It is getting ever closer to the Breaking Bad finale. Speculation as to what will transpire in the last ever episode has gone wild. But there is one hint, in last weeks episode, Granite State, we see Gretchen and Elliot move Walter White away from the self destruct mode he had initiated. Why? Because of a 16 year-old fan of the show who inspired the show’s creator to change the finale.
This fan, was a teenaged cancer sufferer by the name of Kevin Cordasco. The teenager had a rare disease, cancer of the brain. He was diagnosed with neuroblastoma seven years ago. He bonded with the character of Walter White on a deep and intuitive level. It was this bonding and understanding of what motivated White enabled the teenager to alter Breaking Bad‘s path.
Kevin felt so close to White that he experienced an epiphany about what was really motivating Walter to succeed as the Meth kingpin of New Mexico whose product has reached international shores. Cordasco’s revelation was so important that Vince Gilligan realised it needed to be included as an important plot device for the show.
A plot device that looks to be crucial to the season’s finale.
Cordasco’s involvement with the Breaking Bad cast and creators started when his mother approached Bryan Cranston (Walter White) about her son being a huge fan. Cranston then went to see Kevin in the hospital with his wife.
Bryan recalled that he and his wife dreaded the visit. But once there, the cancer stricken teen inspired them both. Cranston also realised that Kevin was not your average fan. He understood the story’s complexity and he understood the structure as well.
Impressed with Kevin’s attitude and understanding of the show, he arranged for other cast members to visit the teenager. Then Vince Gilligan went to visit the Calabasas, California teenager. Gilligan shared star Bryan Cranston’s dread about meeting Kevin. To break the ice Vince brought along the head of Danny Trejo as a gift.
After meeting Cordasco, Vince realised that the boy really understood the show and the show’s main character Walter White. Gilligan arranged for Kevin to visit the Los Angeles based writer’s room and talk to the ones who scripted each episode. There were also plans in place to have Kevin play a cameo role in the show, but health problems made it impossible to do.
Tom Schanauz, a writer/producer of the Breaking Bad, recalled that Kevin’s visit was fun. The teenager was smart and, despite his fatal illness, full of life. But Tom said that Gilligan spent a lot more time with Kevin than the writers did.
It was from his time with Kevin that Vince Gilligan discovered something about his main character. A discovery so important that it influenced the show’s ending. Gilligan said that his first meeting with Cordasco taught him something important about his show. He asked Kevin what he would, personally, like to see on the show.
Kevin’s answer changed the finale that Gilligan had set up for the show. He took what he learned from the teenager and relayed it to the writer’s team. The 16 year-old’s response changed the Breaking Bad finale by inspiring Gilligan and the writers to include part of White’s backstory at the end of the show.
What did Kevin Cordasco want to see?
More about Elliot and Gretchen. He understood their importance to the whole show based on the backstory from season one of Breaking Bad titled Gray Matter. Its where we learn of Walt and Gretchen’s romance and his leaving her and their fledgling company after being bought out for $5000.
The present has Grey Matter worth two billion dollars and Walter’s ex-girlfriend is now Elliot’s wife and they both apparently have the “Midas touch.” The couple offer to pay White’s medical bills. Walt turns them down, but, he tells Skyler they are paying for everything to cover up his meth income.
Walter gets caught out in his lie and when Gretchen demands an explanation, he meets her in a restaurant to explain. While she pushes for an answer, Walter ends the conversation with a hate-filled “F*** you.” Those two words show just how much hate and resentment Walt has kept inside for years about his ex girlfriend and partner.
Kevin Cordasco felt a deep connection with Walter that had little to do with the disease that they both shared. The 16 year-old teenager knew Walter’s inner frustration, his jealousy and sense of outrage at the injustice in his life. He understood how these feelings could mount up to change the man who harboured them. And how they would affect him deeply.
After Gilligan met Kevin, he wanted to pass on the ending of Breaking Bad. Which would make the teenager the only other person apart from the occupants of the writer’s room.
But like any huge fan, Kevin declined the offer and according to Gilligan, he did not hesitate to say no, because he was going to watch it.
Sadly, Kevin Cordasco will never get to watch the finale. He passed away on March 11 this year. But the teenager left his mark. Breaking Bad’s first episode of the final eight, was dedicated to Kevin. But his legacy was part of the penultimate episode Granite State.
The tail end of the episode features a televised interview with Gretchen and Elliot with Charlie Rose. It is this brief spotting of them that brings Walt back from his fugue state of waiting for his arrest. The downplaying of his importance to their billion dollar company hits Walt where he lives.
When the police arrive at the bar, Walt has left the building and it looks like he may be going to see his two former associates. Is White going to pay his former “friends” a Heisenberg visit? We don’t know.
But however things turn out, the inclusion of Walter White’s former girlfriend and business partner at the end of Breaking Bad is courtesy of the late Kevin Cordasco. A devoted fan who understood the motivations of White and inspired the show’s finale. A 16 year-old boy who understood the deeper feelings of the fictional character who shared his disease. And a fan who shared his interest, and understanding, with other fans the world over.
By Michael Smith