Unit 22 – Task 2

Breaking Bad


Breaking Bad as a whole is a non-linear show. This is because it includes things such as flashbacks, flash forwards and multi stranded narratives. We know there are multi narratives because Breaking Bad doesn’t only focus of Walter, even though he and Jessie are the protagonists, there are also very in-depth storylines for other characters such as Hank, Skylar, Marie and Walt Junior,  and many many other characters.  An example of a flash back is shown in the clip i have attached, in this scene Walter and Jessie are cleaning up blood and guts of somebody they had just killed and dissolved in acid in a bath. This scene is constantly crosscutting with a flashback scene of Walter discussing the elemental composition of a human being. The use of flashback is obvious during this scene as the flashback scene is very dark which is a convention of flashback and also Walter have an obvious amount of hair which makes it clear to the audience that it is a flashback as Walter has cancer in the show and is bald.

Breaking Bad as a whole series uses flashbacks throughout to highlight important moments for example, when Hank is sitting on a toilet and finds a book of Walters that has ‘W.W’ written on (Walters initials) then there is a flashback scene of Hank finding evidence of the huge drug case that has the initials W.W written one, then shows Hank’s face as he has a realisation that Walter is Heisenberg, this flashback scene was used to show Hank’s train of thought to the audience so that we know that he has finally realised Heisenberg is Walt. Without the flashback clip the audience could be confused as to what he has realised as his initials aren’t a huge part of the story line.

Breaking Bad is structured in Toderovs narrative theory. Toderovs narrative theory is a three part structure where they begin with equilibrium, where everything is balanced, then something comes along to disrupt that equilibrium (disequilibrium) and then reaches a resolution, when equilibrium is restored or because of the disruption there is a new normal, a new equilibrium and Breaking Bad definitely uses this structure. For example, Walt’s equilibrium is being a Chemistry teacher in a high school, working in a car wash part time and having a very normal life with a wife and a teenaged son. The event that disrupts this equilibrium is when Walt finds out he has lung cancer. This changes his equilibrium as Walter gets into making meth with one of his old drug dealer students Jessie so he can pay for his treatment and leave money for his family once he dies, which is a complete contrast to his old, normal life. As the show progresses Walter gets more and more into the drug business and this then becomes his new equilibrium as he never goes back to his old, boring life. Cooking meth, killing people and doing deals with the cartel becomes Walt’s new equilibrium until the very end of the show.


Breaking Bad uses cliff hangers (open endings). In almost every season finale there is a cliff hanger, they use this so that it makes viewers always come back to watch the next season so they can find out what happens. Breaking Bad use this very well, an example of one of their cliff hangers was the end of season 3 where Jessie turns up to a mans house and points a gun at his face, there is an extreme close-up of the gun and then you hear a very loud gunshot and the screen turns black and the season ends. This made fans and viewers very excited for the next season as they had room to create their own outcome of the situation Jessie was in before the next season where they find out what actually happened. Cliff hangers allow an audience to interpret their own meanings/outcomes of the cliff hanger and breaking bad do this at the end of every season because it creates discussions about the show which will inevitably make the show more popular. They carried on season finale cliff  hangers until the very end, the last episode of the last season, Walter gets shot and the last shot of the entire series is Walt laying on the ground with blood coming from underneath him with his eyes open. A lot of fans have made conspiracies that Walt didn’t die because he was never shown actually dying, only lying on the floor, shot, you don’t see if somebody comes and saves him etc. This final scene is still a talking point 3 years on which has kept the show so popular.

Law Abiding Citizen 

Law Abiding Citizen is a film with a linear narrative. A linear narrative is when a story is presented in a logical manner by telling what happens from one point in time to the next without using flashbacks or flash-forwards and then returning to the present, it has a clear beginning, middle and end. This film is an example of a linear narrative structure. For example, the beginning shows a short scene showing the audience a normal family about to eat dinner, then two men come in, they stab Clyde (the protagonist) and kill his wife and daughter in front of him. This is the beginning of the film and this scene is what the rest of the film is about as he is trying to avenge the death of his family and the unjust course system that let the killers have time off their sentence. Other scenes in the beginning consists of the basic information that the audience need such as the sentence that the murderers get and how one of the murderers death (given by the court) was tampered with to make sure he had a painful death. The middle is when Clyde gets arrested for the death of Clarence Darby (the murderer) and all the action happens, all the bombs, murders and plots happen in the middle, the middle is the most action pact part. The end section starts when all the cars blow up with the lawyers inside of them, this is when the film gets darker and more serious as they are ‘running out of time’ before Clyde kills them all. The final scene ends with Clyde realising they had planted a bomb in his cell and he dies with his daughters necklace in his hand. This shows that Law Abiding Citizen has a clear linear narrative structure.

This film doesn’t have an cliff hangers or open endings, it is a very closed ending. As an audience we know it is a closed ending because we see the main protagonist die in a bomb and the whole prison blow up as Jamie Fox (the other protagonist) walks away unharmed. This shows a closed ending because we know Clyde is dead therefore no more harm can or will come to anybody else.

Law Abiding Citizen follows toderovs narrative theory. Clyde’s equilibrium is a normal, all american family life, he has a happy young daughter and wife and they all live in a big suburban house together. The disequilibrium occurs when Clyde’s wife and daughter are murdered in front of him, this completely disrupts and ruins Clyde’s life. When the course case happens against the murderers, one gets a death sentence and the other made a deal with the lawyer (Jamie Fox’s character) which got a huge amount of time off his sentence, this also upsets the equilibrium because of the unjust course system. This sets Clyde off on a killing/revenge spree which is what the main part/middle of the film is about. The equilibrium never goes back to normal as his family are gone and he is in prison, he now has a new equilibrium which is carrying out his plots and murders to send a message that the court system is corrupt which he will inevitably die doing.


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