I don’t know about you all, but I haven’t revisited Breaking Bad since the show ended. Today’s 10th anniversary reunion panel opened with a well-cut montage taking us through the entire show and making me want to mount a rewatch as soon as possible. With all the focus on Better Call Saul lately (which is super great), it’s easy to forget just how great and terrifying and funny this show was.
The whole gang showed up: Vince Gilligan, Anna Gunn, Bob Odenkirk, RJ Mitte, Giancarlo Esposito, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt, Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, and Aaron Paul’s baby (at least I think it was his baby). Just as with the Better Call Saul panel, Jonathan Banks was absent. But with all those folks, it’s not like anyone’s going to complain about that.
Bill Burr (who as you probably know appeared on the show) returned to moderate the panel and was naturally very funny, but he didn’t need much help with Paul and Cranston making jokes of their own. He did go on an extended riff about the horrors of binge-watching television that was pretty great, and the whole thing kind of became a stand up comedy show for a minute.
Burr didn’t mess around with his question though, and quickly into the discussion he went straight into asking if we’d see Walt or Jesse on season four of Better Call Saul. The answer is no, which seemed especially harsh as it came right after an emotional moment from Aaron Paul as he discussed how much he misses playing Jesse. Luckily, Odenkirk saved things by heavily alluding a possible return for Hank. The logic being Saul and Hank appeared to have had previous run-ins when they come across each other the first time in Breaking Bad, and that might be something the prequel show could explore. Gilligan stayed pretty mum on that point. Dream big, gang!
There was also an interesting question aimed at Anne Gunn regarding whether or not she was able to predict her character’s arc, particularly going from ignorance to full-knowledge of her husband’s activities. It turns out she was told how that would go early on. Not with any specifics though.
Gilligan followed this up with some talk on how not a whole lot of Breaking Bad was planned out as meticulously as it looked. They’d make plans but also followed their instincts when that felt like the right thing to do. He then warned any future writers to avoid getting too locked onto rigid plans like that. A big example Gilligan offered was the initial plan to kill Jesse at the end of season one, which, obviously they did not do. This led to Cranston recounting a prank he repeatedly pulled on Paul where he’d make his co-star think his character died in the latest script.
With such a big panel, not everyone really got to participate. Dean Norris barely spoke and RJ Mitte didn’t get to say a word until well into the Q&A. It would be hard to fully democratize talking time with a gang this big, however, especially when most of the questions asked were directed toward Bryan Cranston or Vince Gilligan.
Nevertheless, it was really cool to see all these people in the same room again. And like I said above, it really makes you want to go home and start rewatching the show immediately. There’s just so much television out there right now, but for me no show has quite filled that Breaking Bad-sized whole since it left the air.
And on top of all that, the panel gave us this gem:
Audience member: “Was there anything you brought from your Malcom in the Middle role to Walter White?” Bryan Cranston: “The underwear!”