.
Which one’s this?
(eyes on the screen)
That faux-Lalique vase I picked up
at the flea market.
How’s it doing?
I met my reserve and there’s still
Walt nods, sits watching. Without taking her eyes off the
screen, Skyler reaches over and slips a hand into Walt’s
sweatpants. Walt smirks, surprised.
You tell me.
Skyler plays with him, out of sight below frame. A beat.
What are you doing tomorrow?
Actually, I was thinking about, um.
Maybe drive to Caltech.
You’re not gonna mow?
Yeah, I’ll mow. JPL’s got an
exhibit of Mars rover photographs.
Supposed to be, the detail... just
really amazing. Really beautiful.
I just need you to mow at some
point. I’d do it myself, except it
always throws rocks at me. I think
it needs a new bag.
I will mow. First thing.
Skyler glances at Walt’s crotch. Good-naturedly:
What’s going on down there?
Is he asleep?
I’m just... we gotta be careful of
Don’t worry about the baby. This
is for you. We’re only doing you
Obscured by the computer, Skyler gives Walt a vigorous
handjob with one hand and works the mouse with the other.
Just relax. Just... close your
eyes and let it...
Skyler glances again at her husband. Apparently, there’s no
mighty oak sprung from whence the lowly acorn lies.
Just close your eyes.
Walt does so, concentrating. Trying hard. Tugging away,
Skyler’s attention drifts back to the computer. Completely.
... That’s it. That’s... it.
There you go. Keep going. Keep
going. Keep it going. Keep...
(reacting to the screen)
Walt’s eyes open. The thrill is gone.
EXT. CALTECH CAMPUS - DAY
Old Pasadena. Wide greenbelts and dark magnolias. The sign
says “Jet Propulsion Laboratory.” Einstein was a visiting
professor at Caltech, once upon a time. This place looks it.
INT. JPL - DAY
MARS fills frame, stark red rocks and red sand. We PAN OFF
this blow-up of Martian terrain -- we’re in a hallway mounted
with two dozen such photos, big and striking.
Small in the distance stands Walt. He’s not looking at any
of these photos. He’s down an adjacent hallway, staring at
something else, instead.
CLOSER ANGLE - WALT
He’s studying names engraved on an old plaque. It’s a list
of grad students awarded a particular research grant.
Closer. “ORGANIC CHEMISTRY, 1988 -- Walter H. White.”
Walt stares at his own name on the plaque. We can’t read his
thoughts, but we can guess at them.
EXT. CALTECH CAMPUS - COFFEE STAND - DAY
An outdoor snack bar. Walt sits alone. Around him, young
STUDENTS pore over textbooks or quietly type on laptops.
Walt sips his coffee and stares into space.
At the nearest table, a CHINESE GUY sits with two CHINESE
GIRLS. They’re laughing and talking in CANTONESE. They keep
their voices low so their gossip might not be overheard --
but it’s not like we have any idea what they’re saying.
Walt takes another sip of coffee, carefully sets down the
cup. He looks at his hand for a long moment.
He notices his fingers are TREMBLING slightly. He makes a
fist, squeezes it tight. Opens it.
The Asian students are talking a mile-a-minute, the two girls
giggling. Walt glances at them, looks back to his hand. He
presses it flat against the tabletop.
UP-ANGLE -- as seen through this GLASS TOP TABLE, Walt’s
fingers stick to the surface. They pull loose with a slow,
CLOSER on Walt. He rubs his mouth, sneaks his fingertips to
his carotid artery just under his ear. He’s feeling his
pulse. The furtive whispering in CHINESE fills his head.
He’s starting to breathe faster.
His cellphone RINGS. He glances at the readout screen.
“HOME,” it says. Walt silences it, tucks the phone back in
Rapid-fire CHINESE is all we hear. Now it gets drowned out
by a sudden WHOOSH that makes Walt blink. It’s the whoosh of
the nearby cappuccino machine. It’s unnaturally loud, like a
jet engine. Walt’s had enough. Time to go.
HIGH ANGLE - DOWN THROUGH THE TREES
Magnolia leaves sway in f.g. We’re looking down at Walt,
tiny in the distance, as he rises to his feet. He makes it
three steps before he COLLAPSES, flipping an empty table.
Students look up, hesitate. The Chinese guy and a couple of
others rise to help. Off Walt, lying on his face...
END ACT ONE
Walt is conscious, seems okay. He sits in a blue paper gown,
legs dangling off an exam table. He’s alone, waiting.
Absently tapping the table. He’s been here for hours.
Muffled RINGING. Walt reaches for his pants, fishes out his
cellphone. “HOME” is yet again displayed on the readout.
Walt considers, answers it.
Yeah, sorry. I had it turned off.
I was, uh...
Yeah, probably about an hour or so.
Amid the bustle out in the hall, two ER DOCTORS stand
conferring. They’re looking at blood chemistry results --
first one man studies them, then the other. When one of them
glances back our way, we realize they’re talking about Walt.
Walt sees this. He can’t hear what they’re saying, but it
looks weighty. Walt is anxious. However, he doesn’t let it
come through in his voice.
I’m at Caltech. I ran into an old
professor, we got to talking. I
should be home in about an hour.
Walt clicks off. He looks again to the doctors in the hall.
One man nods to the other, walks off. The remaining doctor
puts on his bedside smile and enters Walt’s room.
Sorry for the wait. You can put
your clothes back on.
Walt climbs off the table, steps into his pants.
I’ve had it before. Low blood
sugar. Stood up too fast.
He’s fishing. The doctor doesn’t saying anything, just fills
out a form. Walt pulls on his shirt, buttons it.
Guess I should’ve had breakfast
There’s a specialist I’d like you
to see. His name is Dr. Belknap.
I should have his... card here
The doctor finds a business card, hands it to Walt. Walt
stands in his socks, staring at the card for a long beat.
It’s probably absolutely nothing.
INT. DR. BELKNAP’S OFFICE/EXAM AREA - DAY
Days later. A MONTAGE OF CLOSE-UPS: a blood pressure cuff
gets pumped with a WHOOSH-WHOOSH-WHOOSH; a stethoscope slides
here and there over bare skin; glands get palpated; blood is
drawn; eyes, ears, nose and throat are checked; more blood is
drawn; colorful MRIs pop up on a monitor; still more BLOOD is
drawn. END MONTAGE.
CUT TO -- Walt in his street clothes, sitting in a red
leather chair. He’s staring almost directly into camera.
SILENCE. Up from it rises a faint sort of buzzy, shimmering
TINNITUS sound. It’s the RINGING in Walt’s ears. It gets
louder as we slowly CREEP IN on Walt’s face. He’s staring at
us blankly. He’s staring at:
Walt’s POV -- DOCTOR BELKNAP. Dr. Belknap is a balding man
in his late fifties. On a good day, he’s maybe avuncular.
He’s sitting behind his desk, looking right at us, talking in
slight SLOW-MOTION. We don’t hear a single word he’s saying.
We only hear the buzzy RINGING.
CLOSER POV -- we tilt down from Belknap’s face, his moving
lips, to his doctor’s coat. On the pristine white of his
lapel, there’s a spot of yellow MUSTARD. We fixate on it.
-- Mr. White? Are you listening?
We’ve snapped out of it. The SOUND in the room is normal.
No more SLOW-MOTION. Walt looks up from the man’s lapel.
Did you..? You understood what
I’ve said to you?
Yeah. Multiple myeloma. Stage 3.
Best-case scenario, with chemo,
I’ll live another two years.
(off the man’s gaze)
It’s just, you’ve got mustard on
your... you’ve got mustard there.
Walt points. Belknap glances down at the spot on his lapel,
then back up at Walt. He has no idea what to say to that.
Off Walt, looking very matter-of-fact... disconcertingly so:
INT. VELVET-TOUCH CAR WASH - OFFICE - EVENING
Same clothes, same day -- Walt came to work straight from
getting his terrible news. He’s on autopilot, standing
behind the cash register. The BUZZ is back in his head.
Amir is in the b.g., arguing on the phone in Farsi. The
sound is muted. We can barely hear him. We don’t know what
he’s yelling about anyway -- it’s pointless, doesn’t matter.
We’re on Walt, who simply stares into space.
No customers. Walt suddenly jerks, like a tiny zap of
electricity goes through him. He steps out from behind the
counter and exits. Amir doesn’t notice him leave.
As seen through the windows, Walt pads along like a zombie
and nearly gets run over by a car. The vatos all watch,
confused, as Walt climbs in his Nissan and drives away.
INT. NISSAN SENTRA - DRIVING - EVENING
Walt drives. Not speeding. No expression on his face.
His POV: it’s a straight shot up the 10 Freeway. The
familiar TRIPLE OVERPASS looms ahead in the distance.
Walt stares at it like it’s the monolith in “2001.”
EXT. OVERPASS - CONTINUOUS
An AERIAL VIEW, looking straight down at this vast and
complex concrete knot. Walt’s tiny Nissan is an ant
trundling toward it. The car disappears from view
underneath, as if being swallowed.
A glass of white wine. Skyler stands talking on the phone.
