Breaking Bad Burning Questions Answered: Walt's Choice, the Cancer and Hank's Next Move
In the midseason finale of Breaking Bad‘s fifth and final season, Walt — in the wake of bidding Jesse adieu, really bidding Mike adieu and realizing just how much green he and Skyler had amassed — announced to his wife, “I’m out.” And though we never saw any “break-up” scene between the world’s very best meth cook and Lydia, his international distributor, series boss Vince Gilligan suspects the former chemistry teach was being honest.
“We can either take him at his word or not — he is of course infamous for being one of the world’s greatest liars — but I tend to believe, personally, that he was telling [Skyler] the truth when he told her that,” Gilligan shared with TVLine during a Tuesday press conference call.
That said, we might not have seen Walt’s very final cook. “It’s hard to say,” Gilligan allows. “We’re still working out the final eight episodes [to air next summer on AMC], and my writers and I still don’t know how it’s all going to quite lay out…. But it’s looking like he’s out of the business, for sure.”
We then invited Gilligan to assure viewers that, despite Jesse’s lessened presence ever since quitting Mr. White’s crew, there is more Aaron Paul goodness ahead in the show’s final eight episodes. “Oh, he’s going to have plenty to do,” Gilligan attested. “It would not be the same show without Jesse Pinkman on it and Aaron’s wonderful contributions…. He’s still got a lot of stuff to do yet.”
Elsewhere during the press call, Gilligan reiterated that while he and his writers “have the broad strokes for the final eight” episodes, “There’s a lot left to figure out.” However he promises “resolution” and his team’s resolve to “swing for the fences” with this final arc of the story. Gilligan shrugged off follow-up movie talk (“None of that is even remotely on my radar”) and instead maintained that Walter’s story will be “contained” within the final eight hours. “We have freedom, carte blanche to … really go for it,” he said, “and that is what we intend to do.”
Other topics Gilligan addressed during the call:
SHOULD MIKE HAVE BEEN MORE WARY OF WALTER DURING THEIR FINAL MEET-UP? | “For Mike, that was a moment of [realizing], ‘This guy was a little more dangerous than I thought he was,’” Gilligan notes. “Turning his back on Walt was probably a bad idea, but it was born of Mike having a lot on his mind” — including going on the lam and never seeing his beloved granddaughter again. Plus, Gilligan reminds, “Going into that scene, Walt was the person who warned Mike that the cops were coming for him…. so they seemed to be… strange bedfellows, but nonetheless on the same side.”
WHAT WILL HANK DO WITH HIS EPIPHANY THAT WALT IS HEISENBERG? | “That is the big question [and] the subject of great debate amongst the seven writers, myself included,” Gilligan admits. “Does he walk right out and shoot him…? Do you keep your cards close to the vest? Are you able to control the emotions you feel? Are you in a state of shock?” Pointing out that Hank’s brother-in-law is a “man who he loves and has brotherly love and affection for,” Gilligan asks: “How does one take it all in and process it in a mere matter of seconds?” As for having Hank make the discovery while otherwise indisposed on the porcelain throne, Gilligan says, “We like to try to change things up.” Having ended previous seasons with the likes of a drug dealer delivering a brutal beat-down, a plane crash and Jesse shooting someone in the face, “We figured perhaps the most interesting ending would be perhaps, on the face of it, the least dramatic. A guy getting the revelation of his life while seated on the [toilet] felt ballsy in its own way.”
WHAT WAS WALT’S LATEST CANCER DIAGNOSIS? | One of the midseason finale’s two incredible montages featured Walt going in for a check up, but letting slip nary a clue as to what came of it. On this topic, though, Gilligan revealed almost nil: “The best way to put it is, We try never to have a scene that adds up to nothing.” Circling back to Walt’s career decision, he perhaps offers a hint by saying, “There were probably lots of good reasons for Walt to walk into the kitchen there and say, ‘I’m out.’ … It’s not for nothing that [hospital] scene is in there.”
DOES GILLIGAN FEEL PRESSURE TO DELIVER A ONE-SIZE-PLEASES-ALL SERIES FINALE NEXT SUMMER? | Knowing that acclaimed dramas such as The Sopranos and Lost have seen their legacies tarnished some by critiqued closers, Gilligan knows, “There’s no way to please everybody. In fact, the most dangerous thing is to try to come up with that ending that pleases the widest swath of people.” Still, that makes the writers’ job not a lick easier. “Emotionally speaking, it’s f–king anvils hanging over us!” Gilligan admits with a laugh. “It’s like the idea that the last batter to get struck out is to blame for the team’s entire loss. So yes, the ending will be judged with more scrutiny than any of the 61 episodes that come before it.”