El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, the Netflix original movie set immediately after the events of the Breaking Bad series finale that concluded with the death of Walter White (Bryan Cranston), nearly had a different — and darker — ending before writer-director and series creator Vince Gilligan reconsidered the sendoff for tormented fugitive Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). In El Camino, Jesse desperately seeks a way out of New Mexico amid a state-wide manhunt for his connection to the largest meth operation in U.S. history. His clandestine mission brings him to — spoilers — Ed (Robert Forster), a vacuum salesman who doubles as a disappearer, and it's this connection that lets Jesse escape to Alaska for a fresh start.
"I thought it was up to the audience to figure out how Jesse got away, but that it was enough to see him driving off into the night victorious," Gilligan told EW of the Breaking Bad series finale that saw Jesse, freshly released from months of captivity, speed away into the night behind the wheel of an El Camino. "But then as the years started to pass, I found myself wondering at idle moments, 'How exactly did he get away? Because that's no easy feat! And what if he didn't get away? What if he got busted right around the next corner?'"
For a time, Gilligan intended to tell the story of Jesse's capture instead of his escape. Gilligan reconsidered after those closest to him — including girlfriend Holly Rice, Breaking Bad executive producer Peter Gould, and a team of Better Call Saul writers — told him Jesse Pinkman deserved a more satisfying conclusion than back-to-back imprisonments.
"I even played with telling that story in a movie, and luckily smarter brains prevailed," Gilligan said. "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 Peter Gould and the Better Call Saul writers."
This almost-ending was news to Paul, who told EW, "He never said that to me. Wow. That's so interesting."
Asked how he'd have felt if Jesse's story ended with him in cuffs instead of a sweater, Paul answered with a laugh, "I mean, I'm happy that he's not caught, you know?"
Paul only wished the parents of Drew Sharp — the accidental witness shot and killed by psychopath Todd (Jesse Plemons) in Season 5 — received some answers behind their son's disappearance.
"I'm happy that he got away. There's some things like as a fan — the parents of the boy who was shot on the bike, I wish they knew what happened to their kid. There's little things like that that I would love their family to find out," Paul said. "But also, it's so perfect and that's what really tore at Jesse. He's an emotional creature. He wears his heart on his sleeve, and he cares about people and cares about kids and their well-being."
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie and all episodes of Breaking Bad are now streaming on Netflix.