Vince Gilligan says he started thinking in earnest about the endgame for “Breaking Bad” during the show’s fourth season, but he and his fellow writers didn’t arrive at the show’s ending until much later. Later, even, than when the Season 5 premiere flashed forward to Walt buying a machine gun.
“Out of cockiness or stupidity, 16 episodes from the end, we had Walter White [Bryan Cranston] show up in a beard, long hair, and a new set of glasses, buying an M60 machine gun in a Denny’s parking lot,” Gilligan says in an interview with EW. “We didn’t really know how we were going to get to that story point — we didn’t even know what that meant or what Walt was going to use that machine gun for.
“So that was kind of ill-advised. I wouldn’t recommend to my fellow showrunners doing that unless you really know where it’s all headed.”
Ideas the writers considered and rejected including Walt “shoot[ing] the s*** out of the jail” in Albuquerque to spring Jesse (Aaron Paul) from lockup and a “‘Wild Bunch’ bloodbath of an ending” in which every major character would have died, Gilligan says.
“But you live with those ideas for a while and you think, ‘What do we need to kill all these characters for?'” he adds “Just because an ending is dramatic or perhaps overly dramatic does not ensure that it will be satisfying. We thought to ourselves, ‘Let’s just go with what feels right to us.’ And there’s no mathematics to this. You just have to feel your way through it blindly and go with your gut, and that’s what we did.”
The “Breaking Bad” finale had a lot of fans and more than a few detractors as well. But Gilligan says he wouldn’t change anything about either the way it turned out or the “brick by brick” approach he and the writers took in building the story — which they’re doing again in the spinoff “Better Call Saul.”
“Very often in the writers’ room on ‘Breaking Bad’ — sometimes we fall into the same trap on ‘Better Call Saul’ — we say to ourselves, ‘Gee, let’s think as far ahead as possible. Let’s think 10, 12 episodes out if we can. Where are we heading here on the macro scale, in the broadest possible strokes?'” Gilligan says. “Sometimes it’s the opposite of not being able to see the forest through the trees; sometimes it’s the reverse of that and you find yourself kind of confused and disoriented because you’re thinking too far ahead. … You keep reminding yourself: Sometimes micro is more important than macro.”