SAN DIEGO - Why the heck is "Breaking Bad" at San Diego Comic-Con?

Because smart people attend San Diego Comic-Con and smart people love "Breaking Bad."

That was easy.

The Emmy-winning drama, two days ahead of its fifth season premiere, made its first-ever Comic-Con appearance on Friday (July 13) night. 

How was it received? Click through for the full live-blog...

6:53 p.m. First off, the crowd is NEARLY full, but not totally full. People could get in to this panel now. I hope they let people in. The people here are, however, very excited and at least two are wearing Hazmat suits.

6:56 p.m. We've got Vince Gilligan, Anna Gunn, RJ Mitte, Betsy Brandt, Dean Norris (loud applause... and HE'S IN A BELLY SHIRT WITH A WIG)... Wait. Sorry. I'm done. I don't know how to process what Norris is wearing. Anyway, Jonathan Banks and Aaron Paul (standing ovation and he's in a Hazmat suit... with a baby) and... Bryan Cranston, also in a Hazmat suit. Great freakin' introduction and this is the most pumped I've seen a crowd today.

6:59 p.m. Moderator Mike Schneider begins by asking Gilligan about the fourth season finale. "In Season 5, we've got a new king... This guy here," Gilligan says to Cranston. "How many of you guys this this guy's as bad as he's going to get?" Gilligan asks. "No!" the audience yells. "I don't know. He may get worse yet," Gilligan says. "Somebody said to me once, 'Is it possible for 'Breaking Bad' to have a happy ending?' And I said, 'Have you been watching?'" Cranston says, suggesting that Walt's death might be the only happy ending. "We don't ask and he doesn't tell us," Cranston says to Gilligan. 

7:02 p.m. "For me, it's been a journey where this man has taken on characteristics he never knew he had inside of him," Cranston says, before observing that every one of us has that potential given the right or wrong circumstance.

7:03 p.m. "We have not forgotten what brought of us here story-motivation-wise," Gilligan says of Walt's cancer. "He is currently in, luckily enough, a state of remission. Will that continue to be the case? Who's to say." "You're to say," Cranston tells him. "All will be answered by the end of these 16 episodes," Gilligan promises.

7:03 p.m. Where is Jesse right now? "He's just kinda happy that he's a live. In the beginning, he was this lost kid struggling to find his way and Walt White just screws everything up..." Paul says. "Come on! Your life was aimless," Cranston tells him. But will Jesse soon find out about Jane or Brock? "He's gonna go out guns blazing for sure," Paul says. "He didn't DIE," Cranston says of Brock.

7:06 p.m. And how about Skyler's evolution? Can she ever trust Walt again? "She has no idea how deep this thing goes or how far the tentacles of this thing reaches," Gunn says of Skyler before the very end of last season. Now she knows and Gunn isn't sure Skyler can get past that. "I think there's a lot of deeper darker things that may be going on even more with her," Gunn says. Might Skyler run away to Four Corners again. "Might be a good thing to do, probably," Gilligan says, but he also suggests that Skyler might plant her flag and stand her ground.

7:09 p.m. "So where's my senior season base out there?" Jonathan Banks asks. Jonathan Banks is awesome. How will Mike handle things this season? "I think Mike got lost a long, long time ago. I think he has people he needs to take care of, so he moves forward with great trepidation," Banks says, before noting he's received a big list of things he can't discuss. 

7:10 p.m. How will Hank's life be now that he's been vindicated? "I think Hank has always been a guy who needs to be doing his job and if he's not doing his job, he's not very happy," Norris says.

7:11 p.m. And where is Marie in Season 5? "For Marie, it's about her relationships, with Hank and with the White family. That's what's really important to her and we see more of that this season," Brandt says.

7:12 p.m. And will Walter Junior find out? And how will he react? "I have no idea. I have complete faith in Vince to create this whole madness. Come on. It's his father. He has to love his father," Mitte says.

7:14 p.m. "It's a lot of blood, sweat and tears, with the help of six excellent writers," Gilligan says of planning stuff out. And the writers are in the audience and receive their own warm round of applause. They work in an ugly office by the Burbank office and they try to work things out. Gilligan reminds us that Mike wouldn't have been on the show, except that they couldn't book Bob Odenkirk for a Season 2 episode. Apparently Bob Odenkirk was going to play the cleaner who dealt with Jane's body, but he wasn't available, so... Things changed. Also, they were, of course, going to kill off Jesse in Season 1. That gets boos. The original plan was to kill Jesse off in a horrible drug deal gone wrong after he served his purpose. "But he's just such a sweet guy... So that's why we decided not to do that," Gilligan says. Gilligan says they've written themselves into a corner a number of times. He cites the episode with the RV in the salvage yard, with Hank getting ready to catch them. "The brilliance of Walter White is that he comes up with this stuff by himself, while it takes seven of us..." Gilligan says.

7:18 p.m. Gilligan promises that we're going to hear a lot of German and read a lot of subtitles this season, with the introduction of Madrigal, as we find out who or what was bankrolling Gus' enterprise. We'll be going to Hanover, Germany in the second episode. We won't say any more than that.

