On September 29, 2013, the final episode of the critically praised, and arguably, one of the best television series of all time, “Breaking Bad,” ended its five season run with the episode “Felina.” In the closing minutes of the series finale, Walter White, a role completely embodied by Golden Globe winner Bryan Cranston (Trumbo), vanquishes a group of criminal, Neo-Nazis. Walter’s actions, not only gets revenge against the criminals, who took the majority of his money, but more importantly, it helps to free his partner, Jesse, portrayed by three time Emmy winner Aaron Paul (Westworld), who was being held prisoner by the Neo-Nazis, and forced to cook meth.
After an opening flashback scene, featuring Jesse, and Mike Ehrmantraut, played by “Breaking Bad,” and “Better Call Saul,” cast member, and six time Emmy nominee Jonathan Banks, “El Camino,” picks up again right where “Breaking Bad” ended. Jesse is seen driving off of the compound, into the dark of night, as he screams in jubilation, that he is free from where he’s been held prisoner. He doesn’t get very far, before he sees a long line of police and law enforcement vehicles headed in his direction. Managing to pull into a driveway, Jesse sits nervously, gun in hand, waiting for what might be his final moments on Earth to take place, but fortunately for him, all of the vehicles speed by him. From that moment forward, he knows, he’s a wanted man. He’s short on time, completely out of money, and needs to make a quick escape from New Mexico before the law catches up with him. The only people he can completely trust are his friends, Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) and Badger (Matt Jones); both characters appeared in multiple episodes during the series run of “Breaking Bad.“ Once he arrives at the house the two friends share, he is able to hide the El Camino, get a badly needed night’s sleep, and an equally needed shower, and begin to formulate a plan as to how he’s going to avoid being captured, and imprisoned for the second time.
Time has not been kind to Jesse. Fans of the series will immediately recognize that he’s not the same character he was during the series run, nor could he be, after the hellish ordeal he’s been through. His stay with the Neo-Nazis, and their inhumane treatment of him, where he was caged like an animal, has left Jesse scarred on both his face and back. The harsh life he led while their prisoner, also causes him to have painful flashbacks of the suffering he endured, both physically and psychologically, at the Neo-Nazis’ hands. Revealed to the viewer, via flashback, Todd, played by Emmy nominee Jesse Plemons (Fargo), is the person, from his time with the Neo-Nazis, that haunts Jesse the most. Ironically, it is Todd, who at Jesse’s desperate hour of need, might be the one person who can save Jesse, and give him the means to start a new life someplace else.
While Jesse might have changed, the tone, look and sound of the series carries over into the movie thanks to the excellent cinematography work of Marshall Adams (Better Call Saul), and composer Dave Porter (The Blacklist). For example, one scene of interest, is when Jesse is tearing apart an apartment. The camera is facing down over the entire width of the apartment, and there appears to be multiple images of Jesse moving throughout the apartment at a brisk pace, while searching through each of the rooms. Additionally, and perhaps, most importantly to maintain continuity from the series, “Breaking Bad” creator, three time Emmy nominee Vince Gilligan (The X-Files) wrote and directed the movie which premiered on October 11, 2019 on Netflix streaming services. Furthermore, fans of the series will also recognize the time lapse photography to show the change of day into night, that was utilized throughout the series.
By his own admission, Vince Gilligan stated that: had “Better Call Saul” not been successful, the sequel movie, revealing what happened to Jesse, most likely, would not have been made. I don’t want to say too much more, because I don’t want to spoil it for those of you, who have yet to be able to watch the movie. Sadly, this was one of Oscar nominee Robert Foster’s (Jackie Brown) final films. He returns as Ed Galbraith, who is the owner of a vacuum repair and sales store, among some other things.
Will Jesse make it out alive? What does he need to do to ensure his escape? Where will he go if he can start over? All of the questions and more will be answered by the film’s conclusion. According to Aaron Paul, there are no planned sequels to the movie, so, Jesse’s story, by movie’s end, will be concluded.