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Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS for El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie are ahead! Turn back now if you haven't watched it yet and don't want key plot details laid out before your eyes.
Does Breaking Bad's Walter White make an appearance in El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie? The film came out on Netflix today, and several Breaking Bad characters returned for the movie. As it turns out, Walt was indeed one of them. Here's how Bryan Cranston's character returned for Aaron Paul's movie on Jesse Pinkman's life after the TV series finale.
Where Breaking Bad Left Off With Walter White
Breaking Bad ended with Season 5, Episode 16, "Felina," in September 2013. The series finale showed Jesse escaping from the white supremacist compound, driving away in Todd's (Jesse Plemons) El Camino. Walter White ended the episode dying on the floor from a gunshot wound. We didn't see Walt die, but it was assumed he would die, and El Camino showed news reports confirming Walter White -- a.k.a. Heisenberg -- was found dead.
Was Walter White In The El Camino Movie?
Bryan Cranston's Walter White is in the Breaking Bad movie, El Camino, but writer/director Vince Gilligan saved him for toward the end. Walt didn't get to be the very last returning Breaking Bad character to cameo, but he did appear for a key scene. It was a flashback that started around the 1:44 mark of the two-hour movie. The flashback scene started with Aaron Paul's Jesse in a hotel room, then showed both Jesse and Cranston's Walter White walking down the hotel hallway on their way to a diner.
Breaking Bad's iconic RV, from when Walt and Jesse were cooking in the early days, was shown parked outside the diner. Walt made conversation with Jesse, asking what he planned to do once they were finished selling their batch of meth. Teacher Walt suggested Jesse go to college, asking what field might interest him. Jesse said sports medicine, and Walt countered with something like business, since Jesse was already pretty good at sales. Walt also said Jesse could get his GED, leading Jesse to snap that he already has his high school diploma -- and Mr. White was even there on the podium when Jesse got it.
Walter White's larger point was about Jesse having a whole future ahead of him. As he stared out at the RV, Walt seemed to express envy for Jesse:
You're really lucky, you know that? That you didn't have to wait your whole life to do something special.
Aaron Paul talked to IGN about the meaning of Breaking Bad's Walt returning for that cameo scene in El Camino:
It was like the happier times in life. The tail end, what Walt says to Jesse, saying, ‘God, you didn't have to wait your entire life to do something special.’ That is just so heartbreakingly honest coming from Walt, and hitting this sort of young kid like, ‘Damn, we're just cooking meth. This is nothing that special.’ I thought it was pretty poetic in a way.
Instead of giving Walter White the final Breaking Bad returnee cameo, El Camino saved that honor for Jesse's late great love, Jane Margolis (Krysten Ritter). Aaron Paul said he thought that choice was beautiful and perfect.
Walt was expected to be in this film, of course. I think people coming in, whoever it is coming and watching this movie, Walt has to be there, of course. I mean, he is Breaking Bad. Walter White, Heisenberg, he has to be a part of this next chapter. And then Jane was just such a surprise, and it was such a beautiful surprise. [...] I'm really excited to see what the audiences feel. I think they're going to be flooded with those emotions, back in the day of Jesse being in love, with just a bright future ahead of him. And she just gives him the best advice that he could ever receive from anyone. And so I thought it was pitch perfect.
Jane's advice to Jesse was to make his own decisions instead of letting the universe decide. El Camino ended Jesse's Breaking Bad story by having Ed Galbraith (Robert Forster) take him to Alaska. We see Jesse riding off to start his new life in the state often mentioned as where he'd be going next.
I do wish we had actually seen Jesse start that life, since that's kind of what I thought this movie would be covering, but instead El Camino focused on a lot of Jesse's Breaking Bad history -- giving us flashbacks to scenes like the diner talk with Walter White. That scene, and the one with Jane and others, took place during the Breaking Bad era and could've functioned as deleted scenes from the AMC show.
El Camino also spent a lot of time following Jesse in the immediate aftermath of his escape, such as seeing how Skinny Pete and Badger helped Jesse, without jumping forward to see how things turned out for him in Alaska. Who did Jesse become and how did he LIVE from there? We still don't know. At any rate, here's hoping the former Jesse Pinkman is enjoying post-Breaking Bad life in Alaska more than Cinnabon "Gene" is enjoying his new life in Nebraska.