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March 12, 2012 2:12 PM   Subscribe

"If you strung all of the opening scenes from the various seasons [of Breaking Bad] together in chronological order, would the show's basic narrative make sense?"

Press Play has all of the prologues from every Breaking Bad episode strung together in chronological order, and then has a third party who's never seen the show attempt to deduce the entire plot from there to a surprising degree of success. Spoilers are likely.
posted by invitapriore (49 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
No. How would it? Season 3 all of the intros went back in time to tell little back stories, eg. how Tortuga was killed.
posted by mannequito at 2:19 PM on March 12, 2012


Man, it would suck to be the person for whom the show was ruined on a meaningless exercise.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:28 PM on March 12, 2012 [10 favorites]


I watched a few episodes of BB in the first season before cutting back on cable, so the first couple of prologue excerpts are enough to encourage me to start up the whole series again. (Given that I'll be bored to tears waking for a sprained foot to heal over the next few days, it's good timing).
posted by maudlin at 2:39 PM on March 12, 2012


waking = waiting. Waking is good, too.
posted by maudlin at 2:39 PM on March 12, 2012


Eh, it doesn't necessarily ruin it. I watched a lot of Battlestar Galactica after being "spoiled" and half the fun is seeing how the events come together.
posted by maryr at 2:43 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I mean, I agree that a lot of the great fun of Breaking Bad is in the watching, and thus it's decently spoil-resistant, I also think there's a fair degree of frog-in-boiling-water that goes on as a viewer. Events lead so easily into one another and the escalation is so gradual that at this point when I look back at who Walter White was in the pilot, it's astounding how much he's changed, and I think any broad overview of the series before you watch the whole thing would be prone to removing that experience to some degree.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:54 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can't wait until this show is off the air so I can watch it.
posted by adamdschneider at 3:01 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Neat. I honestly hate having to wade through hours and hours of TV shows; Wikipedia is pretty awesome for experiencing it through a plot outline, but this is probably a little better.

Hopefully it'll become possible to load this page in a few minutes and I can watch this and be done with it.
posted by koeselitz at 3:11 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why enjoy a meal when I can just scan the menu?
posted by Burhanistan at 3:12 PM on March 12, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yep, I get what you're saying, shakespeherian, and pretty much agree -- but I still always think that 'spoiler' is sort of a misnomer when applied to quality TV/movies/books because the "good stuff" stands up even knowing the ending/twist/secret.

Though I guess "ruins-part-of-the-experience-er warning" doesn't quite roll of the tongue.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:15 PM on March 12, 2012


Burhanistan: “Why enjoy a meal when I can just scan the menu?”

Well, unfortunately that doesn't quite do it. Someday we'll have pills for that, though.
posted by koeselitz at 3:20 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


  • Math teacher has cancer. Too proud to accept money or insurance from wealthy friend who actually owes him his fortune.
  • In heartfelt, tearjerker scene man explains to family that he'd rather die than go through excruciating treatment.
  • Meth dealer makes what is, by realistic standards, exceptional batch of meth. Throws it away because 'not good enough' and worried about 'reputation'. In reality a batch of meth that good is considered a cut above by pretty much everyone, and no dealer's 'rep' is any better than his last sale.
  • The moment this obviously crazy meth dealer shows up, teacher forgets all about his decision to forgo treatment and agrees to make meth to pay for therapy.
Why would you expect the ordered promos to make sense when the very first episode didn't make any?
posted by clarknova at 3:24 PM on March 12, 2012


Why would you expect the ordered promos to make sense when the very first episode didn't make any?

Hi that thing you like? let me tell you why you're wrong
posted by Rory Marinich at 3:31 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, aside from the first sentence of your post, that isn't the plot of the first episode at all.
posted by kjh at 3:36 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Honestly I kind of lost interest after that funny commercial with the goat.
posted by Mooseli at 3:45 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


“Why enjoy a meal when I can just scan the menu?”

That's not really a fair comparison. It's more... "Why order an entree when I can just get the appetizer platter?" If you have the time to sit down and enjoy the subtleties and atmosphere of the meal you are having a fuller experience and can better judge the restaurant. If you just want to know how the food is and have to be somewhere after dinner, the appetizer platter might get you to the point quicker. And neither one prevents you from returning to the restaurant and ordering that entree to try for the first or second time.

Now I'm hungry.
posted by maryr at 4:06 PM on March 12, 2012


but I still always think that 'spoiler' is sort of a misnomer when applied to quality TV/movies/books because the "good stuff" stands up even knowing the ending/twist/secret.

I think people misapply or even misunderstand the idea of what a spoiler means to some people. Knowing the plot or whatever is one part of spoilage, the thing that is the most important and at the most susceptible to spoilage IS the experience. Which actually does include the plot to some extent, but I tend to draw a fairly hard line on this stuff these days and I tend to just stay away from trailers and most talk until it's after the fact. I want to see things unfold for myself

This is a fun and neat little exercise, though.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:09 PM on March 12, 2012


  • Math teacher has cancer. Too proud to accept money or insurance from wealthy friend who actually owes him his fortune.
  • Meth dealer shows up with miniature beluga whale. Offers it to math teacher.
  • In heartfelt, tearjerker scene math teacher explains to family the deeper meaning behind the opening song to Perfect Strangers sitcom.
  • Ragnarok.


