Vince Gilligan

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.)

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Breaking Bad Finale

The fifth season of Breaking Bad was all about anti-climax. That sounds bad, since we tend to think of climaxes as the best part of, ahem, several different things, and whatever comes after as an inevitable letdown. But after Season Four — wherein Walt engineered Gus Fring’s demise — the series lost its epic ambitions. Again, that’s not a bad thing. The fifth season demonstrated the impossibility of Walt’s transition back to civilian life. Once he’d gotten blood on his hands, he couldn’t wash it off. The question of how to live with stubbornly dirty hands drove this last season. It was an anti-climax that showed how difficult, complicated, and satisfying anti-climaxes can be. (This season’s climax, of course, was “Ozymandias.”) “Felina,” written and directed by Vince Gilligan, was the anticlimactic finale to an anticlimactic final season. It was also an extremely fitting one for the series. It showed Walter White, who made a (rather infamous) name for himself by producing the Southwest’s best crank and outsmarted his many, many enemies through his extreme methodicalness, closing up all the loose ends in his life. “Felina” was about Walter settling accounts: with Skyler, his children, Hank and Marie (in a way), Elliot and Gretchen, the Nazis, and, of course, Jesse. The machine gun he had in his trunk added just enough ambiguous tension throughout the episode to keep it from being a straightforward “Walter White visits his past” storyline. It also allowed to Gilligan showcase the chief strengths of the episode: its micro-detail-oriented plotting (the ricin!), its stomach-churning suspense (Walter framed like […]

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Walter White Dr House

Holy God, would this be an awesome buddy cop spin-off. It would be like an immovable object meeting another immovable object. Now, there’s no way that Walter White and Dr. House would ever actually team up, but we’re getting the next best thing (which also sounds like the next best thing to hit television). According to Variety, Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan and House creator David Shore are executive producing a new CBS series called Battle Creek – a show about two detectives (who couldn’t be more different!) fighting crappy budgets and dire situations in order to sweep the streets of the show’s namesake city in Michigan. Let’s see. CBS is a wildcard, but with antihero protagonists (assumption, but come on), an iconic American city and a deteriorating infrastructure, this fits the formula for prestige TV perfectly. No matter what, the potential created from these two master storytellers teaming up is through the bathtub-breaking roof.  Gilligan’s post-Breaking Bad project was always going to be cause for excitement, but this is answering the door to discover the pizza place accidentally made an extra pizza for you. Gilligan and Shore? That’s enough to make anyone feel better about Heisenberg’s reign of terror coming to an end.

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Breaking Bad Granite State

There was no way writer/director Peter Gould’s “Granite State” could top last week’s whirlwind. The writers may have known that, which is why yesterday’s installment was low-key by design — it’s the calm before the storm. Instead of the slowly churning and building dread the show offers at its best, the events of the episode were sped through — too quickly — to set up the circumstances for next week’s series finale (sob). (Kudos, by the way, to the Breaking Bad cast and crew for its Best Drama and Best Supporting Actress (Anna Gunn) Emmy wins. They’re long overdue — and still not enough.) Freedom dueled with greed in “Granite State,” and the latter won every freaking time. Todd, Lydia, and Walt were all given choices this episode, and their more craven selves prevailed at every turn.

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Breaking Bad Ozymandias

“Ozymandias” has got to be some kind of epic meta-dare. Vince Gilligan evokes Percy Shelly’s famous poem, in which the titular “king of kings” commands future generations, “Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” In Shelly’s telling, though, Ozymandias was an accomplished fool. By his haughty, fearsome decree, “Nothing beside remains. Round the decay/Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare/The lone and level sands stretch far away.” In creating and crafting such an astounding episode of television (not to mention series), though, Gilligan has thrown down the gauntlet to TV critics, historians, audiences, and his peers: Breaking Bad is TV’s version of the Sistine Chapel. “Ozymandias” will likely be the scene in which God reaches out to Adam. Forget this at your own peril.   (Between “Ozymandias” and Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass,” Gilligan sure is rewarding all his viewers with English degrees.)

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Saul Goodman

It’s finally here. The news all us Breaking Bad fans have been dreading (anticipating? confused by?) for months: The Saul Goodman spin-off is happening. The news comes by way of Deadline, who’ve providing the first real details on the series. As of now it’s titled Better Call Saul, it’ll air on AMC (worth mentioning as Netflix was interested in grabbing up the series for themselves), it’ll have hour-long episodes and will serve as a prequel to the events of Breaking Bad. The series is also being described as “far less dark than the original series,” to the surprise of absolutely no one. Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan is the one who’s been championing this spin-off since the start, but here’s the big question- will he actually be working on the show? If so, color me impressed and excited for every new episode of Better Call Saul. If not, I’m already wincing in advance. Saul Goodman is a terrific character, but it may be the case that he’s one of those characters who’s so terrific because you only see him briefly in each episode. A little Saul may go a long way.

