If you had to name, off the top of your head, the darkest series on television, what would you pick?
Chances are you'd probably point to AMC's 'Breaking Bad,' the tense drama about a mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher's slow descent into moral decay as a drug-cooking crime lord. And with good reason: 'Breaking Bad' has provided us with some incredibly bleak television. After all, it is about one man slowly losing everything that made him good.
But if there's one moment that served as a turning point for the character of Walter White (Bryan Cranston), it might have been his decision to watch Jesse's girlfriend Jane choke to death after a drug overdose. Walter's decision to passively let her die is (arguably, of course) one of his first truly 'evil' acts, and one of the first major markers of the character's descent.
It also could have been a lot darker, according to showrunner Vince Gilligan.
At the Edinburgh Film Festival earlier this week, Gilligan spoke to interviewer Charlie Brooker, to whom he revealed his original, more active vision for the scene. In his original version, Walt "kills her on purpose," giving Jane a second dose of heroin to cause an overdose. This was voted down by his writing staff who, according to Gilligan, "told me I was drunk at that point."
Of course, it's not like the ultimate version of the scene was a happy one. It still caused some problems with the network and the studio: "That was the moment AMC and Sony called me up and said, this one makes us nervous. We had a big phone discussion about it." Ultimately, though, the writers' vision won out.
'Breaking Bad' will return with more darkness with the episode "Confessions," this Sunday at 9/8c on AMC.