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Breaking Bad Q&A: Loyal Viewers vs. Binge Watchers

Breaking Bad Ursula Coyote/AMC

While we prepare for the end of Breaking Bad, which is arguably one of the greatest television shows of all time, we got to thinking about the two types of people who, for the most part, make up Breaking Bad watchers.

There are the ones who watched it from the beginning, or at least before it officially became a bona fide hit series. And then there are those who binge watched it later on in the series, thanks to Netflix. For research—nay, for science (yeah, science!), we interviewed two veteran Breaking Bad viewers, and two binge watchers. We asked the same questions to see how much their viewing habits would affect their answers. The outcome is below, so scroll on down and hear what Breaking Bad watchers of all kinds have to say before the end of Walter White's (Bryan Cranston) journey:

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Viewers From the Start: Brian and Simon, NBCUniversal employees
Binge Watchers: Rosemary and Jenna, E! Online staffers

1. When did you start watching the show?
Brian:
After the second season, so sometime in 2009.
Simon:
I believe it was after the second season was made available on Netflix. I had heard good things and one night I fatefully clicked play. 

Rosemary: I started watching at the end of August. Of this year. Total Breaking Bad noob.
Jenna: The beginning of August, 2013. So about eight weeks ago. 

2. What made you want to start watching the show?
Brian:
My friends were way into it.
Simon:
Mostly word of mouth. I'd heard lots of good things from friends whose opinion I respected and I wanted to see how the guy from Malcolm in the Middle could handle himself in a drama

Rosemary: My father-in-law has watched from the beginning and practically every time I see him, he tells me it's the best show on TV today, possibly ever. I finally started watching, and guess what? He was right!
Jenna:
Just from covering it so much for the TV Scoop section, I've never heard a bad thing about the show. And people talked endlessly about Bryan Cranston's work in it. I had to check it out before the final run of episodes.

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3. Did you immediately fall in love with the show or did it take you a couple of episodes?
Brian:
I loved it right away.
Simon: By the end of the pilot I was absolutely and entirely in love, hooked, obsessed, and committed all the way until the show's end. The show is my "blue stuff."

Rosemary: I was hooked right away.
Jenna: It was instant. The opening of the pilot was so brilliant.

4. Was there a certain episode in the first couple of seasons that really turned you on to the show?
Brian:
Season one, episode six. In this episode Walt shaves his head and creates the Heisenberg character to confront a crazy drug dealer, Tuco, who had stolen his money. After that episode, I was obsessed.

Simon: I have to say again, it really had me by the pilot. It was just such a well constructed episode of television and so well-written with such good acting in such interesting characters. I was absolutely and immediately ready to find out what happened next.

Rosemary: Tough call. The third and fourth episodes really break my heart. In "…And the Bag's in the River," it's one of the last times we see Walt conflicted about doing the right thing. And when Walt realizes he has to kill Krazy 8, he's genuinely upset about it, crying and apologizing. In "Cancer Man," the scenes between Jesse and his family are brutal. Though, I love that he covers up for his little pot-smoking brother—it says so much about the kind of person he is.
Jenna:
I think when Walt puts the plate together in "…And the Bag's in the River," and he realizes Krazy 8 will kill him if Walt doesn't kill him first. The plate puzzle was just a simple but great touch, and of course it leads to Walt's first real kill.

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Aaron Paul, Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad Ursula Coyote/AMC

5. Favorite character?
Brian:
Walt, of course.
Simon:
Walt. Outside of the main character I'd have to go with Gus or Mike.

Rosemary: Everyone I love dies, so I'm afraid to mention any still-living characters. But there's a three-way tie for the ones I love the most: Hank, Gus and Mike. I still can't decide which guy had the best death scene. They were all so perfect, and so fitting of who the guys were when they were alive.
Jenna:
Mike was the best. RIP, buddy.

6. Favorite episode?
Brian:
The fourth season finale.  A Walt-Gus showdown was inevitable, and of course Walt would have to survive for the show to continue, but still, this episode is amazing.  I loved Walt's plan to lure Gus into a Hector Salamanca suicide explosion.  And afterwards, Walt tells his terrified wife: "I won".  Great stuff.
Simon:
The finale of season four stands out when they tricked Gus into exploding.

Rosemary: "Salud"—it was beyond epic to see Gus finally get his revenge.
Jenna:
The season four finale, "Face Off". A perfect episode of television from beginning to end. And the twist ending! Walt did poison Brock? It was the first time we couldn't really justify Walt's wrongdoings away. Plus, can any death scene top Gus'? Fix that tie, dude!

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7. Most shocking moment?
Brian:
Walt kills Mike, for no apparent reason.
Simon:
With the show that's based on shocking moments it's hard to select just one. I have to say it's a tossup between Walt driving his car into the gangsters to save Jesse or the decapitated head turtle bomb exploding in the desert and killing most of hanks associates. Honorable mention goes to the moment when Walt let Jessie's girlfriend die.

Rosemary: The knife fight between Skyler and Walt. When Flynn (obviously he doesn't want to be called Walt anymore!) jumped between his parents to protect Skyler, I just about lost it.
Jenna:
Since I covered the show for E! Online, I was spoiled for most of the big moments. But I lost my breath when Walt ran over those drug dealers to save Jesse. I must have missed that during my coverage because I did not see that one coming.

