The "Breaking Bad" cast made a spectacular entrance at Wednesday night's premiere, rolling right up to the red carpet in the departing series' iconic mobile meth lab.
A cloud of yellow smoke and sulfur surrounded the battered RV when Aaron Paul — who was behind the wheel — and his castmates opened the bullet-ridden door and toasted their final season.
Along for the ride were two lucky fans, who won the chance to carpool with the cast by donating to a fundraiser for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Star Bryan Cranston, who is heavily involved with the charity, concocted the idea, which ended up netting more than $400,000.
In contrast to the broken-down Bounder, dubbed the Crystal Ship by Jesse Pinkman, Cranston compared the acclaimed drama's final eight episodes to a runaway train. "It just goes and goes and goes," he said. "It doesn't apologize. 'Breaking Bad' fans will be very satisfied."
"It's been a great run, and it's time to say goodbye," he told Yahoo! TV about the swan song. "So we just have to embrace that."
And that includes a special tribute to "Breaking Bad": a tiny tattoo of the show's logo, the "Br Ba" chemical element symbols for bromine and barium. Cranston said his wife loves the "discreet" ink, a personal reminder that makes him smile about his career-defining portrayal of Walter White, for which he won three consecutive Emmy awards.
Paul, who picked up two supporting actor Emmys for playing Walt's tormented partner, had an especially difficult time saying goodbye. "On that very last day in the very last scene," Cranston said, "Aaron would walk around and go, 'Argh, I hate this, I just hate this, I hate this.'
"It was tough. It was tough to shoot, because not only were the characters coming to a close, but the actors recognizing that this is it — this is the last time we're going to be shooting at our house, or outside the house, or in this car or in the meth lab ... and we've touched these places and they mean something to us."
"That was a very emotional day," agreed his co-star Anna Gunn, who plays Skyler White. "But I think the best part is that [after some tears], I drove home with a huge smile on my face. That was very nice because I knew at the end of all this how lucky I was to have six years [on the show]."
"It was a heavy scene dramatically," said Bob Odenkirk about his farewell to Saul Goodman (at least until the rumored spinoff), "so it [required] a lot of concentration and effort to focus abilities in that scene. But then when it was over, it really finally hit that this was a goodbye to a great, great experience for me, and I felt very lucky to be with this cast and crew who inspired me just as much as the part did."
While showrunner Vince Gilligan and his potential star haven't officially confirmed the spinoff, Odenkirk says that the desire to continue Saul's story "says that for all of his sleaziness and faults, he's a likable guy ... I think that people like that he's good at what he does and that he makes wisecracks, and there's a strength to his wiliness that people are attracted to."
Aside from Saul Goodman, we don't know how many characters will survive in the series finale, which Gunn describes as "apocalyptic."
"Everything just comes crashing down and explodes," she said. "It's just massively ... it feels like everything's being pulled apart at the seams, and we're starting to see the insides splitting. It's visceral — you're going to have a visceral reaction to it.
"I think [fans] are going to be shocked," she added. "I think they're going to be very satisfied, very happy." But, she warns, "I think they're going to have to get themselves into a good mental space to watch the show, because it starts off like an amusement park ride — it's insane and it doesn't let up. So I would recommend being in a very solid place to watch it."
The final eight episodes of "Breaking Bad" begin on August 11.