There is no show I look forward to more each week than Breaking Bad. And it’s been a long week since the last episode. I am so pumped for the premiere on Sunday, that I really had no business being at this panel filled with cryptic teases. What’s going on in Germany? What that about gray matter? And most importantly, what is the context of Jesse’s line “Magnets, bitch!”
Creator Vince Gilligan, Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Dean Norris, Anna Gunn, Jonathan Banks, R.J. Mitte, and Betsy Brandt were on hand to address these questions without ever actually answering any of them. Hit the jump for the bullet point recap.
- Norris came out on stage in some kind of cross-dressing cosplay (Xena, I guess?). Paul and Cranston came out in their yellow jumpsuits. Paul and Cranston made the much better choice, since they could just strip down to normal clothes. Norris was stuck in his ill-fitting costume for the whole panel.
- It was hard for the writers to let go of a character as great as Gus, but Gilligan has rebounded: “In season five, we’ve got a new king.” King Heisenberg, y’all.
- Cranston knows that his character’s journey can’t end well, going so far as to say, “Perhaps the happy ending would be that he dies.” But the cast doesn’t know what Gilligan has in store for their characters.
- Last we checked, Walt’s cancer is in a state of remission. Gilligan wonders aloud whether that will still be the case heading into season 5: “Who’s to say?” Cranston chides Gilligan, “You are.”
- Paul points out how Jesse has already come to Walt’s house with a gun, ready to kill him. If he ever finds out what Walt did to Jane and Brock, it is unlikely that he’ll be able to forgive and forget.
- Gilligan on how he sees Skyler growing this season: “Sometimes you gotta plant your flag and stand your ground. I think we might see Skyler do that this season.”
- Ever the stand-up guy, Gilligan goes out of his way to credit his staff of six writers for helping him craft such a perfect narrative. Gilligan explains, “It is a very organic, living process to come up with these stories.” The famous example is that Jesse was supposed to die at the end of season one, but that obviously changed. The role of Mike also expanded well beyond what Gilligan planned before casting Banks.
- An audience member shouted something. I didn’t hear what he said, but Paul responded with his first requisite, “Bitch!” [Edit: The audience member shouted, "This is my own private domicile and I will not be harassed!" Which makes Paul's response very appropriate. Thanks for the assist, commenter Keith.]
- Gilligan promises, “You’re going to hear more German than you will Spanish this season.” There is a German company that bankrolled Gus’s operations and becomes much more involved in the new season. Some portion of the second episode takes place in Hanover, Germany.
- A former associate of Gus will “make things interesting” for Walt and Jesse.
- This season is about “winning, what it means to stay on top.” Gilligan invokes a story about Alexander the Great. Once Alexander conquered the known world, he wept. Cranston asks if the series will simply end on him weeping.
- Cranston compares the violent premiere of season 4 to Sunday night’s comparably docile premiere. Cranston says, “It’s intellectual.” The panel adds that it’s one of the funnier Breaking Bad episodes in some time. Aaron Paul apparently has the line of the episode: “Magnets, bitch!”
- There is an expansion of the core group, such that Walt and Jesse have to let new folk in on their secret. Walt says they learn the lesson “You are only as strong as your weakest link” the hard way in the middle of season 5.
- Gilligan says Saul may be the only character in the show who “not only knows who he is… but actually enjoys this world.” Well, until now. Saul is in the deep end with Walter, which turned out to be more than he bargained for.
- Dean Norris math: “Hank + Walt = Epic”.
- The opening teaser in the season premiere is apparently “the most revealing teaser” they’ve ever done. Of course, even though so much information is in the frame, the viewer will not have the knowledge to process it all.
- There are no bottle episodes this season. But Episode 5 is “whatever the polar opposite of a bottle episode is.” It is also the only episode that has ever shot outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico. That’s right, they ventured over to Santa Fe, New Mexico!
- Cranston claims that if Breaking Bad successfully changes the main character from a good guy to completely bad, it will be the first time that any television show has accomplished that.
- Cranston believes the point of no return for Walt’s soul was the very first episode. Gilligan disagrees slightly, forgiving Walt’s desperation in the pilot. Gilligan points to episode 4, when Walt turns down the no-strings attached offer to pay for his treatment without cooking meth.
- The interest in gray matter from the first season will return in the first 8 episodes of season five.
- As the end of Breaking Bad approaches, Gilligan was asked what he would like to do next. He doesn’t know exactly, but hopes “this is not the highlight of my career.” Gilligan recognizes how tough it will be to top Breaking Bad, which he illustrated with a line from an upcoming episode: “When you win the lottery, the first thing you don’t do after you win $10 million is go out and buy another lottery ticket.” Whatever he does next, Gilligan would love to pursue both TV and movies.
Comes Sunday, Breaking Bad reclaims its throne as the best show on television. I can’t wait.
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