In Part 3 of an three-part interview with Breaking Bad series creator Vince Gilligan based on fan questions, Vince talks about why Jesse wasn’t killed off in Season 1, whether or not he knows how the series will end, and why the time is right to end the show.
Q: Originally Jesse was supposed to be killed off in Season 1, but thankfully, he wasn’t. If he had, what trajectory did you have planned for the show? — Sickofsickness
A: Well, thankfully I never really got that far. I feel crazy saying this now, but I initially liked the idea of killing off Jesse so that Mr. White would feel very guilty and feel very pained at what he had caused to happen. I figured that that guilt and that pain would lead to some sort of drama, but honestly, I didn’t get much farther than that. I suppose probably what would have happened is that Jesse would have departed the scene and Walt would have felt the need to partner up with someone else. But my thoughts on this matter were a bit vague, and luckily we did away with the idea very quickly once we cast Aaron Paul. He’s such a wonderful young actor that as soon as we saw him on the set, playing against Bryan Cranston and holding his own with an actor that good, I came to realize at that point that it was truly a dumb idea to kill off this great character.
Q: Did you have an end in mind for Breaking Bad from the point you started writing it? — ahmedjoey10
A: I’d love to say that I’ve had the ending for Breaking Bad figured out for years now, but if I’m being honest, the answer is no. The best I can say is that I have hopes and dreams for the characters and desires as to where I want to see them at the end of it all. But as to how we get to those, I’m not quite sure. It may turn out that when my writers and I sit down to plot the last 16 episodes, we won’t not find a way to get everybody to the place that I want them to be at. I’m a bit nervous at the prospect of the last 16 episodes, but then again I’m nervous at the beginning of any big season and its incumbent upon us to end this series as we started it: as well as we can. The best way to achieve that is try to avoid preconceptions wherever possible and to tell the story the same way we’ve been telling it all along.
Q: Do the writers do any kind of team building events? — Aquaboy1976
A: I think sitting at a room day in and day out is a team building exercise in and of itself. Luckily we all enjoy each other’s company — if we didn’t, these long days sitting across a table staring at one another would be quite a chore! We keep the writers room stocked with a certain amount of jigsaw puzzles and Rubik’s cubes and art supplies and modeling clay and stuff for people to mess with with their hands while they’re thinking. It looks a bit like a kindergarten classroom. But it’s good for people to have their hands occupied while they think. We used to go out to lunch everyday, but I came to realize that with these long hours, people preferred to have a little down time. Sometimes the opposite of team building is required: alone time. I keep meaning to take everyone to the shooting range near our office in Burbank so we could pop off a few rounds, and maybe I could call it a team building exercise and write it off as a business expense.
Q: I would really love to know if Breaking Bad is the story you “had to tell to the world,” or did you find that it was simply a good idea that only took on such significance later on as a collaborative project? — alexcjm
A: I don’t think that in the early days of Breaking Bad that I particularly thought that it would wind up being as deep and rich a story as it has. I didn’t hold out much hope that it would even get on the air for one thing. I first was very intrigued by this main character who became Walter White, this law-abiding citizen who would suddenly decide to break the law. I don’t know if that character spoke to me, but he definitely interested me. Now the show has become much more meaningful to my life than I ever thought it would. I can say in hindsight it was story I am grateful for, because it feels to me now like it is a story that needed telling. And I feel fortunate that I was the one to get to tell it.
Q: Why are you ending Breaking Bad? — Ami Colon-Treyger
A: I want to start by saying that I don’t want Breaking Bad to end. This is the best, most satisfying job I’ve ever had and I’m sad to say that that will probably remain the case — this is probably the highlight of my career creatively. Therefore I don’t want it to end, but I feel that it has to. Breaking Bad was designed from the beginning as a very finite, close-ended story.
There’s only so far you can take a story about change and transformation. And as much as I love the show and as much as I don’t want it to end, I do want it to go out in a situation is as high as quality as possible. At a certain point, if I feel like we’re running out of story and if I feel like we’re starting to tread water, that would make me feel bad that I’m not presiding over a show that’s in peak condition dramatically. And I want Breaking Bad to end as it began, with people engaged and confounded by it. And I don’t want these wonderful viewers, many of whom are logged on as we speak, to ever get bored. Sometimes it’s better to leave a party too soon than too late.