8. Saddest death?
Brian:
Todd kills Andrea.  It would be hard to think of a character on TV that has suffered more than Jesse Pinkman in this season, and when you think it can't get worse for him, he's forced to watch Todd kill Andrea.  His reaction was devastating. 
Simon: Just because Mike was such a popular character for me I'd have to say his death. He might've deserved it less than Gail but he was such a strong character and such a badass it was hard to see them go in such a pitiful way.

Rosemary: Do I have to choose? Hank or Mike.
Jenna:
My favorite hitman, Mike. Still not over it.

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9. Favorite Walt moment?
Brian:
Walt's speech to Skyler in season four:  "I am the one who knocks!" This is one of my favorite scenes in the series, and shows why Bryan Cranston deserves every Emmy, ever.  At this point, Skyler doesn't realize the extent of Walt's criminal activity, and is worried he is in danger.  In a chilling speech, he sets her straight, saying: "I am the danger".   
Simon: That is really hard. I love the first time we see them cooking method in his underwear. The first time he puts on his infamous hat. His reaction to Hank's death was also one of the most powerful moments on the show.

Rosemary: I love when Walt buys Flynn the flashy car. Yes, it's wildly irrational, but it's great to see Walt genuinely happy and proud, albeit briefly.
Jenna:
The legendary pizza-on-the-roof throw. It was just the perfect mix of frustration and unintentional hilarity, a very unsmooth move for our Heisenberg. And of course the "I am the one who knocks" speech.

10. Favorite Jesse moment?
Brian:
Jesse kills Gale.  Great ending to Season three.  You're simultaneously rooting for Jessie to take Gale out and save Walt's life, and cringing at his criminal descent  
Simon: Anytime throughout the show we're given the gift of "biiiiiiiitch".

Rosemary: Ooh, toss up. When he finds his aunt's old makeup in his bathroom and is so jazzed that he's able to conceal his black eye. Or when Jesse buys his aunt's house from his parents at a steal with Saul's help.
Jenna:
For some reason Jesse practicing "where's my money, bitch?" before going into the meth heads house in season two cracks me up. And it's the perfect picture of Jesse:

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Breaking Bad, Michael Quezada, Dean Norris Ursula Coyote/AMC

11. Favorite supporting character?
Brian:
Saul Goodman.  Walt and Jesse's shady lawyer provides some wonderful comic relief.
Simon: I have to say Gus. The acting was so incredible, the character was so complex and it was such a unique and original bad guy; really like nothing we've ever seen in television or film before it.

Rosemary: Hank and his minerals obviously!
Jenna:
Hank is the best. Was. Aw, I just made myself sad.

12. How do you think it's all going to end?
Brian:
Walt comes back to team up with Jesse to take out the Nazis.  Jesse escapes to find Brock.  Walt tries to get his family the money, and Walt Jr. calls the police, Walt goes to jail.
Simon:
 Walt returns to town to right as much as he can before he dies. He gets himself cornered into a situation he can't escape (probably facing arrest), and he's ready to eat the ricin to kill himself, but not before he donates all of his money to charity. Jesse gets a new identity and is seemingly happy moving forward. Walt Junior realizes he does love his father. Skyler and her sister push forward as best they can. Oh, and Walt kills Todd's gang and frees Jesse. 

Rosemary: Walt tries to ruin Gretchen and Elliott and fails. Walt tries to get his money back from the neo-Nazis and fails. Walt tries to reconcile with his family and fails. Not predicting a lot of success for old Heisenberg. But I really would like to see Jesse happy, or at the very least escape Todd and his gang.
Jenna:
I think Walt will kill Jesse, not just because he blames him for Hank's death, but to put him out of his misery. After all Jesse's been through, I don't see him moving on with his life, ever. Walt will take out the Nazis and use the ricin on himself to avoid arrest. The money will somehow get to his family, so at least Walt will have achieved one of his goals. What I love about this show so much is that I am probably going to be completely wrong and I can't wait to see how it all turns out.

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13. For people who still haven't watched Breaking Bad, what would you say to get them to start watching?
Simon:
It is the greatest show in the history of television.
Brian: Um, it's the best show in the history of television. For reals, though. 

Rosemary: The show is wonderfully engrossing.
Jenna:
I was worried it would be too dark, but it's not. It's just so damn entertaining as well as dramatic.

14. What will you miss most about watching Breaking Bad?
Simon:
It was the perfect Sunday night distraction from a looming Monday morning.
Brian:
Everything except for Hank. He drove me crazy. 

Rosemary: Screaming at Walt about his terrible life decisions.
Jenna:
Everything. I'm also completely obsessed with how much the cast loves each other and how much they love their own show. It makes watching Breaking Bad that much better knowing that the cast is as awesome as the characters they portray.

15. In one word, how would you describe your Breaking Bad experience?
Simon:
Wondrous.
Brian:
One-of-a-kind.

Rosemary: Anxiety!
Jenna:
All-consuming.

How did you watch Breaking Bad? How do you think it's all going to end? Let's rap in the comments.

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