The 9 Biggest Revelations About ‘Breaking Bad’ We Learned From Vince Gilligan Interviews This Week

So Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan has just been running around all over the place talking about the show like a Chatty Patty, which is perfectly fine with us Breaking Bad obsessives. Naturally, we’ve devoured every interview he’s done we could find that’s been published this week and rounded up the nuggets we thought were the most interesting to share with you. You’re welcome!

— They did not consider working Leaves of Grass back into the storyline when Gale originally introduced the book in season three. From an interview with Hitfix:

Way back when, when Gale gave Walt the book, it is there, in that episode where Gale talks to Walt about Walt Whitman, he recites the poem, “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer,” and the next scene we see after their first cook together is Walt reading that very book. To be honest, at the time we came up with that episode two seasons back, we were not thinking about that book playing in the very important way that it plays. But having said that, it seems to fit right in. It was always in our mind that that was a gift from Gale, so we figured why wouldn’t he have written something like that?

— Walt really DID get out of the meth operation. Probably. From Rolling Stone:

We are oddly still working that out. In my mind, Walt is out, but the exact specifics of how he extricated himself – basically, the boss coming in one day in to the boardroom, so to speak, and saying to his inner circle, “Well, this is it for me. I’m retiring.” The specifics of that, so to speak, are something that’s still a bit of a work in progress, and six writers and myself are back now in the room working out the final eight episodes. That is one of the things that I hate to even admit how many hours we spent talking about, just dozens of hours already talking about how Walt extricates himself. At the point of the end of that last episode, it’s already happened, but we’re talking about, “In the final eight – do we need to show that moment of him quitting? Do we not?” I don’t feel like I’m giving anything away to say that we still don’t know ourselves. We’re still talking all that through.

— We can expect to see the Neo Nazi gang again. Again, from Rolling Stone:

Well, not to give too much away, but yeah, you know. Once you see a Nazi [laughs] you figure you may well see that Nazi again, especially when the head Nazi is played by an actor as wonderful as Michael Bowen.

— The writers have NOT nailed down the flash-forward (and thus the ending) yet. Once more, from Rolling Stone:

We’ve got thoughts on that subject, but we surprisingly don’t have that nailed down as much as you might expect. We go back and forth about that all the time. So we are really in a state of flux right now. We are in a decidedly undecided state … Our prime directive here – our mandate – is to make the ending as satisfying and as dramatic as possible. To that end, we’ve got a lot of good ideas, I feel, but any minute that a better idea comes along, we’ll jettison the good idea for the better idea, no matter where it may take us. So could go either way. Could wind up being exactly that, or could be something different.

— Flynn’s Favorite Breakfast food, from an AMC Interview:

Flynn’s favorite breakfast food I would think is a toss-up between some form of dry cereal or bacon. Flynn definitely loves his bacon, although definitely not vegetarian bacon — which tastes, of course, as we all know, like band-aids. Admittedly, you don’t keep a tally of how often you’ve seen Walter, Jr. eat breakfast. And then suddenly you turn around one day and you say, “My God, this kid. All he does is eat breakfast!” So, that amuses me and the other writers as well, greatly. The idea that Flynn or Walter, Jr. — depending on what mood we’re in we’ll call him one or the other — but Flynn’s love of breakfast indeed seems to know no bounds.

— Vince Gilligan tried to find a way to keep Jesse in the meth business after the kid got shot but it just wouldn’t work, from an interview with Salon.

When we came up with the thought of the boy being shot, we honestly did not realize that this was going to be the outcome. But it truly was. And as we moved forward, we had the damnedest time breaking the following episode. And then, the episode after that. Speaking for myself, here, I kept trying to push it back into a place of, “OK, Jesse’s really going to be upset about this. And there’s going to be hell to pay, but ultimately, he’s going to knuckle under and he’s going to keep working with Walt.” And we’ll get back to more or less the way it was. But it just wouldn’t go. You just couldn’t put that square peg in that round hole. And adding to that, by the time Aaron Paul came to me, we had sort of come to this realization amongst ourselves. When I saw Aaron, he said, “You know, with this ending, I don’t know how I can ever keep cooking. I don’t know how I can do that, how my character can do that.”

Which is very interesting because Aaron Paul is not a pushy actor in any way, shape or form. He’s wonderful, sweet and collaborative. This is the only time he was adamant, because he felt so strongly about it. And he was absolutely 100 percent right. And that helped inform our decision. So these characters, and sometimes the actors themselves, tell us where they will go and where they won’t. And you really cannot lead them around by the nose. You have to let them tell you where they’re going. Otherwise, everyone’s miserable.

— Though he’s known the song for 30 years, Vince Gilligan only thought to use “Crystal Blue Persuasion” about six months ago. Again, from the Salon interview:

I came up with it about six months ago. I hate to say that. (laughs) I’ve known that song for most of my life, since I was a kid, since I heard Tommy James and the Shondells on the radio; I’ve heard that song three decades at least. I hate to admit that even though I knew that song, I was really late to the party on realizing that we should use it on the show. It was only about six months ago that I was driving to work, and I heard it come on the oldies station. Suddenly, I thought, “Jesus! This is so obvious, we’ve got to use ‘Crystal Blue Persuasion’!” How did I not think of this before? It was one of those moments. That’s why I hesitate to say how late in the show it was.

— In the first edit, whether Walt’s cancer had returned was more obvious. From an interview with Slate:

It’s funny, in the original execution of that episode, it was more clear what was going on—I won’t say in which way, and it might be in a way that surprises you. We got all the way to the ending of the episode, and we thought, “No, let’s change this. Let’s make it less clear.” The longer we’ve been doing this, the more I realize that I want the viewers to take as active a hand as possible in the show. I like moments of vagueness. I like moments of mystery. We always make a differentiation in the writers room between mystery and confusion. Mystery is almost always good. Confusion is always bad. You want to be mysterious but not confusing.
I want the viewers doing as much work as possible. I think they want to do as much work as possible, too, when they’re watching Breaking Bad, or when they’re watching a show like Breaking Bad. They want to be doing the math. There’s a wonderful old Billy Wilder quote: “Let the audience put 2 and 2 together so that it comes up with 4. Let them do that themselves, and they’ll love you forever.” Whether that’s true or not, I love the audience doing the math.

— The most bizarre Vince Gilligan quote in all of the interviews, from EW:

“We now have freedom to dispense with the timid storytelling we’ve been doing so far.”