Thoughts & Theories on El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

I now interrupt my prepared blogging schedule to bring you a special edition post about a new movie that is officially out and available on Netflix today (10.11.19) El Camino, A Breaking Bad Movie

WARNING:
THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS

If you plan on watching El Camino, please watch the movie first then follow up with my blog post and please offer your commentary and thoughts based on what I’ve shared.  

ATTENTION: If you haven’t seen Breaking Bad, please watch the series before watching El Camino. They are very much reliant on one another and this is NOT a stand-alone movie.

TIP: It’s been 6 years since the series finale aired, if you haven’t seen the show in some time, I suggest you refresh your memory and watch at least the last 2-3 episodes! 

Ever since attending the world premiere Monday night (and if I’m being honest even some time before that in anticipation of the event) my mind has once again been consumed by all thing in the Breaking Bad universe. I’ve been waiting day racking my brain, over analyzing every detail I could remember, and just waiting for a moment to share my thoughts with you! Now’s my chance. 

Some Thoughts

The opening scene we flash back to Mike’s (Jonathan Banks) final scene in the show and him having a conversation with Jesse (Aaron Paul.) All though the scene feels a little out of place and really tested my memory, Vince Gilligan not only gives us an opportunity to enjoy a favorite character and relationship for a few moments longer but also does his traditional foreshadowing of the events to come. For a minute, I found myself forgetting where we left off and buying into the whole “beautiful moment by the river” which contrasted really nicely and had me jumping out of my seat when we jumped back to the present. 

Back at Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) and Badger’s (Matt Jones) place we get a more intimate moment seeing Jesse struggling with getting back to reality. Something that stands out to me in this moment is the emphasis they put on the scars on his back and face… I’ll come back to that later. Once Jesse emerges from the shower, he appears to be back to normal. PTSD to survival mode, it seemed like a quick transition but I’m also ‘okay’ with the decision to not linger on it more. Skinny Pete and Badger finally get all the lines they deserve and many that have me laughing every time! 

Perhaps one of the most interesting moments in the whole movie in my opinion is as Jesse starts to take off Skinny Pete hands Jesse his signature stocking hat. A gesture that speaks louder than words, but when you pair it with what he says about Jesse being his “hero” it takes it to a whole different level. I’m still internalizing this scene. I think Skinny Pete’s help here gives Jesse the will to survive and is just the encouragement he needs to remember what he’s fighting for. Without someone so actively fighting in his corner and motivating him to push on vs. turning himself in (which comes in to play later on also) he has a force driving him forward. 

Next we get a whole deeper look into a relationship I 100% didn’t expect. The whole premiere I was wondering why everyone was obsessing so much over Todd (Jesse Plemons.) He’s easily the worst character in Breaking Bad because of Season 5 Episode 5 and if you still don’t know, yes, the one where he shoots the kid… However, we get to see a whole lot more Todd. How is it that the same guy that can murder an innocent child and be fine with keeping a human locked in a cage also the guy who will send down ice cream, cigarettes, and volunteer to stay home and look after Jesse all weekend? Still not a sweetheart but the conflicting actions that seem to have no degree of difference in emotions for him—so interesting! 

It’s here in these next few flash back scenes that I do enjoy getting to learn a little more about the El Camino itself and some of the other significant events that have taken place. Right off the bat I wasn’t buying that the apartment was Todd’s. If the pastel colors didn’t give it away, the kitchen table sure did and the snow globe collection really sealed the deal. What I am confused by is the story that she was the maid and found the money and that was the motivation for killing her. I think it’s a lot more likely that he needed that location/apartment specifically for whatever reason and decided to kill her and take it. Why? Well besides the interior decorating, he didn’t really have an idea of what would be in the cupboard (a collection of things an old lady is a lot more likely to have than a twenty-something-old guy. Although don’t get me wrong I do feel that he’s been living there based on the out-of-place random collection of very modern furniture. 

Now the true crime junkie in me was very concerned with the question, “Why’d he chooses to strangle her, more specifically with the belt.” For that he would have most likely snuck up on her from behind, not attacked her in the middle of an argument. It’s also the kitchen so knife seems like a heat of the moment choice, but again nosy neighbor might have heard maybe that’s why? Probably not worth lingering but how the rest of this plays out with the rolling the body and “moving” her to the car—priceless moments! My final thought on this poor dead woman that I have so many questions about. When the “police” officers come to visit the nosy neighbor tells them that he’s met the guy that’s living there and basically isn’t a huge fan of Todd (who is?) but this leads me to believe that either that lady has really been dead for a while long enough for people to assume she moved out and someone moved in OR it really is Todd’s apartment…. Still not buying it though. 

