SPOILER ALERT for Breaking Bad, Season 5!
So I am often a few days late catching up on Breaking Bad, but I know some people are a season or two behind, so I don’t want to spoil it for any one. But on the “Hazard Pay” (episode 3) of Season 5, the scene that stayed with me the most was when Skyler has a mini-break down in the car wash office with her sister Marie. Marie is pushing Skyler’s buttons with her incessant advice and commentary. Skyler would have pushed back under normal circumstances, but we can see Skyler becoming increasingly frantic as Marie blathers on, until finally Skyler cracks and screams, “Shut up!” Then she repeats herself, “Shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up!” for a while, more than what I’ve typed. No fancy dialogue, no on-the-nose exposition about what’s going on in her life or how Marie just doesn’t get it. Just a freak out with one repeated line. And it was realistic. Isn’t that how we act when we are absolutely out of our heads with emotion, and not thinking straight? I loved it.
It reminded me of hearing Buck Henry say that for the final scene of The Graduate, the bus ride, he had initially written one line of dialogue, some obvious comment. But when it was taken out and there was no dialogue at all between Dustin Hoffman and Katharine Ross, the powerful scene really took shape. Would we all remember the uncomfortable, “what now?” feeling of that scene so clearly if there had been dialogue? I personally felt as if I were actually sitting there on the back of that bus when I saw the movie. For more about Buck Henry and The Graduate, here’s the transcript of an interview .
So my point of the day, I guess, is to remember to tell myself, “Shut up!” when I am about to write elaborate dialogue for an emotional scene. Sometimes simpler is better.