  • Why would you expect the ordered promos to make sense when the very first episode didn't make any?
    posted by shakespeherian at 4:10 PM on March 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


    Ragnarok.

    wait what

    Maybe I SHOULD watch this show..
    posted by curious nu at 4:14 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Good. Gooood. Let the butthurt flow through you.
    posted by clarknova at 4:23 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


    I think that's called Santorum.
    posted by P.o.B. at 4:27 PM on March 12, 2012


    I cannot take seriously anyone who calls Walter White a math teacher.
    posted by triggerfinger at 4:29 PM on March 12, 2012 [15 favorites]


    I'm glad they kept the mariachi intro in the video for season two. It's as out-of-place and unexpected in this edited cut as it was in the original episode.
    posted by FreelanceBureaucrat at 4:41 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Because I can't help but butt in on this one...

    My take on the spoiler thing is that spoilage is more of an issue when a show has major characters who are essentially mysterious with respect to their long-term motivations and/or their short-term plan of action. Having their narrative arc revealed beforehand can strip those characters of a certain emotional aura, which weakens the experience. Breaking Bad has several of those characters, so even though it's pretty robust even in the face of being spoiled I think you miss out to a non-trivial degree if you don't experience it fresh.

    *In that spirit, this is a spoiler warning for the next paragraph.*

    Anyway, what interested me most about this (and what led me to post it) is that it's a nice avenue for getting a look at how the prologues function structurally. I haven't watched a whole lot of television, but my impression is that the prologue as a structural gambit is mostly used as a tension-generating device, especially in procedurals. Breaking Bad definitely honors that precedent, but seems to take it less literally: the teddy bear in the pool extends the scope of such narrative tension across an entire season; the men who find Tuco's crystallized grill in the river shift focus onto Hank and his internal struggles; the two reefer truck prologues in Season 4 very succinctly establish the escalation of hostilities with the cartel (plus the first one gives us a great Mike moment, though I don't think there are any non-great Mike moments). I don't know enough to say that Breaking Bad's handling of the prologue is novel, but it is compelling.
    posted by invitapriore at 4:42 PM on March 12, 2012


    I cannot take seriously anyone who calls Walter White a math teacher.

    I guess it's true, in the pedantic sense that all science derives from math, essentially.
    posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:16 PM on March 12, 2012


    Oh right he's a chemistry teacher. The rest of that makes sense now!
    posted by clarknova at 5:25 PM on March 12, 2012


    ATTENTION

    HAVE YOU PAID IT
    posted by shakespeherian at 5:30 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Clarknova, here's the thing. Without ruling on the sense or nonsense of the first episode, I can say from experience that people (not me) diagnosed with terminal illnesses make decisions that don't necessarily conform to strict logical interpretations.
    posted by Ducks or monkeys at 5:37 PM on March 12, 2012


    I mean we could begin to discuss whether the pilot makes any sense, but just about everything clarknova said happens in the pilot doesn't happen in the pilot.
    posted by shakespeherian at 5:44 PM on March 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


    Yeah, it's kinda pedantic, but a math teacher deciding to cook meth to make a lot of money fast imo stretches credibility a bit. However, a chemistry teacher who is brilliant enough that he could have pursued a career as a celebrated chemist deciding to go to the dark side and cook almost perfectly pure meth makes a lot more sense.

    Plus, his perfectionism and pride in practicing his craft is a really big part of understanding Walt and therefore the storyline. That part at the dinner table with Hank, where he blew apart Hank's theory that Gale was Heinsenberg? That scene was breathtaking because Walt dances right up to the edge of blowing his cover and ruining his family rather than let someone else get credit for his work. (I mean seriously, I was on the floor --- WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING WALT!) Walt has been a frustrated genius his whole life and he has found a vocation which allows him to really stand out and showcase his brilliance. His perfectionism and pride has been a thread that has run through the entire series and shaped the whole arc of the story. I believe his pride is going to be his downfall. None of this would make sense if he were a math teacher.

    Yeah this is pedantic derail and probably beside the point but......god, do I love this show.
    posted by triggerfinger at 6:35 PM on March 12, 2012 [7 favorites]


    In a cliffhanger of a scene, a rival drug lord, in a white track suit, is murdered by a 10-year-old kid on a bicycle. (emphasis added)
    posted by graphnerd at 6:45 PM on March 12, 2012


    I actually knew he was a chemistry teacher. That's a non issue. I just watched a YouTube clip of the pilot and realised what I watched was an early episode, not the pilot. And okay. Now that makes more sense.

