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Emmys: 10 Ways 'Breaking Bad' Shocked in Final Season

'Bad' writers and directors explain how they cooked up the surprises

Breaking Bad Pickaxe Walter White Still - H 2014
Ursula Coyote/AMC

AMC's Breaking Bad went out on a high note last year, with record ratings and love from critics and fans alike

The show is up for 16 Emmys, and could win a second consecutive outstanding drama award, which THR's experts say the show should and will win.

Here, we look at ten ways the show's final eight episodes rocked the TV landscape.

"Tread lightly," from "Blood Money" 

Forget cat and mouse. This was war. Breaking Bad wasted no time cutting to the chase, with Hank (Dean Norris) and Walt (Bryan Cranston) having a showdown in the first episode.   

 

Walt's confession, from "Confessions"

Walt gave an Emmy-worthy performance, mixing enough truth with the lies to make it believable. Bad writer Gennifer Hutchison says the writers initially tossed around the idea of Walt blackmailing Hank because he paid for his bills or actually confessing to the police. They settled on the confession tape as the more interesting option.

 

Jesse finds out the truth about ricin, from "Confessions"

The final eight episodes were all about wrapping up years of storytelling — with the season four poisoning of Brock (Ian Posada) among the biggies. Says Hutchison of Jesse's anger and the subsequent beating he gave Saul (Bob Odenkirk): " It wasn’t just that he poisoned Brock, it was because Walt lied."

 

Jesse outsmarts Walt, from "To'Hajiilee"

Walt gets outsmarted for the first time in the series, with Jesse tricking Walt into leading him to Heisenberg's money. Says Bad writer George Mastras: "It was a culmination of this chess match that's been going on since the beginning of the season between Hank and Walt. ... If they get their hands on the money — or at least pretend to get their hands on the money — it's going to put Walt in this mode where he's in damage control, and that's where he's most vulnerable."

 

Hank's death, from "Ozymandias"

This one hurt — so much so that Bad actress Betsy Brandt refused to watch the scene in which her onscreen husband dies. Director Rian Johnson says the gruesome details of Hank and Gomez's deaths were intentionally not dwelled on, out of respect for the characters.

 

"I watched Jane die," from "Ozymandias"

Johnson notes that Walt nearly confessed to his role in Jane's death in "Fly" back in season three. There it was motivated by guilt, but this confession was motivated by something much darker.

 

Walt's call to Skyler,' from "Ozymandias"

Bad writer Moira Walley-Beckett says this was the most difficult scene to write in the episode. "He says these heinous things and it's hard to know what's true and what isn't," says Walley-Beckett. "But he's using secret language, really. He's communicating with Skyler to let her know that he's trying to protect her."

 

Andrea dies, from "Granite State"

Bad producer Peter Gould, who wrote and directed the episode, says this sequence originally featured a shot of Jesse watching Todd approach the house at the beginning. But Paul's performance was so good that it worked better to save it until just before Andrea's shooting. Emily Rios (Andrea) says her onscreen son was so distraught after watching this episode that his mother texted her so that she could reassure him that everything was OK.

 

Charlie Rose cameo, from "Granite State"

If you thought Robert Forster as the disappearer was a surprise, the episode also dropped the bombshell return of Gretchen (Jessica Hecht) and Elliott (Adam Godley), being interviewed by no less than Charlie Rose. Gould shot the Charlie Rose segment in Rose's New York studio. It was the only Breaking Bad scene not shot in New Mexico, and it was filmed after the episode had wrapped.

 

"I did it for me," from "Felina"

Gould says he and the other writers knew for a long time that once Walt stopped the fiction that he was doing everything for his family, that would be the end of the series.

What were your favorite Breaking Bad moments? Do you think it deserves the outstanding drama series statuette come Monday? Sound off in the comments.

Email: Aaron.Couch@THR.com
Twitter: @AaronCouch