Burying the body‑now why Jesse gives the gun back… well if he would have shot Todd the story obviously would most likely have not led to the ending, we see in Breaking Bad. Obviously, I believe it took more than just pepperoni pizza to sway Jesse’s mind. However, I think it’s more than just Jesse thinking that Todd’s uncles would still manage a way to get after Brock. I think its kind of back to the idea of Jesse feeling like although life is seemingly as bad as it gets—he doesn’t have much to fight for anymore. Everything he loves and knows and cared about at that point has been taken away and it’s arguable that Todd is the only person he has in that moment. 

Looking for money I thought for sure it would be in the pool but then we kept getting shots of the chimney… the refrigerator door, honestly the last place I’d think. You’re telling me the same guy the hid money in books also thought to hide money in the fridge door? I don’t really think so, but maybe!

Unfinished Business

Moving on to some unfinished business. From having to pay debts carried over to the first get-a-new-life attempt to reencountering the welders/DEA agent/ assholes.  It’s in these scenes we see the damage 5 season of Breaking Bad has done on Jesse Pinkman. From staying calm and outsmarting situations thinking 5 steps ahead while having a gun to his head, to trying to strong arm his way into convincing the Vacuum guy to give him a break… all characteristics that remind me of someone else I know. 

Speaking of Walter White (Bryan Cranston) the motel diner scene gives me all the feels! From seeing our beloved characters transition and flash back to their season one selves naive and optimistic we’re really reminded just how far they’ve come. This moment and transition amazes me in these two’s acting abilities to be able to change and rethink back to all those years ago where they started and who they were! 

The conversation though is what intrigues me and opens a few questions. What will Jesse do one day when it’s done? When he has a chance to do something special with his life? I certainly doubt exercise science is where he ends up. Even more confusing is Jesse’s response letting White know that his family will get what they have coming. Potential foreshadowing? Or simply speaking to every decision Walter made during the show FULLY came back to bite his family in the butt? I prefer the first option… more to come! It was based on this statement that I hoped we’d get a peek at modern day life of Skyler, Flynn, and Holly but then I remembered. This is only a few days later not years like in real life. 

Transitions

This brings us to Jesse breaking into his parents and more genius thinking of coming up with the perfect plan to get them and the undercover cops away. You know the first thought here is if he only needs $1,800 surely, he could get the cash or valuables around the house to amount for that much but instead, he gets the guns and gets out. Which we learn is part of a much bigger, premeditated plan. At the shop is when I feel Jesse has transitioned into his full-on Heisenberg mode. Why go back when he doesn’t presumably need the whole amount? Not only does he have nothing to lose but he’s seeking revenge. Like Heisenberg he can’t handle letting the Welder’s get away with the pain they caused and the turmoil they brought into his life. Jesse isn’t ok with letting the welders feel like they got away with something most likely motivated by the main guy’s taunting as Jesse leaves “Todd’s” apartment and remembers him. 

I love the old western style shoot out and getting outsmarted by the sense of betting, genius! The whole scene seems so true in nature to some of the shows biggest moments and did not disappoint, explosion and all. 

So now we’re in Alaska, alas the place Mike recommended (about time Jesse listens to something Mike had to say.) With one final question to answer we see Jesse hand over a letter to be delivered to Brock and then seemingly we’re supposed to trust that it’ll be delivered, and Jesse can go on living his new life. The scene is beautiful, white, quiet. Jesse seems restored refreshed and is in an uncharacteristic white turtleneck sweater. Either he’s really is restored to a new identity and life or this is really an ironic ending. 

Theories

Here. We. Go. The ending does not follow anything we’ve come to expect from Gilligan. It’s too neat. It’s too wrapped up and perfectly presented, somethings fishy. Somehow although all our questions have been answered, I feel left with less resolve than the ending of the TV show. 

Looking back at the scenes and being excited to watch the movie again, I’m reading between all the lines and pauses and honestly, I don’t think this is the last we’ve seen of Jesse Pinkman. The scars that I mentioned before, I don’t feel as if we learned the cause. I don’t believe they were caused by the running and trying to break free from Todd’s lab. The conversation at the Diner with Walter White—there’s got to be more to it. Then if that’s not enough the first trailer shows Skinny Pete in with police discussing where Jesse ran off to. That’s a lot of work to go to just to film a trailer…. Then there’s the ending of the full, main trailer where we hear what we assume is White’s voice (for the record, I do believe he’s actually dead though once they confirmed on the radio news when Jesse was in the car.) 

