When you’ve created what was undisputedly one of the best television series of the past decade, and then decide to make a sequel film, the performance pressure must be immense. The man behind Breaking Bad is Vince Gilligan, and his movie El Camino – which details what happened to Jesse Pinkman (Emmy winner Aaron Paul) after the series finale – is now on Netflix. Gilligan wrote, directed, and produced the film.
The two-hour flick picks up with Jesse on the run after escaping the neo-Nazis who had kept him in captivity, forcing him to cook meth. What’s that? You don’t remember what happened in the last 2013 episode, titled Felina? No problem – Paul himself recapped all five seasons on Jimmy Kimmel Live, in a concise two-and-a-half minute whirlwind monologue. Watch if you haven’t seen the show and are not afraid of spoilers, or if you’re not planning to watch it at all (your loss).
On the note of spoilers, if you haven’t seen El Camino, do not under any circumstances go to the Wikipedia page because it’s full of them, right from the very top. It will be much more fun if you buckle up for the ride and delight in the return of several Breaking Bad characters, portrayed in various flashback segments.
Obviously, as much as we love Jesse, the biggest question is, did Walter White (Emmy winner Bryan Cranston) somehow miraculously survive to play a part in Pinkman’s future? Even some of the best TV shows have brought characters back from the dead, hashtag “dream”. You’ll have to watch to find out.
The first trailer for El Camino revealed Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) being interrogated, so it’s no surprise he’s in it. Except the interrogation scene isn’t, so you’d be forgiven for having some trust issues around the promotional material, and all the secrecy in which the production was shrouded.
The very short, spoiler-free (except in our links, be warned), synopsis of El Camino is simply this: Jesse escapes and tries to make a new life for himself.
As much as the movie appears to give Jesse the closure he deserves, it begets yet another question: did we really need this?
Do you need a working knowledge of Breaking Bad to fully enjoy El Camino? I’d say yes. About half of it is comprised of flashbacks to characters and situations from the series, which brings a sort of nostalgic, awkward comfort, because us fans and geeks just love their Easter eggs.
The flashbacks are all “new” and fit in across the scope of the five seasons of Breaking Bad. One of the characters Jesse finally meets for the first time is Ed – a vacuum cleaner repairman whose undercover business is being a new-identity specialist. The actor who plays him, Robert Forster, sadly passed away from brain cancer on the day El Camino was released on Netflix.
As much as the movie appears to give Jesse the closure he deserves, it begets yet another question: did we really need this? Richard Trenholm at Cnet says it doesn’t really add much to the story; Ian Sandwell at Digital Spy agrees. Like the Downton Abbey film, this is an homage to something much loved, a requiem… but Gilligan has still left some doors open.