Completing one of the most acclaimed drama series of all time is no easy task. There are passionate fans to please, elaborate narrative threads to wrap up, and certainly – how Showrunner, screenwriter, producer, etc. – be truly happy with the end result. In the case of Vince Gilligan, the creator of breaking BadAdded to all of this was the agony of starting the show’s final season with a mystery flash forward without him or anyone knowing exactly how the story would get this far.
In a recent interview with diversityon the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the end of breaking BadVince Gilligan said that he was “completely terrified” for months, racking his brain trying to figure out what the machine gun that Walter White (Bryan Cranston) was for at the start of the first episode of the fifth and final season was for.
“One of the stupidest things I ever did in my career was to entertain the idea of Walter White buying a machine gun when we didn’t know what he was going to do with it. “We had no idea,” the Emmy winner admitted. “We were in the writers’ room all day and I was banging my head against the wall. Not enough to hurt me, but enough to let go of my ideas. And everyone was worried about me.”
The above episode begins with a flash forward in which we see a lonely and bearded Walt eating at a picnic area. It’s his 52nd birthday and he chats briefly with the waitress until a customer catches his attention on the way to the toilet. He follows him to the sink and the mysterious character gives him the keys to a car. Minutes later, Walt goes to the parking lot and opens the trunk of a Cadillac, which contains a machine gun with ammunition and instructions. The protagonist closes the trunk again and the flash forward ends.
“We didn’t know where it was going,” Gilligan insisted. “It’s surprising how little we knew. I was a little arrogant and thought we would manage. “We still have 16 episodes until the end. ‘We can do it'”.
Luckily, the author and his team actually found the answer and gave us a spectacular (particularly satisfying) showdown in the final episode of breaking Bad. But initially, the unbearable fear of not finding a valid explanation for the gun problem led Gilligan to consider throwing in the towel.
“By the time there were six or seven episodes left, we still hadn’t figured out where we wanted to go with the machine gun. I remember saying, “Just as a mental exercise, let’s pretend we never did the machine gun thing.” I was very scared, but my writers held me to my commitment. “They insisted we had to deal with the machine gun,” he recalled.
Vince Gilligan is currently preparing a science fiction series for Apple TV Plus. And if he learned something from the experience with the machine gun that he can apply to his next projects, then it’s not too much to bet on flash forward. At least not so blindly. “For anyone reading this who imagines a career like this Showrunner, don’t do it like that! “It is painful and frightening,” he emphasized.
All episodes of breaking Bad and from him Spin-off Better Call Saul They are currently available on Netflix.