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The downside to the fifth and final season of Breaking Bad being split in half was having to wait a year for the second half of that final season to air. But on the bright side, it did prolong the series' inevitable conclusion, and from what series creator Vince Gilligan says, those final eight episodes are going to come at us "fast and furious." And there will be blood.
Gilligan spoke to EW about the final eight episodes of the series, and unsurprisingly, he was vague on details, so don't expect any major spoilers here. He spoke to EW's about Walter White's lying "superpower," noting that his ability to lie supersedes his knowledge of chemistry or cooking supreme meth. But what happens when that ability to lie is no longer as effective as it once was? Gilligan hints that this is something the writers toyed with for these final episodes.
Also among the teases was a hint that there's some new opposition being presented in the final episodes, and "Walt's got plenty of fight left in him." We don't doubt that. But is this a fight he was ever destined to win? He started out an underdog - a man fighting cancer and a job that doesn't pay enough to support his family - but we've seen him claw his way to the top, taking lives and lying to to the people he loves as he develops and feeds his craving for power. It's really impossible to predict how this story should and will end, but from what Gilligan cryptically says, there will be some victory for Walt in this series' conclusion…
I am guardedly optimistic that we have achieved just that. And furthermore, trying to be as coy as possible, trying to give away as little as possible, I feel like this ending represents on some level, however small, something of a victory for Walter White. Read into that what you will. And try to be as open-minded as possible when you watch this episode, because it may not indeed feel like a victory. Or maybe it will. … I feel good about where it all ended up, and I can’t wait for people to see it.”
So… wait, what? Gilligan's great at teasing without spoiling and the fact that he can even reference the ending of this series directly and leave us scratching our heads is evidence of his ability to walk that line. I'm of the mindset that Walt won't survive this series. I don't think he was ever meant to. So reading the above statement, I feel like that supports the more pessimistic prediction. But a person who thinks the show will end with Walt retiring, either with his family or alone, or getting thrown in jail could probably apply the above statement to their own theory and it would work.
What Gilligan does confirm is that "there will be blood" this season. That's barely a spoiler. And as the showrunner goes on to say, the violence in this series comes second to the character developments. "To my mind, that’s not the most interesting thing. It’s the emotional moments and the character moments," he told EW. "We’ve got some stuff that I think is going to be truly satisfying and truly shocking and jarring. It does not always center on moments of violence."
I think that kind of applies to any great show - and Breaking Bad most definitely falls into the "great show" category. The most memorable and shocking violent moments on television are the ones that surround characters we're fully invested in. If we don't care, it's just blood and gore, isn't it? Take the big "Face-Off" moment with Gus. As shocking and gross as that was, it was a bigger moment because Walt took Gus down. He outsmarted him. And he used Hector and his wheelchair bell to do it. There was so much invested in Gustavo and his relationship with Walt that the big moment was just the climax to an intense, drawn out and perfectly paced build-up. It's moments like that one that demonstrate what works so well for this particular drama. And that's just one character arc. There's other unfinished business between Walt and certain characters, and there are eight episodes left to resolve it all, for better or worse.
Read more about what Gilligan had to say about Breaking Bad over at EW. Breaking Bad returns Sunday, August 11 on AMC.
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