Try as we might to avoid such a thing, the end of Breaking Bad will eventually come, and with its approach comes all manner of speculation as to what, exactly, series creator Vince Gilligan and his writers have up their sleeves for everyone’s favorite sickly-school-teacher-turned-meth-kingpin, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and his on-again, off-again partner-in-crime, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul).
If you are NOT caught up on the events of Breaking Bad - READ NO FURTHER.
The first half of season 5 left fans to deal with not only the flash-forward of a bearded and bespectacled Walt at the early stages of what appeared to be an endgame, but also the fact that his tenacious brother-in-law Hank (Dean Norris) had stumbled upon some convincing evidence that Heisenberg was far closer than he’d ever imagined. Those two scenes certainly left the audience with plenty to ponder, as the long wait for the second half of season 5 began.
Now, in an interview he recently gave to Vulture, Gilligan goes into some detail as to what can be expected in the final 8 episodes. He also addresses his stance on the notion of justice finding Walt, what films he and his writers have taken cues from, and how the ending – which is still a work in progress – will certainly have its fair share of detractors.
“We’re not gonna please everyone, we’re not gonna please everyone…This is what I keep telling myself so I can sleep at night. It’s going to be polarizing no matter how you slice it, but you don’t want 10 percent to say it was great and 90 percent to say it [sucked]. You want those numbers to be reversed.”
Knowing that there will certainly be a lot riding on the final moments of one of the most talked-about and celebrated series in the last decade, Gilligan goes on to say that he and his writers have taken considerable inspiration from films like Casablanca – a film with an ending, Gilligan calls “pretty perfect.” While Breaking Bad isn’t necessarily heading toward a similar resolution, it will be striving to achieve “that kind of satisfaction.”
“No one gets everything they wanted. The guy doesn’t get the girl, but he has the satisfaction of knowing she wants him. And he doesn’t get her because he has to save the free world. What better ending is there than that?”
Of course, that end will, by and large, have to do with just what kind of comeuppance (if any) is waiting for Walt, as the series draws to a close. Gilligan is very clear on what his personal view on the matter is, but maintains that’s not always the way things work out.
“I’m very cornball in my own view of the world. It just makes sense to me that bad people should get punished and good people should be rewarded. I know it doesn’t work like that in real life, but there’s always that yearning. Oddly enough, I don’t feel any real pressure to pay off the characters, morally speaking.
He also mentions that, in addition to answering the question of whether or not Walt will face justice, is the need for all of the other characters to be given a proper send off – which could mean just about anything for the likes of Skyler (Anna Gunn), Walt Jr. (R.J. Mitte) and newcomers, Lydia (Laura Fraser) and Todd (Jesse Plemons) – but when it comes to Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), Gilligan all but assures his survival.
“Sometimes it’s hard to give them all their due and make them all wrap up beautifully. That’s another big fear I have. I like to think of Saul as a cockroach in the best possible way. This is a guy who’s going to survive while the rest of us have been nuked into annihilation. He’ll be the worst-dressed cockroach in the world.”
Whatever happens, come the final episode, Gilligan assures us that the series will reach a definitive conclusion. Whether that means Hank finally catches his man, or Walter goes on to annually assemble bacon into higher and higher digits remains to be seen. And while that means there won’t be a Breaking Bad movie to wrap things up, there may be one final, “overt tip of the hat” to one of the greatest films of all time, The Godfather – which the series “shamelessly cribs from,” according to Gilligan.
“Rightly or wrongly, there will be a conclusive ending. Our story from the beginning has been designed to be close-ended. It’s very much designed to have a beginning, middle, and end and then to exist no more.”
While those last three words may be the most depressing TV fans have heard in a long while, we can all look forward to the inevitable debate, discussion and analysis of the series’ finale across all corners of the Internet come this summer. And while he had to rescind an earlier announcement of when the season will kick off, Aaron Paul has since stated that Breaking Bad begins before the end of the summer — so plan accordingly.