No. We had some ideas in the writers room, some of which involve things we ended up doing.... It really took to the end, the last couple episodes, to figure out exactly how it was going to wrap up.
What were your biggest narrative concerns in these final episodes?
My two big concerns were Skyler [Anna Gunn] and Jesse [Aaron Paul]. Specifically, what was she going to do when Hank comes to her? Would it still be believable after all this if she'd still stand by her man, so to speak? ....The other big worry was Jesse ratting on Walt. That's a big step for him to side with Hank over his former partner. Have we earned that?
How about for Walter?
The big question for Walt is, "Do I kill my brother-in-law or do I not?" But we didn't discuss that for more than a minute or two in the great scheme of things. Our guts told us that Walt wouldn't kill Hank. It wasn't that we were afraid that Walt would be too unlikable. It's just that you have a certain understanding of the character, and mine was he would never do that. He would never actually harm a family member.
Does Walter actually love his family?
He does love his family. He doesn't do right by his family, even though he thinks he does. But he would never harm them physically. Of course, that confession tape allowed Walt to be nasty and Heisenbergian without actually physically harming his brother-in-law.
After being caged and watching helplessly as a woman he cares for is executed, how much more can Jesse take?
We didn't set out to torture poor Jesse or make him suffer. We love the character so much ourselves. We all know he deserves better. But Jesse should never have been a criminal in the first place.... His second-biggest mistake was getting into the meth trade. But his biggest mistake by a mile was getting involved with Walter White.
Walter did give him up to the white supremacists.
He's at his lowest moment that we've ever seen him prior to giving up Jesse. He's no longer Heisenberg. He lost the battle to save his brother-in-law, who is dead right there before his eyes. He's lost all his money. He's as low as he's ever been in his entire life. He can't strike back. He's completely impotent. He's lying there in a depthless misery, and he starts to snap out of it. He realizes he's staring at Jesse Pinkman hiding under that car. And in that moment, I think he's focusing all his loss, misery and rage on Jesse.
Is there anything Walter could do to redeem himself in the final episode?
Redemption is in the eye of the viewer. I can tell you, as writers, we didn't set out to damn or redeem anyone. I would have to say that considering all the things Walter White has done in the past 61 episodes — and he's done a few good things along the way, even relatively recently — that he's two miracles shy of sainthood, as Saul Goodman [Bob Odenkirk] might say. I don't think there's any redemption for Walter White, but that doesn't mean he has to go out in a sulfurous cloud of ignominy. It remains to be seen if he goes out standing on his feet or lying on his back.