‘Breaking Bad’s Creator Vince Gilligan Wants a Series End Date

by | May 20, 2010 at 6:40 PM | Breaking Bad, Finales 2010

Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad (AMC)

Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad (AMC)

With four episodes remaining in what’s been a truly exceptional season of ‘Breaking Bad,’ series creator Vince Gilligan has one very clear objective in mind: the endgame.

As season three draws to a close with a fourth season likely in the works, Gilligan says being given a specific end date – similar to what ABC did for Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse on ‘Lost‘ – would allow him and his staff to work toward a definitive story arc, ultimately making for a more satisfying series finale both to fans, and himself.

“My hope for the future is to know exactly how long we have left,” he says. “If you think about it, it’s sort of like Walter White’s situation upon learning that he has terminal cancer, the blast of clarity that he receives learning how long he has left. A similar blast of clarity would help my writers and I do our jobs better.”

In addition to sharing his ideas for the continuation of the Emmy-winning AMC drama, Gilligan walked us through what to expect from season three’s June finale, and why he was so nervous to sit in the director’s chair again.

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What were the high points of the season? I would definitely say that there were many high points of the season — episodes 6 and 7, in which our character Hank comes as close as he’s ever been to catching Walt in the act of cooking meth. And then the following episode in which Hank gets into a wild shoot out with our two Mexican cartel cousins. Coming up at the end of the season we have episodes 12 and 13. Some very dramatic things happen in episodes 12 and 13 that I don’t want to give away just yet. I am very excited for viewers to experience those episodes. Episode 10, which has not aired yet, was directed by Rian Johnson. He was a favorite feature director of mine and I’m very interested to see what the audience thinks of his episode. It was a very unique episode and I’m very excited to see people’s reactions to it.

Do you have a favorite episode, line, or scene from this season? If so – what? It’s like a parent choosing a favorite child. You don’t want to do it because you don’t want to leave any of the others out. There are so many great moments, I’m so proud of all of my writers and all of my directors. They came up with some very fine moments. And our actors did so wonderfully making them come to life. To pick a favorite moment would be very hard for me. Not to pass the buck on that question, but I couldn’t narrow it down to just one or two.

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Take us inside your approach to the finale, and what you wanted to accomplish. Well first of all, because I was directing the finale I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of my crew. The interesting thing for me was that I had not directed an episode of Breaking Bad since the pilot. And I had 16 days to direct that hour of television. It was very extravagant to have that much time. Every episode since the pilot has been shot in 8 days. I had never directed an episode of television in 8 days before. I was very worried that I would not make it through those 8 days and get everything I needed. As the director, I wanted to be a good leader for my crew. I have to say the episode came out very well and I’m very proud of it, but it was a humbling experience. I was racing downhill, being chased by giant boulders, running for my life. That’s what it feels like to be directing something under such an intense time pressure. Fortunately for me I have the best crew in television. The best Director of Photography, Michael Slovis, and the best actors on television, including Bryan Cranston, who all helped me get through the days. I can’t take credit for how well the episode turned out. It was very much a group effort.

What should fans look forward to next season? And if you haven’t gotten that far yet…what would your dream season be? I definitely haven’t gotten that far yet. I am taking a little break right now that season 3 has ended. As I do this interview we just finished doing our final sound and music mix about a week ago. I’m taking a little time off right now. Having said that, the main thing I would like in the future of Breaking Bad is to have a solid idea of when the series is ending. That is a question that is unanswerable right now. If we knew when the show were to end I think it would make for a better series finale because our writers could write for a specific idea. My hope for the future is to know exactly how long we have left. If you think about it, it’s sort of like Walter White’s situation upon learning that he has terminal cancer, the blast of clarity that he receives learning how long he has left. A similar blast of clarity would help my writers and I do our jobs better. That would be my wish going forward in the future.