Initially, Aaron Paul's character Jesse Pinkman's fate at the end of Breaking Bad was left open ended. That's all changing now that Netflix has produced a movie about what happened to Jesse after he drove away from the white supremacist compound where he had been held captive. The new Breaking Bad movie picks up right after the events of the series finale, and it quickly rips away the temporary happy ending fans originally believed he'd have when he sped off in that El Camino.
In the finale, after Walter White (Bryan Cranston) helped to kill his captors, Jesse hopped into Todd's (Jesse Plemons) El Camino and drove into the night. The camera zoomed in on his elated face as he laughed and let out a scream, finally free. The Ringer reported that the Breaking Bad finale script said this of that monumental scene: "Grimly determined, fearing nothing, [Jesse] speeds through the darkness ... From here on, it's up to us to say where he's headed. I like to call it 'something better,' and leave it at that."
In the years since, actor Paul and Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan have talked about their thoughts on Jesse's post-finale life. The idealistic version is that he made it to Alaska and started his life over. "I like to think of him living in some small little mountain town in Alaska, [as] a carpenter, maybe," Paul told Bustle of Jesse's fate. But Paul is a realistic man, and he also offered the outlet a more likely scenario. "He's definitely hiding out somewhere. He's not living the life of luxury anywhere. He has no money, he's on the run, [the police are] searching for him," Paul said. "I mean, there's dead men all around where all his fingerprints were."
Gilligan offered a similar scenario in a 2013 interview with GQ. "The most likely thing, as negative as this sounds, is that they're going to find this kid's fingerprints all over this lab and they're going to find him within a day or a week or a month. And he's still going to be on the hook for the murder of two federal agents," Gilligan said.
The trailer for El Camino shows that Jesse is on the run and that the police are hot on his tail. They've even called his friend Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) in for questioning. But Pete isn't rolling over on his buddy. "I have no idea where he is, don't know where he's headed either. North, south, east, west, Mexico, the moon. I don't have a clue," Skinny Pete says in the trailer. "But yo, even if I did. I wouldn't tell you because I've been watching the news same as everybody else. I've seen that little cage of his they kept him in. I heard about what all they did to him to make sure he kept cooking. So sorry, I don't know what to tell you. No way I'm helping you people put Jesse Pinkman back in a cage."
For all the hell the writers put Jesse through in that final Breaking Bad season, his ending gave viewers some hope. His joy at speeding down the road and away from his torment was cathartic to watch. It's almost a shame to know that's not where his story stopped. Now viewers will have to contend with Jesse's reality that he's still a wanted man. And even if he does escape the police, Gilligan said in a 2013 Entertainment Weekly interview that it will take Jesse time to heal from the mental and physical wounds the white supremacist group and working with Walt left on him. "He's got a long road to recovery ahead, in a sense of being held prisoner in a dungeon for the last six months and being beaten to within an inch of his life and watching Andrea be shot. All these terrible things he’s witnessed are going to scar him," Gilligan admitted.
The Breaking Bad finale was widely lauded by fans for how it tied up the character's storylines. The movie has to be careful not to undo Jesse's storyline to the point where viewers wish the show had just been left where it was. It remains to be seen if he will get a definitive happy ending (or at least an ambiguous one), but fans are likely in for a lot of stress and anxiety first as Jesse tries to escape both the police and his inner demons in the film.