Spoilers if you're not caught up through the first half of Season 5 of Breaking Bad!
If there's a down side to watching the nearly-hour-long panel discussion featuring Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan, it's that it makes me want to rewatch the entire series and I don't think there are enough hours left between now and Sunday night to do that. Unless I gave up sleeping for a couple of days… The panel took place at Lincoln Center in New York City and has Gilligan discussing a variety of topics about his series, including the future for the antihero on TV, the humor in the show, why some people don't like Skyler and how realistic the series is by comparison to actual meth-cookers, meth users and DEA agents. Did you know the DEA cooks their own meth? True story, according to Gilligan.
Of course, they don't cook it to use it. But that brings us to something else Gilligan said during the panel. The subject of Walt trying his own stuff came up. Anyone who's seen the show knows Walt has never actually tried crystal meth, either his own or any one else's brand. When talking about Walt trying meth (around the 9:23 part of the panel) Gilligan says "He's… As far as we've ever seen, he's never tried the stuff." Vince Gilligan has proven to be pretty adept at wording things carefully in interviews so that he can talk about his show without giving anything away. It's entirely possible that he added the "As far as we've ever seen" so as not to confirm or deny that Walt will eventually try his own meth, but as I'm of the mindset that Walt sampling his own product is something that could very well happen in the final eight episodes, I'm choosing to believe there's a good chance there's a "yet" that could be tacked on to the end of that sentence. But his statement neither confirms nor denies it. Still, something to think about.
Earlier in the interview, he talks about some comments that were made at the TCA press tour recently about Walter White being the end of the antihero genre, which has dominated television for the past 15 years or so. Here's Gilligan's response to that…
"I have not heard those quotes and they are very flattering indeed. However, I would say, as wonderfully flattering as they are, there's as dark as Walter White is and then somebody else may come along and move that line in the sand even further. Or maybe audiences will have had their fill of antiheroes and the pendulum will begin to swing the other way. Because the pendulum is always in motion, isn't it? It went from the 50s to a television landscape of heroes with white hats and villains with black hats, and then roundabout the early 80s with wonderful show, Hill Street Blues, the hats all got a little gray. Now we have protagonists starting really with Tony Soprano, who are the hero of the show, and yet the bad guy. And maybe the pendulum starts swinging back in the other direction. It's always in movement, it seems to be.
There's some other interesting discussion in there about the moral message of the series, the mixed tone of the show and how comedy factors in in its own dark way. And then there's Skyler and why some viewers don't like her. I also really like what Gilligan says about the writers room being a safe place, and how seemingly "dumb" ideas could lead to something great. It's that kind of open-mindedness that may have led to the greatness of the series. Finally, points to Dean Norris and Betsy Brandt for crashing the fan questions segment.
Breaking Bad returns Sunday, August 11 at 9:00 p.m. ET on AMC.