5 Thoughts on El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie


*The following article contains spoilers for El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie.

Capping off the electrifying events of Breaking Bad's finale, El Camino gave us the final chapter of Jesse Pinkman's story. Here are five thoughts on the film:

Jesse is finally at peace

Breaking Bad's epic ending still has fans theorizing what it all meant. But no one has denied the final shot of Walter White confirmed he was finally at peace. The show's sequel movie left the same ounce of doubt about the final time we see his former meth partner. After everything Jesse had been through, he left us as a character who had accepted his outcome. Which, like with Walter, is far from a traditionally happy ending. As Mike Ehrmantraut told Jesse in the opening flashback, one thing he can "never" do is make right on the things he has done. There was no way Jesse, Walter, or anyone else involved with them could ever go back to the lives they were living before the events of Breaking Bad took place. And they knew it.

This doesn't mean closure for the audience

While the character of Jesse Pinkman was satisfied with his outcome, there is reason for those that loved watching him not to be. It was not shocking that he followed the path of Walter and Saul Goodman of restoring to the last case scenario of starting a new life with the help of Ed, the "disappearer." Sure, in Jesse's eyes this plan is far better than the alternative. But the audience should have major trepidations about Ed's system. It was no life for Walter in a small, cold cabin with the absences of human life surrounding him. Saul's ending is not yet completed, but the prequel series Better Call Saul is clearly displaying how his new life as Gene is as nerve-wracking and dissatisfying as ever. In fact, it appears they have been building, through the limited flash-forwards, that he will eventually get caught. The two cases of this plan we have seen unfold don't give us much tranquility about the future of most Breaking Bad fans' favorite character.

Walter White's words

As I'm sure many watching the two-hour film were, I was getting worried that we would not see Walter. But near the end, we finally did. And it was the most impactful scene of the film. In a flashback of duo's early partnership, Walter's final words told his former student how lucky he was. He reasons that Jesse, unlike himself, didn't have to wait his entire life to do something special. What makes this so important is it shows that Walter knew early on what he finally told Skyler the last time they laid eyes on each other: He did it for himself. When Walter knew his time was ticking, he realized he needed to do something special. He could not live with himself ending his journey the way he had lived. He mistakenly pulled out of the business he helped create far too early, which led him not to the meth business, not to the money business, but to empire building.

The pace was fast

If El Camino deserves any criticism, it has to be for its pace. The film moved very quickly and early on it was hard to get a grip on what was going on with Jesse, Skinny Pete, and Badger. Part of this was the change of the medium. We have become accustomed to Vince Gilligan telling stories for seasons, not hours. It's difficult to wrap up a character's past, present, and future who has 62 episodes of depth in 122 minutes. But given this was not a season or a series, Gilligan's theme of giving the best possible outcome of a challenging task once again came to fruition.

This helped, not hurt Breaking Bad's legacy

As excited as I was for this film, I couldn't help but ask the question of "why?" Why are they adding to it? Unlike most shows of Breaking Bad's caliber, it ended in a way most of its fans loved. Some even consider it the greatest television finale of all-time. It had seemed the series' legacy had nowhere to go but down. Yet, it didn't. Nothing that happened in El Camino took away from the magic of the series. As mentioned above, it only made Walter's decision-making more fascinating and memorable. Even if it didn't give us definitive closure on Jesse's character, it at least gave us enough to imagine and debate where his life could be going next. This was as opposed to not even knowing if he made it a mile down the road after escaping the compound. The film also gave us a look at how Jesse has evolved. He was still sickened by the thought of killing someone, but he showed the Walter in him by doing what needed to be done. The joy he took in burning down the welding shop, who did that remind you of? The final scene showed Jesse remembering Jane telling him “sometimes, it’s better to make those decisions for yourself," instead of him thinking the best way is to let the universe take him with it. Jesse is now someone who is going to live the life he wants, not the one others want. This was the same decision Walter made early on when this story began.