Posted in Narrative, Research

Breaking Bad and Chekov’s Gun – an analysis [Spoilers inside]

Over the past decade or so, some great TV has been made, from Parks and Recreation to 24, all genres and stories have been explored. But in 2009, Breaking Bad appeared on our screens and changed the way we view TV forever. It made us realise that TV can be clever. Really clever. And do it in such style you’ll never forget it.

It’s a show known for its foreshadowing, and how nothing is irrelevant. I remember my girlfriend asking about the plant pot in Walter’s back garden, and why it was there. I only could reply ‘Don’t worry, there’s a reason. I don’t know what it is, but there’s a reason’.

Chekov’s Gun is a principle in film, TV and Theatre which essentially means that absolutely nothing is there just for show. Every aspect has a purpose. This article goes into detail, but i’ll use only a couple and why it’s relevant to my project.

A Brief History of Chekhov’s Gun in ‘Breaking Bad’

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(Image from uproxx)

This scene was one of my favourites out of any show EVER! The gun was spun, and by a twist of luck and fate, pointed at the flower which sparked Walter’s idea.

This lasted over a few episodes, and it seemed so irrelevant and as a viewer, truly made me question the purpose of the scene. I had absolutely no idea what it meant or symbolised, so the shock was enormous at the reveal.

In context of a game, this could translate to a symbol or asset being partly revealed at the beginning, and at the end of the game, the player has the entire asset or symbol revealed. Breaking Bad was good at hinting so incredibly subtly, you only picked it up once you re watched. If I could create something which shocks the viewer on first view, but then surprises them equally as much on the second attempt after the reveal, it would give a second layer of suspense and immersion. The discovery would make players want to explore and play more in order to truly find out every element they may’ve missed, even if they found them all.

The second subtle foreshadowing element i’ll examine is one I missed. I read about it on reddit, and it shows a mask in Gale’s apartment.OKv8T2M

(Image from Netflix)

While this may seem suiting of Gale’s unique taste in… everything, it’s actually a foreshadow of the fate of Gus Fring.

The way the producers set up an asset to be viewed could be used in a game context as well. An asset centred at the beginning of a level foreshadowing the image of an event at the end could generate immediate interest if the player recognises it, but its difficult to get the foreshadowing across without pointing it out. The majority of people who will play my game won’t be invested enough at the beginning to pay that much attention, but it would be a good addition for those wanting to do a second playthrough.

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