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Listen to Vince Gilligan Explain the Breaking Bad Finale 

Photo still courtesy AMC

While Talking Bad will always be remembered as something of a laughingstock among manyBreaking Bad fans, AMC has long offered a lesser-known but much more insightful show: theBreaking Bad Insider Podcast, which streams on iTunes and on the AMC website.

On the podcast, host and Breaking Bad editor Kelley Dixon brings on various cast and crewmembers and even showrunner Vince Gilligan to discuss the show episode by episode with an unusual degree of candor.

The final episode, which features Gilligan speaking openly and at length about the show’s conclusion—it’s 1 hour 49 minutes long—went online late yesterday afternoon. For the show’s biggest fans, it’s worth listening to in full—you can download or stream it here—but for those who don’t have the time, we’ve rounded up some of the podcast episode’s biggest revelations:

- Gilligan was originally going to have Skyler kill herself. She was going to slit her wrists in a bathtub. The other writers tried to talk him out of it, arguing that it was too dark, and Gilligan finally decided it was “a bridge too far.”
- When the last season premiered, they still didn’t know what Walt was going to do with the M-60. They didn’t even have Jack and his neo-Nazis yet.
They didn’t know yet what the ricin was for, either.
- They talked about having Walt get away, get a new job, and even get a new wife. In writers’ earlier brainstorming sessions, there was even going to be a scene of Walt cooking peanut brittle.
The last episode is titled “Felina” because it’s an anagram for finale, and because of the character of that name in Marty Robbins’ “El Paso.” Gilligan mentions nothing about the popular theory that it corresponds to Fe (iron, for blood), Li (lithium, for meth), and Na (for sodium, or tears), so that may have just been a coincidence.
A dying boy’s wish may have prompted Gilligan to change the ending. When Gilligan visited 16-year-old cancer patient Kevin Cordasco, Cordasco said he wanted to know more about Gretchen and Elliott. This in turn helped Gilligan think of bringing back the Grey Matter couple for the finale, though Cordasco never saw the episode. (He died in March.)

That gun turret really worked. In the script, Walt built the sentry gun’s base with a windshield-wiper motor, but the on-set special effects crew pointed out that the motor was likely to be too weak. Instead, they suggested a garage-door motor. “That thing is really as it appears to be,” Gilligan says, pointing out that it runs on just a 12-volt battery.

When Walt says “I did it for me,” Gilligan says he means it. Gilligan says he always knew that Walt was doing everything for himself, but as a viewer, he says he needed to hear him say it.

Read all of Slate’s Breaking Bad coverage.