Caution: Spoilers ahead for El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie.
After years of anticipation, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie continues the story of Jesse Pinkman - here's exactly what the film's ending means. In the final episode of Breaking Bad, Jesse is busted out of Uncle Jack's Nazi compound thanks to a heroic, redemptive last stand by Walter White, and although Heisenberg dies for his efforts, Jesse is able to drive away in a commandeered El Camino, leaving the audience to decide whether or not he finds happiness.
El Camino picks up right as Breaking Bad's "Felina" ends, and Jesse immediately finds himself on the run from a small army of law enforcement descending on the scene of the final shootout. The core plot of the El Camino movie chronicles Jesse's attempts to not only evade capture, but to disappear entirely via the services of Breaking Bad's go-to guy for getting out of town in a hurry, Ed Galbraith. Naturally, Ed's business doesn't come cheap, so Jesse is forced to embark on a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse before he can truly buy his freedom.
Ultimately, Jesse scrapes together the considerable sum of cash required and, for a second time, rides off into the metaphorical sunset. On this occasion, however, Jesse's final drive brings more resolution, tying off some loose ends and giving a deeper insight into the mindset of Aaron Paul's character. Here are all the key events that composed El Camino's ending, and what each one meant.
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie's Ending - Jesse Goes Into Hiding In Alaska
On a basic level, Jesse's ending is a happy one, as he fulfills his desire to escape New Mexico and start afresh. In Breaking Bad season 5's "Confessions," Walt arranged with Ed to have Jesse disappear, but while waiting on the side of the road with the required bag of cash, Jesse pieces together that Walt was likely responsible for poisoning Brock. Because of this revelation, Jesse misses his pickup, and instead goes to confront Saul Goodman. In El Camino, Ed demands the money for that failed extraction before accepting any further requests, forcing Jesse to visit Kandy Welding and retrieve more of Todd's hidden savings.
Jesse evidently returns to Ed, pays his original debt and strikes a new deal, and the audience next see El Camino's protagonist being dropped off after a long journey cooped up in the hidden compartment of Ed's truck. Before allowing him to leave for good, Ed tests Jesse on a new identity that has been arranged in advance - the 26 year old Mr. Driscoll.
Why Jesse Wanted To Go To Alaska
Alaska is full of sparsely populated, remote locales and is a world away from the arid heat of Albuquerque, but those aren't the only reasons Jesse chose to start his new life there. Jesse's final destination is signposted in the very first scene of El Camino - a flashback set between season 5 episodes "Dead Freight" and "Say My Name." El Camino's opening gambit depicts Jesse asking Mike Ehrmantraut for advice on where to go after leaving town, and Mike offers Alaska as an answer, promising that Jesse could be whatever he wants up there.
Jesse's puzzled response proves that Alaska hadn't previously been on his radar, so the choice of destination must come entirely from Mike. This suggests that Jesse is either honoring Mike by choosing Alaska as his new home or, more likely, feels enough respect for the man to take his advice.
However, Jesse's move to Alaska can be traced back further to the final season of Breaking Bad. When the original deal was made for Ed to have Jesse disappear, it's confirmed that Alaska is his destination on that occasion also. When Breaking Bad season 5 first aired, there was no real meaning behind this choice, other than the aforementioned perks of isolation, but El Camino provides extra context by revealing that the dream was originally Mike's and subsequently passed onto Jesse.
In the real world, Jesse winding up in Alaska might, at least partially, come from Aaron Paul himself. In a 2014 interview with Radio Times, Paul was asked on what he thought might've happened to Jesse after Breaking Bad, and the actor answered with, "I like to think that he's a carpenter somewhere - somewhere in Alaska."
What Next For Jesse Pinkman?
As with the final episode of Breaking Bad, Jesse's future success or failure is left up to the audience to decide, however, there are a few clues as to what the fugitive might do next. After dropping off his sought-after passenger, Ed gives Jesse directions to Haines, a place on the Northern tip of the Alaska Panhandle with a population of only a few thousand. Here, Jesse is unlikely to ever be picked up by law enforcement, but would also be able to enjoy a fulfilling life, unlike the isolation Walter White found himself suffering during his own experience with Ed.
