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How One Breaking Bad Fan Influenced The Ending Of “Granite State”

Way back at the start of this half season of Breaking Bad, the premiere ended with a title card dedicating the episode to Kevin Cordasco. It was revealed in news stories and interviews that Cordasco was a 16-year-old Breaking Bad fan who fought (and in March, lost) a battle with cancer. In the months before his passing, he was visited by many of the show’s cast and writers and was even offered by Vince Gilligan to be told the ending, which Cordasco refused. (He said he’d watch it live.) After the premiere, Gilligan mentioned on the Breaking Bad Insider Podcast that in talking with Cordasco and asking what he’d like to see happen, Cordasco brought up something that the writers incorporated into the show. Following the airing of Sunday night’s episode “Granite State,” Gilligan revealed what Cordasco brought to the show, and it’s a surprisingly big plot point. (Spoilers for “Granite State” below.)

At the end of “Granite State,” Walt places a call and decides to turn himself in to the police. He sits at a bar and watches TV, not paying attention until he catches his former business partners, Gretchen and Elliot Schwartz, on Charlie Rose. In their interview, they are adamant in telling the public that Walt brought nothing to their company Gray Matter except the name. Walt, finding the willpower to go on with life, leaves the bar to go do whatever happens in the finale.

I, like I assume most people, figured that Gretchen and Elliot’s reintroduction was something the writers had planned in advance, but Gilligan admits that it was something they hadn’t even thought of.

“He said, ‘you know what, I want to know more about Gretchen and Elliot. I want to know more about Walt’s backstory with them. I want to know what happened.’ And I can’t promise you that you’ll get the complete knowledge of that situation to your total satisfaction, but the very fact that Kevin mentioned Gretchen and Elliot led us – the writers and I – to reintroduce them into the story. And as you can see here in the final scene of “Granite State…” [Bryan Cranston finishes Gilligan's thought] “It works as a catalyst.”

It’s unclear where the writers were headed with “Granite State” before Cordasco’s suggestion, and I’ll be interested to see if the Schwartzes appear following this episode. Will they suffer Walt’s wrath in the finale, or did they only serve to give him a reason to live?

I’m glad that Cordasco thought of incorporating them and I’m even more glad that the writers went with his idea, as the final scene is wonderful. It not only sets up the finale but lets Cordasco live on in the show he loved.

Breaking Bad will air its final episode this Sunday at 10pm EST/ 9pm CST on AMC. You can hear Gilligan, the episode’s writer/director Peter Gould, and Bryan Cranston talk more about “Granite State” by clicking here. (I’d recommend listening to all the Insider podcasts as they provide plenty of interesting behind-the-scenes details.) And you can hear a podcast discussion about the episode that I took part in by clicking here.

-Jeremy

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About Jeremy Sollie

Jeremy is a Senior Editor for GeekBinge.com, host of the Screen Bites podcast, a Tweeter for Twitter.com/JeremySollie, and a Human for Earth.com

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  • GM52246

    That’s an amazing post. I knew the Cordasco backstory (and his impressive willpower–Gilligan offered to tell him how the show ended, and he turned it down), but had no idea this plot point came from him. That’s huge–and a damn good idea to boot.

  • http://www.geekbinge.com/ Matthew Legarreta

    I feel horrible for saying this in light of the tragedy behind this story, but the return of Grey Matter was jarring and poorly done, and I even pointed out in my review that it felt “beneath” Breaking Bad to succumb to that level of unsubtly. In fact, it was probably my least favorite moment of the episode.

    And now that I know it was Cordasco’s suggestion that led to the rough scene…well, it all kind of makes sense to me now. Still, amazing story about the creative process that shows how wonderful the people behind the scenes really are…they love their fans and actually acknowledge them, which is pretty fantastic on their part.

  • http://www.geekbinge.com/ @JeremySollie

    You should feel horrible. Not because of the tragedy, because you think the ending was bad.

  • http://www.geekbinge.com/ Matthew Legarreta

    For any other show, it would be good. But I expect more from Breaking Bad…like not spelling out the ENTIRE THEME OF THE SHOW in one scene that came out of nowhere.

  • Dave M

    I totally disagree. Grey Matter was what spawned Heisenberg within Walt so long ago. With the pretense that he was doing this for his family totally shattered the return of Grey Matter publicly taunting him was the only thing that could bring Heisenberg back.

  • http://www.geekbinge.com/ Matthew Legarreta

    Like I said, the idea in theory was a good one. I just thought it was implemented poorly, and spelled out a little too much for my taste. Yes, we understand that Walter has become no more and all that remains is Heisenberg—do we need a character to come and outright SAY it?

  • Wednesday Lee Friday

    That is awesome. I had no idea. Thanks!