Comic Con 2012: Breaking Bad panel!
Full disclosure: I'm a gigantic “Breaking Bad” fan. Just wanted it to be clear that I went into Friday night's panel not as an objective note-taker, but as a serious fanatic. I know I'm not alone; in fact, I'm 100% confidant as far as that goes, judging by the immense turn-out that greeted the panel for the tremendous AMC drama at Comic-Con. On Sunday evening, the series begins its final season, so there's a lot at stake not only for “Breaking Bad's” characters, but for its writers and castmembers as well. Attending the panel were Bryan Cranston (Walter White), series creator Vince Gilligan, Aaron Paul (Jessie), Anna Gunn (Skylar), Dean Norris (Hank), RJ Mitte (Walter Jr.), Jonathon Banks (Mike) and Betsy Brandt (Marie).
Here are the highlights:
- During the cast introductions, Dean Norris came dressed out as Xena Warrior Princess, while Cranston and Paul came decked out in their meth-making hazmat suits. Paul was carrying a baby (presumably Walter's daughter, Holly), wearing a little suit of her own. (He then dropped her as he waved to the crowd, but it was a fake baby... I'm pretty sure.)
- Bob Odenkirk was the only major castmember not in attendance. Rest assured, however: Saul plays a big role in the new season.
- Where does the show go after last season's explosive (literally) finale? Vince Gilligan said, “We've got a new king.”
- It was hinted at,multiple times, that Walter is now almost completely corrupt; he's going to do things that are even worse than the already terrible things he's done to get him where he is now. “He may be worse yet,” Gilligan said.
- Cranston wondered aloud if it's possible for “Breaking Bad” to have a happy ending. He then mused that perhaps the happiest ending would be for Walt to die. (That wasn't a hint at things to come, by the way – the cast still doesn't know how the series will wrap up.)
- The moderator asked Gilligan is Walt's cancer would ever be brought up again. The writer said, “We haven't forgotten about Walt's cancer.” It was absolutely implied by Gilligan that the cancer could come back into play.
- As for Jesse, he's apparently just happy to be alive, and working with his old partner again. Will Jesse find out that Walt poisoned Brock, the young son of Jessie's girlfriend, Andrea. Of course they weren't going to spoil that, but Paul made it clear that Jesse would go after Walt's life if he did find out. (At one point, Cranston flippantly mentioned that Brock didn't die, so really, what's the big deal?)
- Skylar has gone around “a corner she can never unturn.” It's unclear if she can ever fully trust Walt, but Skylar will never let anything happen to her children, and if that means turning against Walt, so be it. (Again, this was a case of the actor just musing, not necessarily spoiling a future occurrence in the show.)
- Mike, who despite the death of his boss Gus is still a vital character this season, got “lost a long time ago,” Banks said about gruff “cleaner” he plays. He has people he has to take care of. (We just might learn more about the “real” Mike in season five.)
- Hank has his mojo back; he needs to be doing his job, it's what he loves, and he will feel vindicated by the revelation that Gus was – as he all along assumed – a drug kingpin.
- Will Hank ever discover Walt's secret life? Again, there was a subtle implication that this may happen in a future episode. The moderator asked, “Hank plus Walt equals?” Norris' response: “Epic.”
- Who will be the show's new antagonist? (Other than Walt himself, of course.) Gilligan said we'd be hearing a lot of German this season. In fact, there's an episode (the seventh) that will take place in Germany! Madrigal Electromotive GmbH, which was the parent company of Gus's Los Pollos Hermanos franchise in the U.S., will be a big factor.
- Other new characters: Scottish actress Laura Frasier (A KNIGHT'S TALE) will play “Lydia,” an old associate of Gus's who will make “life interesting” for some of the show's characters – seemingly Jesse in particular. Also, Jesse Plemons (“Friday Night Lights”) has been added to the cast as “Todd” who is evidently a major participant in this new season. Cranston said that Walt, Jesse and Skylar have to let more people into their circle now...
- The tone of the series: Aaron Paul used the words creepy, unsettling and eerie. Apparently it's funny too; both Gilligan and Cranston said that the first episode is one of the series' funniest episodes, but the season on the whole has a strange, dark sense of humor (it wasn't originally intended that way, but it's how it worked out).
- The overall tone of this season is “winning.” And no, not in the Charlie Sheen sense. Walt will have to see what he can do to stay on top, and Gilligan used the old Alexander the Great analogy: He cried, for there were no more worlds to conquer. How will being #1 affect Walter?
- Consider this some spoilage for the first episode (which debuts on Sunday). It seems like the “teaser” of the premiere takes place in the past, a callback to an earlier episode (perhaps first season?) Cranston said you won't be able to wrap your head around it, but just as was the case with the teddy bear in season two, it will all become clear eventually.
- Cranston and Paul were asked what their favorite episodes, or moments from the series, are. For Cranston, it's all about the pilot episode. For Paul, he enjoyed the sequence from this past season where he and Cranston had to beat the shit out of each other. All day.
- When asked if Walter has any redeeming qualities left, Cranston responded, “He makes really good meth.”
- At the conclusion of the panel, Cranston gave a very heartfelt "thank you" to the fans of the series who have kept watching throughout all of Walt's questionable moves and actions. This got a standing ovation, and the entire cast seemed genuinely moved.
Check out the new 3-minute Season Five trailer below.