Exactly what Jesse will do when reaching Haines is a mystery. Despite only requesting $1800 from Neil, Jesse ends up in a Wild West-style winner-takes-all shootout, and walks away with the duffle bag holding Neil's third of Todd's cash. After paying off Ed (twice) it's entirely plausible that Jesse could still have a few hundred grand to play with.
Alternatively, Aaron Paul's 2014 prediction was right on the money in terms of Jesse heading to Alaska, so the character's future career as a carpenter may not be far off. This line of work would allow Jesse to keep a low-profile and do something productive and therapeutic. He'll need to come up with a grisly story to explain those scars though.
Jesse's Letter To Brock
El Camino is set immediately after Breaking Bad's final episode, but 6 years have passed in the real world, presenting a problem with regards to actors looking older than their characters. Aaron Paul and Jesse Plemons (just about) get away with this, but a return for young Brock Cantillo would've been impossible. Actor, Ian Posada, has grown-up considerably over the past six years and, now in his mid to late-teens, would've looked ridiculous playing 10/11 year-old Brock.
Even so, El Camino needed to address Brock in some capacity, such is his importance to Jesse's story arc. Before Jesse was taken in by Jack's gang, Andrea and Brock were arguably the focal point of Jesse's life, and Andrea's death at the hands of Todd proved devastating. Forced to cook with Brock's photograph still in his eyeline, Jesse simply had to make some sort of amends with the child after regaining his freedom, and while Vince Gilligan was restricted in terms of Brock returning on-screen, the letter provides an emotional but satisfying resolution to Jesse's paternal relationship with the youngster.
As for the contents of Jesse's letter, the audience is deliberately left in the dark. Flashes reveal lines saying, "a good person like..." and references to "she," presumably alluding to Brock's mother. The general thrust of the letter seems to be encouraging Brock to continue on his own path, and not be darkened by his mother's death and Jesse's disappearance. The fact that Ed reads the letter before delivering it strongly hints that Jesse makes no mention of his new identity or hometown, meaning he and Brock will almost certainly never meet again.
What Jesse's Memories Of Jane And Walter White Mean
The final sequence of El Camino includes two major cameos: Bryan Cranston as Walter White and Krysten Ritter as Jane Margolis. The Walt flashback seems to take place during season 2 of Breaking Bad and serves multiple purposes. Firstly, the scene highlights exactly how far Jesse has come from the juvenile drug dealer living large and seeing himself as a big-shot just for having the waiter leave a pitcher of water on the table, to a more reserved, mature character that just wants a chance at a regular life.
Perhaps more importantly, the flashback reaffirms Walt's faith in Jesse as a human being. Despite putting him down over bromine being found in pineapple, Walt paints a bright future for Jesse as a potential business student. Although enrolling into college and moving into business would likely be too conspicuous for a man in hiding, the scene proves conclusively that Walt always saw a bright future for Jesse. This scene could explain why Aaron Paul recently shared a Breaking Bad scene on Twitter - in which Jesse claims White never cared for him at all - and cited its importance to El Camino.
The meaning behind the Jane flashback is arguably far less ambiguous. As the scene itself implies, Jane and Jesse's relationship was mostly characterized as a laid-back, 'go with the flow' type of love, and this contributed to their slipping back into addiction. El Camino, however, expands on Jane's character, and during one of the couple's sober periods, she reveals a desire to stop living a carefree life without direction and to take control of her own future, thereby revealing another motivation for Jesse to start anew in Alaska and giving the audience hope he can find success there.
Krysten Ritter's return to the Breaking Bad universe also crafts a sweeter ending for Jesse's relationship with Jane. The final image of Jesse fulfilling Jane's wish and striking out to make his own luck is a far more satisfying and emotional note than waking up to Jane choking in a pool of her own vomit, while also reaffirming how influential the brief relationship really was to Jesse.
What The End Of Jesse's Story Really Means
The final image of El Camino deliberately mirrors Jesse's final moments in Breaking Bad, but replaces the overwhelming relief Jesse felt after escaping the Nazi compound with a genuine sense of contentment and happiness. Much of Breaking Bad's finale, particularly the emotional impact, revolved around Walt, and this made perfect sense in the context of the show. El Camino allows Jesse a similarly heartfelt conclusion, and a less open-ended one than he received initially, and takes the time to explore every facet of Jesse's development and character relationships.
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie is currently streaming on Netflix.