Analysis of Breaking bad


Screenplay Rating:

Recommend

Executive Summary

The screenplay is highly recommended due to its strong opening, effective use of visual and auditory elements, and well-paced narrative. The scenes successfully establish character dynamics and conflicts, but improvements can be made in terms of smoother transitions, clearer objectives, and more engaging dialogue. Missing elements include more information about specific circumstances, clearer conflicts, and deeper exploration of character motivations. Notable points include the use of video messages, effective establishment of contrasts, and the use of visual elements to enhance tension. Overall, the screenplay showcases a compelling narrative with room for refinement in certain areas.

Strengths
  • Strong opening that grabs attention and sets up the tone of the show (Scene 1)
  • Effective use of visual and auditory elements to enhance the scenes (Scene 1)
  • Well-paced and engaging narrative (Scene 13)
  • Intense and suspenseful atmosphere (Scene 13)
  • Strong character dynamics and conflict (Scene 13)
Areas of Improvement
  • The transition from the teaser to Act One could be smoother (Scene 1)
  • The scene lacks a clear objective or goal for the characters (Scene 2)
  • The pacing of the scene could be improved to create more tension and engagement (Scene 2)
  • The scene could benefit from more visual elements and actions to enhance the storytelling (Scene 2)
  • The dialogue between Walt and Hank could be more dynamic and engaging (Scene 3)
MissingElements
  • More information about the specific circumstances that led to the situation (Scene 1)
  • A clear conflict or obstacle for the characters to overcome (Scene 2)
  • A clearer sense of Walt's internal conflict and motivation (Scene 3)
  • More visual descriptions and actions to enhance the scene's impact (Scene 3)
  • A clearer connection between Walt's physical and emotional distress and his overall character arc or the central conflict of the screenplay (Scene 4)
NotablePoints
  • The use of Walter's video message to his family adds depth to his character and foreshadows future events (Scene 1)
  • The scene effectively establishes the contrast between Walter's ordinary life and the dangerous path he is about to embark on (Scene 1)
  • The interaction between Walter Jr. and his parents provides insight into their dynamic and Walter Jr.'s disability (Scene 2)
  • The introduction of the cash from the drug bust foreshadows Walt's future involvement in the drug trade (Scene 3)
  • The use of visual elements, such as Walt's trembling hand and the sticky fingers on the table, adds a layer of tension and unease to the scene (Scene 4)
Summary Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher, becomes dissatisfied with his life after receiving a diagnosis of stage 3 multiple myeloma. He partners with a former student and drug dealer, Marion Alan Dupree, to cook and sell crystal meth in order to secure financial stability for his family after his death. The partnership sets off a dangerous chain of events as they encounter rival drug dealers and must escape from law enforcement. As their operation becomes more successful, Walter becomes increasingly corrupt and violent. The show's events ultimately lead to his downfall.


Screenplay Story Analysis

Story Critique The overall plot and story of the screenplay for Breaking Bad is compelling and engaging. It effectively explores the transformation of Walter White from a mild-mannered chemistry teacher to a ruthless drug lord, driven by his desire to provide for his family's financial future. The character arcs of Walter and Skyler are well-developed, showcasing their gradual descent into the criminal underworld and the moral dilemmas they face along the way. The tension and conflict in the story are palpable, keeping the audience hooked and invested in the characters' journeys. The visual elements and dialogue in many scenes are strong, adding depth and intensity to the storytelling. However, there are some areas that could be improved. The transitions between scenes could be smoother and more cohesive, ensuring a seamless flow of the narrative. Additionally, some scenes lack clear purpose or conflict, making them feel disconnected from the overall story. To enhance the screenplay, it would be beneficial to delve deeper into the emotional struggles and motivations of the characters, providing more depth and complexity to their arcs. Overall, Breaking Bad presents a gripping and thought-provoking plot, but could benefit from tighter storytelling and more nuanced character development.
Suggestions: To improve the plot and story of the screenplay, consider refining the transitions between scenes to create a more seamless flow of the narrative. Additionally, ensure that each scene has a clear purpose and conflict that advances the overall story. Delve deeper into the emotional struggles and motivations of the characters, providing more depth and complexity to their arcs. This could involve exploring their past experiences and how they shape their actions and decisions. Consider adding more visual elements to enhance the storytelling and create a stronger visual impact. Furthermore, focus on tightening the dialogue to make it more organic and reflective of the characters' personalities. Finally, provide clearer resolutions or cliffhangers at the end of scenes to leave the audience wanting to know what happens next.

