Audiences unfamiliar with Breaking Bad will not be able to understand the El Camino movie. Premiering on Netflix next month, the film is a sequel to the iconic television drama, following Jesse Pinkman after he escaped captivity. Taking place sometime after the Breaking Bad finale, El Camino reveals Jesse's ending on the show wasn't as happy as some might have thought, as he's on the run as a fugitive, fleeing from the DEA. As part of the film's secretive marketing campaign, Jesse's whereabouts at the start of El Camino are unknown.
Though it started out small, Breaking Bad became one of the most popular TV shows of its era. The aforementioned series finale tallied 10.28 million viewers in 2013, and the success of the original show led to the creation of the Better Call Saul spinoff series and the El Camino movie. While Breaking Bad has a large fan base, there are obviously many people who aren't well-versed in the exploits of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. Those viewers may want to add something different to their Netflix queue, since they'll be lost watching El Camino.
In THR's cover story about the film, writer/director Vince Gilligan talked about the target audience for El Camino and if the film will be accessible to those who haven't watched the original show:
"We don’t slow down to explain things to a non-Breaking Bad audience. I thought early on in the writing of the script, ‘Maybe there’s a way to have my cake and eat it too. Maybe there’s a way to explain things to the audience.’ If there was a way to do that, it eluded me.”
This approach, which is similar to what the Marvel Cinematic Universe does nowadays, is arguably for the best. El Camino can just hit the ground running and get straight into the meat of its narrative without rehashing anything its target demographic already knows. It's understandable why Gilligan contemplated a way to reach newcomers (that potentially would expand the movie's viewership), but slowing down to get novices up to speed runs the risk of upsetting the dedicated Breaking Bad fans eager to see what happened to Jesse and where the story goes. And honestly, Breaking Bad is a recognizable enough property to get away with something like this. Gilligan knows there's a sizable built-in audience that will watch El Camino as soon as it's available to stream, so there was no need to worry about how they were going to make El Camino a must-see to the general public.
Breaking Bad is one of the few pop culture phenomenons to end without any noticeable backlash (a la Game of Thrones). Its series finale is considered one of the best in TV history, so there's an inherent risk to coming back and doing this sequel film. Even star Bryan Cranston predicted there wouldn't be a followup, so it'll be interesting to see how Breaking Bad fans react to El Camino and if they feel it's a worthwhile addition to the franchise. In the original show, Jesse's ending was left fairly ambiguously; it was up to the viewer where he went. Now, hard, definitive answers will be provided. But Gilligan has kept the Breaking Bad ship on course for years, so fans have no reason to distrust him.