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One Last Cook: A Special Evening With Breaking Bad Creator Vince Gilligan
”You made your own bed. Now lie in it and choke on your own vomit while someone watches.”
The first idea for Jane's death was even darker though, with Gilligan having pitched that Walt would actually shoot her up with more herion to cause the fatal overdose. That was one of many, many changes that occurred in the writer's room over the course of the series, some simply because better suggestions altered the original plan while others were the result of unforeseen circumstances, like Aaron Paul being way too talented to kill Jesse off in Season 1. Another interesting change that the creator discussed on Friday night was how Tuco Salamanca was supposed to be the big bad for the entire second season but Raymond Cruz had to return to TNT's The Closer. The result? The writers were forced to create another adversary and Giancarlo Esposito's Gustavo Fring was born. Fring's death, which we watched less than a hour earlier, was also cited as the hardest to orchestrate because the character was simply too smart to trap. How do you kill someone so careful? Well, writers putting in a lot of hours to work out the logistics. As far as the most emotional death, that occurred when the cast and crew had to say goodbye to Jonathan Banks' Mike Ehrmantraut.
”The network that plays Porky's 2 over and over?”
Lindelof and the fans also had a lot of questions about the genesis of Breaking Bad, from where the initial idea came from to what it was like shopping the drama around to different networks. The 'Archimedes in the bathtub' moment occurred when Gilligan and fellow X-Files writer Tom Schnauz were discussing what to do next and the latter suggested turning to crime after reading an article about a meth dealer. Gilligan was interested in the idea of turning a character who was a 'schlubby' middle-aged guy into a forceful villain. When it came to pitching the idea, he knew that there were only three networks that would allow the adult nature of the content on their air but HBO, Showtime and FX all said no thanks. Breaking Bad seemed dead until AMC came calling, looking to add to their original drama roster that at the time only consisted of (the still unaired) Mad Men. The first scene that they ever shot, only the third episode of television that Gilligan had ever directed, was Walt on the ride along with Hank watching Jesse escape by falling from the building.
”Where does one keep Danny Trejo's head?”
The last scene they filmed, on the other hand, was the flashback cold open that kicked off "Ozymandias," with the return to the RV and events of the pilot as a fitting way to end production on the series. Other interesting bits of trivia that came up during the evening, including that the creator took home Tortuga's head and it is located 'somewhere' on Vince's property. Lindelof also asked about Gillian's stand on piracy and the creator acknowledged that the issue is very complex, sure he'd like people to pay to watch Breaking Bad but illegal views also contributed to the show being part of the zeitgeist and viewed on televisions all over the world. He has the same reaction when he spots unlicensed merchandise, in the end he can't help but smile at the 'I am the one who knocks' t-shirts even though it's revenue they might not be seeing or were able to put into the series. There were also a few questions from yellow suited 'superfans,' both of them bringing up Gray Matter and wondering how the missed opportunity shaped Walt as well as if Gilligan had a 'Gray Matter' of his own.
”Gale had a soul.”
Of course, as we saw in "Granite Slate," Walt hasn't forgotten how he could have been part of a legitimate scientific empire and the fact that his former colleagues are trying to erase his contributions inspires his return to Albuquerque. (There was also a third 'superfan' who was cosplaying as tighty whitey Walter White but his contribution to the evening was just attention seeking and creeping everyone out, especially Damon Lindelof.) In the end, Lindelof did once again address the finale but only to allow Gilligan to discuss the process and pressure behind crafting the last show. The Breaking Bad creator mentioned his favorite series finale of all-time, M.A.S.H., and how it didn't need to pull the rug out from under the audience to be satisfying, in fact, it delivered what it promised all along. That's not to say there won't be some surprises in "Felina," only that Vince Gilligan prefers the sense of dread that Hitchcockian suspense delivers over shock for shock sake. And we'll find out the specifics soon enough...
”The greatest television show of all time.”
The series finale of Breaking Bad, “Felina,” airs tonight at 9 p.m. ET on AMC. Created by Vince Gilligan, the series stars Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt, R.J. Mitte, Jesse Plemons and Bob Odenkirk.
Event photo courtesy the Vancouver Observer.
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