Breaking Bad and Cliffhanger Structure

Now that BREAKING BAD is the King of Television, we can discuss it the way it deserves to be discussed. Oh, and dissect it too. Cuz that’s what writers do when they encounter brilliant writing:

by The Bitter Script Reader[Last] week’s Breaking Bad ended on a helluva cliffhanger.  After being betrayed by his former protegee, Walter White was led into a trap and finally arrested by his brother-in-law, DEA Agent Hank Schrader.  For a few moments, viewers dared to hope that the ending could be so bloodless.  Hank and his partner tricked Walt to leading them to where he’d buried millions in drug profits.  However, this happened to be out in the middle of nowhere and Hank hadn’t made this arrest an official DEA operation, so his own office had no idea where he was.

After savoring Walt’s arrest, Hank called his wife Marie and told her “I got him.”  It at last seemed over, and there was relief in his voice as he assured her everything was going to be okay now.  Before he hung up, he told her he loved her.

In TV/movie cliche terms, Hank might as well have said he had only two days to retirement, for he was giving off just about every other warning sign of being about to be martyred tragically.  Sure enough, the Aryans allied with Walt (long story) arrive on the scene.  They not only outnumber Hank and his partner, but they heavily out-gun them.  A shootout ensues and there seems to be no way that the Aryans don’t have the upper hand.  It’s hard to imagine a circumstance where they would allow Hank and his partner to live.

But let’s speculate here: If the creators were out to shock us with Hank’s death, the place to do that would have been to end the episode with him getting his head blown off.  That would have certainly had more impact in the final seconds of this episode than in the opening moments of next week’s, right?

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