    But a meth dealer throwing away high-grade crystal because it wasn't peak? A stretch too far, AMC!
    posted by clarknova at 6:46 PM on March 12, 2012


    But he doesn't see himself as a meth dealer. He sees himself as a chemist.
    posted by speicus at 6:50 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


    "...next week we take a look at what will happen if we mix all of the chemicals referenced in the opening title sequence."
    posted by smithsmith at 6:55 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


    But a meth dealer throwing away high-grade crystal because it wasn't peak? A stretch too far, AMC!

    I kind of agree with you when we're talking about when Jesse did it. Walt doing it is totally believable. He doesn't understand the value of meth as a drug.
    posted by triggerfinger at 6:56 PM on March 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


    I like that when seen this way, the promos sort of rhyme: look at the the composition of the third episode promos for seasons 1 & 2: both shot up through a transparency at our heroes cleaning up a mess, in two very different ways. Also the so-obvious-I-never-noticed-it parallels between the first image of season 2 and nearly the last of season 4 (the charred teddy bear missing an eye and, well, you know).
    posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:58 PM on March 12, 2012


    clarknova is referring to Jesse tossing the batch he made trying to imitate Walter White's method. It's a TV show. It doesn't have to conform to your pedestrian values.
    posted by Burhanistan at 6:58 PM on March 12, 2012


    A meth lab has blown up in a nice suburban home with a swimming pool.

    A person watching the prologues from Season 2 would miss the whole story about Jane and more importantly, what happened to her, which I think is going to be an important thing to know later on.
    posted by triggerfinger at 7:13 PM on March 12, 2012


    I honestly hate having to wade through hours and hours of TV shows

    One of the great pleasures of my 40s (and living in Korea with unlimited bandwidth) has been, after not really watching much TV at all during my 20s and 30s, going back and watching the entire runs of good stuff I never got to see, watching entire runs of stuff I wanted to watch again, and all the amazing new long-arc cable-TV series that have been appearing in the last 10 years or so.

    What I'm trying to say is: I watch quite a lot of TV these days.
    posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:24 PM on March 12, 2012


    Jesse tossing the batch he made trying to imitate Walter White's method

    That reminds me of something. How did Badger get out of the desert after that incident? I don't think cell phones get coverage out there, so he couldn't call for help. Was this ever explained? If he could walk out, then why didn't Walter and Jesse walk out that time they got stranded? I guess Jesse may have turned around and picked him up, after ditching him.
    posted by thelonius at 7:27 PM on March 12, 2012


    I can't wait until this show is off the air so I can watch it.

    I wish I had done this. But no. I got suckered in and now have to wait for Season Five like a chump.

    Though really, it's all downhill after Ragnarök.
    posted by sonika at 7:33 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Yeah, netflix is a huge asset - where I can plow through a whole season of a show in a weekend. Pause! and no commercials. Best thing ever.

    Breaking Bad started out pretty good, but by about the 3rd or 4th season, for some reason, I just really got sick of Walt's whiny self absorbed douchebaggery. I kind of had the same thing about the Sopranos - where by the end of the series, I really disliked all of those fuckers - especially the gorram idiot crybaby Paulie.
    posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:33 PM on March 12, 2012


    Ooo, these are being done by Sheila O'Malley, who writes one of my FAVOURITE BLOGS EVVVAAR.
    LINK
    posted by stray at 7:35 PM on March 12, 2012


    I've never watched the show, and the first video didn't make any sense. Pants falling from the sky? Two dead men in an RV? Why is he naked? Is it a dream? If it is, why does it cut to him screwing his wife in bed? It didn't make any sense, and didn't spoil anything. I would like to watch this show, based on the excellent TV on the Radio video.
    posted by KokuRyu at 8:35 PM on March 12, 2012


    I kind of had the same thing about the Sopranos - where by the end of the series, I really disliked all of those fuckers

    I think that was kind of the point of the series, which is essentially about sociopaths and the upper middle class.
    posted by KokuRyu at 8:36 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I really didn't like the pilot, but due to people on Twitter telling me I had to watch this show, I stuck it out, and I'm glad I did. I thought the violence was going to be gratuitous, but it's really not, it's essential to the story. Same thing with The Wire, although I was spoiled for Season 5 (the scene in the store). I didn't know WHEN it was going to happen, so I was just cringing every time I saw that character. That sucked (note: I haven't watched the last two episodes yet, so please be respectful).
    posted by desjardins at 7:42 AM on March 13, 2012


    What _is_ Breaking Bad about? I checked out about half way through season one, because it just seemed like a clusterfuck that wasn't going anywhere, but obviously they've figured something out if it's still on the air -- someone give me a one paragraph reason why I should go back and catch up?
    posted by empath at 10:49 AM on March 13, 2012


    It's about white people who fuck up a lot. It's kind of like watching a train wreck, but you care about the people in the train.
    posted by desjardins at 11:09 AM on March 13, 2012


    > someone give me a one paragraph reason why I should go back and catch up?

    I never understand this kind of thing on Metafilter. It's just noise.
    posted by Burhanistan at 11:17 AM on March 13, 2012


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