Absolutely. I sent it to you on
the third. It’s number... wait a
minute, let me get my checkbook.
She cups a hand over the phone, does nothing. After a beat:
Here it is. It’s check number
1148. So my records show I paid
that, and I certainly don’t feel
like we owe any late...
Alright. I guess then I’ll check
with my bank and, I don’t know, if
the post office lost it or
something... alright then. Let me
look into that. Thank you.
Walt enters, hearing the tail-end. Skyler hangs up.
You’re home early.
Walt nods, finds a beer in the fridge. His fingers tremble a
little as he pries off the cap. Skyler doesn’t notice --
she’s sifting through a stack of bills.
Walt sits at the table. He drinks deep, rubs his mouth.
How was your day?
You know. Same.
Don’t tell me Amir’s sending you
home at five now.
No, just. Today.
(studying a bill)
Did you use the MasterCard last
month? $15.88 at Staples?
Uh. We needed printer paper.
Walt, the MasterCard’s the one we
Walt nods, overwhelmed and hiding it. Skyler doesn’t know
about his doctor’s appointment. Even if Walt wants to tell
her, something stops him. He sips his beer, stares.
Loud MACHINE GUN FIRE startles them both. Skyler yells into
the living room.
DAMMIT, WALTER! TURN THAT DOWN!
Go talk to him.
Walt rises, sets his bottle in the sink.
INT. WHITE HOUSE - LIVING ROOM - CONTINUOUS
The end of “Scarface” plays on the TV. TONY MONTANA, with
his mountain of cocaine and his M-16, takes on all comers.
Walter, Jr. is sprawled on the couch, watching. His crutches
are leaned against the armrest.
(watches TV, remembers)
Your Mom wants you to turn it down.
Shit, come--on. This is--the best--
TONY MONTANA (ON TV)
COME AN’ MEET MY LEETLE FRIEND!
Oh--damn! Hell, yeah!
Walter, Jr. awkwardly pumps his fist. Walt keeps watching.
Uncle Hank--gave--it to me.
Walt’s eyes stay on the screen. The garish little kingpin
mows down acres of Columbians, then dies in a blaze of glory.
Off Walt, whose thoughts are unknown to us...
INT. WHITE HOUSE - MASTER BEDROOM - NIGHT
Glowing blue numbers project on the cottage cheese ceiling:
4:26 AM. Walt lies awake beside his sleeping wife.
INT. WHITE HOUSE - SPARE BEDROOM - NIGHT
SQUEAK-SQUEAK, SQUEAK-SQUEAK. Walt thumps up and down on his
cheapie stair-stepper. He speeds up -- faster than the last
time. Thump, thump, thump. As seen through the bars of the
empty crib, he’s really working it hard.
Sweat beads on his face. Bam, bam, bam. Faster, faster.
Harder. Violent. Sweat drips off his nose. Until --
-- CRACK. He BREAKS the stair-stepper. One footpad snaps
free, hangs limp. Walt steps off and examines it.
He stares down at it for the longest time. We CREEP IN on
his face. The thousand-yard stare he’s had since Doctor
Belknap’s office gives way to something else now.
He says it barely audibly. It’s like the clouds have parted.
The situation has finally, truly registered in Walt’s brain.
EXT. WHITE HOUSE - DAWN
Early morning. A faint glow in the sky. Silence except for
the THWACK... THWACK of the NEWSPAPER GUY driving past.
INT. WHITE HOUSE - KITCHEN - DAWN
Walt sits alone at the kitchen table, staring into space.
Deep in thought. Considering something carefully. He rises,
picks up the phone and dials. Keeps his voice low.
Hank? Hey, it’s Walt. I didn’t
wake you, did I?
Good. Listen, I’ve been thinking.
Could I take you up on your offer?
EXT. BLUE-COLLAR NEIGHBORHOOD - MORNING
A different morning -- these things take time to set up.
We’re in a neighborhood not unlike Walt’s. A non-descript
Ford is parked at the curb, blended in with the other cars.
It’s down there on the cul-de-sac.
White? Kinda redwood-looking trim?
Hank sits behind the wheel. A subordinate agent, GOMEZ, is
beside him. Hank is pointing out the TARGET HOUSE to Walt,
who sits in the back seat in an ill-fitting bulletproof vest.
Tiny house, a block down the street. Not at all noteworthy.
That’s a meth lab.
So says our snitch. Says some dude
who goes by “Cap’n Cook” lives up
to his name in there. Got himself
a three pound flask and keeps it
bubbling day and night. Says he
always adds a dash of chili powder.
Ah, you exuberant Mexicans.
Uh-uh. “Cap’n Cook?” -- that’s a
white boy’s name. Dopey as hell.
Yeah? I got twenty bucks says he’s
A yellow SCHOOL BUS chugs into frame, driving past.
Ah, here we go. Finally.
(into his radio)
School bus is clear. You got the
An affirmation comes back. Hank starts his engine.
(smiling, to Walt)
Watch this. This makes ‘em shit.
Out of the distance, we hear a BIG ENGINE REVVING, speeding
our way. A TRUCK roars past, heading for the cul-de-sac.
Hank slowly follows it in his Ford -- just so Walt can see.
Hank hums Ride Of The Valkyries, channeling “Apocalypse Now.”
Walt’s POV: as seen through the windshield, the lead truck
goes speeding into the target house’s driveway. An ENTRY
TEAM of six agents jumps out, looking like they just came
from the set of a sci-fi movie -- they’re covered head-to-toe
in CHEMICAL SUITS and RESPIRATOR GEAR. They carry carbines
and shotguns. One man lugs a battering ram.
Meth labs are nasty on a good day --
but when you mix that stuff wrong,
you wind up with mustard gas.
Phosgene gas, I think.
Yeah, exactly. One whiff’ll kill
you. That’s why the moon suits.
Walt nods, watches the entry team take position at the door.
INT. TARGET HOUSE - KITCHEN - CONTINUOUS
To call this a shithole would be an insult to shitholes
everywhere. There’s filthy clothes, overflowing garbage,
rotting pizza boxes dating to the Clinton administration...
along with stacked cannisters of plumber’s lye and Coleman
stove fuel. A rambling, Rube Goldberg lab of hoses and
buckets stands out against the knotty pine panelling.
A Mexican man, EMILIO, sits at the kitchen table, listening
to headphones -- oblivious to the o.s. BANGING at the door.
He’s got an enormous mound of RED POWDER in front of him, and
an even bigger pile of MATCHBOOKS on the floor.
He scrapes off the striker strips and collects the powder.
This is a source of red phosphorus for meth production.
BOOOM! The front door busts open. Feds pour in, pointing
guns and breathing through their masks like Darth Vader.
Emilio nearly pisses himself. He starts to run for it, but
doesn’t get far. The agents hold him down, cuff him.
Hank, Gomez and Walt wait in the Ford. The RADIO crackles.
AGENT (RADIO V.O.)
House is clear. We’ve got one
suspect in custody.
Copy that. The suspect... might he
be of the Latin persuasion?
AGENT (RADIO V.O.)
Hank triumphantly puts a hand out. Gomez grumbles and pays
him his twenty.
Cheer up. You people still got
(grins at Walt)
How you doing back there, buddy?
This sure as hell beats spending
your day clapping erasers, huh?
Walt smiles, acts agreeable. Hank turns to Gomez.
I made the mistake of watching
“Jeopardy” with this dude one time.
He is a stud, Gomez. He’s a
brainiac. BEEP! “What is E equals
MC squared, Alex?” BEEP! “What
is, like, freaking... Shakespeare?
Hamlet?” I’m telling you Walt, you
shoulda gone on that show. You’da
Right on, man.
Shit, you don’t know the half of
it. Two big companies wanted him
while he was still in college.
He coulda written his own ticket.
Hank looks to Walt for confirmation. Walt stares out the
window, barely shrugs -- and changes the subject.
Hank? Do you think I might get to
go inside? See the lab?
Yeah, tell you what -- we’re gonna
go peek our heads in, check it out.
Stay here a minute.
Hank and Gomez exit the car, leaving Walt behind.
Walt’s pleasant demeanor fades. Spending time with Hank is
hard for him. While feds in moon suits come and go across
the lawn, Walt’s attention drifts to the HOUSE NEXT DOOR.
He double-takes, noticing a high WINDOW get raised. It’s out
of sight of the D.E.A. agents. Only Walt can see as...
... A DUDE dressed only in underpants backs out the window.
He dangles for a moment, then drops eight feet to the grass.
This guy is white, gawky, early 20s -- picture a hip Shaggy
from “Scooby Doo.” His sneakers come tumbling from the
window, nearly hitting him in the head. Above him, a naked
HOUSEWIFE leans out, boobs dangling, frantically tossing him
his jeans, his socks, his Cypress Hill T-shirt.
The kid dresses at mach speed, peeks around the corner of the
house. He’s desperate not to be seen by the feds.
Walt watches, jaw slackening. He can’t believe his eyes.
He recognizes this kid. He knows him.
It’s like a psychic connection -- at this moment, the kid,
MARION ALAN DUPREE, feels eyes on him. He turns and looks,
even more shocked to see Walt than Walt is to see him.
