The Rundown: The ‘Breaking Bad’ Movie Is Terrible News For Jesse Pinkman



The Rundown is a weekly column that highlights some of the biggest, weirdest, and most notable events of the week in entertainment. The number of items will vary, as will the subject matter. It will not always make a ton of sense. Some items might not even be about entertainment, to be honest. The important thing is that it’s Friday and we are here to have some fun.

ITEM NUMBER ONE — Poor, poor Jesse

The Breaking Bad movie is officially happening. Vince Gilligan is on-board. Netflix gets the first crack at it, followed by AMC. Usually, people might be upset about something like this, fearful that spinning a story off of a near-perfect television show could tarnish the original in some way. That doesn’t appear to be happening here, though, probably because Gilligan and company have already spun-off a prequel series, Better Call Saul, that is way better than any show about the secondary comic relief in a bleak masterpiece has any right to be. These people know what they’re doing and, until presented with evidence to the contrary, we should probably just sit back and enjoy it. It’s good news. It’s good news for everybody.

Well, almost everyone. It is almost definitely not good news for Jesse Pinkman, the character Aaron Paul played in the original series who is also the focus of the movie. In fact, it is probably the opposite of good news. It is terrible news. Poor Jesse.

Let’s go back to the end of Breaking Bad. Jesse has just been freed from Nazi captivity by Walter. Walter succumbs to his wounds and dies. Mike is already dead. Saul is on the run and, we now know, headed to a sad existence as a mustachioed Cinnabon manager in Nebraska. Everyone’s life is sad and ruined or over except whoooaaaa Jesse hops in a car and blasts through the Nazis’ fence and screams a guttural scream of freedom as he speeds away into the night. It is the closest thing the show gives us to a happy ending. Gilligan alluded to this in the script, saying this in the description of the scene: “Grimly determined, fearing nothing, he speeds through the darkness. From here, it’s up to us to say where he’s headed. I like to call it ‘something better’ and leave it at that.”

Cool. Good for Jesse. That guy went through some stuff on Breaking Bad. His boss let his girlfriend choke to death on her own vomit next to him in bed. His other girlfriend got murdered in front of him. He got addicted to heroin. He was manipulated and used and beaten and, again, held captive by Nazis for an extended period of time, during which he was kept in a cage like a dog every second of the day he was not being forced to cook meth. It was not ideal. Guy really needed a win. “Something better,” if you will, although I suppose just about anything is better than being kept in a Nazi cage for months.

Gilligan agreed. After the show ended, GQ asked him what he thought happened to Jesse, and his response was “the way I see it is that he got away and got to Alaska, changed his name, and had a new life. You want that for the kid. He deserves it.” I don’t know if I would have picked Alaska, myself, because Alaska is very cold and empty and there are many small tropical islands that afford you similar luxuries, but fine. Alaska works. I can picture him in Alaska being happy. That’s what’s important here.

Unfortunately, the existence of this movie and the fact that it will focus on Jesse raises two problems. The first problem is that what I want for Jesse — a simple, peaceful life with no drama and no people shooting at him and significantly less narcotics — does not exactly make for riveting cinema. It would be kind of wild if that’s what the movie was, though, just two hours of Jesse Pinkman ice fishing in Alaska and drinking hot cocoa with his new wife, who does not at any point die of an overdose or get murdered by his enemies. People would be so mad.

The second thing is the first part of Gilligan’s answer about what he thinks happens to Jesse, which I omitted earlier:

“My personal feeling is that he got away. But 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.”

Ah, right. The murders. I forgot about those. And the thing where he’s one of the most wanted fugitives in the country. And the thing where Walter’s death was probably huge national news and every reporter or person with a cell phone camera will have their eyes peeled for the infamous Heisenberg’s number two. Think about the media circus of the El Chapo trial and then double it because the criminal here is a homegrown former chemistry teacher who became the West Coast’s methamphetamine kingpin and evaded authorities for months.

Things are about to get really bad for Jesse. That’s what I’m saying here. That hope we all had in the moments after his escape, the breathing room the open-ended finale gave us to pretend things worked out for the show’s saddest puppy? About to be gone. We’re going to find out exactly what happened to Jesse Pinkman. Given everything we know about him and the general tone of the show, it’s probably not going to be super great. For him, I mean. Probably pretty okay for the rest of us, if we can bear seeing him put through even more hell. Which I don’t think I can. Oh God. Oh no. Poor Jesse.

This is already stressing me out. Leave him alone, Gilligan.

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