"Breaking Bad" is a tragedy. The series often offsets the darkness with black comedy, but by the end, the tragedy outweighs the humor. The series' climatic, antepenultimate episode "Ozymandias" is named after the Percy Bysshe Shelley poem, the greatest written testament to man's hubris.
In the "Breaking Bad" pilot, after the not-so-humble chemistry teacher Walter White (Bryan Cranston) gets a cancer diagnosis, he decides to use his talents to cook meth. He says it's to leave money behind for his family, but it's just as much about getting ahead of a world he feels screwed him over. As we learn more about Walt, it becomes clear his bad decisions started long before the diagnosis and he squandered his potential, both in chemistry and to be a better man.
In the series finale "Felina," Walt manages to settle things as much as he can, but his story still ends the only way it could've been: him lying dead. At this point, Walt was such a monster it was hard to be too sad at his death. The closing song, Badfinger's "Baby Blue," pointedly opens with the lyric, "Guess I got what I deserved."
However, series creator Vince Gilligan revealed in a Reddit 'Ask Me Anything' that Walt's death was the moment that made him cry.
The End Of A Journey
The Reddit AMA took place in April 2015, shortly after the first season of "Breaking Bad" spin-off "Better Call Saul" wrapped up. When asked which "Breaking Bad" character's death affected him the most, Gilligan answered:
"I have to say the death of Walter White affected me the most, because what it represented was the end of the story and the completion of this seven-year journey we had taken together — the cast, crew, writers and directors of 'Breaking Bad.' That was the most affecting death to write. I actually teared up when I wrote it."
From Gilligan's answer, it's clear that the tears weren't so much about Walt's tragedy but what finishing the series meant to him. Making "Breaking Bad" was a long journey — Gilligan has talked before about how several networks turned down the show before it found a home at AMC. On that journey, he forged creative partnerships and secured his legacy as one of television's great writing talents. Getting to create something and see it through to fruition is a profound experience, one worthy of tears.
Gilligan added to his answer, "I think a close second [in terms of most affecting] was the death of Mike Ehrmantraut." Gilligan didn't elaborate on why he feels this way, but it's probably more to do with the context of the scene itself.
The Close Second
Mike (Jonathan Banks) was introduced at the end of "Breaking Bad" season 2 as a fixer of sorts, before being revealed later as the loyal enforcer of Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). After his boss' murder, Mike reluctantly keeps working with Walt to keep themselves both out of jail and financially secure. Mike dies in the season 5 episode, "Say My Name." After being made by the DEA, he decides to skip town. When he accuses Walt of screwing them all over with his thirst for power, Walt shoots him. Walt regrets the spur-of-the-moment murder but Mike doesn't let him get the last word ("Shut the f*** up and let me die in peace.")
Mike isn't much better than Walt — he's got just as much blood on his hands and didn't even have the specter of a terminal illness when he chose a life of crime. He's doing it to provide for his dead son's family. And he is ultimately a more likable character — his stoic professionalism is more endearing than Walt's know-it-all arrogance — but that counts only for so much. Still, this is probably Walt's worst murder because of how pointless it was. "Say My Name" writer-director Thomas Schnauz described it to Forbes as Walt's first murder done "out of passion."
This wasn't the end for Mike onscreen, though. He returned as a regular for "Better Call Saul," where we learned how he became the man he is in "Breaking Bad." He also cameoed in "El Camino," the 2019 epilogue film which reveals the post-series fate of Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). Gilligan co-created "Better Call Saul" with Peter Gould before he wrote and directed "El Camino." Even after he said goodbye to Walter White, he couldn't stay away from his baby for long.
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The post The Breaking Bad Scene That Brought Showrunner Vince Gilligan to Tears appeared first on /Film.