Staring at Walt, Dupree swallows hard, puts a finger to his
lips -- shhh. Keeping one eye on the D.E.A., he hurries to
an old Daytona parked on the curb.
As it creeps away, Walt notes the license plate: “THE CAPN.”
Nobody sees any of this but Walt. He climbs out of the back
of the Ford, watching Dupree go. He still can’t believe it.
Hank surprises him, having walked up behind him carrying a
shoebox in a big evidence bag. It’s stuffed full of CASH.
Hey, check it out, Walt -- these
assholes like their shoeboxes
better’n Bank Of America.
Walt stares at all that beautiful green, turns and glances
back down the street. The Daytona is gone.
Whatcha looking at?
Wanna come meet a bad guy?
Walt nods, follows him to the house. He’s not going to tell
Hank what he knows.
EXT. BUNGALOW STREET - NIGHT
We’re in an old neighborhood of Sears-Roebuck cottages up in
the foothills. One particular bungalow is shabbier than the
rest. Its paint peels off like sunburned skin.
“THE CAPN” license plate gets covered -- Dupree is out here
in the darkness, hurriedly draping his Daytona with a tarp.
He’s antsy as hell. Hearing FOOTSTEPS, he grabs a tire iron,
crouches behind the car. The FOOTSTEPS slow, stop.
It’s me. I’m alone.
Walt appears out of the blackness. Dupree slowly rises.
After a wary beat:
How’d you find me?
You’re still in our filing system.
Your aunt owns this place, right?
I own it.
Walt nods. Whatever. He glances at the tarp.
Nobody’s looking for you.
What do you want?
I was curious.
(a beat; shrug)
Honestly, I never expected you to
amount to much. Methamphetamine,
though. I didn’t picture that.
(off the silence)
Lotta money in it, huh?
Dupree peers into the darkness beyond Walt, wonders who else
is out there. His hand tightens around the tire iron.
I don’t know what you’re talking
No freakin’ clue.
Huh. Cap’n Cook? That’s not you?
(off his head shake)
Like I said, no one’s looking for
you. I didn’t tell anyone.
Dupree grows more agitated. His voice stays low.
I don’t know what you think you’re
doing here, Mr. White. If you’re
planning on giving me some bullshit
about getting right with Jesus or
something, turning myself in --
No. Not really.
You ain’t “Welcome Back, Kotter,”
so step off. No speeches.
Dupree points the tire iron for emphasis. Walt should leave,
but he doesn’t. Instead...
Short speech. You lost your
partner today. What’s-his-name,
Emilio? Emilio’s going to prison.
The D.E.A. took your money, your
lab. You got nothing. Square one.
But you know the business, and I
know the chemistry. I’m thinking.
Maybe you and I... partner up.
Long, pregnant silence. Dupree can’t believe his ears.
You -- wanna cook crystal meth.
(off Walt’s nod)
You. You and me.
Walt means it. Dupree breaks into a crooked, spreading grin.
Before he can laugh out loud --
Either that, or I turn you in.
Dupree’s smile fades. Off Walt, serious as a heart attack...
END ACT TWO
INT. WHITE HOUSE - KITCHEN - AFTERNOON
Brown shipping tape gets pulled off its roll with a SKRRECK!
Skyler seals a cardboard box, readies it for the post office.
The kitchen table is stacked with bubble wrap and boxes.
Marie helps pack. She holds up an item.
What the hell is this?
Damned if I know. I described it
as a “mid-century objet d’art.”
And somebody bought it?
Some guy in Minneapolis. Fourteen
dollars plus shipping -- and I got
it at a yard sale for eighty cents.
God, I love eBay.
Marie shakes her head, bubble-wraps the objet.
At this rate, in fifty or sixty
years you’ll be rich.
That’s the dynamic -- Marie is constantly yitzing her older
sister. Sometimes, she’s not even aware she’s doing it.
She’s just naturally negative. And competitive.
What’s up with Walt lately?
He’s fine. What do you mean?
He just seems... I don’t know.
Quieter than usual.
Skyler thinks about it, shrugs.
Turning forty was a big deal. I
know I’m not looking forward to it.
You -- are gonna be a basket-case.
So, it’s a mid-life crisis.
No. He’s just. Quiet.
How’s the sex?
Marie holds up her hands. Whatever. Irked, Skyler runs her
tape gun over the top of a box -- SKKKRRRECK. A beat or two.
Guess that answers that.
Walt’s chem lab is empty -- school has ended for the day.
Hurrying around, Walt peers in cabinets high and low, pulls
out FLASKS, BEAKERS, TUBING, STANDS and BURNERS. He gathers
all this up, loads it in a cardboard box.
He pauses, hit by a brief fit of COUGHING. He recovers,
sniffs and feels his chest with his fingertips. Margaret the
physics teacher sticks her head in the door behind him.
Hey, you’re still here.
I missed lunch -- I was thinking of
swinging by T.G.I. Fridays. I
could use a drink. How ‘bout you?
Walt clearly would like to join her, and she knows it.
Shoot, I can’t. My other job.
Okay. Some other time.
(notices the box)
Oh. Inventory. Not a week goes by
my kids don’t break two or three
pieces of glassware.
Margaret considers. Does she believe him? We don’t know.
But then she winks at him, leaves. Walt glances at his box
full of school property. Shit, that was close. He carries
it to the door, pauses to peek out. No witnesses.
Walt flicks off the classroom lights with his back, then
humps the heavy box down the hall and out of the building.
Dupree sits on his front porch, drinking a long-neck beer and
glowering. Walt’s Nissan putters into view, reverses and
backs into Dupree’s driveway. Walt climbs out, jazzed.
Look what I got.
Walt opens his hatchback. Dupree doesn’t budge. Walt stares
at him -- a teacher staring at a recalcitrant student --
until Dupree slouches down the steps.
Quit my part-time job -- I’ve got
four hours to devote to this every
Walt lifts a blanket, revealing his CARGO. Lots of goodies.
Dupree peers at the stolen lab gear, pulls something out.
Ah. Kjeldahl-style recovery flask,
2000 milliliters. Very nice. You
got your Griffin beakers, you got
your volumetric. But check this
out -- the pièce de résistance.
Round bottom boiling flask, 5000
Big. Dupree wipes his nose with his sleeve, refusing to be
impressed. He points to something else instead.
I cook in one of those. A big one.
This? This is an Erlenmeyer flask.
You wouldn’t cook in one of these.
Yeah. I do.
No, you don’t. An Erlenmeyer flask
is for general mixing and
titration. You do not apply heat
to an Erlenmeyer flask. That’s
what the boiling flask is for.
Did you not learn anything in my
No. You flunked me, remember?
Prick? And let me tell you
something else -- this shit ain’t
chemistry. This shit is art.
Cooking is art. The shit I cook is
the bomb, so don’t be telling me!
The shit you cook is shit.
I saw your setup. Ridiculous.
You and I will not make garbage.
We will produce a chemically pure
and stable product that performs as
advertised. No adulterants.
No baby formula. No chili powder.
Chili P’s my signature!
Walt shakes his head -- not anymore.
Yeah, well we’ll see about that.
The hell’s all this?
He pulls out heavy LAB APRONS, GLOVES, RESPIRATORS. These
are the respirators we saw Walt and Dupree wearing in the
Teaser (Dupree was Walt’s unconscious PASSENGER, by the way).
Lab safety. We’re also gonna have
an emergency eye wash station.
These chemicals and their fumes are
toxic -- or didn’t you know that?
Dupree holds up an apron, snorts.
Hey, you can dress up like a faggot
if you want. Not me.
Walt glares at him, losing patience. Dupree roots through
the piles of RAW SUPPLIES Walt has brought along.
Stove fuel... not enough of it.
Lye. You got the generic crap.
Red Devil’s better. Iodine,
matches... also not my brand.
Somehow, we’ll manage.
Sinus tablets. That should be
enough pseudoephedrine to produce
the first pound. Then I’m thinking
we can switch to a proper phenyl-2-
Dupree’s not listening. Instead, he’s noticed something
about Walt’s shopping bags. They’re all the SAME.
Wait. Tell me you didn’t buy all
this from one single goddamn store.
Jesus! They know what you’re doing
with this! Any goddamn retard they
got workin’ a register’s gonna know
you’re making crystal! You’re
probably on some list now!
(as if to a child)
You buy -- your supplies --
piecemeal. One store at a time,
one item at a time.
Walt looks worried now. Chastened.
It was way over in West Covina.
I paid cash. Nobody seemed to...
Dupree considers Walt. Studies him like he’s from Mars.
Acting like some skippy little
bitch. Like this is fun and games.
This shit is shit you take --
Walt suppresses his anger, stares at him evenly.
Life and death.
Chemicals, labware, supplies -- the last of the carload of
stuff Walt brought gets packed into a back corner of Dupree’s
messy old garage. Dupree covers it with a tarp.
This doesn’t stay more than a day.
What, aren’t we gonna cook here?
No, we’re not gonna cook here.
