(5th Season Spoilers)
It’s been more than six months since the finale of Breaking Bad, but the show still generates conversation, especially around the alternate endings released by Vince Gilligan. Of the endings, the one closest to being used was much darker and less satisfying than the actual ending.
Last September during the onslaught of Breaking Bad speculation, I was convinced that Gilligan would leave Walt as the last surviving main character among a pile of death and destruction. I felt that a Hamlet-esque ending would be symbolic of Walt’s meth enterprise and desire to help his family. This ending would show that Walt both emotionally and physically destroyed the people he loved. From the beginning, Walt knows he is going to die, so having him as the last survivor would be a twisted way of defying fate and demonstrating the enduring nature of Heisenberg. My prediction turned out to be wildly inaccurate. Yes, there was carnage, but asides from Hank, the family and friends of Walt remain physically unscathed. Instead, Walt ties up loose ends and does one final good deed (freeing Jesse) before his dies. The ending fits well with the genre description of Breaking Bad as a post-modern Western, as Walt the protagonist dies having achieved his mission in a respectable and heroic way.
Though my speculation couldn’t have been farther from what happened, it turns out that Gilligan had seriously considered an ending that was quite similar to my predictions. Gilligan would have nearly every character killed off by the violence created from Walt’s actions, ending the series with only Walt and his money. Gilligan felt this ending was unsatisfying for viewers, which led him to select the drastically different ending that was aired. Though I was wrong, I’d much rather be incorrect about my predictions than watch an excessively dark and unsatisfying ending.