An “alternate ending” for Breaking Bad has been posted to YouTube, and it depicts Malcolm In The Middle’s Hal waking up in the middle of the night, roused from his Twinkie-induced nightmare of dealing meth and killing people with bombs and poison. (UPDATE: YouTube pulled the video, but we grabbed it, so here it is again.) (UPDATE 2, 11/21: And now Sony made us pull the video, so fun's over.)
It’s strange to see Bryan Cranston slip back into the frazzled goofiness that defined his seven-season run as Hal on Malcolm, but he pulls it off, and it’s amusing to hear how Hal might wrap his head around Walter White’s strange journey. “There was a guy who never spoke! He just rang a bell the whole time!” Hal sputters. “And then there was another guy who was a policeman or a DEA agent, and I think it was my brother or something. He looked like the guy from The Shield!” Jane Kaczmarek reprises her role as Lois, too, with a performance that runs the entire gamut of Lois’ emotional responses, from annoyed to peeved to irritated.
The alternate ending is a clear reference to perhaps the most iconic sitcom ending of all time, the final episode of Newhart. In that finale, Bob Newhart jerks awake alongside Suzanne Pleshette in the master bedroom of his previous series, The Bob Newhart Show. Like Cranston, he attempts to explain the premise and oddball characters of his more recent series before he gives up and goes back to sleep. (Many of the specific lines in the Newhart ending are echoed in the Breaking Bad sketch, too—the writers of the latter were paying attention.)
BuzzFeed reports that this alternate ending will be on the Breaking Bad complete-series DVD set that’s coming out next week, putting one last button on the series. Then again, maybe this goes deeper. Maybe Hal’s dream is just a dream that Bob Newhart had while he was dreaming his Newhart life, and maybe The Bob Newhart Show was just part of the all-encompassing TV reality imagined by that kid from the St. Elsewhere ending. Or maybe that’s exactly what Heisenberg wants us to think, and this cutesy “alternate ending” is one last flick of dust in our eyes as he secretly rides off into the sunset with a barrel of cash on his horse and an Erlenmeyer flask slung over his shoulder.