When Breaking Bad ended, there was pretty much nothing else to say. The entire Walter White saga was wrapped up, and in true Walter White (Bryan Cranston) fashion, he left nothing undone, his final plan was executed flawlessly. But for fans of the show, there was one loose end. Pinkman. If Walt was the driving force and brains of the whole thing, Jesse (Aaron Paul) was without a doubt the heart of the show. As we grew to despise Walt, at the same time we grew to love Jesse. And it seems show creator Vince Gilligan loved him too, as he writes and directs what we all felt was missing in those final few episodes of Breaking Bad. Jesse’s Story.
After Jesse’s liberation from his meth making prison, he begins his search for a way out of town. Hooking up with some old friends for help, he hastily tries to come up with a plan to elude the police who are frantically looking for him as he continues to deal with the PTSD from his imprisonment. There are flashbacks that fill some of the gaps with his time as a captive of Todd (Jesse Plemons) and his white supremacist family. As Jesse scrambles with his vague plan to get money and get out, he also wrestles with his inner demons and sins of the past.
I’ll do my best to keep this as non-spoilery as I can. Other than Jesse Plemons I will say that there are other characters from the Breaking Bad universe that make appearances in El Camino. Most are brief and all are connected to Jessie in some way. Some feel slightly shoehorned in, but most work for what they are trying to say regarding Jesse and where he is now mentally. There are new characters that fit nicely in this narrative as director Vince Gilligan was known to do back in the heyday of the show.
Paul doesn’t miss a step as he fits right back into the role that made him famous. Jesse Pinkman is still smart, slightly arrogant, paranoid, and a bit foolish. But most importantly, still has the drive that helped him survive as some of that Walter White luck rubs off on him this time around. And he uses every opportunity to steer things his way. In other words, he stays true to his character.
This feels less like an original film and more like a coda for the show, as it certainly has the ‘love-letter’ to fans feel to it. There are points where it is more like, “remember this?” than a natural progression of what happened to Jesse after he sped off screaming in that El Camino. But in the end that’s what it looks like Gilligan was going for. This is not a pointless cash-grab, it’s not a push to reinvigorate interest for the long gone series. This is simply Vince Gilligan and Aaron Paul taking care of all family business.