Warning: Spoilers for El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie below.
Last Friday, Breaking Bad fans finally discovered what happened to Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) following the explosive events of the critically acclaimed series’ final episode six years prior. The fate of Walter White’s (Bryan Cranston) right-hand man in the meth-dealing business was brought to light in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, which also offered Netflix subscribers a who’s-who tour down memory lane via a sizeable cast of (returning) supporting characters. As great as this all was, though, many couldn’t shake the feeling that Jesse’s escape was just too good to be true.
That’s because it is — at least, according to Paul and creator Vince Gilligan’s comments to Entertainment Weekly. In separate interviews, the pair revealed that El Camino had two alternate endings. One was essentially what the film provided, minus a personal letter penned by Pinkman and its voice-over narration. The second, however, was an extremely depressing (though realistic) outcome for the character that never came to light, thanks to the intervention of the Better Call Saul team and Gilligan’s longtime girlfriend, Holly Rice.
In the latter ending, Pinkman’s attempted escape at the end of Breaking Bad and throughout El Camino ends with the character “in police custody.” As EW notes, this would have been a “logical-but-definitely-not-fan-friendly idea,” and though Gilligan did begin teasing it out in early drafts, Rice and others convinced him otherwise:
“I even played with telling that story in a movie, and luckily smarter brains prevailed. The people that I love and trust, starting with my girlfriend Holly, said, ‘You cannot have Jesse Pinkman get busted at the end of this thing. You cannot go that route.’ And I said, “Okay. All right, honey.” [Laughs] I’m glad I listened to her and I listened to [Breaking Bad executive producer/Better Call Saul co-creator] Peter Gould and the Better Call Saul writers.”
As for the first of the two alternate endings, it concerned a letter Jesse had written to Brock, the young son of his ex-girlfriend Andrea. At the end of El Camino, he hands it to Ed (the late Robert Forster) to send to Brock following all of the hell that his and Walter’s business put him through. (Walter poisoned him and his mother was killed by Todd Alquist.) The audience never finds out what’s in the letter, but according to Paul, it “was the very first thing that Vince wrote when writing this script.”
“Originally the voiceover of that letter was how the movie ended — just driving through Alaska and you could hear what was inside of that letter,” said Paul. “It’s heartbreaking, it’s beautiful, just honest. But Vince just thought, ‘You know what? Maybe it’s best left unknown.’ And we don’t need it. He was right. But I love knowing what was in the letter.”
(Via Entertainment Weekly)