The era of "Breaking Bad" started with a desperate man alone and pantless in the New Mexico desert. It ended Sunday with thousands of Badheads cheering in the dark following a screening of the drama's finale at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
"So were you disappointed?" talk show host Jimmy Kimmel quipped as he took the stage set up for the occasion following the sold-out event. "Were you glad you came to a cemetery to see a television show?" The crowd roared its approval.
Kimmel then introduced several of the past and present forces behind the show -- including creator Vince Gilligan, star Bryan Cranston, co-stars Bob Odenkirk and RJ Mitte, along with featured performers Jonathan Banks and Giancarlo Esposito -- for a question-and-answer session. Sitting center stage in a yellow hazmat suit was the evening's host, Aaron Paul.
Paul, who played troubled junkie Jesse Pinkman, and his wife Lauren spearheaded the event as a benefit for the Kind Campaign, a program dedicated to bringing awareness and healing to the problem of girl-against-girl crime and bullying.
Kimmel asked Gilligan if he had considered any alternative endings for the final episode, which ended with the death of chemistry teacher-turned-drug kingpin Walter White.
Gilligan said he and his six writers had "considered every possible outcome, including White being the only one left alive." But he said the ending for the episode was seen by him and his staff as the perfect outcome.
Cranston noted it was his second time seeing the finale -- the first time was in an ''unfortunate situation" as he and Gilligan were doing commentary for the upcoming DVD. He said he had to watch that installment with the sound off.
The actor, who has won three consecutive Emmys for his portrayal of White, also discussed one of the episode's key moments, in which he admitted that he had become involved in drugs not because of the reasons he had stated repeatedly during the course of the show: to provide financial security for his family. White told his wife, Skyler, in their final moment together that he had done it for himself.
"He finally accepted who he was and what he had become," Cranston said. "He had been hiding under this guise of trying to help his family, but there was no longer time for pretense."
When Kimmel asked the crowd which character on the show had the most unfortunate end, the consensus seemed to be the demise of Gus Fring, a deadly meth distributor who became an enemy of White's.
Fring, who was played by Espositio, was killed in one of the show's most memorable scenes: Half of his face was blown off in an explosion at a nursing home planned by White.
Esposito, who is currently featured in the NBC series "Revolution," said "Breaking Bad" is in his heart and that the role "changed my life." He also praised Gilligan for creating a series that allowed the audience "time to breath, with spaces. It changed television forever."
The discussion took many humorous turns, including Gilligan describing how he had become dehydrated while filming both the pilot episode and the finale, and Paul recalling a scene when Banks' character, fixer Mike Ehrmantraut, struck Pinkman. "My head hurt for two weeks," Paul said.
Taking on the tone of Ehrmantraut, Banks joked that if "anyone bitches or moans about the way this thing ended, tell them to come see me."
The session came to an unexpected end when Kimmel invited anyone who had ever appeared on the show to come on stage. In moments, the stage was almost overrun with performers, hugging and congratulating each other in a joyous reunion.
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