The tale of Walter White’s metamorphosis from meek high school chemistry teacher to drug kingpin and meth cook is finally coming to a close, and in honor of the occasion, the cast and producers of the highly acclaimed “Breaking Bad” were given the Hall H treatment on Comic-Con‘s final day of programming.
“Breaking Bad was just nominated for 13 Emmys on Thursday, which is the most in series history, it will go down in history as one of the best shows ever,” Hardwick announced.
He also told fans that there will be an after show this season called “Talking Bad,” and he’ll give “Talking Bad” the respect “Breaking Bad” deserves, which premieres on August 11 after the premiere.
After showing the audience a video clip recapping the previous seasons, Hardwick introduced stars Dean Norris, Anna Gunn, R.J. Mitte, Bob Odenkirk, Aaron Paul, Bryan Cranston and creator Vince Gilligan to take the stage.
Cranston arrived wearing a Walter White mask, which he playfully placed on the end of the table at the start of the discussion. He had previously been walking the convention floor wearing the mask to fool conference goers into thinking he was cosplaying.
Hardwick took many opportunities to ask the panel how they felt about the evolution of their characters over the show’s past five seasons.
“To me really it was the first episode when he decided to try to become something he wasn‘t,” Cranston said of the point at which his character began to evolve.
In regards to his character Jesse’s journey, Paul explained that in the beginning, “He was just this lost kid struggling to find his way in desperate need of some guidance and he stumbles upon Walter White…and now he just wants to stay as far away from him as possible, just trying to stay alive.”
Gunn went on to explain how her character has fit in the world of “Breaking Bad,” and how her character stands in relation to Cranston’s (who plays her husband).
“She was the parallel to Walt in that she had dreams deferred in the same way,” said Gunn. “She’s dealing with a lot of disappointment inside of herself as well,” noting the similarities to Cranston’s character, who plays her husband.
“I think she thinks she can do things along the way,” Gunn said of Skylar’s complicity in Walter’s dealings, with her character ultimately believing that “it will all work out.”
“I started the show when I was just turning 14,” crediting Gunn and Cranston with how far he’s come since he started the show, adding that he wouldn’t be who he is today without the show and getting to work with his co-stars.
When asked by Hardwick how he perceives his character, Hank, Norris said, “I think he’s saddled with morality, and he can’t get around it…but he’s the one guy who – his conscience won’t allow him to do the wrong thing. To his detriment,” referring to his character’s inability to let go of his quest for the infamous Heisenberg.
For Odenkirk, who plays the sleezy but effective lawyer Saul, Hardwick asked if he possessed a soul.
“In the case of Saul, he’s funny and he actually gets stuff done, which makes it worthwhile to spend time with, I think,“ Odenkirk said, but in the end claimed that Saul is unapologetic about his decision-making.
When the time came for questions from the audience, the panel was given the opportunity to reflect on moments in the story that gave them pause.
Cranston recalled Jane’s death in season two, which originally called for Walter White to push Jane back down to the bed as she chokes on her vomit from heroine sickness. But it was decided that Walt doing this was “too quick” a turn to the dark side, and instead he is culpable in her death simply by his inaction in not saving her.
“I think probably when Jesse shot Gale…was when he turned into a really bad person.” Paul remembered, saying it represented a big turning point in his character embodying the “bad guy” he had previously said he was.
Gilligan explained that his “proudest moment” was during season one’s fourth episode where Walt rejects the offer of money to pay for his cancer treatment, because it was then that they realized just how prideful the character was.
“His ego is peaking… and he’s succumbed to it like it’s an aphrodisiac,” Cranston said of his character’s current motivation, but that Walt is also constantly shifting and changing.
Hardwick finally asked if Gilligan was satisfied with the ending.
“I’m satisfied with the ending, I hope you will be too,” Gilligan responded.
The panel ended with a never before seen clip from the upcoming eighth season.
It shows a flash forward of a bearded Walter White going up to his house which is now fenced-off, boarded-up and abandoned. Walt takes a crowbar and squeezes in between the fence, and opens the front door. He slowly walks through the house, seeing some teenagers using his empty pool, and looking at the empty rooms, until he finds the outlet where he hid the extra ricin pill in the last season. He unfastens the casing and takes the pill with him. He walks out of the house and to the car where his old neighbor sees him and freezes in fear while holding a bag of groceries. White ominously says “Hello Carol.” She drops her groceries in shock, and the video ends.
Whether Walt is getting the ricin for himself or for someone else has yet to be revealed.
In either scenario, the fact remains that Walter White is still, in fact, the danger.
“Breaking Bad” returns for its final eight episodes on August 11 at 9 p.m./8 p.m. CT, followed by Chris Hardwick’s new “Breaking Bad” talk show, “Talking Bad.”