El Camino, Breaking Bad, or how I learnt to hate criminals (a rant)

So I’ve recently watched El Camino, so with this post, there is a high risk of spoilers for El Camino, Better Call Saul, and Breaking Bad. If you’ve not watched them, skip this post.

Don’t feel guilty. It’s okay- your view has already been registered. The advertisers I don’t have, don’t want, and don’t care about would happy.

Okay, if you’re reading on, you don’t mind spoilers, and if it upsets you, it’s your problem, not mine.

So El Camino is the direct sequel to Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad which had aired from 2008 to 2013. It was a show that prided itself at the end of tying up just about all the plot threads across the five years of the show. There was one thread that was left open and unknown, what happened to the main characters little helper after the story ended.

So a quick recap, Walter White is a demonic cesspool of a human being, a science teacher and former chemical science wunderkind. Having been diagnosed with lung cancer, he partners up with Jesse Pinkman to make and sell drugs, using those elite science skills.

Jess Pinkman is also a waste of space human being, having spent the years since graduating school cooking and selling low-grade crystal meth.
Partnering up with the super genius science teacher allows them to cook and sell a superior kind of crystal meth.

Throughout the series, you have escalating crime lords, leading up to Gus Fring, one of the best bad guys on television. However, Walter White kills him off, so we’re left to the bargain basement of bad guys, white supremacists.

It’s hard to care about the last bunch of bad guys, except for a creepy psychopath desperate for attention. He is disturbingly fascinating, and you dread whatever he’s going to do next.

However, in between all the big bads, there are smaller conflicts between Walter and Jesse. These include themes and acts of getting clean and self-improvement, murder to drag each other into the mud.

So in the final episodes of the series, Walter White has been deposed from his role as “Eisenberg”, “The one who knocks”, etc… he’s on the run from the police after the only sympathetic character in the series is killed, and the secret is out. Walter White gets away, abandoning Jesse to his fate, as a slave to the white supremacist types, forced to cook crystal meth. Walter White’s cancer comes back, and he decides he’s going to settle his affairs, and rescue Jesse, in a certain death mission.

I genuinely hate this ending, I despise Walter White, and it annoys me he got to go out a hero. I genuinely think he should have gone to prison, and died of cancer.

I try never to wish anyone dead, but Walter White is so horrible a human being, I can’t help myself.

I didn’t have much difficulty with Jesse’s end. He deserves to be in prison, and so him enslaved by criminals doesn’t particularly upset me. He’s not as awful as Walter White. I do have some sympathy for him, just not much. He’s a drug dealer, responsible for an enormous amount of suffering, even before he meets Walter White.

A lot of people online wondered and postulated to the fate of Jesse Pink, so the creators six years later have decided to explore his escape from slavery bought by, urgh, the noble sacrifice of Walter White.

El Camino was excellent television, it was smart and character-driven, and ultimately Jesse Pink gets away to start a new life in Alaska.

I love that his friends upon seeing the broken Jesse Pink rally around him, they show genuine concern and affection. They put themselves potentially in the path of danger or prison so he can get away.

It shows his time as a slave, which didn’t seem as bad as Jesse’s post-trauma suggests.

Once you get beyond the PTSD after his escape, he has a plan, and the film is about the execution. Getting the money together, (twice as he didn’t get enough first time), leading to a wild west like shoot out. Then engaging the services of secretive criminal protection specialist, (the operative played by the sadly deceased Robert Forster).

It was excellent writing, acting, and production, just a shame it’s for a waste of space murdering drug dealer who should be locked away for life. I wish they’d have had him caught at the very end after all his efforts. It would have made up for the scummy ending of Breaking Bad, but they committed to the character redemption rather than justice.

Meanwhile, the spin-off from Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, does actually do a better job, you get to see how he got to where he is in Breaking Bad, and glimpses of his life afterwards. He also escaped justice and should be in prison, but instead, this larger than life character to remain at liberty has to become an anonymous subdued man. Though he escaped justice, his character is left to suffer, so he does get some comeuppance.

Aside from dead bad guys, this is the only real display of justice in the world of Breaking Bad, which is why, for the most part, I hate it.

I generally dislike things where every character is an utter and disgusting arsehole. They have one truly good character, and that is Hank, the DEA brother in law of Walter White, and he is unceremoniously killed. I wanted him to bring Walter White and co to justice, he may have been flawed, but he was a good person and easy to cheer for.

Breaking Bad would be a lot more tolerable if it had a few more likeable characters that we could root for in it. But it doesn’t, so aside from Better Call Saul, this is one universe I don’t recommend watching.

Harsh, I know – it is really well made. But the characters are the worst, and for all the time and effort in watching it, there is no gratification.

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