Saturday, May 25, 2013

Coincidence in Breaking Bad

In my previous post on Breaking Bad I noted that the show seems a bit thick with coincidence. Since the show’s been out for awhile I figured others must have remarked on it. So I got my Google-fu in gear and went looking.

I got some hits. The issue has been raised on Quora: Who thinks Breaking Bad is too contrived...too many improbable coincidences? The question had seven answers when I got there; I added an eighth. Most answers seemed to think that, yes, lots of coincidence. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The show’s entry in TV Tropes lists three+ instances of the trope, Contrived Coincidence. The “+” is for “Everything involving the midair collision in the season 2 finale.”

There’s more, but that’s enough to tell me that the show’s use of coincidence is pretty obvious. It may not be obvious to the point where you’re supposed to be thinking to yourself “zing! there goes another one”; but it’s out there. It’s in the texture of the show.

I assume this use of coincidence is deliberate. As I’ve said, it’s part of the artistry. What’s it doing? In the penultimate (that is, next to the last) episode of season two Jesse’s girlfriend, Jane, chokes in her own vomit while Walt’s on a diaper run for the new baby, where he also meets up with Jane’s father in a bar (but doesn’t know who he is). Coincidence? Heck yeah! But what’s the point?

And Walt’s a bit pissed that his son’s “Help Walt” website is bringing in the bucks. He knows, of course, that those bucks are the bucks he made selling a megaload of primo meth and he’s pissed that he’s not getting credit for providing for his family.

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