Life imitated art last week, when the crew and studio behind Breaking Bad wiggled out of a tough predicament by staging a gritty standoff. Except, instead of a chemistry-teacher-turned-meth-maker facing off against drug dealers, Mexican cartel members, a bitter wife, the DEA, and his own pride, it was Sony Television and the makers of Breaking Bad staring down the barrel of a gun wielded by AMC.
The two sides made their feud public after AMC requested a final, shortened season of six or eight episodes; Sony responded by shopping the series to rival cable networks, including FX. The result of the stalemate: Breaking Bad will get sixteen more episodes to wrap up its story after the conclusion of the current thirteen-episode fourth season, the network announced yesterday.
That doesn't mean Season 5 will definitely be Breaking Bad's last (though it certainly appears that way). There are no deals in place that dictate how the final sixteen episodes will be dispersed, which means it's possible they could be divided among two shorter seasons instead of becoming one super-sized season.
In the end, it's a victory for the series, which now has time to end on its own terms. Creator Vince Gilligan said in a statement: “It’s a funny irony. I’d hate to know the date of my own last day on earth, but I’m delighted to know what Walter White’s will be (episodically speaking). This is a great gift to me and to my wonderful writers. It’s knowledge that will allow us to properly build our story to a satisfying conclusion. Now, if we don’t manage to pull that off, we’ve got no one to blame but ourselves.”