Vince Gilligan, Fly Boy - Macleans.ca
 

Vince Gilligan, Fly Boy


 

After the season finale of Breaking Bad and the announcement of its renewal for a fourth season, two big interviews with creator Vince Gilligan were posted: one at The Hollywood Reporter and one at The AV Club. Both are worth reading, though both inevitably cover some of the same ground. For example, in both interviews he mentions his unwillingness to take the regular supporting players away from the show, either by killing them off or by moving Walt and Jesse too far away from the main setting.

(Actually, the “anybody can die” idea, once so revolutionary, has become enough of a cliche that Breaking Bad benefits from not using it: there have been moments when it looked like someone was being set up to die, and where we could spot all the bits that usually lead up to a “shocking” death, only to have them survive. In the wake of Lost and 24 it’s almost more surprising when somebody lives.)

Both interviews also mention the fact that the season was not planned out step-by-step and that the writers sometimes paint themselves into a corner and have to figure out how their characters get out of this jam. That’s true of all shows, but it’s nice to hear someone admit it like it’s nothing to be ashamed of (because it’s nothing to be ashamed of).

Also, both interviews mention what in my opinion was the best episode of the season, “Fly.” That’s a personal reaction that’s shaped largely by the fact that it so perfectly provided the things I like best: an episode that has its own flavour and style unique in the season, a tightly-focused look at two characters (sort of like some of the best episodes of The X-Files, where Gilligan learned his trade), and a mixture of humour and drama that doesn’t clearly delineate where the comedy begins and the drama leaves off. But whether or not it’s the best episode of the season, it certainly is an important episode, and — with all due respect — it surprises me at the THR interviewer was “impatient” with it. I’m glad Gilligan stands up for it. A show usually can’t build tension throughout a season without some change-of-pace episodes that show us the characters in greater depth; otherwise, the season becomes a perpetual-motion machine of suspense.


 
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Vince Gilligan, Fly Boy

  1. I also enjoyed "Fly," but I had an interesting reaction to it. As soon as it was over, I was convinced that they had overspent on the first half of the season and realized they had to make up for it somewhere. So they decided to film "Fly" almost entirely on one set with just the two characters. And it worked out wonderfully.

    Now, I haven't seen anything to suggest that this was actually the case, but I believe you've written on this sort of thing before (that being constrained by budget can lead to great creativity, while having an unlimited budget can lead to extreme crap), so thought I would share.

    • Yes, Gilligan confirms in the AV Club interview that it was a "bottle" show done in part to save money. But some of my favourite episodes of TV are done that way, out of financial necessity or no.

      • Thanks! I haven't been able to watch the BB finale yet, so have been holding off on the Gilligan interviews for now.

  2. Okay, finally watched the finale and read the Gilligan interview in the AV Club. One thing that stuck out to me was the following:

    "But it is a very tricky question to answer and it's one of those things where it's better to leave the party too soon than too late. You'd rather leave the people wanting more rather than leave them thinking, 'Jesus, that guy overstayed his welcome.'"

    This immediately made me think of The X-Files, where many former fans think Chris Carter and Fox kept the show going for at least two (and probably three or four) seasons longer than they should have. Not sure if it was what Gilligan had in mind, but it makes me wish Noel had asked him.