Note: This is the overall critique. For scene by scene critique click here
Beginning The beginning of the screenplay effectively sets up the premise of the show and establishes Walter White as a desperate man with something to hide. The scene in the cow pasture creates a tense and foreboding atmosphere, with the contrast between the peaceful surroundings and the chaotic RV adding to the tension. Walter's video message to his family reveals his love for them and hints at the dark secrets he has been keeping. However, the dialogue in the scene feels a bit forced and unnatural, particularly in Walter's video message. The emotional tone of the scene is tense and foreboding, with the sirens in the distance creating a sense of impending doom. Overall, the scene is a strong opening to the series, but could benefit from some tightening of the dialogue and a clearer sense of the stakes involved.
Suggestions: To improve the beginning of the screenplay, focus on tightening the dialogue to make it more natural and reflective of the characters' personalities. Consider adding more subtext and conflict to Walter's video message to create a stronger emotional impact. Additionally, provide clearer stakes and consequences for Walter's actions to heighten the tension and sense of impending doom. This could involve exploring the potential consequences of his involvement in the drug trade and the impact it could have on his family. Furthermore, consider adding more visual elements to enhance the storytelling and create a stronger visual impact. This could include highlighting the contrast between the peaceful cow pasture and the chaotic RV, as well as using visual cues to convey Walter's desperation and the danger he is facing.
Middle The middle part of the screenplay introduces various scenes that focus on the daily lives and interactions of the characters. While these scenes provide some insight into their relationships and dynamics, they lack clear conflict or tension, making them feel relatively neutral. The dialogue in these scenes could be improved by making it more organic and reflective of the characters' personalities. Additionally, some scenes feel disconnected from the overall story and don't contribute much to the plot. Consider removing or reworking these parts to ensure a tighter and more focused narrative. The emotional tone of the scenes could also benefit from injecting more emotion and conflict to make them more engaging for the audience. Overall, the middle part of the screenplay could be strengthened by adding more depth and complexity to the characters' interactions and exploring their conflicting emotions and motivations.
Suggestions: To improve the middle part of the screenplay, focus on exploring the relationships and dynamics between the characters in more depth. This could involve adding more meaningful and organic dialogue that reveals their personalities and motivations. Additionally, consider introducing more conflict and obstacles for the characters to overcome in these scenes to make them more engaging and impactful. Remove or rework scenes that feel disconnected from the overall story and don't contribute much to the plot. Ensure that each scene has a clear purpose and conflict that advances the narrative. Inject more emotion and conflict into the scenes to create a stronger emotional resonance with the audience. This could involve exploring the characters' conflicting emotions and motivations, as well as the impact of their actions on their relationships.
Ending The ending of the screenplay effectively brings the story to a close, with Walter realizing the error of his ways and sacrificing himself to protect his family from the consequences of his choices. The scene in the ER and the subsequent conversation with the doctor create a sense of urgency and impending doom, highlighting the gravity of Walter's situation. However, the scene lacks clear conflict or tension, making it feel slow and unengaging. The dialogue could be improved by making it more reflective of Walter's anxiety and fear. The fixation on the spot of mustard on the doctor's lapel is an intriguing detail, but it is not fully utilized. The transition to the car wash scene feels abrupt and disjointed, lacking a clear purpose or connection to the previous scene. The conversation between Walter and Skyler at home is tense, but it lacks depth and emotional resonance. Overall, the ending of the screenplay could be strengthened by adding more tension and emotional depth to the scenes.
Suggestions: To improve the ending of the screenplay, focus on injecting more tension and urgency into the scenes to create a stronger emotional impact. This could involve exploring Walter's anxiety and fear more deeply through his actions and dialogue. Develop the significance of the fixation on the spot of mustard on the doctor's lapel, showing how it reflects Walter's state of mind and adds to the tension. Provide a smoother transition or bridge between the ER scene and the car wash scene to create a more seamless flow of the narrative. Delve deeper into the conflicting emotions and motivations of Walter and Skyler in their conversation at home, adding more emotional resonance and complexity to their relationship. Additionally, ensure that each scene has a clear purpose and conflict that advances the overall story, providing a satisfying resolution or cliffhanger that leaves the audience wanting to know what happens next.

Characters in the screenplay, and their arcs:

Walter White

Walter White is a high school chemistry teacher who becomes dissatisfied with his life and turns to cooking meth to secure his family's financial future. He is initially mild-mannered and unassuming, but becomes increasingly desperate and ruthless as the series progresses. He is intelligent, resourceful, and willing to take risks to achieve his goals. He is also shown to be reserved and somewhat distant from his family, but as the series progresses, he becomes more obsessed with protecting their future and uses extreme measures to do so.



Skyler White

Skyler White is a strong-willed woman who is deeply concerned about her family's financial stability and well-being. She is assertive and controlling, but also values open communication and honesty. As she becomes more involved in Walter's criminal activities, she struggles to reconcile her desire to protect her family with her growing knowledge of his illegal actions. Despite her occasional misjudgments and mistakes, she ultimately proves herself to be a skilled and resourceful ally to Walter, often using her intelligence and wit to help them navigate dangerous situations.



