As sad as losing Breaking Bad the show is, losing Breaking Bad the podcast will hurt fans just as much. In the weekly audio show, creator Vince Gilligan and various people involved with Breaking Bad would talk about both the creative, acting, and filmmaking decisions made episode-by-episode.
After the finale this weekend, Gilligan unmuted himself from weeks of self-censoring for the podcast’s episode 5-16. With an AMC (or possibly Sony?) executive joining the show this week, Gilligan revealed a bunch of alternative plots that he initially pitched before powers-that-be determined they were too dark:
- Skylar would’ve run away with Walt (utilizing the cleaner) before regretting the decision enough that she killed herself during one layover on the road.
- Walt Jr. would’ve been killed by the initial “villain.” This happens in an alternate universe where this first Walt adversary killed Jesse, causing Walt to go insane for revenge. He gets the adversary, locks him up in a basement where he rigs a device that would shoot the villain if he moved from his spot (tripwire, guns, etc.). Walt basically isn’t ready to go all the way and wants the villain to kill himself. However, in the meantime, he’s totally fine with torture and begins removing bits of him starting at the toes. At some undisclosed point before the end, Walt Jr. hears this guy in pain and investigates the basement. He then brings the guy some water, the guy awakes from the pain just enough to recognize it’s a person who must be important to Walt… then trips the wire.
- The S5 auto-gun was thought of ever before Uncle Jack and the Nazis. So its intended targets were vast and varied—police, a bus full of prisoners, etc. But “as bad of a guy as Walt is, we didn’t want to see him use it on good guys. It had to be on someone worse than him,” Gilligan said.
- In Walt’s post-vacuum escape life, he could’ve had a new wife, taught chemistry at some rural school or even become a genuine cook (Gilligan fondly recalls wanting a scene with Walt cooking peanut brittle with extreme precision).
- Gilligan has mentioned this on previous podcasts, but he went into greater detail here: a young illness-stricken fan of Breaking Bad sparked the idea for Gretchen and Elliot to pop back up. Gilligan visited the fan in the hospital, asked him if he wanted to see the finale (kid said no), and then inquired what part of the world he wanted to know more about. His answer? Additional background on Gretchen and Elliot.
In total, Gilligan said there were hundreds or thousands of unused ideas. His philosophy was clearly “no idea was a bad one” and everything could’ve been put on the table—a lucrative approach to a collaborative writers’ room I’d think. He joked that “hopefully listeners are saying these are terrible ideas” because any other reaction would make him question what he ultimately put out (that Skylar thing would’ve been the show’s most devastating moment though, wow). At any rate, his willingness to share some of these is encouraging for any young writer—there’s no need to be perfect at first pass. Flexibility and revision lead to a better end product. Or, as Killer Mike put it during his Breaking Bad review, “that’s what writers do, they smoke weed and tweak ideas.”