By Cole Parkinson
I remember sitting down to watch the Breaking Bad finale like it was yesterday, even though it happened in 2012.
I, like many, didn’t start watching it the day the series first premiered but I caught up for the fifth season back in 2011 and from there, I witnessed the greatest season of TV of all-time and arguably the best episode of television in ‘Ozymandias’.
So with a perfect ending already in place for Breaking Bad, I was a little hesitant to see any future Breaking Bad prequels or sequels but Better Call Saul completely blew my expectations out of the water.
So while Better Call Saul was giving many more of the Breaking Bad fix, there was a rumour floating around that a movie was also scheduled to be released and it would be centred on Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), moments after the events of ‘Felina’.
Enter El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie.
Filmed in secret with a ton of Breaking Bad characters and original actors, every single Breaking Bad fan had one question — will it be good?
And while the reception hasn’t nearly been as universal as the original run of Breaking Bad, I think the movie delivered on absolutely everything it needed to.
If you are a Breaking Bad fan and haven’t seen El Camino yet, what are you doing reading this? Go watch it.
It’s been out for nearly two months so I think it’s fair game to spoil the particularly big moments within the movie.
The movie plot picks up almost immediately after Jesse escapes Uncle Jack and his brotherhood’s gang hideout and from there we see how he tries to exit Albuquerque for good.
Of course, I would be remiss not to mention the opening scene of the movie where we get to see Johnathan Banks return as Mike.
Now, Banks is already back as Mike Ehrmantraut in Better Call Saul so it wasn’t an entirely shocking character return but the Mike/Jesse relationship in Breaking Bad is one of my favourites.
Mike is the antithesis of Walter White, while Walt uses Jesse for large portions of the original Breaking Bad plot, Mike truly cares for Jesse, so it was nice to see them back together again.
From there, seeing Jesse, Badger and Skinny Pete together again after seven years was such a cool moment.
While there are bigger and better reunions further along in the movie, seeing Jesse go back to Skinny Pete and Badger for help was incredibly satisfying as a massive Breaking Bad fan.
One thing I didn’t expect from this movie was the fact a large majority of the film is spent in the past.
While it was fairly obvious there would be numerous flashbacks in the movie, spending a good portion of the early parts of the movie revisiting the Jesse/Todd relationship was not something I expected at all.
I did like how it showed exactly what Jesse went through during the several months he spent as a slave to Uncle Jack and his Nazi friends which wasn’t included in Breaking Bad, and it was a great way to tie the past with the present.
One of the biggest complaints about the movie that I’ve seen is just how different everyone looks compared to the characters they portrayed in 2012.
Todd, played by Jesse Plemmons, is easily the most distracting as he looks almost nothing like he did during the fifth season.
The good news is the acting is so spot-on if you can suspend your belief for these scenes it still works.
Todd is just as creepy and just as insane as he was in Breaking Bad but you just have to imagine he put on some weight during those months before losing it all before Walt makes his dramatic return to the compound in the finale.
One of my favourite scenes of the movie is when Todd sings along to “Share the Night Together” by Dr. Hook and a semi passes and he does the arm pump to get the driver to honk.
I still think about that scene every now and then and laugh because it was just so perfect.
Another returning character, which was obviously going to be featured, was Robert Forester’s character Ed Galbraith or ‘The Disappearer.’
Of course, he was the one who transported Walt to New Hampshire and Saul Goodman to Nebraska in the penultimate episode ‘Granite State’ and with Jesse knowing about his services already, you knew this would be his best shot of getting out.
The ensuing mayhem all feels very Breaking Bad-ish, which is exactly what I wanted.
I know people have pointed to the lack of action in the movie, and really there is only one portion of the movie where any real action sequence is present, but I expected this to be a very low-key movie.
Jesse was never one to embrace violence in the show so anyone imagining him running and gunning his way out of the ABQ for the entire two-hour run-time were always going to walk away disappointed.
This was always going to be a movie focused on story and progression towards Jesse’s ending before being an action movie.
After the only gunfight in the movie, we are once again transported back to Breaking Bad, specifically the second season right after Jesse and Walt finally get out of the desert during the episode ‘4 Days Out’.
As soon as we’re brought back to see Jesse, I was confident I knew exactly where we were in the Breaking Bad timeline just by his demeanour and who he was talking to on the phone.
During my first viewing, I knew he was talking to his season two girlfriend Jane, which would mean Walt is still alive.
When Jesse knocks on the door beside his hotel room, I got chills because I knew who was going to be on the other side of the door, and lo and behold, we finally got to see Walter White and Jesse Pinkman together again.
Them walking down the hallway is so perfect and I truly never thought we’d get another scene between the two greatest TV characters ever again.
The only issue though was the obvious fact Bryan Cranston was wearing a bald cap, which was obvious due to the size of his head.
Now, he wasn’t going to shave his head for a couple minutes scene and on top of that, if he had shaved his head and was spotted bald out in public, every single person would know exactly why.
So I’ll take his abnormally large head, for that surprise it brought.
The entire breakfast scene is a perfect addition to Breaking Bad as it once again reinforces the fact Walt truly viewed meth-cooking as his magnum opus.
The writing, as per Breaking Bad usual, was so expertly done and seeing one last and final Jesse/Walt scene was truly the biggest surprise of my year.
I was always fairly certain Jesse wouldn’t be killed off and thank goodness Vince Gilligan agreed, though he has admitted he thought about it but his girlfriend told him he would be crazy to do that.
Seeing Jesse drive off into Alaska, along with another great flashback to Jane and Jesse, was the best possible ending to Jesse Pinkman’s story.
So was this a totally necessary movie? No.
Would I recommend it to someone who had never seen Breaking Bad? No.
That would be like recommending someone watch Avengers: Endgame without seeing any other Marvel movie.
This is purely an epilogue to Breaking Bad and it was perfect as exactly that.
Seeing most of my favourite characters again on the screen was something I didn’t really need but hell, I loved all 120 minutes of it.