Vince Gilligan on Jesse’s sadder alternate ending in El Camino

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, Aaron Paul, Vince Gilligan

MAJOR SPOILERS for EL CAMINO: A BREAKING BAD MOVIE. Consider yourself warned. Picking up right where the series finale of Breaking Bad left off, EL CAMINO: A BREAKING BAD MOVIE dropped us back into Jesse Pinkman's (Aaron Paul) life as he made his dramatic escape from captivity and attempted to come to terms with his past in order to forge some kind of future.

Those who have watched the movie know that the final moments of EL CAMINO found Jesse successfully making it to Alaska, with the help of the late, great Robert Forster, in order to start a new life, but series creator Vince Gilligan toyed with several other alternate endings. Six years ago, Gilligan hinted at the very ending we recieved. "Some people might think, 'Well, he probably got two miles down the road before the cops nailed him.' But I prefer to believe that he got away, and he’s got a long road to recovery ahead," Gilligan told EW. "All these terrible things he’s witnessed are going to scar him as well, but the romantic in me wants to believe that he gets away with it and moves to Alaska and has a peaceful life communing with nature." However, as time went on, Gilligan told Vulture that he began second guessing this idea in favour of something a little sadder.

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.

Gilligan pitched the idea to his girlfriend, Holly Rice, who quickly informed him just how terrible it was. "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.'" Gilligan explained with a laugh. "As the saying goes, if enough people tell you you’re drunk, you need to sit down. So I dispensed with that idea."

Although Gilligan did spend several weeks toying with this ending, Entertainment Weekly said that he never told Aaron Paul about it. When EW informed Paul about the alternate ending, the actor was a little shocked. "Wow…. He never said that to me. Wow. That’s so interesting," Paul said. However, the actor is aware of another alternate ending to EL CAMINO in which the contents of the letter he wrote to Brock, the young son of his ex-girlfriend, were revealed.

That letter to Brock was the very first thing that Vince wrote when writing this script. Once he completed that letter, he started the 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…. 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.

As for what was in that letter, Aaron Paul said that he swore to Vince Gilligan that he would never share it, only to say that "[Jesse] just could not be more open and honest. It's just really him saying, 'I'm sorry,' and that's it." EL CAMINO: A BREAKING BAD MOVIE is now available on Netflix, so be sure to check out a review from our own Alex Maidy!

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, Aaron Paul, poster

Source: Vulture, Entertainment Weekly

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Based in Canada, Kevin Fraser has been a news editor with JoBlo since 2015. When not writing for the site, you can find him indulging in his passion for baking and adding to his increasingly large collection of movies that he can never find the time to watch.