This is my house. I don’t shit
where I eat.
Then where are we going to work?
You tell me. This is your deal,
man. You wanna smoke it up, smoke
it up at your house.
(off Walt’s look)
Nah. I didn’t think so. Oh, well.
Silence as Walt considers. Stubs at the dirt with his heel.
What if we rented a self-storage
place? One of those little orange
garages? Worked out of there?
Nah, they’re onto that. They got
dogs that sniff around.
RV. That’s what you want.
What, like a Winnebago?
I know a dude wants to sell his.
He just goes camping with it -- but
a mobile meth lab’d be the bomb.
You can drive way out in the
boonies. Be all evasive.
(gauging Walt’s interest)
Forty-five hundred’d get you in.
Off Walt, already calculating how to swing this:
INT. CREDIT UNION - AFTERNOON
The name on the wall says “Ontario Teachers Credit Union.”
It’s closing time. We find Walt standing at the counter,
doing business with a TELLER and a BRANCH MANAGER.
CLOSER -- crisp ONE HUNDRED DOLLAR BILLS get counted out.
... Thirty-nine, forty. Four
thousand... ten, fifteen, sixteen
dollars and... sixty-four cents.
Walt stares down at the money, looking distant. Removed.
The manager doesn’t feel good about this at all.
Mr. White, are you sure you want to
do this? I’m thinking you’d
qualify for a home equity loan.
I’ve got two already.
You do understand you are losing
nearly seven thousand dollars of
principal. And that this leaves
your pension account with a zero
Yes. I understand.
He’s perfectly calm. The man stares at Walt, bewildered.
I’m concerned you’ll want this
money when it comes time to retire.
Walt shrugs and smiles, doesn’t answer.
EXT. PARKING LOT - AFTERNOON
CLOSE ON a fat handful of CASH. Dupree counts it, impressed.
We’re in a shopping center lot, mostly empty. In b.g. is the
credit union. Dupree and Walt sit in Dupree’s Daytona.
It’s four grand. My guy wants
You’re a drug dealer. Negotiate.
Dupree thinks about it, shoves the money in his pants.
You’re not how I remember you from
class. I mean, like, not at all.
Walt checks his watch.
I gotta go.
Wait. Hold up. Tell me why you’re
doing this. Seriously.
Why do you do it?
There you have it.
Nah. Come on, man! Some straight
like you, giant stick up his ass...
all a sudden at age, what, fifty
he’s just gonna break bad?
It’s weird, is all. It doesn’t
compute. If you’re like... crazy
or something... if you’ve gone
crazy, or depressed. I’m just
saying. That’s something I need to
know about. That affects me.
Walt stares at Dupree a long time, considers how to answer.
I am... awake.
(a confused beat)
Walt pulls the handle, opens his passenger door.
Buy the RV. We start tomorrow.
Walt gets in his old Nissan, parked beside the Daytona.
Off Dupree, worriedly watching him go:
It’s tight in here. Familiar CRUTCHES lean against the wall.
Walter, Jr. sits on a bench, struggling to pull a stiff new
pair of off-brand jeans over his bare legs.
How you coming in there?
Anything but. Young Walter works at it valiantly, but the
design of this room is giving him trouble. He won’t ask for
help and his folks know it. After a while:
You want me or your Dad?
(gives up; annoyed)
The door opens and Walt enters. Not a word is said as Walt
leans down and his son wraps his arms around his neck. While
Walter, Jr. holds on, his dad lifts him a little and works
the jeans up onto his thighs and waist.
It’s intimate in a way that’s tough on a teenager, but
Walter, Jr. keeps his dignity. Walt handles it well, too.
How do these fit? You like these?
Walter, Jr. shrugs, nods. Walt zips up his son, buttons him.
INT. DEPARTMENT STORE - NIGHT - MINUTES LATER
We’re in a Target or somesuch. The men’s department.
Walter, Jr. stands before a mirror, balancing on his crutches
as he appraises his new jeans. Skyler and Walt stand behind
him. Walt’s thoughts are distant as he watches his son.
Don’t get ‘em if they’re too tight.
They always say that, then they
As Walter, Jr. considers, we hear a faint o.s. COMMOTION.
Big boy pants. I got new big boy
Walt snaps out of it, turns and looks. Twenty feet away,
partially hidden by clothing racks, are three GUYS, probably
just out of high school. They’re laughing hard, making a
token effort to keep their voices low.
The biggest among them, a tall JOCK, is gimping around,
playing “retard” and cracking up the other two. They glance
our way -- it’s clear they’re making fun of WALTER, JR.
Mommmeee, zip up my big boy pants.
Choked LAUGHTER and WHISPERS. Walter, Jr. hears. He sets
his jaw and ignores it, his face burning.
Skyler is livid. She’s about to go give these guys bloody
hell, but Walt touches a hand to her arm, stops her.
Before she can ask why not, Walt walks off in the opposite
direction. He disappears down an aisle. Is he looking for
the manager? A security guard? What’s he doing?
Skyler is dismayed he’s not standing up for their son.
Frustrated. Until she notices:
NEW ANGLE -- the jock is still flogging the joke as WALT
enters frame behind him. Unbeknownst to everyone, Walt has
quickly looped around, stalking up behind these guys.
Oh no. Oh no. I pinched a loaf in
my big boy pa--
Wham! Walt kicks the back of the jock’s KNEE, dropping the
big guy painfully to the floor. Before the startled jock can
get up, Walt stands full-weight on his ANKLE. Leverage.
AAHH! Whu -- what are you DOING?!
What’s the matter, Chief? You
having trouble walking there?
Stand up. Don’t be a retard.
Stand up and walk.
AAAHH! GET OFF ME!
Walt raises his foot. The jock scrambles to his feet,
towering over Walt.
I’ll mess you up, man!
The kid’s nearly a head taller, 240. Doesn’t mean jack-shit
to Walt, who gets in his face. Walt looks slightly crazy.
Well, don’t keep me waiting.
The jock is already backing off. His two friends are
spooked, as well -- tugging at him to leave.
Screw you. Freakin’ psycho.
B.M.O.C. limps off with his tail between his legs. Skyler
and Walter, Jr. stand staring, amazed. They’ve never seen
anything like it. Certainly not from their husband and dad.
Standing here, Walt feels a kind of power -- one brought on
by an absence of fear.
Off him, realizing more and more that he likes it:
END ACT THREE
EXT. COW PASTURE - AFTERNOON
Black and white cows graze in f.g. We drift off them and
focus on a stand of WOODS in the distance.
Familiar to us from the Teaser, the old WINNEBAGO is parked
off a dirt road. Dupree’s Daytona is here, too. We’re in
the middle of nowhere. There’s nobody around for miles.
The Winnie’s screen door opens. Walt steps out, looks
around. Breathes deep. He’s got a plastic COAT HANGER he
impatiently taps against his leg. Waiting.
With a faint CRUNCH of leaves, Dupree appears. He’s clomping
toward us, carrying binoculars.
Nothing but cows. Got some big
cow-house way over that way, like
two miles. But I don’t see nobody.
Where they live. The cows.
Whatever, man. Shit yeah, let’s
Dupree walks off, attends to something in his car. Walt
hangs his coat hanger on the RV’s awning. He unclips his
tie, slides it in his breast pocket. He unbuttons his short
sleeve dress shirt, hangs it on the hanger.
Dupree wanders back in time to see Walt climb out of his
TROUSERS and hang them up. Dupree stops dead in his tracks.
What. Are you doing?
These are my good clothes. I can’t
go home smelling like a meth lab.
Dupree shakes his head, weirded-out. Walt, stripped down to
his UNDERPANTS, climbs into the Winnebago.
C’mon, I’ve only got till six.
He disappears inside. Dupree considers, then reaches in his
jacket pocket for... a MINI-CAMCORDER (the one we remember
from the Teaser). Grinning, he follows Walt into the RV.
With a DING, up comes a live VIDEO IMAGE of Walt, his back to
us. He wears a lab apron, rubber gloves and safety glasses.
His respirator is propped on his forehead. We are:
INT. WINNEBAGO - AFTERNOON
And we’re watching Dupree’s CAMCORDER POV of Walt at work.
Walt is crushing scads of sinus pills in a mortar and pestle.
This place is packed tight with lab equipment and supplies.
We hear Dupree SNICKERING o.s. He ZOOMS IN on Walt’s
underpants, which show through the back of his apron.
This is a good look for you.
You’re maybe only the world’s
Shut up and give me a hand here.
Walt glances back at us, notices the camcorder. Shit! He
reaches straight into lens, tussling for it. It goes BLACK.
Gimme that goddamned --
The screen goes to STATIC. BAM! -- as we bring up MUSIC:
INT. WINNEBAGO - AFTERNOON - MONTAGE
Edited to the BEAT of some very hip, driving SONG, we see
various ANGLES and JUMP-CUTS of Walt cooking meth, assisted
by Dupree. Hours are compressed into seconds here.
For those of us who grew up watching “The A-Team,” this is
that scene they’d always do where the A-Team builds a tank or
a jet plane out of spare parts. Same feeling, same energy --
except here, our guys are making highly illegal drugs.
