Breaking Bad has been off the air for at least six years but to this date, I don’t think any television series has made as big of an impact as its glorious five seasons of Heisenberg’s rise and fall. Everything was as it was supposed to be and by its end, we get to see Walter White end things on his own terms, closing out the series with Jesse fleeing the hands of his ruthless captors in — you got it, an El Camino.
There are times when movies are developed based on successful television shows that only seek to make an extra buck out of the material. El Camino was something entirely different. It was a reminder that there were two main characters in Breaking Bad and as much as the public celebrates the brilliant character that is Heisenberg, his partner Jesse Pinkman also deserves the same level of reverence. Throughout the series’ five season run, Jesse has been through hell and back and El Camino quells our curiosity to find out what became of him after his “liberation.”
El Camino is not an action-packed installment in the franchise. Not by a long shot. It was quiet and methodical, showing what happened during the time Jesse was being cooped up in a cage like an animal, and after the time he was “rescued” by Walt in his final act of defiance. It shows Jesse on his own, surviving on wit and instinct without Walt’s endless well of plans and strategy and without Saul Goodman’s contingency solutions. It shows Jesse traumatized and vulnerable, desperate to flee with very limited resources.
The show reunites loyal Breaking Bad fans with their favorite characters like Mike Ehrmentraut (Jonathan Banks), Skinny Pete and Badger who deserve shoutouts for being BFFs of the year (Charles Baker and Matt Jones), Joe, whom we may recall with the magnets, magnets episode (Larry Hankin), Ed (Robert Forster, RIP), Jane (Krysten Ritter) and Walter White (Bryan Cranston) himself. However, the movie makes their scenes more than a fan service and makes it integral to to illustrating Jesse’s frame of mind.
In Jesse’s interactions with them, we remember why we loved his character so much. While this version of Jesse was less cocky and did not use his catchphrase B*TCH so much, series creator Vice Gilligan taps into familiar elements of the series to bring out Jesse’s strengths and vulnerabilities.
I must admit that it made me mad to see what has been done to Jesse, and it made me want to get revenge for him as much as the next fan. Aaron Paul served no less than the excellent acting that earned him three Emmy awards for the same role for Breaking Bad’s successful run. Whether it was being a meek captive, a gullible thief, a badass gunslinger, each emotion was on point. Never has he lost audience’s attention for a minute.
After learning all that he has been through, it was such a relief to give him that one big moment to just free himself from the chains of his past. It was also a brilliant parallel to Breaking Bad’s series finale Felina. And like he always says: Science, B*itch! It was no less than perfect, cinematically and plot-wise.
All in all, El Camino gave Jesse Pinkman ending he deserved. Walter White gave him a way out in Breaking Bad, but in this installment, Jesse found peace he so craved from the beginning. It was all up to him. True, it did come with a cost but the brilliant script made sure everybody knew what Jesse risked to get it, and this made the ending so much more impactful. Thank you, Vice Gilligan for this fitting sendoff.