If you’re a Breaking Bad fan, you’ve (hopefully) had time to chew your fingernails through El Camino and find out what happened to Jesse Pinkman after we last saw him driving off into the night after being freed by Walter White.
Now it’s time to debrief and see if you had any of the same questions as us.
SPOILERS: No Breaking Bad or El Camino plot points are off the table, so consider yourself warned.
Had we heard anything about Jesse’s fate before this movie?
Officially, series creator Vince Gilligan had left this open, telling GQ shortly after the finale of Breaking Bad that it was “up to the viewer” to decide what had happened to Jesse next.
But when asked what he himself thought, he had this to say:
“My personal feeling is that he got away. But the most likely thing, as negative as this sounds, is that they’re going to find this kid’s fingerprints all over this lab and they’re going to find him within a day or a week or a month. And he’s still going to be on the hook for the murder of two federal agents.
“But yeah, even though that’s the most likely outcome, the way I see it is that he got away and got to Alaska, changed his name, and had a new life. You want that for the kid. He deserves it.”
It would appear El Camino was Gilligan’s attempt to make this happy(ish) ending as realistic as possible.
So, Jesse made it to Alaska. But do they not have newspapers and TV there?
Haines, near where Jesse is dropped off in Alaska, is home to just a couple thousand people.
But given Jesse’s infamy, unless he’s off to get facial reconstruction before heading into town, you’d expect at least one of the locals to recognise him…
Where do the flashbacks fit into the Breaking Bad timeline?
- Jesse and Mike: Their conversation, which seemingly gave Jesse the idea of moving to Alaska, must have taken place shortly before Mike’s death in season five which takes place at a similar location
- Jesse and Walt: The pair’s mobile meth lab can be seen outside the diner, placing this flashback after season two’s Four Days Out, in which Jesse and Walt become stranded in the desert (hence Jesse tells Walt to hydrate)
- Jesse and Jane: It must have taken place during season two when the two of them were dating (Walt allows her to die at the end of that season). The scene echoes another featured in the 11th episode of season three, Abiquiu, which references the pair visiting the Georgia O’Keeffe museum.
Where did Skinny Pete and Badger get a lazy $8,200 to give Jesse?
They might have just been studious savers, but there’s a simpler explanation…
In the Breaking Bad finale, which takes place immediately before El Camino, the pair helped Walt get back at his old colleagues and ensure they would follow his plan to give his fortune to his son Flynn when he turned 18.
Specifically, Skinny Pete and Badger pointed laser sights — or rather, laser pointers — at them to make them think hitman would kill them if they didn’t follow through.
“You know, I don’t exactly know how to feel about all this,” Badger tells Walt afterwards.
Skinny Pete replies, “For real, yo. The whole thing felt kinda shady, like, morality-wise.”
But then Walt gives them a wad of cash each for their troubles, and they suddenly feel better about the whole thing.
It’s during this scene that Walt finds out that Jesse is still cooking, and soon he’s off to kill the neo-Nazis along with (we’re initially led to believe) his former protege.
But when Walt is confronted with Jesse, who has seen much better days at that point having been kept in captivity, he instead saves him.
Who was Jesse’s letter to?
We see Jesse hand over a farewell letter not to his family, who he used as a diversion to secure two guns, but to Brock Cantillo, who was seen from season three onwards when Jesse begins dating his mother Andrea. In a flashback with Jesse and Todd, we hear Todd warn Jesse not to try to escape or else he’d visit “the little boy”.
Todd killed Andrea as Jesse watched on helplessly after an escape attempt seen in the final season of the show.
Aaron Paul, who played Jesse, told IGN the content of the letter were originally part of the script. It was “a beautifully honest, heart-wrenching sort of love letter to Andrea and to Brock. A confession in many ways.
“I fought very hard to have it still in this film, but [Gilligan] wanted to leave it to mystery.”
Where was Huell?
The last we saw of him, he was in a DEA safe house, and this El Camino teaser video may have given you hope we’d see him:
Alas, the fan favourite was nowhere to be seen.
On that note, where were all the women?
You’re not the only person to notice the distinct lack of female characters, beyond Jesse’s mum, the strippers and the short flashback with Jane:
@girlmaeda tweet: im not one of the ppl who apply the bechdel test to every movie because every movie is different but…like…el camino was 1. already dead women who died for jesse’s manpain and 2. background women, including strippers, who talk among themselves so it technically passes actually
Out of curiosity, what was the indistinct rap-rock music playing when Jesse was waiting to enter Kandy Welding Co?
If you had the subtitles on, you would have seen this during that scene:
In case you were tempted to Shazam it, let’s save you the bother: it was wasn’t just indistinct rap rock, it was indistinct Christian rap rock from 2009.
It’s called Kountry Gentleman, it’s by Family Force 5, and it’s a banger.
But it’s maybe not what you’d expect them to be listening to just after the arrival of strippers…
Weird tangent, but OK… were we meant to remember Kandy Welding Co, BTW?
No, but the reference fit so seamlessly into the Breaking Bad storyline that you’d be forgiven for wondering otherwise.
Likewise, we’d never seen Neil before (actor Scott MacArthur’s IMDb page makes no reference to Breaking Bad), even though you might have felt like we had.
Is this the actual end of the Breaking Bad saga?
Well, we know there’s at least one more season of Better Call Saul to come — filming for season five finished last month.
As far as the post-Breaking Bad storyline goes, El Camino feels like a fitting end.
However, given that Vince Gilligan has now added to the saga at both ends (and managed to keep the quality high in the process), it’s probably best not to assume that he’s not going to attempt it again.