The 10-year reunion of “Breaking Bad” at Comic-Con began, as it had to, with another perfect mix of music and image.
Set to the propulsive electro-soul of Jungle’s “Happy Man,” a montage was shown on the big screens of Hall H to introduce the Thursday afternoon panel tracing Vince Gilligan’s beloved series from beginning to its Badfinger-scored conclusion. Whomever was responsible, the introduction honored its source material.
And while the 2013 conclusion of “Breaking Bad” doesn’t feel that long ago — especially as the show’s prequel companion piece “Better Call Saul” (whose panel, fittingly, preceded this one) continues excavating that world — the reunion still had a sense of recognizing old friends as cheers greeted each cast member (except Jonathan Banks, who was said to be sidelined with a knee issue). And, for the actors, the feeling was mutual.
“I love that guy so much,” Aaron Paul said of his character Jesse Pinkman. As if to underscore the point, Paul took the stage cradling his baby, who wore a tiny yellow meth-cooking suit. “I miss you guys. I miss the show, you know?”
“That kid just made 600 bucks,” Bill Burr, moderator, comic and “Breaking Bad’s” Kuby, cracked as the panel began. “That’s a SAG rule.”
At one point, someone in the crowd shouted that “Breaking Bad” should come back. Paul then deferred to Gilligan.
And no, this was not the moment when Comic-Con broke the exclusive plans for a sequel to the beloved AMC drama. Instead, Gilligan talked about the continued merging of “Better Call Saul” into the timeline of its source material.
“You will not see Walt or Jesse in Season 4 [of ‘Better Call Saul’],” he told the crowd, adding he didn’t want to lead anyone along. But take heart: “I would suspect we would be sorely remiss if these characters didn’t appear on this show before it ended.”
“There’s definitely a chance Bob Odenkirk is going to be on ‘Better Call Saul,’” Cranston cracked.
In the preceding panel, the cast of “Better Call Saul” enjoyed a similarly warm reception. There was a tease of another character coming to the show in a brief clip from the first season of “Breaking Bad” that showed Odenkirk’s Saul Goodman mention by name a criminal called Lalo (Tony Dalton).
Having not yet caught up with its source material, there are plenty of theories surrounding the fate of its characters, including by the actors themselves. Rhea Seehorn remembered hearing one theory that involved Kim starting a mega-church with Howard (Patrick Fabian). Odenkirk pitched changing the show’s name to avoid the dark path his character is fated to follow.
Showrunner Peter Gould shared an idea from Noah Hawley, the showrunner of FX’s “Fargo” and “Legion.” “I have a pitch for you,” Gould remembers Hawley saying, “ ‘He never becomes Saul.’ And if this were ‘Fargo’ — that’s the ‘Fargo’ world. Would you guys be disappointed if [Jimmy McGill] never became Saul Goodman?” Gould asked the crowd. “I would be.”
The “Breaking Bad” reunion continued as a genial love-fest between a show’s creators and its fans while also a look back at the show’s rise and influence. Cranston remembered sensing the show was taking off when street signs guiding the crew to shoots in Albuquerque that bore the show’s name started getting stolen during their shoots, and Gilligan recounted how Paul’s character was nearly killed off after the first season, which led Cranston to more than one on-set prank about Jesse’s fate.
But still, the favored topic was bringing the cast and characters back together by any means necessary. One audience member proposed a “Malcolm in the Middle” reboot with Paul portraying Cranston’s character’s son (“I would be so down,” Paul said), and another asked about the possibility for a future movie. Cranston, who confirmed that Walter White is indeed dead, dismissed the idea. However, Gilligan remained less certain.
“I love that question,” he said, as surely a few hopes in the hall took flight. “Anything’s possible.”