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Breaking Bad Tohajiilee

So Hank’s definitely dead, right? Because it’s rare that a dogged pursuer of justice in a morally anarchistic universe calls his wife and tells her he’s solved the biggest case of his career, using boastful but foreboding language like, “Hey baby, I got him. Dead to rights” and “It may be awhile before I get home” and still gets to live. Don’t forget: Hank was this close to early retirement, too, since the shame of Heisenberg being his brother-in-law would’ve ended his DEA career. Though every meth cook and drug mogul fears the police, rare is the one who meets his end in a prison cell. Breaking Bad is not a show where law and order prevails. But Hank’s brains don’t yet look like the ones in his kitchen trash can, so let’s not mourn him. “To’hajiilee” wasn’t really about him anyway, but about the exquisite chess game Walt and Jesse played against each other. Their square-off begins as soon as the title sequence wisps off the screen, with Hank convincing Gomie to trust Timmy Dipshit’s plan. Thus begins another episode where Jesse is underestimated — which made Walt calling Jesse “stupid” while falling right into his plan wildly satisfying and may be the one thing that helps the unarmed Jesse survive the battle of the bullets.

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The end is nigh, and speculation is high. Will Walt ride off into the blue sunset, or fall off his horse? If it’s the latter, how many will he drag down with him? Will we ever get to see Badger’s Star Trek episode? With so many pressing questions, we turn to Breaking Bad expert Joanna Robinson to parse the crackpot theories and provide so many guesses about the final episode that we’re sure to accidentally stumble upon the right answer. Plus, FSR Associate Editor Rob Hunter joins us for our Fantasy Fall Movie Box Office and Prestige-Off draft, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. You should follow Rob (@fakerobhunter), Joanna (@quityourjrob), the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on Twitter for more fun stuff on a daily basis. And, as always, if you like the show (or hate it with seething fervor), please help us out with a review. Download Episode #32 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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Breaking Bad Rabid Dog

“Rabid Dog” is a transitional episode, and not a particularly elegant one at that. Like Walt’s old Pontiac Aztek, it’s simply a vehicle that’ll transport us to where we need to go, style and good taste be damned. Thus we have Walt and Jesse plotting each other’s demise (Walt’s being more violent, of course), Skyler urging Walt to take “full measures” (in another sacrifice of character over story), and Jesse and Hank’s inevitable team-up to bring down Walt. The theme of transitions was telegraphed by the episode’s two hallway scenes. The first occurs at the beginning of the episode, when Walt, with his pocket pistol in hand, crouches along the main corridor of his gasoline-soaked house. The buzzy, clangy, twitchy soundtrack makes clear its homage to another empty, dread-filled, imminently bloody hallway – that of The Shining trailer. The second takes place at Hank and Marie’s house, when Jesse, after passing out cold, wakes up to find Marie down the hall. Worlds collide. She asks him if he wants any coffee. A new world is born from the wreckage of the old.

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Breaking Bad Confessions

For most of “Confessions,” Walt is the eye of Hurricane Heisenberg. While everyone else around him reels and whirls and wobbles, Walt observes quietly and manipulates gently. He plots while others plotz. Now a master of concealment and Plan Bs — so close to finally becoming Gus Fring – he dons his best father-knows-best voice and cardigan to reassure Junior, threaten Hank, and pacify Jesse. At least temporarily. Only Junior is clueless enough to still fall for Walt’s act, now almost campy in its wholesomeness. After Walt serenely suggests to his teenaged son that he’s on death’s door again, he and Skyler meet with Hank and Marie to instruct the in-laws that they’re not to use his children as pawns — a demand he makes while using his son as emotional ammunition: “This investigation, Hank. Do you realize what this will do to him?” When Hank challenges him to “step up, be a man, and admit what you’ve done,” Walt placidly responds, “There’s nothing to confess” before handing him his “confession” tape.

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breaking-bad-season-6-episode-2

Families that stick together are the best at beating the courts. That’s such a truism of mobster movies and TV shows that even Arrested Development drove storylines with it. Of course, the personal, legal, and moral antagonism between Walt and Hank immediately dispels any hope for a “we are family” scenario between the Whites and the Schraders. “Buried,” then, finds Walt and Skyler reuniting in desperation, and Skyler and Marie shirking their loyalties to each other — and rooting for their respective brother-in-laws’ failure. The episode begins with a teaser that could have come out of any episode of The X-Files. An ordinary man finds something extraordinary: bricks of cash strewn all over his street. He follows the money trail and makes an even stranger discovery: a dead-eyed young man, Jesse, spinning on a merry-go-round, thoroughly innocent and guilty at the same time. (Of course, if this were an episode of The X-Files, Jesse would start shooting lightning bolts out of his eyes or something.)

