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.