I feel like we’re missing the other side of the story, the side Hank would tell if he were still alive, the side of the pursuit. I also feel like were missing out on the grief of the family although they did seem to consider their “dad” and “husband” as being dead before it was a reality.

I know this is a stretch, but it also seems to me like a conscious choice to name it “A Breaking Bad Movie” instead of “THE Breaking Bad Movie.” And really stretching it out even further listening to reviews from the premier and reading different articles. Aaron Paul says things referencing hopes for a long relationship with Netflix and “if I only worked for Gilligan the rest of my career, I’d be the happiest man in Hollywood.” Suspicious…. 

Please share ALL your thoughts with me and send me things to support, disprove, inspire, anything! Clearly, I can’t get enough! 

Premiere

Finally, I’d just like to share some photos from the premiere and say it was 100% worth the experience. I feel so fortunate to have gotten to experience this movie this way for the first time and laugh, clap, and jump with a room full of fans. It was truly something special and I’m so glad I get to share a sliver of that experience with all of you! 

All this being said I really enjoyed the movie! I’m such a huge fan though that I would have taken any ounce of these characters in any version they’d deliver. 

Cross Country

Well the leaves are starting to change, the temperature is starting to drop (it may still be 79 degrees but that’s a drop) and that can only mean that Summer is coming to an end. Although the change in LA isn’t near as dramatic as Fall back home in Iowa, it still brings a new energy that I find inspiring and fuels me to start something new. In preparation for that change, I have one final chapter to my Summer Scroll Through and the granddaddy story of them all Emory and I’s big cross country adventure. 

When it comes to traveling, I must admit I’m one who prefers to jump on a plane and be at my destination in a fraction of the time.  However, a cross country road trip adventure has always just sounded so romantic and exciting. Emory is not stranger from driving from Iowa to LA usually making the trip all on his own.  I knew I couldn’t make him drive back again by himself. Plus, I had never really seen much of what’s between California and Iowa. Both of these factors inspired me to tag along for the ride, but I had a few ground rules of course! 

  1. I wasn’t willing to sleep in the car (Air BnB please!)
  2. I didn’t want to drive straight there. 

So, we decided to make a vacation out of it—five and a half days’ worth of driving and exploring from Los Angeles to Iowa. Knowing we would be traveling in the middle of August (the hottest month) we decided to forego Emory’s typical route through all the National Parks and head North then cut over.

Half Day: 

We left after work and headed up the coast towards the Bay Area. We decided to take the scenic route (about 7 hours) and drive up the coast and the PCH and recreate our earlier Summer adventure. The drive was beautiful as always and traffic could have been a lot worse. Taking this route did add and additional 1-2 hours than the inland trip would have but we would argue it was worth it. If you find yourself making the drive DON’T stop for gas in Santa Barbra (take our word for it) and DO stop for food in San Luis Obispo (we stopped at Mo’s Barbecue this time.) We finally got to San Francisco late and completely exhausted. We stayed in a boutique hotel we rented via Air BNB called The Bartlett. It was super cute and trendy, however not the cleanest nor friendliest staff. All things considered though when you take into account, we were staying in one of the most expensive cities, we weren’t complaining. 

Day One: 

We headed out about 9:00 am the next morning on a journey to squeeze as much of San Francisco in in a day as we could. Emory had already been, but it was my first time. We headed down to Fisherman’s Warf and grabbed beignets and cappuccinos for breakfast at Frankie’s at Pier 43. Oh my goodness though, people were eating fish and chips that early in the morning, but it actually looked and smelled incredible. So much in fact we went back to Frankie’s for lunch! Not only was it affordable but they claim to have the best fish and they’re right. I have a feeling this place will be a staple anytime I find myself in SF! 

After breakfast we caught a street performer act and walked through the Musse Mecanique, the antique penny arcade. Grandma predicted my fortune, we walked down Pier 39, got a great view of Alcatraz (which I didn’t realize was so close by the way) as well as a great view looking back at the city. After watching the seals, we decided it was time to go find the main attraction, the Golden Gate Bridge, at Crissy Field. 

Immediately as we got close to the bridge the most perfect sunny day transitioned to foggy, misty, and overcast like magic! We pulled over, snapped a few pictures and continued on our way.  Before leaving the bay area, we checked out Muir Woods, which was even foggier and cloudier! After a close run in with poison oak we decided we didn’t have time for a hike and instead just enjoyed the view. Look what we found?! Another Hawkeye fan with a Subaru… What are the chances?!

