No. 1: Walter White goes Rambo
The writers of “Breaking Bad” gave Walter White his M60 before they knew who it would kill.
Vince Gilligan says in the final “Breaking Bad Insider” podcast that he and his team had no idea, when they gave Walt the machine gun at the start of the final season, that he would eventually motorize it mow down Neo Nazis. They didn’t even know the show would have Neo Nazis.
It was a classic case of the “Breaking Bad” writers writing themselves into a corner and trying to find a way out. They created Uncle Jack’s gang in part because they needed villains worthy of a massacre, Gilligan said.
“We went through every possibility in the book,” he said. “You’re planting a flag at that point… We were saying you know what? An M60 machine gun, Rambo’s machine gun, something cool has to happen with that. We’ll figure it out later.”
As he has done since the start of the podcast, Gilligan gave fans a remarkable look inside his team’s writing process – and the potential endings they tossed out. Fans will want to listen to the podcast in its entirety, but here are some of the rejected ideas:
1. Walt Goes Rambo
“Our original version was that Walt would use it somewhat in Rambo fashion,” Gilligan said. “Hand held. But the closer we got to the end we realized how Walt’s cancer would resurface and how sick Walt would be. That felt wrong for Walt to go out brawn over brain, go out like Rambo. Walt on his best day was never Rambo. Very late in the game we came up with mounting it in the trunk and using the garage door motor as a way of sweeping it back and forth and automating the process. Everyone, me included, loved the moments where Walt was MacGyveresque.”
2. Walt Kills Cops
“We thought, gee, is it too obvious he’d use it on a bunch of bad guys? … He wanted to be known as Jesse James. He wants the credit. So we had versions that we talked about for instance where the police come to get him. He uses it on the police. But we didn’t like that. It just didn’t seem right.”
3. Walt Takes Out a Jail
“We had a version where he goes and breaks Jesse out of jail just as the Nazis were gonna knock Jesse off in jail, and he comes in and uses an M60 to lay waste to an entire prison or a prison bus.”
Gilligan says of the alternate M60 scenarios: “I’m not saying we got far with those, but we would talk them through for hours on end. … We were like, you know what? as bad as Walt is we don’t want to see him killing good guys. If he’s going to use this M60, even if it’s slightly less surprising, let’s see him use it on guys even worse than he is.”
4. Skyler Kills Herself
“I was leaning toward that and the other writers were like, that’s a bridge too far. Let’s not do that. And they were right. I think that would have been very unnecessary. … I was thinking at some point she went with the Disappearer. We talked about every option under the sun… and one of them was that Skyler leaves with Walt and the Disappearer. … We could almost kinda sorta see where Skyler would go if she was sort of like zombified. But we could never figure out how to get Jr. to go along. … There’s no bringing Jr. if Jr. doesn’t want to go. We talked about a possible version where Skyler and Walt are tied up at a Motel 6 kind of place and he’s talking to her in a bathroom saying, ‘It’s going to be alright… I’ve got a plan. Skyler? Skyler?’ And he finally forces the door open and she’s in a bloody tub or something like that.”
5. Jesse Dies, Then Walt Jr. Dies
This wasn’t necessarily a finale ending, but it was an idea Gilligan kicked around before Season 1 even began. He says he considered a sequence in which a very ruthless drug dealer – he would include elements of Gus Fring, Krazy 8 and Tuco Salamanca – would kill Jesse. Walt, “filled with rage,” shackles him in a basement. He rigs a tripwire with a shotgun, so that the dealer can kill himself by pulling it. Walt wants the dealer to do it, so he begins torturing him from the ground up. He starts at the toes and begins “lopping off bits of this guy and cauterizing it with a blowtorch or something.” This goes on for weeks, but the dealer won’t kill himself. Eventually Walt Jr. discovers him and tries to give him some water. When the dealer realizes Walt Jr. is Walt’s son, he trips the wire and kills them both.
Gilligan said no one at AMC was wild about the idea, and eventually his team of writers – “people with more sense,” he joked — reined him in.
“And you’ll notice we never actually did that scene,” he said.