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SPOILERS ahead on how El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie ends.
El Camino almost pulled a Seinfeld. Thankfully, Better Call Saul's writers -- and Vince Gilligan's own girlfriend -- saved the Breaking Bad movie writer/director from himself.
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie just released Friday October 11 on Netflix. The movie ends with Jesse Pinkman successfully escaping to Alaska, and driving off to start a new life. Whether you found that ending incredibly satisfying or (like me) wish more of the story moved forward into Jesse's new life rather than spending so much time looking back, you'd probably agree that Vince Gilligan's alternate ending idea is a serious downer.
Vince Gilligant talked to Vulture about another possible ending that would've left Jesse Pinkman in prison:
I like irony in storytelling. I love ironic twists. Once I had set about coming up with this movie, for the longest time, I had it in my mind that the thing we wanted most to see was for Jesse to escape. And the thing he wanted most to do was escape. So I was trying to concoct a plot in which, hero that he is, he saves somebody else — somebody I would have introduced as a new character into the movie. Because he’s such an innately heroic character in my mind, he saves someone at the end of the movie and he willfully gets himself caught knowing that it’ll save this other person. At the end of the movie, he’d be locked in a jail cell somewhere in Montana or someplace. And he would be at peace with it. It was all this very interior, emo-type, very dramatic stuff.
Poor Jesse. And he'd be at peace with it? Why even bother? Just let the ending of Breaking Bad stand, with Jesse driving off to freedom. Thankfully that prison idea did not make it to the screen. Vince Gilligan's girlfriend is a saint for putting up with his dismissive response to her reaction, since he only seemed to get it when the Better Call Saul team had the same thoughts:
I pitched it to my girlfriend, Holly, and she said, 'Are you out of your mind? You can’t have him in a jail cell at the end. You got to let him get away. People will riot.' I said, 'No, don’t you get it? It’s art. It’s artistic.' And then I said, 'No offense, you’re not a writer. I respect you, of course, and I love you. But you’re not a writer.' And then I went the next day and pitched it to Peter [Gould] and the writers of Better Call Saul, and they all looked at me in silence. They said, 'Are you crazy? He’s got to get away at the end.' [Laughs.] As the saying goes, if enough people tell you you’re drunk, you need to sit down. So I dispensed with that idea.
Phew! Jesse Pinkman actor Aaron Paul told Collider El Camino's original cut was three hours long, so a lot was trimmed for the final version on Netflix -- which also got a limited theatrical release and will air on AMC at some point. Hopefully fans will get to see some of the deleted scenes.
Aaron Paul already said the script originally had a voiceover airing the contents of the letter Jesse wrote to Brock. At the end of the movie, Jesse gave that letter to Ed the vacuum salesman (RIP Robert Forster) to mail to young Brock from Breaking Bad, but we never got to hear what was in the letter. That's the kind of thing I'd be curious to see in a deleted scene.
But, to me, a lot of El Camino already felt like several Breaking Bad deleted scenes strung together. It was great to see characters like Mike, Jane, and of course Walter White again, but I wanted to see more of how Jesse lived after his escape, not just end the story when he finally gets ready to start that new life.
But now that I know Vince Gilligan almost left Jesse in jail, I'm grateful for what we got. El Camino is now streaming on Netflix. What do you think of that alternate ending? How about the real one? Don't forget that Better Call Saul Season 5 should be coming fairly soon in 2020.