Breaking Bad

 
 

THE PLATE

"And the Bag's in the River"
WRITTEN BY Vince Gilligan
2008

 

CONTEXT

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

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

WHY IT’S BADASS

Breaking Bad had the greatest writing on television since the Golden Age of HBO. It’s bleak and devastating, but hopeful.

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

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

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