Back in the car for the next leg of the journey! We left around 3:30 in the afternoon driving from Muir Woods to Lake Tahoe.  Four hours’ drive through winding mountains, an incredibly bad traffic jam at the worst placed stoplight, and a pit stop at the Eldorado National Forest later and we arrived at our second destination, Lake Tahoe.  

Day 2:

Finally, a day with no driving and a chance to relax. Funny and sad how excited I was to just enjoy a day with no driving considering all the driving we had done thus far hadn’t gotten us any closer to our final destination. We were also excited because neither of us had been to Lake Tahoe. We started our day where any adventure tends to begin, Starbucks. I must admit though, it was more out of necessity for wifi access than anything! Next we started driving around the lake and made our way to the Eagle Falls trailhead. FYI there’s a Lower Falls (that is right off the road and no hike required) and the upper falls. It’s a very mellow and short hike to the upper falls but then the keeps going for a great look out of Emerald Bay and eventually opens to a beautiful lake view. 

After the hike we had a picnic lunch at the Camp Richardson General Store and a scoop of sorbet at the Ice Cream shop! I felt like we had traveled back in time to summer camp in Parent Trap or Wet Hot American Summer

After freshening up we had plans for a sunset boat cruise tour of Emerald Bay complete with wine tasting and a charcuterie board! We had an amazing time being out on a boat, watching the sun go down, and meeting another incredible young couple that were visiting from the Bay Area. After attempting to find real food on a Sunday night, we headed back to the apartment and rested up for a big day of driving. 

Day 3:

Back on the road and ready to make our way through the desert. Leaving Tahoe, we quickly drove through Reno, Nevada and then cut across the state to Utah (another 7-8-hour drive.) We took a much-needed detour and stopped at the Bonville Salt Flats. After a few attempts at some doughnuts in the Subaru, watching a U-Haul haul down the speedway, and tasting the salt it was back on the road again. Along the way I of course made us stop at the first Jimmy Johns I could find for lunch and before long we made it all the way to Salt Lake City.

Once we got to the cutest Air BnB I’ve ever seen we headed to downtown Salt Lake which was beautiful and incredibly charming. We walked around Temple Square and then scootered to The Green Pig Pub for dinner with a view of the of the city-county building. 

Day 4:

Although this would be the second longest day of driving on the whole trip—it was worth it to see some familiar faces. We started with breakfast at Earnie’s Sports Deli in Orem with a college friend before another 8-hour drive. We made a few stops off the side of the road like the site of an old mine explosion, to see the Colorado River at the No Name exit, and the Colorado Sign just to name a few! 

Being ahead of schedule we did decide to stop in Grand Junction, Colorado for lunch at Rockslide Brewery and to check out a few antique shops while we walked off our beer. Before long we made it to Denver! Finally! This leg of the road we were fortunate to get to stay with friends. The same friends I stayed with in July mentioned in my Destination Denver post. Now after two years of not seeing each other we were fortunate to see each other twice in less than two months! We went out for dinner at Blue Moon Brewery at which we ran into another friend unexpectedly AND had the most amazing beer flights and pickle burgers. Now, I’m not much of a beer person but with beer flavors like Mexican hot chocolate, cold brew coffee, and a mango wheat (which you can buy at stores and I highly recommend) how could you not enjoy them! 

Day 5: 

Sadly, it was time to leave and time to get home. Day five’s motto was all drive and no play because a ten-hour drive through mostly Nebraska is not something to get excited about. However, with home being the final destination it was enough to keep us moving forward. Emory was a champ at this point, doing most of the driving and soon enough we were back in our great state of Iowa. 

To wrap up one of the most amazing trips and 37 hours of being in a car, I had a weekend at home with my friends, family and love ones. As well as a chance to relax, golf, drive through Ledges State Park, and eat at Jimmy B’s of course (my favorite barbecue place EVER in Boone, Iowa.) 

The trip flew by and dragged on all at the same time but overall, I couldn’t be happier with the experience. It gave Emory and I a much-needed adventure before going back to long distance. It was filled with many firsts in cities that will always hold special memories. Most of all though, the trip couldn’t have happened without its primary sponsor, Dramamine. (Ok it wasn’t really sponsored by Dramamine, but it should have been because it’s seriously the only thing that kept me alive!!!) 

Now Summer is officially over and we’re headed into my favorite time of the year. This Fall I still have a few more goals to accomplish before a New Year’s deadline! I’ll also be very busy with some exciting projects at work and I’m looking forward to a girls’ get away trip, a visit from my parents, and ALL things Halloween. 

Stay Tuned! What are you most looking forward to this Fall?