Without turning this into a how-to video, we watch as:
-- Powdered sinus tablets get soaked in a solvent, separated
out as a paste and a liquid, then reduced down over heat.
-- Veterinary iodine is transformed into hydriodic acid.
-- The striker strips of dozens of matchbooks get scraped off
with a razor blade, forming a pile of red phosphorus.
-- Red phosphorus is combined with hydriodic acid and mixed
with the pseudoephedrine culled from the sinus pills.
-- The whole mess gets cooked into freebase meth oil.
-- Salt, muriatic acid, and bits of aluminum foil are mixed
in a gas can. It gets connected to a length of garden hose.
-- hydrogen chloride gas bubbles through the hose and down
into a big bucket full of freebase. White methamphetamine
hydrochloride crystals float to the top and get skimmed off.
Throughout all this, Walt is working with the utmost gravity
and attention to detail -- as if he were a scientist on the
Manhattan Project. As the cook progresses, we get little
hints that Dupree is taking it more seriously, too.
Seeing the way Walt works, seeing that he really knows his
stuff, Dupree acts more respectful. He even starts wearing
his safety gear. Clearly, he’s learning from Walt.
EXT. WINNEBAGO - AFTERNOON
The little RV sits hidden in the woods. Toxic-looking YELLOW
SMOKE wafts through a vent in the roof. It curls up into the
trees, filtering through shafts of red afternoon sunset.
End MUSIC. End MONTAGE.
It’s getting dark outside. The cook is done. Walt sits in
his apron, tired. He rubs at the red line around his face
left by his respirator, trying to make it go away.
They’ve made about a pound of fat, snowy white crystals.
Dupree carefully dips into their product with a razor blade,
lifting out a tiny sample. He taps it onto a sheet of yellow
paper, swirling it around. His eyes are wide.
He’s a whole new Dupree now. Subdued. Awed. It’s as if
he’s seen the Holy Grail.
This is... this is glass grade.
You got... Jesus, you got crystals
in here a quarter-inch long.
Longer. This is pure glass.
(turns to him)
You’re... you’re Michelangelo.
You’re a goddamned artist. This is
art. Mr. White...
He’s run out of superlatives. He’s actually tearing up.
Walt is surprised by his emotion.
It’s just basic chemistry.
(off his awe)
But thank you, Marion. I’m glad
Acceptable? Every jibbhead from
here to Timbuktu’s gonna want a
taste! It’s gonna be like, “Sir,
would you care to replace your
Schwinn bicycle with this brand-new
(dips some more)
Dude, I gotta try some of this.
Uncomfortable with that idea, Walt intercedes.
No. We sell it, we don’t smoke it.
(Walt puts it away)
Man, you been watching too much
(checks his watch)
So, how do we proceed?
You cook more tomorrow. Meantime,
I know just the guy to talk to.
INT. KRAZY-8’S HOUSE - MORNING
Brand-new giant screen TV. Otherwise, this place looks like
a cross between a frat house and a crack house. KRAZY-8,
a young, hard-looking Mexican, sits on a sofa dotted with
cigarette burns. He’s playing NBA basketball on his PS2.
The front door stands open -- but the screen door, all heavy
reinforced steel, is shut. Visible through it, Dupree
wanders up onto the porch, cups his eyes and peers in.
Yo, Kraze! How you doin’, my man?
Krazy-8 glances over flatly, returns his attention to his
video game. Dupree twists the doorknob. Locked.
Can I come in?
A beat or two as Krazy-8 keeps playing. Finally, he reaches
over, grabs a garage door clicker. He BUZZES Dupree in.
Dupree bops into the living room, all smiles. He’s acting
like he and this guy are tight -- which they are not. Dupree
takes a seat, watches the video game.
I got this game. The Laker Girls
all have titties like pine cones.
Yo, I’ll show you a trick move.
You hit the x-button simultaneous
with the --
-- Shut your mouth and show me your
I ain’t buying, ese. I’m selling.
Dupree tosses a tiny BAGGIE on the coffee table. It’s a
“tina” -- one-sixteenth of an ounce of meth. One hit.
Tell me that ain’t the finest
scante you ever laid eyes on.
Krazy-8 glances at the baggie, keeps playing. Glances at it
again. Pauses his game and picks it up. Studies it closely.
Huh? See? Crystal so big, look
like somebody broke a window.
Look like you’d cut your nose off.
Krazy takes a whiff of the open baggie, considers. He scoops
a taste into his pinkie nail and snorts it up his nostril.
BOO-YAH! See? What I say?
Krazy squints his eyes, rubs his nose. Jesus -- rocket fuel.
So, what? You back in business?
Hell, yeah I’m back! With a
vengeance! Nigga gotta make a
living! And with your cousin gone
away and all...
And listen homes, about that. It
really broke me up about Emilio.
Dude is like my brother.
He okay? You talk to him?
Yeah, I talked to him. He says
when the feds came, you were out
stickin’ it in some neighbor lady.
Hey, you know. I got lucky twice.
Yeah? I dunno, man. Emilio..?
He thinks maybe you dimed on him.
Dupree’s expression clouds over, surprised and offended.
That is bullshit. That is
bullshit, Krazy-8! I should kick
his punk ass for even thinking
that. Next time you talk to
Emilio, you tell him for me.
A TOILET FLUSHES o.s. Krazy-8 nods toward the sound.
Made bail this morning.
You can tell him yourself.
The bathroom door opens. Into the room walks EMILIO, the guy
we saw get busted. He looks bigger now, somehow. And angry.
Go ahead, pendejo. Kick my ass.
Dupree is suddenly none too comfortable. Emilio advances on
him, but Krazy-8 shakes his head to his cousin -- hold up.
Krazy-8 turns to Dupree, dangles the baggie. Shakes it.
Where’d you get this? ‘Cause I
know damn well you didn’t cook it.
Off Dupree, not so cocky now:
It’s a second day of cooking for Walt. He’s out here alone
with the Winnebago, having just arrived. He puts his coat
hanger on the awning and strips down, hanging up his good
clothes. As he ties on his lab apron...
... An Oldsmobile Cutlass arrives. Stops thirty feet away.
Walt stands his ground watching it, wary. Squints at it.
Three men in the car. A little hard to see. Walt relaxes
slightly when he realizes Dupree is one of them.
Driver’s door opens. Krazy-8 climbs out, stands his ground.
Nature Boy! You must be the cook!
(off Walt’s silence)
That is some stone-fine cheebah,
ese! You wanna come work for me?
I’d be happy to sell to you.
If the price is right.
“Price Is Right.” Yeah, man...
COME ON DOWN!
He holds up a plastic Von’s bag. This is the CASH we saw
blowing around in the Teaser. Krazy glances around, casual.
So. You’re out here all by
Walt doesn’t like the question. Doesn’t answer. He’s
watching the Cutlass now -- wondering why Dupree, sitting in
the back seat with the third man, hasn’t moved.
The third man, EMILIO, climbs out now. He’s got a look on
his face that tells us he’s just realized who Walt is.
Shit. You’re that guy.
The D.E.A... he was there with the
OFF Walt -- uh-oh. Confusion all around. Rising anxiety.
Emilio turns on Dupree, still seated in the car.
Goddamned rata snitch!
Emilio’s reaching for his gun. That’s enough for Dupree --
he throws open the far door, takes off into the woods.
RUN, MR. WHITE! RUN!
As he yells this over his shoulder -- BAM! Dupree plows
headlong into a TREE. He collapses, knocked cold.
Walt doesn’t go anywhere. Krazy-8 pulls his gun immediately,
points it at him. Pistols drawn, the two cousins look back
and forth between unconscious Dupree and Walt, who’s got his
hands up. Motionless silence. The cousins expect feds to
come swarming out of the trees at any second.
None do. The cousins relax a touch. Dupree softly MOANS.
Cap ‘em both. That’s what I say.
Krazy-8 lights a cigarette, thinks about it. Walt stands
nervous, but stoic. He’s already come to grips with dying,
and he’s not going to plead for his life.
Krazy blows smoke, studies Walt closely.
Yo. You really cook that batch?
Walt nods, his hands still raised.
You an artist. It’s a damn shame.
He raises his pistol, about to fire -- Emilio, too.
W-What if I showed you my secret?
Every cook’s got his recipe -- what
if I taught you mine?
(off their silence)
Let us both live, I’ll teach you.
Emilio looks to Krazy-8, who’s weighing it. It’s attractive.
Off Krazy, blowing smoke:
EXT. WINNEBAGO - MINUTES LATER
CLOSE ON Dupree, face-down and blotto. Emilio finishes
hog-tying his wrists, then gives him a KICK in the head for
good measure. Emilio walks to the RV in b.g.
INT. WINNEBAGO - CONTINUOUS
Walt prepares his tools and materials. Krazy-8 stands behind
him, arms crossed, gun in hand, watching his every move.
Emilio climbs aboard, joins his cousin.
Put out the cigarette.
Krazy-8 considers, then pokes his cig through the louvered
slats of a window and flicks it outside.