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Heisenberg

By now, you’ve seen the season premiere for the second half of the fifth season of Breaking Bad (and if you haven’t, good luck parsing what I just wrote and also, why haven’t you?) and gasped along with the rest of the Twittersphere at large (has there ever been a show so adored by the social media masses as Breaking Bad?). Having gone nearly a year without Walt, Jesse, and the rest of the blue-hued crew (by “crew” we mean meth, baby, and lots of it), anticipation for the final episodes in Vince Gilligan’s opus reached a fever pitch, well, probably long before the latest episode actually aired. And was it worth it? Man, was it worth it. With only eight episodes in the show’s final half-season, acceleration is the name of the game. After all, both of the fifth season’s premieres have opened with a flash forward that give us small but incredibly effective and intriguing glimpses into Walt’s world after some sort of earth-shattering event. A spiritual twin to the first episode of the season (that would be wonderful “Live Free or Die”), last night’s premiere (“Blood Money,” because that’s what it all is at this point) echoed and followed the events that began the season at large. Walter, seemingly post-birthday breakfast, returns to his abandoned and dilapidated home (which is also a new haven for pool-skating ruffians, damn kids) to retrieve his last pack of that deadly ricin. All of that is jaw-dropping enough – the broken-down […]

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Blood Money

Walter White is a cockroach. Breaking Bad‘s second-half fifth season premiere, “Blood Money,” is a perfect summary of the retired drug kingpin’s unbeatable survival skills: sociopathy, cunning, emotional manipulation, meticulousness, and violence – or at least the threat thereof. Even with the return of his cancer, the apparent front-page news of his crimes, and the likely target on his back (it’s probable that one of the ten thugs he had stabbed in prison have vengeful family members), Walt is seen alive and free in the future, covering his tracks by recovering a vial of ricin, while his house, the symbol of everything he had worked and sweated and killed for, sits rotting and condemned, picked at by teenage vultures. This was a flash-forward much more compelling than that of the fifth season premiere’s birthday breakfast, mostly because it suggests Walter’s imminent notoriety. The legend of Heisenberg will extend beyond the narco-corridos, which means the truth will come out: Walt will leave behind a trail of poisoned lives, including those of his somewhat guilty wife, his college-bound son and baby daughter, his inept-looking DEA brother-in-law, and his former accomplice. It’s a vision similar to the chilling end of The Shield, where survival becomes its own form of prison.

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saul goodman

No one likes being Catfished, but I’d readily forgive Breaking Bad showrunner Vince Gilligan if the yearlong talks of a Saul spin-off turned out to be an elaborate viral ad for the show’s final eight episodes (premiering this Sunday). That might be too much to hope for, though, since Gilligan reiterated his support for “The Saul Show” at the TCAs several days ago, calling its materialization his “fervent wish” and announcing that he and Peter Gould, the writer-producer who created the jesterly consigliere character, had been working on the pilot script. If Gilligan and Gould have decided whether the spin-off would be a comedy or a drama, a half-hour or hour long, or a prequel or a sequel, they’ve remained mum on such details. If it came to pass, The Saul Show would be only the second spin-off among the post-Sopranos prestige cable dramas (the first was Caprica, the Battlestar Galactica appendage that fans and critics found vestigial). Likewise, a Breaking Bad spin-off should give us pause, as it would break two of prestige cable dramas’ implied pacts with its quality-seeking audience: auteurship (the sequel’s showrunner would be Gould, not Gilligan) and a certain level of resistance to commercial pressures. Because Breaking Bad has never been a ratings boon for AMC like The Walking Dead, The Saul Show feels less like a naked cash-grab in the way, say, Joey was, and more like an exhausted writer seeking to coast a bit. But there are still so many reasons to be […]

