El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie could have been a lot different for Jesse Pinkman, as the original concept for the movie had the story set in prison following Jesse’s arrest. If you haven’t seen the movie on Netflix yet, know there are some plot SPOILERS ahead. Speaking about the creative process behind the Breaking Bad follow-up, creator Vince Gilligan revealed Jesse would have deliberately turned himself in rather than going on the run in the titular vehicle.
What’s even more odd is that the decision would have been done to somehow benefit someone else, though Vince Gilligan didn’t clarify who he was referring to or how Jesse would be helping them. Here’s how Gilligan explains the original El Camino concept in a recent interview with Rolling Stone.
“I went through a lot of permutations on this script. It was the first time in a long time I wrote something by myself, though I got a lot of good notes from Peter Gould and the other writers after. During the process, I really was in the weeds, alone with barely a flashlight. And I had all these different versions. One of them was he goes to jail, and it’s partly his idea. He turns himself in.
I pitched this to Peter and the writers, and they were aghast. My girlfriend Holly said, “You cannot do that.” I said, “No, don’t you see? The shape of it is pleasing from a storytelling point of view! The last thing he wants is to be in prison yet again, and I’m going to construct it so he does it to help someone else out.” And they convinced me I was completely wrong about that.”
Placing Jesse Pinkman in prison was not the only idea for El Camino Gilligan changed his mind about. Also in the interview, Gilligan spoke about the climactic scene where Jesse is challenged to a gun battle with Neil the welder. Originally, Jesse doesn’t come out of this scene unscathed, as he is actually shot during the duel. He then recuperates with the help of Ed the disappearer and fortunately survives. Though the scene was ultimately changed for Jesse to emerge from the gunfight unharmed, Gilligan says we will still get to see the original version where he’s shot in the home video release of the movie.
“I believe in my heart of hearts, if the guy had given him the money, he’d have been out of there. But Jesse read the room right, so he was going for Plan B. It was a very dangerous gambit, because he nearly was shot in the process. And by the way, for what it’s worth, in the original script, and the version we filmed, he actually gets shot through the side, and then goes off and recuperates with help from Ed. When the Blu-ray comes out, we’ll have that as a deleted scene.”
When Breaking Bad came to an end on AMC after four seasons, Gilligan didn’t foresee himself continuing the story of Jesse Pinkman. As described in his interview, he initially preferred to leave Jesse’s fate ambiguous and up for the viewer to decide what’s happened with him. As time went on, Jesse’s undetermined fate began to eat at Gilligan, eventually necessitating the need to give the character some closure in a special new episode of the series. The idea later evolved to become the movie follow-up we know as El Camino, and fans of the series are largely happy with how the final chapter in Jesse’s story has turned out.
It’s hard to say if we’ll ever see Aaron Paul reprising the role of Jesse in any more projects, but the Breaking Bad franchise still has plenty more surprises for us in store. The upcoming fifth season of Better Call Saul will premiere on AMC in 2020, and star Bob Odenkirk has suggested it will be the most explosive season yet. For those who’ve been watching and have seen how crazy the fourth season was, Odenkirk’s description of Season 5 sounds very promising. It’s not known if the series will continue beyond the next season, but even if the spin-off comes to an end after Season 5, there’s a good chance we may see yet another movie or follow-up series.
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie is now streaming on Netflix. The movie will later be released on Blu-ray along with a plethora of deleted content to provide even more insight into the story along with what could have been. You can read Gilligan’s interview in full over at Rolling Stone.