Walt

Walter White is a highly intelligent, yet unfulfilled high school chemistry teacher. He is introverted, reserved, and often lacks confidence in himself. He feels stuck in his mundane life and is searching for a way to break free from it. Walter is also a family man, fiercely protective of his wife and teenage son, but has a strained relationship with his brother-in-law who is a DEA agent. After his diagnosis, Walter becomes more preoccupied with leaving a legacy behind for his family as he knows his time is limited.



Skyler

Skyler is a strong and resourceful woman who cares about her family. Despite her frustrations with her strained relationship with Walter, she remains supportive of him. She is practical and has a sarcastic sense of humor.



Marion Alan Dupree

Marion Alan Dupree, also known as Dupree, is a young man who is deeply involved in the drug business. He is confident, experienced, and sees cooking meth as an art form. He is intrigued by Walter White's proposal and agrees to partner with him, impressed by Walter's cooking skills and the potential for profit. Dupree is a loyal partner who is willing to go to great lengths to protect Walter, even sacrificing himself for him.



Character Arc Critique Suggestions
Walter White Walter White starts off as a mild-mannered chemistry teacher who is dissatisfied with his life and longs for change. He becomes involved in the drug trade to provide for his family's financial future. As his cancer progresses and he becomes more entrenched in the criminal underworld, he starts to embrace his darker side and becomes increasingly ruthless and desperate. He alienates his family and friends in the process, culminating in him losing everything he once held dear. In the end, he realizes the error of his ways and sacrifices himself to protect his family from the consequences of his choices. The character arc of Walter White is well-developed and explores the depths of human desperation and the lengths people will go to for their loved ones. However, at times it feels like his transformation into a ruthless drug lord is expedited and lacks sufficient justification. Additionally, some of the supporting characters are underdeveloped and could benefit from more nuanced storylines that would further add to the overarching narrative.
To improve Walter's character arc, more emphasis could be placed on his internal struggles and the morality of his actions. This would help explain and justify his descent into darkness, making it more believable for the audience. Additionally, the supporting characters could be given more depth and backstory to add more layers to the story and enhance the overall impact of the series.
Skyler White Skyler's character arc over the course of the series is one of gradual transformation, as she goes from being an outsider to Walter's criminal activities to becoming an active participant in them. Initially, she is focused on protecting her family and ensuring their financial stability, but as she becomes more aware of Walter's actions, she becomes increasingly wary and suspicious, eventually confronting him about his involvement in the drug trade. Although she initially struggles with the moral implications of Walter's actions, she eventually accepts them and begins to actively assist him in his schemes, using her intelligence and resourcefulness to help him out of tight spots. However, as the stakes grow higher and the risks become greater, Skyler becomes increasingly weary and disillusioned with the criminal life, ultimately choosing to cut ties with Walter and his operations in order to protect herself and her family. While Skyler's character arc is interesting and complex, it could benefit from a greater focus on her internal struggles and emotional journey. At times, it feels like she is simply reacting to Walter's actions rather than actively driving the plot forward. Additionally, her relationship with Walter could be more fully developed, as their interactions often feel one-sided and lacking in emotional depth.
To improve Skyler's character arc, it would be helpful to delve more deeply into her emotional reactions to Walter's actions and her own complicity in his schemes. This could involve exploring her grappling with guilt and questioning her moral compass, as well as showing more of her own motivations and desires beyond her concern for her family. Additionally, developing her relationship with Walter could give her more agency and depth, potentially leading to more complex and impactful scenes between them.
Walt Throughout the movie, Walter undergoes a transformative character arc from a meek chemistry teacher into a ruthless drug lord. After his diagnosis, he becomes more aggressive in his pursuit of a more meaningful life. His involvement in the drug trade begins as a way to leave financial security for his family once he passes away. However, as he becomes engulfed in the world of drugs, he transforms into Heisenberg, a calculated and ruthless leader, willing to do whatever it takes to protect his interests and those he loves. Despite the chaos and destruction he causes, Heisenberg ultimately leads to a cathartic realization for Walter. In the end, he accepts responsibility for his choices and seeks redemption by sacrificing himself to spare his former partner, Jesse Pinkman. The character arc for Walter White is well-executed, showing his transformation from a meek chemistry teacher to a ruthless drug lord. However, some elements of his character could be further developed, such as his past experiences that may have contributed to his dissatisfaction with his life. Additionally, his relationship with his family could be more complex and nuanced, providing a deeper emotional connection for the audience.
To improve the character arc for Walter White, more flashbacks or storytelling about his past experiences and struggles could be incorporated to help the audience better understand his feelings of dissatisfaction. Giving more context to his strained relationships with his family members and how they evolve over the course of the story could also help to create more emotional depth and connection for the audience.