EXT. WINNEBAGO - CONTINUOUS
CLOSE -- it lands behind the RV, a few red sparks flying.
We CREEP IN on the butt as it lies smoldering in the WEEDS.
INT. WINNEBAGO - CONTINUOUS
CLOSE -- POOF! A hot plate flames to life as Walt ignites
the gas. Walt runs a finger across his neatly arranged jars
of ingredients. He stops on one -- RED PHOSPHORUS.
Walt glances at... his RESPIRATOR. It’s lying way at the
other end of the RV. Walt gingerly sizes up the cousins.
Emilio reaches over, wig-wags Walt’s earlobe with the muzzle
of his shiny 9mm. Cold and menacing as hell.
Step to it, snitch.
Walt makes up his mind -- it’s now or never. He unscrews the
top off the red phosphorus bottle. He takes a long, deep,
quiet breath... and HOLDS it.
He dumps the bottle onto the hot plate. It hits the flame
with a sizzling WHOOF and smokes up. Walt ducks and RUNS.
Walt makes it outside just ahead of the cousins. He slams
the door in their faces, leans his back against it hard.
BOOM! BOOM! They’re kicking the shit out of it from the
inside, trying desperately to get out. We hear them COUGHING
now. GASPING. The flimsy RV door won’t hold up long.
Suddenly -- BLAM!-BLAM!-BLAM! BULLET HOLES puncture the
door, zinging just above Walt’s head. Still Walt stands
fast, flinching and ducking lower. BLAM!-BLAM!-BLAM!-BLAM!
The firing stops. The CHOKING SOUNDS get louder, more
tortured. Horrifying. Tiny thin curls of RED SMOKE waft out
through the bullet holes.
We hear a heavy THUMP. Then ANOTHER. Two bodies hitting the
floor. Silence now. Walt shuts his eyes, breathing hard.
Walt recovers, stumbles over and checks on Dupree, who’s
still breathing. Walt unties him. Thank God, they’re both
alive. Just as Walt gets Dupree loose...
... He smells SMOKE. He turns, sees it rising thick and dark
from behind the Winnebago. He runs to see.
NEW ANGLE - BEHIND THE RV
Krazy-8’s CIGARETTE has started a BRUSH FIRE. It’s ten feet
across. Walt tries to stomp it out, but that ain’t working.
He yanks off his heavy lab apron, desperately tries to beat
out the flames with that. No dice. In a panic, Walt stares
up into the sky -- watches the SMOKE trail high overhead.
Everyone within five miles can see it.
LOW ANGLE - DUPREE
Lies drifting in and out of consciousness. Walt -- in his
underpants, black shoes and socks -- runs to him. Walt yanks
a RESPIRATOR onto Dupree’s face, then drags him out of frame.
ANGLE - THE RV
The flames of the brush fire are licking the back bumper.
The engine ROARS alive, the exhaust pipe belching blue smoke.
The fire is blocking the dirt road now. The Winnebago
lurches forward and takes off overland. Walt’s clothes swing
from the awning -- a tree branch knocks loose his TROUSERS.
EXT. COW PASTURE - DAY (REPEATED FOOTAGE)
Pastoral. Quiet. COW SHIT bakes in the sun, then gets
RUN OVER with a SPLAT. We’re full-circle back to the Teaser.
The Winnebago galumphs across the landscape, scattering cows.
INT. WINNEBAGO - DAY (REPEATED FOOTAGE)
Walt drives in his underpants and his gas mask, his knuckles
white on the wheel. Unconscious Dupree slumps beside him.
Behind, the dead cousins slide to and fro amidst the sloshing
ruins of the meth lab. Their CASH flutters in the breeze.
Walt hyperventilates. His mask FOGS UP. BAM! He crashes,
violently JERKING FORWARD into lens. The frame goes BLACK.
EXT. COW PASTURE - DAY - MINUTES LATER
We start on BLACK, then PULL OUT of the barrel of Walt’s gun.
We find ourselves where the Teaser left off -- Walt is aiming
past us, standing in his shirt and tie and underpants.
SIRENS are wailing. We see RED LIGHTS flashing just over top
of the weeds. They’re racing our way.
Walt has second thoughts. What the hell is he doing? He’s
not going to shoot anybody. The ferocity leaks out of him.
Despair settles in in its place.
Sirens -- BLARING. Fuck it. He sticks the muzzle in his
mouth, winces hard. He YANKS THE TRIGGER.
Nothing. The safety’s on. Walt fumbles with it, trying to
figure it out. This takes him just long enough that...
... The sirens are revealed to be FIRE ENGINES. Not the
cops. Two big pumper trucks curve past us, following a dirt
road through the pasture we didn’t see until now.
They roar on by, none of the firemen taking the slightest
notice of Walt. They’re heading for Krazy-8’s brush fire a
mile away. We can see the crooked column of SMOKE from here.
The SIRENS and the ROAR fade away. Gradually, the pasture
grows silent again. Walt stares stupidly, the pistol
dangling at his side. He lets it drop to the dirt.
He stands blinking, trying to figure out what the hell just
happened. Pure, dumb luck. Beginner’s luck.
As he stands here, the door to the RV opens behind him.
Dupree stumbles out, pulls off his gas mask. Half his face
is swollen like a balloon, but he’ll recover.
Dupree wanders over, stands next to Walt. Dazed silence.
(nods toward the RV)
W-What’d you do?
Walt is weirdly matter-of-fact.
Red phosphorus, when heat is
applied... oxidizes and yields
carbonyl chloride. Phosgene gas.
One good whiff of it...
He shrugs, trails off. Folds at the waist and THROWS UP.
Dupree stands staring at nothing in particular. Walt rises,
wipes his mouth. He picks up his WALLET and CAMCORDER.
Gotta. Gotta clean this up.
He slowly wanders back to the Winnebago. Dupree follows him.
Off our two new partners, who have only barely survived their
first week together...
INT. WHITE HOUSE - KITCHEN - NIGHT
Late. Lights are off. Skyler and Walter, Jr. have gone to
bed. Walt stands at the kitchen sink, washing Krazy-8’s cash
in Dawn dishwashing liquid. Washing off the toxic chemicals.
He gives an involuntary shudder. He squeezes shut his eyes,
which are tearing up. Tonight’s a night he’s never going to
forget -- whether he lives two years or two hundred.
INT. WHITE HOUSE - GARAGE - NIGHT
BLACK FRAME. A DING, then a door opens -- revealing we’re
inside the clothes dryer, looking out. Dry twenty dollar
bills flutter around. Weary Walt reaches in and grabs them
by the fistful.
Walt quickly counts the money. Eight thousand and change.
Walt jams it in a shoebox, snaps a rubber band around it.
Remembering something, he reaches in his pocket...
... And pulls out the tiny camcorder TAPE. On it, we’ll
remember, is the confession to his family. He doesn’t
destroy the tape. He thinks about it, then drops it into the
shoebox full of cash.
Walt stands tiptoes on a chair, tucks the box way up in the
garage rafters. Looking haunted, like hell warmed over, he
climbs down and exits, turns off the light. DARKNESS.
Skyler lies in bed, alone and awake. We’re on her as we hear
the door open. Quiet footsteps. Clothes come off.
Walt gingerly climbs into bed, not wanting to wake his wife.
He lies motionless, staring up at the ceiling. A torrent of
thoughts rush through his head. Finally:
Where were you?
Walt doesn’t answer. Skyler turns his way, stares at him.
Walt, I don’t know what is going on
with you lately --
Nothing. I’m fine.
-- Whatever it is, I’ll tell you
this. I do not like it when you
don’t talk to me. The worst thing
you can do is shut me out.
I’m... I understand. I’m fine.
She stares at him in the darkness. He stares at her.
A strange feeling comes over him. It’s relief to be alive,
mixed with dread that life won’t last. It’s fear of being
caught. It’s the thrill -- for once -- of taking risks.
It’s excitement, in many different forms. And since he can’t
talk about it, there’s only one way to let it out.
Walt kisses his wife. Passionately.
He keeps kissing her. Gently rolls her so that her back is
to him. Out of sight under the covers, he fumbles with her
panties, pulls them down.
Surprised as hell, Skyler nonetheless allows it. She feels
around behind her.
Oh my God. Is that you?
It sure is. The mighty oak. Walt enters her -- Skyler’s
eyes pop wide, and we CUT TO BLACK. Over the sounds of HEAVY
BREATHING and the SQUEAK-SQUEAK-SQUEAKING of bed springs...
