Creator Vince Gilligan Discusses BREAKING BAD Series Finale; Says It Will Be Polarizing and Makes Comparisons to CASABLANCA’s Ending

     January 3, 2013


AMC’s Breaking Bad is one of the best shows we’re likely ever to see on television, and it will be a sad, sad day when the series wraps up its final season later this summer.  It seems like an impossible feat in hindsight, but there’s nary a bad episode to be found in Breaking Bad’s entire four and a half season run as creator/showrunner Vince Gilligan has magically been able to maintain the show’s ridiculously high quality for nearly five years now.  As such, Breaking Bad’s final run of episodes comes with some impossible-to-meet expectations.

As Gilligan and his crew are busy scripting the show’s concluding eight episodes, the showrunner recently spoke up about his approach to the series finale and addressed those dangerously high expectations.  Hit the jump to see what he had to say.

vince-gilligan-breaking-badSpeaking with Vulture, Gilligan admitted that the writers room has been taking twice as long as normal (three and a half weeks) to break each of the final episodes.  They know the pressure is on, but Gilligan also knows that there will inevitably be people who don’t like how the story ends:

“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 ass. You want those numbers to be reversed.”

At the time of the interview Gilligan was busy finishing up the story for the third to last episode, but he’s upfront about the fact that he hasn’t had a clear plan for the series finale all along:

“I had this strange confidence in the beginning that I had an idea [for the ending] that was sound,” he said of Walt’s fate. “But I look back at the life of the series and realize I cycled through so many possible endings, it would be disingenuous to say I had always had it figured out. It has evolved in the last five years and probably has some evolving left to do… I read interviews with showrunners all the time who say, ‘I know exactly where this thing is headed.’ I always find that very interesting, and I don’t doubt them for a minute. It’s just I can’t see my way clear to do that because the characters in Breaking Bad are in a state of constant change by design,” he said. “When a character will be a different person five or six or ten or sixteen episodes from now, it’s hard to predict the future.”

breaking-bad-series-finaleWhen looking back on other famous endings, Gilligan sees the conclusion of Casablanca as pretty perfect:

“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?” Gilligan said. “I’m not saying we’re going to approach that or reach in that direction. Our story doesn’t line up [with Casablanca]. But we’re looking for that kind of satisfaction.”

In crafting the show’s finale, Gilligan reveals that the writers have indeed been looking to the series’ pilot:

“Are there echoes of the beginning that we should have in the end? There’s a certain kind of circularity that might be pleasing,” Gilligan said. “We think a lot about that, in fact.”

breaking-bad-series-finale-bob-odenkirkGilligan also talked about wanting to give a satisfying conclusion to all the show’s characters, not just Walt and Jesse:

“Sometimes it’s hard to give them all their due and make them all wrap up beautifully. That’s another big fear I have,” he said. One outcome that’s probably safe to assume? Saul will survive. “I like to think of Saul as a cockroach in the best possible way,” Gilligan said. “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.”

Saul’s a character that I feel is important to have some sort of conclusion, but I won’t necessarily be angry at Gilligan if they fail to wrap up the mystery of Walt Jr.’s breakfast obsession.

Finally, the showrunner confirmed that the series finale will be the last we see of Breaking Bad.  Those holding out hope for a movie down the road shouldn’t hold their breath:

“Rightly or wrongly, there will be a conclusive ending,” he told me. “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.”

The final eight episodes of Breaking Bad will start airing on AMC in July.  Given how incredible the series has been thus far, I’m inclined to believe that Gilligan will more than deliver when the show’s finale airs.