Vince Gilligan, the now legendary showrunner for the recently concluded AMC series Breaking Bad, is set to be featured heavily in The Hollywood Reporter’s October 25 magazine along with various exclusive online videos currently up on the publication’s website. A candid Gilligan talked at length about self-doubt and anxiety, the upcoming Breaking Bad spinoff and his new CBS show Battle Creek, and his desire to direct a western film despite dozens of studio pitches.
But not everything was so serious in THR’s fascinating profile of Gilligan, as he took time to sit down with THR’s Aaron Couch and talk about four Breaking Bad theories — which ranged from interesting to flat-out strange — and whether they were true or false in his mind.
Here’s what Gilligan had to say about some of the theories and myths going around following the conclusion of Breaking Bad. You can also check out the short video over at THR.
1. The End Was All a Dream or Fantasy (Norm Macdonald’s Theory)
Soon after the conclusion of Breaking Bad’s final episode, Twitter was abuzz after Norm Macdonald made the following Tweet:
One thing seems clear.He never made it out of that car in the snow, surrounded by police. That’s where he died, his final prayer unanswered.
— Norm Macdonald (@normmacdonald) October 2, 2013
He would later expand upon his theory in great detail, but the basic idea was that everything following the car scene was either a fever dream or the final, fantastical thoughts of a dying man.
But the police came in force, and they surrounded Walt’s car. Then the fantasy begins with car keys falling in his lap.
— Norm Macdonald (@normmacdonald) October 2, 2013
While the dream theory didn’t gain a lot of traction given that dream sequences are generally frowned upon as a copout — something fans have consistently praised Gilligan for avoiding — the theory did make some sense. Macdonald would later point to various unrealistic situations in the finale that would make much more sense if they were the fantasies of someone where everything went perfectly according to plan: there was the sealed ricin packet in the Stevia; the fact that Walt’s final confrontation works perfectly to plan; and Macdonald would also point to what he felt was “unreal” acting and dialogue.
Of course, those who have watched the show have come to expect some unrealistic moments throughout the series — this isn’t The Wire after all. And Gilligan would later tell THR, “I love Norm MacDonald, I’m so glad he’s a fan,” but quickly dispelled the theory by explaining the dream theory doesn’t work because “Walt would therefore have to be dreaming about things he would otherwise have no knowledge of” — the same counter-argument many of Macdonald’s Twitter followers would write back following his message.
Macdonald was quick to explain that whether it was a dream or reality, the Breaking Bad’s finale was top-notch:
Yes, regardless of which notion you embrace as to the finale, it wis best finale ever to vest tv show ever.
— Norm Macdonald (@normmacdonald) October 11, 2013
2. Walt Takes On the Characteristics of People That He Kills
One theory that started to make the rounds leading up to the finale was that Walt appeared to take on the characteristics of those he had killed throughout the series. Examples given included: Walt mimicking Crazy 8’s habit of cutting the crust off sandwiches; Walt asking for a drink on the rocks shortly after murdering Mike; and Walt’s act of placing a hand towel underneath his knees before vomiting, reflecting what Gus had done in Mexico.
If you truly think back on the series, the theory starts to show some significant cracks, but that didn’t stop astute Breaking Bad fans from theorizing that the flash-forward seen in season 5 seemed to anticipate Walt’s murder of Skyler. According to fans, there was not one, but two foreboding signs that Skyler’s murder was being foreshadowed: not only does Walt construct a 52 on his birthday plate with bacon, something Skyler was seen doing for him on his 51st birthday, but his New Hampshire fake ID shows Walt with Skyler’s maiden name.
Of course, while the theory didn’t play out this way in the final episodes (Gilligan and his writing team mercifully allowed Skyler to be one of the few characters left standing), there’s no doubt that there seemed to be some symbolic echoes going on throughout the series, whether the writers knew it or not. Gilligan agrees. ”I think that is a valid [theory],” Gilligan told THR. “There were probably examples of it we were not consciously aware of, but at a certain point we have Walt vomiting and he puts down a hand towel to kneel on and that’s the exact visual echo of something that Gus Fring did when he was vomiting to get get the poison out of his system.”
3. The Car Company That Walt Rents from Is from The X-Files
This wasn’t so much a theory as what fans saw as an Easter egg from Gilligan’s days as a staff-writer on The X-Files. When Walt rents a van to take his barrels of money to the desert in order to bury them, the car company used is the one that Mulder and Scully originally used in The X-Files.
“That is correct,” Gilligan told THR. “That was an X-Files shoutout,” he explained, adding that the car company was “Lariant car rental” — the car rental company that Mulder and Scully are always seen renting from.
4. Baby Holly Is the Only Character Whose Fate Never Seemed to Be in Jeopardy
One of the stranger theories, THR asked Gilligan about the theory that baby Holly was the only character that the writers never discussed killing because she’s named after Gilligan’s girlfriend. But Gilligan quickly dispelled that myth and explained that there were some dark paths the writers had explored where no one was safe — not even Holly. ”Everybody was on the table,” he explained. “We had some pretty dark days in the writer’s room where we talked about a great many awful, potential story-lines and nobody was safe really in the writer’s room, not even baby Holly.”