... FADE UP CREDITS.
|Walter Jr.||Walter Jr.'s character arc begins with him being a typical, rebellious teenager who struggles with his disability. However, as he becomes more involved in his father's drug business, he starts to mature and develop a sense of responsibility. He realizes the danger that his family is in and begins to take measures to protect them, even going so far as to use his disability as a means of gaining sympathy from potential foes. Although he initially struggles with the ethical implications of his actions, he ultimately comes to accept his role in the family business and becomes a pivotal player in the final season.||While Walter Jr.'s involvement in the drug business adds an interesting layer of complexity to his character, it also feels somewhat contrived and forced. Additionally, his character arc lacks a clear sense of direction and purpose, which can make it difficult for the audience to fully engage with his journey.||To improve Walter Jr.'s character arc, it may be beneficial to focus more on his personal growth and development outside of the drug business. This could involve exploring his relationship with his disability and how it shapes his identity, as well as his struggles with fitting in and finding his place in the world. Additionally, giving him a more defined goal or motivation could help to give his arc a sense of purpose and direction.|
|Walt||Walt's arc begins with the shock of his cancer diagnosis and his initial reluctance to enter the drug trade. However, as he becomes more involved, he becomes increasingly confident and ambitious, taking on more risks and breaking more rules. His actions have unintended consequences, leading to conflicts with his family and dangerous enemies. He eventually realizes that he has become a monster and tries to make amends, but his past catches up with him and he meets a tragic end.||While Walt's transformation from mild-mannered teacher to drug lord is compelling, his arc feels rushed at times and his motivations are sometimes unclear. Additionally, his treatment of his wife and partner, Skyler, at times feels cruel and unnecessary.||To improve Walt's arc, more attention could be given to his inner struggle as he navigates his diagnosis and newfound criminal enterprise. His actions could also be more closely tied to the emotional toll of his illness, rather than just a desire for power and control. Finally, his relationships with other characters could be explored in greater depth, particularly his complex dynamic with Skyler.|
|Skyler||Over the course of the movie, Skyler's character arc centers around her relationship with Walt and her struggle to come to terms with his transformation into a criminal mastermind. Initially, she is largely in the dark about Walt's double life and is consumed with practical concerns such as their finances and household bills. As she becomes more aware of Walt's actions and begins to understand his motivations, she experiences a range of emotions, from hurt and anger to love and acceptance. In the end, she ultimately decides to align herself with Walt and even becomes complicit in his criminal activities, demonstrating her evolution from a cautious and conventional wife into a willing participant in her husband's illegal schemes.||The character arc itself is well-constructed and develops Skyler's character in interesting ways. However, it could benefit from more nuance and complexity. Skyler's transformation from a conventional wife to a criminal accomplice feels a bit too sudden and convenient, and it would be more compelling if there were more moments of conflict and tension between her and Walt as she grapples with the moral implications of his choices. Additionally, Skyler's character could benefit from more agency and a clearer motivation for her actions - at times, she feels more like a passive observer of Walt's story rather than a fully-realized character in her own right.||To improve the character arc, it could be useful to explore Skyler's backstory and motivations in more depth. What drives her desire for propriety and social norms? What are her own goals and desires beyond being a good wife and mother? Additionally, the story could benefit from more scenes that focus on Skyler's inner emotional life and her internal struggles as she reconciles her love for Walt with her growing horror at his criminal actions. Finally, incorporating more narrative tension and conflict between Skyler and Walt could help make her transformation feel more organic and less abrupt.|
|Dupree||Dupree's character arc is one of growth and transformation. At the beginning of the movie, he is a paranoid man on the run with no direction in life. As he enters the drug trade, he becomes more confident and assertive. He is initially skeptical of Walt's abilities but starts to take the process more seriously once he sees Walt's expertise. His loyalty to Walt grows stronger throughout the movie, even after suffering a concussion during a chase with Emilio. By the end of the movie, Dupree has transformed into a committed partner in crime, who is still reckless but has a newfound respect for Walt's abilities.||The character arc for Dupree is well-developed and shows a clear transformation from a paranoid man on the run to a committed partner in crime. However, his recklessness and impulsive behavior could have been explored in more depth to provide insight into his motivations. Additionally, his loyalty to Walt could have been explained in more detail to give a better understanding of their dynamic.||To improve the character arc for Dupree, it would have been helpful to explore his recklessness and impulsive behavior in more detail. This could have been achieved by giving more backstory on his past experiences or motivations. Additionally, having more scenes that show the dynamic between Dupree and Walt could have provided a more in-depth understanding of their relationship. Overall, the character arc for Dupree is well-developed, but with some minor adjustments, it could have been even more impactful.|
|Walter White's inner turmoil drives him to a life of crime as he teams up with a former student to cook high-grade meth.|
|After receiving a life-changing diagnosis, Walter White turns to making meth with an unlikely partner to support his family after he's gone.|
|Breaking Bad follows a high school chemistry teacher's descent into a dangerous criminal underworld while trying to keep his new life a secret.|
|In a desperate bid to secure his family's financial future, Walter White embraces a life of crime with his former student, leading to deadly consequences.|
|A seemingly ordinary man's life takes a dangerous turn when he starts cooking meth with his former student to cope with a life-threatening diagnosis in Breaking Bad.|
Story Structure 1: Hero’s Journey
The hero’s journey is a classic storytelling structure derived from Joseph Campbell’s theory that all mythic stories follow a similar pattern. It consists of three acts, each with several stages. The hero’s journey structure is suitable for Breaking Bad because it follows Walter White’s departure from his ordinary life, his transformation into a meth dealer, and his struggles as he adapts to his new life.
Act 1: Departure
- The Call to Adventure: Walter is diagnosed with cancer.
- Refusal of the Call: Walter initially refuses to deal drugs but later accepts.
- Meeting the Mentor: Jesse Pinkman becomes Walter’s drug-dealing partner.
Act 2: Initiation
- Tests, Allies, and Enemies: Walt and Jesse face numerous obstacles in their meth manufacturing and selling endeavors.
- Approach to the Inmost Cave: Walt and Jesse's meth lab is destroyed, forcing them to come up with a new plan.
- Ordeal: Walt and Jesse face off against Emilio and Krazy-8.
- Reward (Seizing the Sword): Jesse gets his share of the money, and Walt excels as a meth cook.
- The Road Back: Walter must return to his ordinary life while concealing his criminal activity.
Act 3: Return
- The Resurrection: Walter becomes a ruthless drug kingpin, overcoming all adversaries.
- Return with the Elixir: Walt has financial stability, but at the cost of losing his morality.
Analysis/Critique: Breaking Bad can be viewed as a critique of the hero’s journey structure because it portrays the negative consequences of following a hero’s journey. While traditional hero’s journeys are celebrated for being transformative and leading to self-discovery, Walter’s journey causes him to become a criminal, lose his family and morality, and ultimately die. The series may be arguing against the idea that one should chase glory or follow one's passion regardless of moral constraints.
Suitable reference: "The Hero with a Thousand Faces" by Joseph Campbell
Story Structure 2: Three-Act Structure
The three-act structure is the most common story structure, and typically involves setting up a situation, escalating the conflict, and providing a resolution. Breaking Bad fits the three-act structure because it follows Walter White's transition into the drug world, the obstacles he faces, and his eventual downfall.
Act 1: Set-Up
- Walter is a high school teacher diagnosed with cancer.
- He partners with Jesse to start manufacturing meth.
- Walt's skills as a chemist come in handy, but he must navigate the criminal world.
Act 2: Conflict
- Walt and Jesse try to keep their operation a secret from Walter's family and law enforcement.
- As they continue to produce meth, they face multiple obstacles and adversaries.
- The DEA and Gus Fring become involved in their world, leading to dangerous situations.
Act 3: Resolution
- After a long and arduous journey, Walter's drug operation falls apart.
- Walt dies, leaving a trail of destruction in his wake.
- His family is left to contend with the aftermath of his actions.
Analysis/Critique: Breaking Bad illustrates the three-act structure well but might have benefitted from a clearer push and pull between Walter's goals. Walter's decision to deal drugs is based on his desire to provide for his family, but his transformation into a kingpin occurs due to his overconfidence and the power that drug dealing affords him. A more defined escalation of the situation could have made his transition more dramatic.
Suitable reference: "The Anatomy of Story" by John Truby
Story Structure 3: Save the Cat
The save the cat structure focuses on creating an empathetic connection between the audience and the protagonist. Breaking Bad utilizes this structure to immerse the audience in Walter's journey from a sympathetic underdog to a villain feared by his enemies.
Act 1: Sympathy
- Walter is an underpaid high school teacher who is diagnosed with cancer.
- He turns to drug dealing as a means to provide for his family.
- The audience empathizes with his plight and sees him as a relatable character.
Act 2: Likability
- While Walt is doing bad things, his actions are initially motivated by his love for his family.
- The audience roots for him to succeed in his criminal activities, to provide his family with stability.
- Walt and Jesse become close, adding a layer of emotional depth to the story.
Act 3: Complexity
- Walt's transformation and the growing body count force the audience to question their initial sympathies.
- The audience sees the darker side of Walt's personality and his willingness to do anything to maintain power.
- The finale shows Walt's flaws and the consequences of his actions.
Analysis/Critique: Although Breaking Bad does not strictly follow the save the cat formula, it does use elements from the structure to create a sympathetic and likable main character. The series gradually turns Walter from a relatively harmless underdog into an amoral, ruthless villain. Breaking Bad shows the pitfalls of allowing success to change one's moral compass, and the consequences of selfishness.
Suitable reference: "Save the Cat" by Blake Snyder.
