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. 

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