Breaking Bad Pilot Script

The first vision of Heisenberg comes within the first ten pages of Vince Gilligan‘s pilot script. That’s how gracefully orchestrated Breaking Bad is.

First we’re introduced to Underpants, then we get an Lester Burnham redux of suburban ennui through the failed masturbatory morning of a bland white guy who’s exhausted by The American Dream, and then we get the first whiffs of Falling Down as Walter White airballs his Stand and Deliver moment. Leaving a petulant classroom behind, something magical happens: the show drifts Noir for just a minute, and we get to see Heisenberg — all the evil that Walt will become — banging his fist behind a glint in the chemistry teacher’s eye.

(Spoilers for Breaking Bad at the end of this post. You’re safe through the video, though.)

Another teacher described as “attractive without being pretty. Sexy, more like,” gives Walt (and us) a view of her back as she scores a soda from the lounge vending machine, and amid his boredom, Walt wishes her a happy birthday. How’d he know it was her birthday? He just did, no need to wink. Continuing the flirtation, she lights up a cigarette, and feeding a fetal Heisenberg, he plays it other-side-of-the-pillow cool as he promises not to narc. Something dangerous — yet fleeting — has just entered his life. So have we.

It’s not surprising that the script for the pilot is excellent, but it’s a little surprising to know how hellaciously fun it is to read (which you can do here). Gilligan’s language is slick and pulpy. Aggressively familiar. A mordant artifact to remind us just how bad Walt had it before he got the cancer diagnosis.

Obviously the script is for educational purposes only (and what an education is offers). Cinephilia has more on it, as well as some other intriguing Bad tidbits that should shore up the sadness of leaving the show behind.

To do my part on that front, here’s the much-shared video of Aaron Paul messing up during his audition. It’s a good thing they didn’t hold it against him.

Fascinating artifacts, reading the pilot script and watching auditions like this are a strange reminder of all the people and things associated with the show that used to be pure. In the end, not even crystal blue was 100%, though.

At the end of the first, unknown-to-us introduction to Heisenberg, he jokes that the cancer stick (yup) the woman is clandestinely enjoying will kill her. She laughs back, “Something always does.”

Talk about playing the long game.


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