Overall, Breaking Bad is a masterclass in storytelling, with the structure of the series helping to support the engrossing narrative. The use of the hero's journey and three-act structures provide an engaging framework for the audience while the Save the Cat structure adds emotional depth to the characters. Applying these story structures could help writers create similar compelling dramas, but a refinement of each structure's components may be necessary.
|Emotional Impact and Overall Grade||There is a strong positive correlation between emotional impact and overall grade of the scene. Scenes with high emotional impact tend to receive higher overall grades.|
|Dialogue and Conflict||Scenes with higher levels of conflict tend to have more dialogue. This suggests that dialogue is often used as a tool to drive conflict and tension in the story.|
|Character Changes and Concept||There is a moderate positive correlation between character changes and concept. Scenes that introduce new concepts often result in significant changes to the characters.|
|Tone and Emotional Impact||Scenes with sad or somber tones tend to have lower emotional impact compared to scenes with tense or intense tones. This suggests that tone can significantly affect how emotionally impactful a scene is.|
|High Stakes and Move Story Forward||There is a strong positive correlation between high stakes and moving the story forward. Scenes with high stakes tend to be important in driving the story forward.|
|Breaking Bad||The screenplay follows a man struggling with his mundane life and financial woes, who turns to a criminal business venture. There are similarities in tone, character development, plot points, and themes of morality and family. The protagonist's journey to becoming a drug dealer and his growing involvement in the criminal world parallel Walter White's journey in Breaking Bad.|
|Fargo||The screenplay shares similarities in tone, character development, and the sense of violence and danger lurking beneath the surface of everyday life. Both stories follow seemingly ordinary people who are pushed to their limits and become embroiled in dangerous situations. The juxtaposition of violence and humor in both stories is also a common thread.|
|No Country for Old Men||The screenplay shares similarities in tone, setting, and themes of violence, morality, and fate. Both stories involve ordinary people confronting the darker side of human nature and navigating dangerous situations. The use of tension and suspense, as well as the exploration of complex characters and moral dilemmas, are also shared aspects.|
|The Sopranos||The screenplay's exploration of family, morality, and criminal enterprises shares similarities with The Sopranos. Both stories focus on a protagonist grappling with the tension between their criminal activities and their responsibility towards their family. The examination of the psychological effects of living in a violent world is also a shared theme.|
|The Godfather||The screenplay's exploration of a seemingly ordinary man's descent into a criminal world and his struggle with the morality of his actions shares similarities with The Godfather. Both stories examine the complex family dynamics of criminals and the consequences of their actions. The examination of power, loyalty, and betrayal are also common threads.|
|Trope||Trope Details||Trope Explanation|
|Theme||Theme Details||Themee Explanation|
|Mortality||Walt receives a devastating diagnosis that sends him into a state of shock and disbelief.||The theme of mortality is paramount in this screenplay as Walter, a character who is a symbol of mundane life, is forced to face his mortality.|
|Desperation||Walt resorts to selling meth to provide for his family after his diagnosis.||The theme of desperation is central to this screenplay as Walt turns to illegal activity despite his morals and ethics to provide for his family.|
|Guilt||Walt struggles with guilt after stealing supplies from the school's chemistry lab.||The theme of guilt is evident in this screenplay as Walt struggles with the moral implications of his decisions.|
|Family dynamics||Walt's mundane life is characterized by his family's pressure on him, and he resorts to selling meth to provide for them.||Family dynamics drive Walt's motivations in this screenplay, as his family's pressure is one of the primary reasons he turns to a life of crime.|
|Self-doubt||Walt is struggling with self-doubt while dealing with his unfulfilling job and family obligations.||Self-doubt is a recurring theme in this screenplay, as Walt is a character who is unsure of his role in life and his purpose.|
|Crime||Walt delves into the criminal underworld, starting off as a supplier of drugs.||The theme of crime is explicit in this screenplay, as Walter delves deeper into the criminal underworld to secure his family's future.|
|Escapism||Walt attempts to escape his mundane life by watching movies.||The theme of escapism is present in this screenplay as Walt tries everything to escape from his humdrum life.|
|Terminal illness||Walt is diagnosed with a terminal illness, forcing him to face his mortality.||The theme of terminal illness is pervasive in this screenplay, as Walt's actions are triggered by his diagnosis and his need to provide for his family before he dies.|
Screenwriting Resources on Themes
|Studio Binder||Movie Themes: Examples of Common Themes for Screenwriters|
|Coverfly||Improving your Screenplay's theme|
|John August||Writing from Theme|
|Story, Plot, Genre, Theme - Screenwriting Basics||Screenwriting basics - beginner video|
|What is theme||Discussion on ways to layer theme into a screenplay.|
|Thematic Mistakes You're Making in Your Script||Common Theme mistakes and Philosophical Conflicts|
|Summary:||The writer's voice throughout the screenplay is characterized by a mix of understated naturalism, dark humor, and vivid attention to detail. The dialogue is often snappy and filled with banter, while the narrative and direction focus on the characters' inner thoughts and emotions. This contributes to the overall mood, themes, and depth of the screenplay by creating a sense of realism and authenticity, as well as highlighting the complexities and contradictions of the characters' motivations and actions.|
|Voice Contribution||The writer's voice contributes to the script by adding depth and complexity to the characters, creating a sense of realism and authenticity, and exploring the themes of identity, morality, and family. The dialogue showcases the characters' unique personalities and relationships, while the narrative and direction provide insight into their inner thoughts and emotions. The attention to detail in describing the settings and actions enhances the visual and sensory experience of the story, and the overall voice creates a nuanced and engaging portrayal of the characters and their journey.|
|Best Representation Scene||1 - The Awakening|
|Best Scene Explanation||Scene 1 best showcases the author's unique voice. The deadpan humor and vivid attention to detail in describing the setting and character actions are evident in this scene. The writer's voice sets the tone for the rest of the screenplay, establishing a sense of dark humor and realism. Moreover, the scene introduces the main character, Walter, in a highly unusual and absurd situation, which immediately captures the reader's attention and reflects the unique voice of the writer.|
- Overall originality score: 4
- Overall originality explanation: The screenplay does not introduce many unique situations or perspectives, relying on established genre tropes. However, the characters' actions and dialogue feel authentic and grounded in reality, adding to the screenplay's overall verisimilitude and believability.
- Most unique situations: The most unique situations in the screenplay are the portrayal of cooking meth in a Winnebago and the technical accuracy of the scenes. The scene in which Walter confronts a group of guys who made fun of his son's jeans is also a standout moment.
|Goals and Philosophical Conflict|
|internal Goals||The protagonist's internal goal is to leave behind evidence that will protect his family once he is caught by the authorities. He also seeks a sense of purpose and fulfillment, as well as excitement and fulfillment outside of his mundane life.|
|External Goals||The protagonist's external goal is to evade the authorities and maintain his false identity as a drug enforcement agent. He also aims to provide for his family financially through his involvement in the meth industry.|
|Philosophical Conflict||The overarching philosophical conflict revolves around the morality of Walt's actions and his shifting moral compass as he becomes increasingly involved in the drug trade. It challenges his sense of right and wrong, as well as his beliefs and values.|
Character Development Contribution: These goals and conflicts contribute to the character's development by forcing him to question his values, make difficult decisions, and confront his fears. They push him out of his comfort zone and lead to significant personal growth and transformation.
Narrative Structure Contribution: The goals and conflicts shape the narrative structure by creating tension, raising stakes, and driving the plot forward. They introduce obstacles and challenges for the protagonist to overcome, creating a compelling and dynamic storyline.
Thematic Depth Contribution: The goals and conflicts add thematic depth to the screenplay by exploring profound questions about morality, identity, and the human condition. They delve into the consequences of one's actions and the complexities of navigating ethical dilemmas.
Screenwriting Resources on Goals and Philosophical Conflict
|Creative Screenwriting||How Important Is A Character’s Goal?|
|Studio Binder||What is Conflict in a Story? A Quick Reminder of the Purpose of Conflict|
|How I Build a Story's Philosophical Conflict||How do you build philosophical conflict into your story? Where do you start? And how do you develop it into your characters and their external actions. Today I’m going to break this all down and make it fully clear in this episode.|
|Endings: The Good, the Bad, and the Insanely Great||By Michael Arndt: I put this lecture together in 2006, when I started work at Pixar on Toy Story 3. It looks at how to write an "insanely great" ending, using Star Wars, The Graduate, and Little Miss Sunshine as examples. 90 minutes|
|Tips for Writing Effective Character Goals||By Jessica Brody (Save the Cat!): Writing character goals is one of the most important jobs of any novelist. But are your character's goals...mushy?|
|1||Walter White: My name is Walter Hartwell White. I live at 308 Belmont Avenue, Ontario, California 91764. I am of sound mind.|
|2||Walt: Chemistry is the study of change.|
|6||Walt: Best-case scenario, with chemo, I'll live another two years.|
|8||Hank: Meth labs are nasty on a good day -- but when you mix that stuff wrong, you wind up with mustard gas.|
|18||Walt: Red phosphorus, when heat is applied... oxidizes and yields carbonyl chloride. Phosgene gas. One good whiff of it...|