Tomorrow, the acclaimed "high school chemistry teacher turned meth kingpin" drama Breaking Bad returns for its final stretch of episodes. But at the San Diego Comic-Con today, the show's cast and creator Vince Gilligan were on hand to answer io9's most quasi-pressing questions. Here's what we learned.
1.) To get in the mind of Walter White, Bryan Cranston visited the Department of Chemistry at the University of Southern California and learned about the proper erlenmeyer flasks to use should one decide to cook methamphetamine. (Also for the sake of televisual veracity, Cranston received tutelage in which glassware will explode if used incorrectly. The rules of laboratory safety still apply in taut 60-minute dramas.)
2.) In the next season, we will see more of Walt using his scientific know-how for nefarious deeds:
io9: One of Walt's secret weapons is his background in chemistry. Will we see any of his "dark chemistry" lessons?
Vince Gilligan: Walt is kind of the anti-MacGyver. You will see a couple more of these moments later this season. Those are fun to come up with. I am no chemist or scientist, but I have a layperson's love for science.
io9: Do you have a scientific advisor on set?
Vince Gilligan: Not on set, but Dr. Donna Nelson from the University of Oklahoma approached us several seasons back and said, "I really like this show, and if you ever need help with the chemistry, I'd love to lend a hand. She's been a wonderful advisor. We get help wherever we need it, whether it's chemistry, electrical engineering, or physics. We try to get everything correct. There's no full-time [advisor] on set, but we run certain scenes by these experts first.
3. And in extremely important news, Gilligan — who worked prominently on The X-Files — has sadly never encountered X-Files/Breaking Bad fan fiction. Internet, here is your clarion call.
4. Jesse Pinkman — Walt's tragic comrade-in-cooking and actor Aaron Paul in real life — will flex more of his laboratory muscles during the fifth season:
io9: One of the great scenes in the fourth season is when Jesse stands up for himself at the Mexican superlab. Will we see Jesse's confidence and scientific know-how increase further this season?
Aaron Paul: As the seasons go on, Jesse's becoming more and more competent. Not to spoil too much, but he comes up with an idea and it works. He's finding his footing — just see the evolution of his clothing.
Bob Odenkirk: No, not on Mr. Show, but I think I built a little on my Larry Sanders Show Stevie Grant character, who's a manipulator and a person who's in it for himself and trying to get everyone to do what he wants them to do so he can make the most money. He's very much annoyed that the people that he works with have their own interests, like, "Will you just fucking do what I tell you to make some money?" [...] I didn't read for this part, [Vince Gilligan] just gave it to me. I thought he gave it to me because of Larry Sanders, but no, Mr. Show.
6. Jesse's memorable outbursts and frequent profanity are orchestrated down to the tee:
io9: To what degree do you improvise Jesse's colorful catchphrases, like "Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!"
Aaron Paul: In all honesty, everything is on the page. That's why the show is what it is. If it's not on the page, you have nothing. Every single "Yo!" and every single "Bitch!" is on the page. Maybe 0.5% of the "Bitch!"-es I add. I might improv a "Bitch!" every other one.
7. One of the last uncompleted arcs on Breaking Bad is Walter's eventual collision course with his brother-in-law (and shamed DEA agent) Hank Schrader (Dean Norris). You will, however, not see Hank's extensive rock, ahem, "mineral" collection. (We honestly forgot this distinction and everyone thought we were trying to be cute.)
io9: Will we see Hank's rock collection this season?
Dean Norris: Minerals! It's a mineral collection.
Betsy Brandt (who plays Hank's wife Marie): You do realize he's going to hit you [after this interview]. Don't be alone in the hallway!
io9: If that happens, I will never wash my face.
Dean Norris: The minerals were there when he was depressed. I don't think we see much of the minerals anymore. He's back to catching the real criminals [...] His status with the DEA is highly improved. He's back in the saddle in all ways [...] He comes back vindicated — he's the only guy who figured out [Gus Fring's operation] and there are repercussions to those who didn't listen to him. He also gets to jack up his investigation, so it gets more intense.