How ‘Breaking Bad’ Ended: A Brief Refresher Before ‘El Camino’ – Collider.com
Breaking Bad is one of the best shows of the 21st century. It doesn’t have a single bad episode, and now we’ve got El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, which picks up right after the events of the series finale, “Felina.” But what if you don’t remember what led up to the finale and don’t have time to rewatch the final eight episodes of the series? Well, we’re going to help you with that.
The final eight episodes of the series is basically the downfall of Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and the final fracturing of his complicated relationship with his meth cooking partner Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). After going from mild-mannered high school science teacher to meth kingpin, Walt’s actions are finally discovered by his DEA brother-in-law Hank Schrader (Dean Norris). Meanwhile, Jesse, without the support of fixer Mike Ehremantraut (Jonathan Banks), who was killed by Walt, begins to unravel completely with the crushing guilt of all the terrible things they’ve done. Afraid that Jesse’s guilt spiral will lead to him confessing the truth, Walt tries to get Jesse to start a new life. Jesse is just about to leave when he realizes that back in Season 4, Walt switched out the ricin cigarette and used Lily of the Valley to poison Brock, a young boy that Jesse cares about and the son of Jesse’s ex-girlfriend Andrea (Emily Rios). Jesse comes back in a rage and resolves to make Walt pay for what he’s done but is convinced by Hank to join forces and bring Walt down.
Image via AMC
Meanwhile, Walt has left the meth business and put it in the hands of Todd (Jesse Plemons) and his family of white supremacists. However, Todd isn’t as good of a cook as Jesse or Walt and the product he produces in beneath of the standards of Lydia (Laura Fraser), which may fly in New Mexico, but not to her European buyers that have become hooked on the blue stuff.
Walt does his best to try and reason Jesse, but Jesse isn’t having it and tells Walt that he’s coming for him. Walt, feeling he has no choice, calls up Todd saying he has a job for Todd’s uncle Jack (Michael Bowen) to kill Jesse. The trade-off isn’t money but Walt doing a new cook as a remedial meth-cooking class for Todd. Walt tries to flush out Jesse by going to Andrea and putting Jack’s gang on her house. However, Jesse and Hank outmaneuver Walt and make him think that they they’ve found the $80 million that Walt buried in the desert. Walt, panicked, drives out to the burial spot, only to discover he’s been duped. Jesse shows up with Hank and Steve Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada) in tow. Walt calls Jack to call off the hit in order to protect Hank and goes to give himself up.
Unfortunately for everyone, Jack ignores Walt’s request and comes to the burial location. There’s a shootout where Steve is killed and although Walt begs for Hank’s life and offers Jack the $80 million in exchange, Jack still kills Hank. During the shootout, Jesse hides under a car, but Walt sees him and gives him up to Jack, but before Jack can kill Jesse, Todd says that they need to torture Jesse to see what he told Hank (that’s why Jesse has scars on his face in the El Camino trailer). Jack’s gang takes most of Walt’s money, and Walt is left with a single barrel full of cash while Jesse is hauled off to be the prisoner of neo-Nazis.
Walt returns home in a panic and his whole family now sees him as the monster that he is, so he’s forced to go on the run alone. Meanwhile, the white supremacists decide to leave Jesse alive and force him to be their cook. They hold Andrea and Brock’s lives over him, but Jesse still tries an escape attempt where he’s quickly recaptured. Jack’s gang takes him to Andrea’s house to witness Todd killing Andrea, and then the neo-Nazis remind Jesse that they can still kill Brock if Jesse doesn’t do as he’s told. Completely broken, Jesse resigns himself to cooking meth for the neo-Nazis until he dies.
Image via AMC
Walt comes back from his exile to get his remaining money to his children and get revenge on Jack. He forces his former Grey Matters partners to set up a charitable trust for his children so that Walt Jr. (RJ Mitte) and Holly think they’re getting the money from rich do-gooders but it’s really Walt’s money. Walt then rigs a car with an M60 machine gun that will fire when he opens the trunk with a remote clicker. He fabricates a meeting with Jack by telling Lydia and Todd that he’s come up with a new formula that doesn’t require methylamine and that he needs the money. He goes to meet Jack at the neo-Nazis’ compound and says that he knows Jack has partnered with Jesse because the blue meth is still out there. Jack takes offense and tells his cronies to bring out his “partner.”
The neo-Nazis bring out a broken and beaten Jesse who is clearly being forced to work against his will. Walt has a brief moment of conscience and pretends like he’s fighting with Jesse in order to bring him to the floor. Walt then hits the clicker and the M60 unloads on the compound, killing almost everyone inside. Walt and Jack are both mortally wounded but Todd manages to hit the deck before being shot. Walt shoots Jack in the head while Todd looks outside the window to see what happened, Jesse uses his handcuffs to strangle Todd to death. Jesse then takes the keys from Todd and frees himself. Walt, already bleeding to death and dying from cancer anyway, offers a gun to Jesse to allow him to take revenge. Jesse tells Walt that he has to say he wants it to happen. Walt says he wants it to happen, and Jesse tells him, “Do it yourself,” drops the gun, and walks outside. Walt follows him and answers a phone call to Todd from Lydia. Lydia asks if they killed Walt, but he tells her that the flu-like symptoms she’s currently experiencing are from the ricin he poisoned her with in place of her Stevia when they last met. Jesse gets in the El Camino and drives away, crying from both joy and anguish at what has transpired. Walt goes into the lab where Jack’s gang was cooking, respects the chemistry, and dies.
The big takeaway you need to take away from all of this is that the story of Jesse Pinkman is that Jesse is a deeply flawed but ultimately empathetic person who is used by everyone around him. He’s used by Walt, he’s used by Gus to get at Walt, he’s then used by Hank to get at Walt, and he’s used by Todd and the neo-Nazis to make meth. While Walt slowly shed his conscience over the course of the series, it never left Jesse, and while he tried at points to be a calm, collected operator, his empathy for others—especially children—resurfaces. We know how Walter White’s story ended. We’ll find out how Jesse Pinkman’s story ends with El Camino.
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