The closure we needed or unnecessary fan service?
Six years after the final episode of Breaking Bad graced our screens we revisit Albuquerque, New Mexico to continue the adventure. As many of you probably know, there has already been a spin off from the franchise called Better Call Saul, which acts as a prequel to Breaking Bad and follows the fan favourite Saul Goodman. But in El Camino we jump straight back in where we left off with the final episode of Breaking Bad.
I’m going to make this crystal clear (pun not intended), this article includes spoilers for both Breaking Bad and El Camino. So go no further if you have not finished the main series. Once more, this time in bold, SPOILERS.
What do I think the story was?
The last thing we see of Jesse Pinkman is him jumping in a car and gleefully driving off into the moonlight having been freed from his supremacist captors. And this is exactly where El Camino picks up from, we see him running from the law after his escape. He visits old friends Skinny Pete and Badger and they do their very best to give their broken friend Jesse the chance he deserves. The rest of the movie focuses on Jesse trying to scrape up the money he needs in order to leave the state and head way up to Alaska with the help of the hoover man that set up both Walt’s (temporarily) and Saul’s new lives where they can restart.
The good and the bad
One big thing that really stands out to me is the film really feels like an extended episode of the Breaking bad series. It wasn’t over the top like you might expect from such an anticipated spin off film. Instead it maintained the grounded feeling of the original show that often could feel slow moving but was always growing towards a bigger climax. Additionally, most of the characters that were returning from the series fit in quite fluidly and didn’t seem shoe horned in. However the time gap between shooting was definitely noticeable on some people. For example the actor that plays Todd gained a bit of weight during the gap between the end of Breaking Bad and the shooting of El Camino, this does sort of remove you from the experience a little but its not major.
The flashbacks sprinkled throughout the film showed us what Jesse had to endure whilst he was being kept captive in that gross cage. All of these flashback scenes became relevant to the current story. However I do personally feel like they were overused just a touch.
There were quite a few emotional moments in the film (at least for the characters). When Jesse first gets to Skinny Pete’s house, you see just how broken he is and it is truly heartbreaking after having seen this characters whole story from first meeting Mr White. The way Skinny Pete tries his hardest to coax out the old Jesse is sad to watch and is reflected on the face of Badger who just like the audience seems to understand that Jesse is extremely damaged and is perhaps beyond external help and instead needs to be given space to come back to life. But when the opportunity to help Jesse presents itself, his loyal friends jump at the chance with what I think is an extremely moving moment. Both of the men understand they will probably never see Jesse again and are OK with that, they just want him to be happy. When saying goodbye Skinny Pete removes his hat, which like a Simpson outfit hasn’t left his person since we were first introduced to him. Now I may just be a sad case but I found this to be quite moving, especially when he caps it off with telling Jesse that he is his “hero”.
I’m not entirely sure some of the scenes were necessary, such as the Walter White one. Yes it was great to see him again but I don’t feel that it added much to the story. Same with the flashback that includes Jesse’s ex, Jane. It felt like it was just another chance to highlight just how much our protagonist has already lost. Like we know, Jesse has had a truly s**t run of it, I’d rather move forward with the story than focus on that.
Watch ten more times or never again?
I enjoyed El Camino but not enough to watch it ten more times. If I were to ask the question, did this movie need to be made? I’d say yes, I along with many others felt that Jesse’s story needed finishing properly and we got that with this picture. But I do think the film lent a bit too much on flashbacks and felt a bit too much like it was trying to cram in loads of returning characters to please fans. This didn’t stop me enjoying it, I really did, just probably not enough to watch it again. So in a strange twist of events i am actually giving a never again.
I’d love to know what other Breaking Bad fans thought of this so please do let me know. Thanks for reading.
See ya later