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BB Header

If you’ve finally managed to catch your breath after a couple of notably bloody weeks across some of television’s best shows (hell, someone even got stabbed, twice, on Mad Men last week, and we won’t even comment on Game of Thrones’ Red Wedding in this space), it might be high time to start thinking ahead to what will undoubtedly be a bloody end of summer. High time? Get it? We’re talking about Vince Gilligan‘s Breaking Bad on AMC here. With the second half of the show’s fifth season (season 5.5?) finally hitting the small screen with a Bryan Cranston-directed premiere episode on August 11th, marketing has started to slowly waft out across the internet like so many meth fumes through your friendly neighborhood cook house. Sure, the first look at the show’s newest poster (and a very brief ten-second teaser trailer, which you can check out over at The Wrap if you feel like sitting through thirty seconds of ads before you get to what is also an ad and essentially a glorified motion poster) are tantalizingly brief (the poster doesn’t even bother to really name the show or its home network), they also make no bones about what is going to happen in the final eight episodes. “All bad things must come to an end.” Did you think this would go on forever? Did you think things were going to end happily? Did you forget about the meth? We haven’t and we can’t. And we also can’t wait to see just how things will end for the show when […]

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Channel Guide - Large

Breaking Bad, which recently finished the first half of its final season, is the perfect combo plate of highly nuanced, captivating performances and stunning writing. It’s also as addictive as the stuff that it’s protagonist/antagonist Walter White cooks up (I imagine). But before creator Vince Gilligan was plotting Walter’s moral decline, he was cranking up the sexual tension between FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully as a writer on The X-Files. Breaking Bad, The X-Files—on the surface they couldn’t be more different but they’re bound by Gilligan’s inventive approach to storytelling and talent for injecting humor (that always feels totally organic) into otherwise dramatic narratives. Gilligan started writing for The X-Files in season two and the episodes that he penned during his tenure were some of the show’s sharpest and most satisfying. These are five of his best, which you might consider re-watching if the wait until next summer’s Breaking Bad conclusion proves too difficult to bear.

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Aural Fixation - Large

The following post contains spoilers. If you are not caught up on the current episode of Breaking Bad, proceed with caution. This current season of Breaking Bad has successfully hit the accelerator as we get closer and closer to the end of the series. The shocking end of former kingpin Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) has only made way for a new one – our increasingly sinister anti-hero, Walter White (Bryan Cranston.) The formerly meek and mild chemistry teacher may now view himself as an untouchable, successful drug lord, but those around him are suffering the consequences – whether they realize it or not. Since the beginning, Breaking Bad has gotten its distinct and inventive sound from composer Dave Porter. I spoke with Porter before the premiere of Season 5 and his teases of what was to come (both musically and episodically) have proven to be as true as those flash forward glimpses director Vince Gilligan and co. are so foud of giving us.

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Aural Fixation - Large

Breaking Bad has not only pushed boundaries through it’s no holds barred story lines and the stunning performances of its cast (most notably Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul), but it has also created a soundscape that has helped to shape the chaotic world of Walt (Cranston) and Jesse (Paul.) Unlike most shows where the score is full of rich instruments and emotion, Breaking Bad stands apart with a score that is certainly based in classic instrumentation, but infuses it with found sounds, design elements, and unexpected instruments to give it’s score an almost otherworldly feel. With the show set to return to our television screens this coming Sunday (July 15th) for it’s fifth season, I spoke with the show’s composer, Dave Porter, about how he has created Breaking Bad‘s distinct sound over the past four seasons and where he sees things going from here.

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Breaking Bad Season 5

It will be weeks before we revisit the world of Walter White, in which he’s now in the running to become the one and only meth kingpin of Albuguerue, New Mexico. But before we get to that, it’s time to start some Breaking Bad movie talk. The talk itself hasn’t come from an anonymous online source, but star Bryan Cranston himself. In an interview with The LA Times, Cranston claims that a big screen version is “not far-fetched. I wouldn’t mind visiting that possibility. And this is coming from a guy who doesn’t know anything of how the show’s going to end.”

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*The following contains Breaking Bad spoilers in general and a major spoiler for the season four finale in particular. The Breaking Bad bandwagon is one that I avoided  getting on for a long time. After watching seasons one through three in a summer marathon, I found a lot to enjoy in the show, but there certainly wasn’t any drinking of the Kool-Aid being done. And while there still isn’t, I’ll be damned if the ending of season four didn’t at least tempt me to take a sip or two. This season started off rather lackluster compared to the high of the previous season. Sure, Gus slitting Victor’s throat and the cartel shoot-out were among some of the greatest moments of the show’s history, but they were scattered in a field with the likes of Hank’s self-loathing and distractingly annoying advertisements for Denny’s. But the final two episodes of this season made up for the majority of all that lackluster crap. What made the Breaking Bad season four finale special is that the immediate storyline involved is played out over two episodes instead of one. “End Times” is mostly set up for what we saw in “Face Off,” and that’s why “Face Off” is so fucking good. Imagine if the spinning gun scene in “End Times” had instead aired in the same episode as the final shot of the season. It wouldn’t have worked, simply because the final shot was one what required a moment of processing by the audience. Had everything been in […]

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