I’m one of the many that thought that the way Breaking Bad ended was perfect. FTN’s own Andy McCarroll has a kickass review here. But before they settled on the fitting conclusion they kicked around and considered a few others. Series creator Vince Gilligan talked to Entertainment Weekly recently and revealed a few other ways that the epic series could have ended.
On choosing an ending that gave Walt a bit of redemption:
“We didn’t feel an absolute need for Walt to expire at the end of the show. Our gut told us it was right. As the writers and I worked through all these different possibilities, it felt right, but I don’t think it was a necessity for us. There was a version we kicked around where Walt is the only one who survives, and he’s standing among the wreckage and his whole family is destroyed. That would be a very powerful ending but very much a kick-in-the-teeth kind of ending for the viewers. We talked about a version where Jesse kills Walt. We talked about a version where Walt more or less gets away with it. There’s no right or wrong way to do this job — it’s just a matter of: You get as many smart people around you as possible in the writers room, and I was very lucky to have that. And when our gut told us we had it, we wrote it, and I guess our gut told us that it would feel satisfying for Walt to at least begin to make amends for his life and for all the sadness and misery wrought upon his family and his friends. Walt is never going to redeem himself. He’s just too far down the road to damnation. But at least he takes a few steps along that path. And I think more importantly for him than that is the fact that he accomplishes what he set out to accomplish way back in the first episode: He leaves his family just a ton of money. Of course, Walt for years now has been looking through the wrong end of the telescope. … For years now, he thought if he makes his family financially sound — that’s really all he has to do as a man, as a provider, and as a father. They’re going to walk away with just shy of 10 million in cash, because of Walt’s machinations with Gretchen (Jessica Hecht) and Elliott (Adam Godley). But on the other hand, the family emotionally is scarred forever. So it’s a real mixed message at the end. Walt has failed on so many levels, but he has managed to do the one thing he set out to do, which is a victory. He has managed to make his family financially sound in his absence, and that was really the only thing he set out to do in that first episode. So, mission accomplished.”
As for the decision to spare Jesse and give him an open ending:
“We found over the years that the way we can please the majority of the audience most of the time is to tune out as much extraneous factors as possible and please the eight of us in the writers room. If we can make ourselves happy day in and day out, we had a pretty good chance of making most viewers happy as well, and that’s what held us in good stead for six years. With that in mind, all [of us] in the writers room just loved Jesse (Aaron Paul) and we just figured he had gotten in way over his head. When you think of it, he didn’t really have a chance in the early days. Walt said, ‘You either help me cook meth and sell it, or else I’ll turn you in to the DEA.’ So this poor kid, based on a couple of really bad decisions he made early on, has been paying through the nose spiritually and physically and mentally and emotionally. In every which way, he’s just been paying the piper, and we just figured it felt right for him to get away. It would have been such a bummer for us, as the first fans of the show, for Jesse to have to pay with his life ultimately.”
On what happens to Jesse now:
“We always felt like the viewers desired Jesse to get away. And it’s up to the individual viewer to decide what happens next for Jesse. Some people might think, ‘Well, he probably got two miles down the road before the cops nailed him.’ But I prefer to believe that he got away, and he’s got a long road to recovery ahead, in a sense of being held prisoner in a dungeon for the last six months and being beaten to within an inch of his life and watching Andrea be shot. All these terrible things he’s witnessed are going to scar him as well, but the romantic in me wants to believe that he gets away with it and moves to Alaska and has a peaceful life communing with nature.”
On whether the writers ever considered Jesse shooting Walt:
“We talked about Jesse taking Walt up on his offer to kill him or Walt turning around to find Jesse had a gun on him. We talked about every permutation we could conceive of, and we went the way we went ultimately because the bloodlust had been satiated prior to that moment by seeing Jesse throttle Todd (Jesse Plemons) to death. That’s what the writers wanted to see. Todd is actually in a weird way kind of likable, but he just had to go. Opie had to go. Ricky Hitler, as we like to call him. I think the whole world is better off without that group of characters. So having satisfied that, it felt to us like, ‘Jesse is not a killer.’ This poor guy has wound up having to kill over and over again. The first time he did it was to save Mr. White as well as himself, and it’s not a natural fit for him, and it’s something that’s stolen a big, important piece of his soul. And we thought to ourselves, ‘You know what? Let it end with Todd. Let that be the last person this kid ever kills. Let him go on from here to have a decent life.’ And also, he’s got reason enough to kill Walt. He’s got reason enough to be murderously angry at him. But he had said a long time ago, in a previous episode, ‘I’m never doing what you tell me to do ever again,’ so when he says no and drops the gun and says, ‘Do it yourself,’ to Mr. White, it’s as much a refusal to do what Walt tells him. He’s just not going to make Walt happy anymore. It’s not about, ‘I’m not still angry enough to murder you.’ Rather, it’s, ‘You want this, and therefore I’m not giving it to you.’”
Finally On how he feels now about ending the show just as it was surging in popularity:
“Every story has its running time, and it’s just hard in television to know what that running length should amount to, and I feel very happy and satisfied by the fact that we’re wrapping up now. I can’t even believe that the ratings have increased with each episode — I just think it’s wonderful — and people have asked me, ‘Does it make you want to go on and do a bunch more episodes now?’ Just the opposite. It makes me think, through quite a bit of good luck being involved, we really did pick the right moment to exit the stage, and I feel even more confident of that now than I did before.”
What other ways did you think the show could have ended? What do you think about the alternate versions that Gilligan mentioned?
There’s more stuff in the interview to check out if you’re a fan of the show at EW.
Source: Entertainment Weekly