7:19 p.m. We're going to meet Lydia, played by Laura Fraser. Confusingly, Gilligan says that he's never met Laura Fraser and never heard her real Scottish accent. "She's gonna make life interesting for a couple of these folks on the panel this season," Gilligan says. 

7:20 p.m. Do the first eight episodes have an overall theme? "Any time I come up with the theme or thesis or moral of any given season, I don't know if I'm the best person to answer that, because you get to the point where you can't see the forest for the trees," Gilligan says. He adds that the theme of the season is the Charlie Sheen-esque "winning" and the consequences of winning. He compares it to Alexander the Great weeping because there were no more worlds to conquer.

7:22 p.m. "The tension of this last season that we shot... to me, felt far more stressful," Cranston says. "It's just eerie. It's just creepy," Paul says of the tone for the season. Paul compares the tone of the season to last season's "Crawl Space" episode. Cranston says that Sunday's premiere is far less violent than last season, but that it's very intellectual, while Gilligan teases that this season has more black comedy than recent seasons. That's nice, since for at least two seasons, I was certain that "Breaking Bad" was more of a pitch black comedy than a drama. 

7:23 p.m. "Magnets, bitch!" Paul says, teasing a key moment in Sunday's premiere. "Yeah, science!" he adds, calling back an earlier episode. Cranston says that a few more people will be let into the secret this season and that they add some weak links to the chain later this season. Oooh. I hadn't known that Jesse Plemons will be coming on this season at midseason as a character named Todd. Nice. Now we know that Landry's gonna kill everybody. We're also gonna get the return of Skinny Pete and Badger. Gilligan promises we'll see "a new side of Skinny Pete" relating to a talent possessed by Charles Baker, the actor who plays him. 

7:29 p.m. Why was the cartel able to find Walt immediately, but the DEA is clueless? "They keep picking up more seasons... I think we've artfully avoided Hank catching him. I don't think we've pushed that too far. It's the old 'hiding in plain sight' kinda thing," Norris says. 

7:30 p.m. Are there any early clues that will pay off to where the season is going later? "It's not that subtle this particular season," Gilligan says. It's true. I won't say any more. But the pre-credit sequence is "The most revealing teaser 'Breaking Bad' has ever shown," Cranston says. Yup. Gilligan says there's a shout-out to the pilot in the opening scene that contextualizes things. It's true. "What it all means, who's to say?" Gilligan says, again. 

7:34 p.m. Which were their favorite episodes? "I loved the scene where Bryan and I got to kick the s*** out of each other," Paul says. "Wait til you find out about Jane. What kind of fight is that going to be," Cranston says. He then adds that his favorite episode has always been the pilot. Frequent director Michelle MacLaren is here, as is the show's chemistry advisor.

7:36 p.m. Will there be a bottle episode this season like "Four Days Out" or "Fly"? Gilligan teases that Episode 5 is "the polar opposite of that," saying it's an anti-bottle episode. It's the first episode they shot outside of Albuquerque. They went all the way to Santa Fe.

7:38 p.m. Cranston had worked with Gilligan on an "X Files" episode and he thought the "Breaking Bad" pilot was the best he'd ever read. Gilligan told him upfront that the show would take Walt from being a good person to a bad person, which Cranston suggests is completely unprecedented for television. "Knowing the darkness of his soul, I knew that it would go very dark and that's why they don't call it 'Breaking Good,'" Cranston says. And where is  Gilligan's dark place? "I'm probably just not as nice as I actually seem in front of a bunch of adoring fans," Gilligan teases.


7:41 p.m. "I don't think of sympathizing with him, because I am him," Cranston says, when asked about Walter's current redeeming features. "As far as redeeming qualities? He makes damn good meth," Cranston says. Gilligan smartly observes that "Likability" isn't the same as "Watchability." Walt is less "sympathizeable," but no less human. "He does something this season that as the first viewer of the show that I myself would probably say, 'I lost all sympathy,'" Gilligan warns.


 7:43 p.m. Cranston says that the Point of No Return for Walter was in the very first episode, when he sold his soul for financial gain, even if his motives were pure. Gilligan, though, says the Point of No Return was Episode 4, when Walt decides to cook meth even after the offer of free medical treatment from his former colleague. Gilligan promises that we will hear more about Gray Matter in the first eight episodes. Intriguing.

7:45 p.m. Last question time already! What is Gilligan hoping to do after he finishes work on "Breaking Bad"? "In a very greedy sense, I hope that this is not the highlight of my career," Gilligan says. He quotes this season's second episode, something about how when you win the lottery, the first thing you don't do is go out and buy another lottery ticket. That seems to apply to him as well. "I hope it's not all sadly downhill from here. Whether it's TV or movies, I'd love to do both," Gilligan says.

7:47 p.m. Cranston thanks all of us for "supporting this little show." 

That's all, folks...

A long-time member of the TCA Board and a longer-time blogger of "American Idol," Dan Fienberg writes about TV, except for when he writes about movies or sometimes writes about the Red Sox. But never music. He would sound stupid talking about music.