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Vince Gilligan Talks "Breaking Bad," Knowing Where the Series Will End and the Spin-off He'd Like to See

By Todd Gilchrist | Indiewire July 18, 2012 at 12:47PM

What distinguishes successful TV showrunners from unsuccessful ones? While it's not just control, it is the series that have carefully planned arcs, methodically constructed characters and painstakingly executed payoffs that are the ones that, ratings or not, are the most well-regarded. And yet, even as "Breaking Bad" enjoys its biggest ratings to date, creator Vince Gilligan made an unexpected confession when talking about the show's slow crawl towards its finale.
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“If you’re being really honest, you want to create the show as organically as possible, and you want to continue to ask first the most primary question, which is, where’s Walt’s head at right now? What does he want right this minute? What is he scared of right this minute? What’s his next move? That’s the best way to tell the story.”

But this approach doesn’t always work. “Sometimes we have a great idea for something, but then if we’re being honest with ourselves, we say, can we get Walt get to that point? If we have to put a square peg in a round hole, if we have to bang on a character, then we’re doing something wrong and we need to kill our darlings, as Faulkner used to say, and forget that so-called great scene and find something else.”

With only 16 episodes left to go, "Breaking Bad" continues to evolve, but it also races towards a conclusion that Gilligan wants to find satisfying -- for the fans as much as for himself. Unsurprisingly, he’s got a lot of it already mapped out, even if he allows himself the flexibility of changing directions if he thinks the place where he might end up is more compelling than what he’d initially planned.

"I never get online about this show, I never do"

“My writers and I are sitting down to break the final eight episodes now,” he reveals. “We have quite a bit figured out, but you would be surprised perhaps how little we do have figured out. Because you want to dot all of the i’s and cross all of the t’s and make sure you’re not forgetting anything major, but also because you want to stay as flexible as you can for as long as you can when coming up with these stories. You want to stay open to better ideas as they come down the pike.

"To that end, I think things about the ending of 'Breaking Bad' are going to hew pretty close to ideas I had from day one,” he says. “But I most certainly did not have the whole thing figured out from Day One. And there’s quite a bit left to figure out, so there’s a lot of invention left to us to come up with before it’s all done.”

With the end of "Breaking Bad" looming, Gilligan admits that he has thought about what he’ll do next, and has considered the possibility of spinning off a new series from one of the supporting characters: Saul Goodman, a dubiously scrupulous lawyer whose charming bluster has won the affection of the show’s fans.

“I would love to see a Saul Goodman spinoff,” he says. “I can’t say that it is genuinely in the works at this moment, but certainly Bob Odenkirk and I have talked about it a little bit. I can’t promise that it will ever happen, but I think I personally, as fan number one of this world, meaning the first one to partake of these plot moments and whatnot, I personally would love to tune in and see a good Saul Goodman show.”

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“I like the idea of a lawyer show in which the main lawyer will do anything it takes to stay out of a court of law,” he continues, pitching its possible concept. “He’ll settle on the courthouse steps, whatever it takes to stay out of the courtroom. That would be fun -- I would like that.”

Otherwise, Gilligan says that his plans include finally looking at all of the reactions from fans of "Breaking Bad," whose reviews and analysis he’s studiously avoided until now. “I never get online about this show, I never do,” he reveals. “It’s not that I’m not interested; I’m very interested. And in fact my assistant pulls all of the stuff off of the internet, prints it up and the puts it in these Rubbermaid boxes and I take them home and put them in my garage.

“Some day I’ll go through it all,” he says. “But only years from now, when I’m not as emotionally invested.”

This article is related to: Television, TV Interviews, AMC, Breaking Bad, Vince Gilligan