There’s a weird thing about this film – it can be skipped completely, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. This is like getting a call from your ex to let you know that you were indeed loved, cherished, and cared for but the relationship has to end. I’m going to spoil all of the series this film serves as a sequel to so…I don’t know, if you haven’t seen it maybe you should get on that. It’s pretty great.
El Camino is a 2019 epilogue to the television series Breaking Bad, (2008-2013). The series itself clocks in at around 62 hours and is an absolute beast of a story, telling the tale of two meth dealers in a novel-esque structure with cinematic imagery. It’s a stunning piece of work and, for my money, had one of the absolute best endings in modern television (to those that didn’t like it…welp, hope Game of Thrones scratched that itch for you…). With incredible performances across the board, brilliant pacing and structure, and even music that stood out to make something somehow greater than the sum of its parts. There may never be anything like it ever again.
So what’s the point of El Camino?
Turns out that there was a bit more to Jesse Pinkman’s (Aaron Paul) story and Vince Gilligan (creator of the entire franchise) felt like telling it. The film picks up immediately after his escape from the Neo Nazi compound and Walter White’s death, his liberated cries almost instantly silenced as he has to pull off the road and hide in a driveway to avoid the cops. This is, in fact, a huge part of the film’s pathos and that of Jesse himself. He’s become the rat everyone calls him throughout the film, scurrying around in an attempt to avoid the exterminators. Just because the Neo Nazi compound has been destroyed doesn’t mean they’re gone. These assholes are, in fact, woven throughout employment outside of meth production and they’re clever (or lucky) enough to stay hidden and pass as things like policemen.
I don’t want to spoil too much about this film as Breaking Bad is an absolute pillar of televised storytelling so…just watch it. What I WILL say is that there’s a feeling of finality to this, a small and unnecessary epilogue to a greater narrative that came perhaps a bit too late and is nonetheless masterful in execution. Did anyone really need this? Nah, it’s a completely unnecessary bit of fanservice but everyone involved poured enough of their soul into the process that it managed to become something special. Jesse was perhaps the series most tragic character, sincere and desperate to be something more than the choices he’d made, and this finally gives us closure to his story. We still don’t know what happened to Huel but we now get closure on the other of our main protagonists. We may have ended our relationship with Breaking Bad 6 years ago but that doesn’t mean we didn’t kind of want closure and we’ve now got it.
Cheers to Gilligan, Paul, Jesse Plemons, Krysten Ritter, Jonathan Banks, and Bryan Cranston for coming back to make magic one more time. No one needed it, no one truly asked for it, and yet it’s managed to feel cathartic and heartfelt enough that any fan of the series can now feel satisfied.
Oh…just so you know…Badger and Skinny Pete are still awesome.