Skyler Throughout the movie, Skyler starts off focused on their financial situation and frustrated with Walter's secrecy. As she becomes aware of Walter's condition, she becomes more supportive and takes charge in certain situations. By the end of the movie, she is amazed and surprised by Walter's actions and begins to see him in a new light. While Skyler's character arc is interesting, it feels a bit generalized and could benefit from more specific details. Additionally, her personality could be more fleshed out to make her a more dynamic character.
To improve Skyler's character arc, consider adding more specific details about how her interactions with other characters and the events of the movie shape her perspective. Additionally, adding more complex emotions and struggles to her character could make her feel more dynamic and relatable.
Marion Alan Dupree Dupree's character arc involves a transformation from a skeptical partner to a loyal one. Initially, he is surprised by Walter's proposal and hesitant to take on the risks involved in cooking crystal meth. However, as he witnesses Walter's superior cooking skills and the potential for profit, he becomes an enthusiastic partner. His loyalty to Walter is eventually put to the test when he sacrifices himself to protect Walter from a group of rival drug dealers. This sacrifice shows the depth of his commitment to their partnership and his respect for Walter's leadership. The character arc for Dupree is well-crafted and effectively shows his transformation from a skeptical partner to a loyal one. However, it could benefit from more complexity and depth. While Dupree's loyalty to Walter is admirable, it would be more interesting to see his character struggle with the moral implications and consequences of their partnership. Additionally, more exploration of Dupree's backstory and motivations would add depth to his character.
To improve Dupree's character arc, consider adding more complexity and depth to his character. Explore his backstory and motivations for being involved in the drug business, and show him struggling with the moral implications and consequences of his actions. This could add a layer of complexity to his relationship with Walter and make his sacrifice at the end of the film even more poignant. Additionally, consider giving Dupree more dialogue and screen time to fully develop his character.
Theme Theme Details Themee Explanation
Breaking BadThe theme of Breaking Bad is the transformation of Walter White from a mild-mannered chemistry teacher to a ruthless drug lord. This theme is evident throughout the screenplay as we see Walter's descent into the criminal underworld and his willingness to do whatever it takes to provide for his family.The theme of Breaking Bad is the central focus of the screenplay and drives the narrative. It explores the consequences of Walter's choices and the moral ambiguity of his actions.
Family and LoveThe theme of family and love is present in multiple scenes, particularly in Walter's interactions with his wife, Skyler, and his son, Walter Jr. Despite his criminal activities, Walter's love for his family is a driving force behind his actions.This theme explores the lengths that Walter is willing to go to protect and provide for his family. It also examines the complexities of familial relationships and the sacrifices that can be made in the name of love.
Identity and TransformationThe theme of identity and transformation is evident in Walter's journey from a mild-mannered chemistry teacher to a criminal mastermind. Throughout the screenplay, we see Walter struggle with his new identity and the consequences of his transformation.This theme explores the idea of how circumstances can shape a person's identity and the lengths they will go to protect that identity. It also raises questions about the nature of morality and the choices we make in defining ourselves.
Mortality and IllnessThe theme of mortality and illness is introduced when Walter receives the devastating news that he has stage 3 multiple myeloma. This theme is explored throughout the screenplay as Walter grapples with his mortality and the impact it has on his decisions.This theme delves into the fear of death and the desperation that can arise from a terminal illness. It also examines the choices one might make when faced with their own mortality and the desire to leave a legacy.
Power and ControlThe theme of power and control is present in scenes where Walter asserts his dominance and takes control of situations. This theme is explored through Walter's transformation into a drug lord and his desire for power and control over his own life.This theme delves into the allure of power and the lengths one will go to obtain and maintain control. It also raises questions about the consequences of seeking power and the impact it can have on relationships and morality.



Screenwriting Resources on Themes

Articles

Site Description
Studio Binder Movie Themes: Examples of Common Themes for Screenwriters
Coverfly Improving your Screenplay's theme
John August Writing from Theme

YouTube Videos

Title Description
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
Goals and Philosophical Conflict
internal Goals The protagonist's internal goals evolved throughout the script, reflecting his deeper needs and fears.
External Goals The protagonist's external goals evolved throughout the script, reflecting immediate circumstances and challenges.
Philosophical Conflict The overarching philosophical conflict challenges the protagonist's beliefs and values.


Character Development Contribution: The evolving goals and conflict contribute to the protagonist's growth and transformation.

Narrative Structure Contribution: The goals and conflict provide structure and drive the plot forward.

Thematic Depth Contribution: The goals and conflict explore themes of identity, morality, and the consequences of one's choices.


Screenwriting Resources on Goals and Philosophical Conflict

Articles

Site Description
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

YouTube Videos

Title Description
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?