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Final season of ‘Breaking Bad’ starts

Skyler White (Anna Gunn), left, and Walter White (Bryan Cranston) have both evolved over the course of the cult TV series “Breaking Bad,” which begins airing its final season tonight. (Courtesy of Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC)
Skyler White (Anna Gunn), left, and Walter White (Bryan Cranston) have both evolved over the course of the cult TV series “Breaking Bad,” which begins airing its final season tonight. (Courtesy of Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC)
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Star says series’ setting in Albuquerque critical to its success

Copyright © 2013 Albuquerque Journal

Lucy and Ricky Ricardo. June and Ward Cleaver. Dan and Roseanne Conner. Walter and Skyler White.

No, it’s not a list of TV’s best couples, but a short list of characters whose relationships evolved over the course of their popular TV shows. These are also characters who millions of viewers have invested their time in learning about.

The most recent are the Whites from AMC’s Breaking Bad, which begins its final eight episodes at 7 tonight.

For six years, Breaking Bad fans have not only followed Walter White’s transformation from high school chemistry teacher to drug lord, but Skyler White’s evolution from naive housewife to being thrown into her husband’s new life.

“Skyler really wants things to go back to normal,” says Anna Gunn, who plays Skyler on the show. “In the first eight episodes of the season, we saw Skyler grow so much. She became a stronger character, and I think that was to balance out Walt’s going off the edge.”

Bryan Cranston, who plays Walter White, alias Heisenberg, says he’s enjoyed watching Walt’s transformation over the course of the show.

“At the beginning, you kind of rooted for him. You wanted him to beat cancer, and he only started making meth to support his family,” he says. “But he’s taken this turn, and you can’t help but watch where it’s leading to. From his relationship with his son to his relationship with his wife. All of these are affected by his newfound ego and personality.”

No one’s giving any clues about how the series will end.

Gunn says Skyler has been through an incredible journey over the course of the series.

“She was thrown into the learning of Walt’s situation and she wants to figure it out,” she says. “Then she realized that she was in over her head and became paralyzed by the whole thing.”

Gunn says Skyler has a desperate hope that maybe the Whites can get back to the normal family they were.

“She’s been in a sad place for so long and does have a tremendous desire for the family to return to normal,” she says. “This season she has more fire and (Skylar’s alter ego) Mrs. Heisenberg comes alive.”

The critically acclaimed show has become a cult hit. It has been filmed in Albuquerque, and its story line is based here.

Breaking Bad has picked up three Emmy Awards for actors Cranston and Aaron Paul. Gunn recently scored her second Emmy nomination for her role.

Since wrapping up production in April, the cast of Breaking Bad has been on a nonstop media tour, recently participating on panels at San Diego Comic Con, which were moved to a large hall that holds 6,500 people.

“This was only our second time there, and it’s been overwhelming,” Gunn says. “The hall was bigger, and it was to capacity. The show has grown with each season, and we’ve seen it first hand when we go to these types of shows.”

Cranston says having the show take place in Albuquerque was vital to its success.

“I’ve said it before, but the city also became a main character in the series,” he says. “I don’t think the show would have come off as well if it were filmed anywhere else.”

Cranston and Gunn agree that now is the right time to end the show, despite its success.

Cranston says it was creator Vince Gilligan’s idea to have the series run a course of five years.

“There’s only so much that Walt can do,” he says. “We can’t just keep the show going and have no consequences to what he does.”

Gunn agrees the ending comes at a good time.

“The writing has always been strong, and these last eight episodes are great,” she says. “I think Vince didn’t want the show to overstay its welcome, and when we signed on, we all knew it was going to come to an end. We’re beginning to realize that now. It’s also great to see that the fans will be able to see what we had been working on for the past six months.”

Cranston says he will miss Albuquerque, though he still owns a home here. He was involved in the community and often volunteered with Youth Development Inc. and also organized charity softball games.

“Albuquerque became my home, and I felt so much love from the people,” he says. “I’ll miss some of the places I enjoyed eating at, and, of course, I always tried to take in as many Isotopes games as I could.”

For Gunn, saying goodbye to Breaking Bad doesn’t mean saying goodbye to New Mexico. She says she will miss living in Corrales, where she resided during the show’s run. And the former Santa Fe resident says she will be back to visit her parents in Santa Fe in the fall.

“Que viva,” she says with a laugh. “I haven’t been back to (Santa Fe) fiestas in a long time, and it’s about time I get back there. I’ve never taken my kids and want them to experience the pet parade and all of the festivities. It’s all stuff I treasure experiencing while growing up there.”

Choose your side: Will you be rooting for bad guys Walter White and Jesse Pinkham?

ALSO: Character’s fall resonates with viewers

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