While Breaking Bad’s finale saw Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) achieve a bittersweet ending, escaping the compound where he was being held and driving off, shrieking in joy, fans have long speculated as to where Jesse would end up once he got out of the car — and whether he could ever truly be free with the authorities hot on his tail.
Netflix’s El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie helped fill in those blanks (warning: spoilers ahead!), and finally saw Jesse end up in Alaska under his new identity, Mr. Driscoll.
But it turns out that Vince Gilligan, Breaking Bad’s creator, originally envisaged a much more bleak ending for Jesse; one which saw him back behind bars, “but at peace for the first time since the movie began”.
“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?’,” Gilligan told Entertainment Weekly.
He said he began to plot out what would have happened in the version where an insomniac Jesse got caught, adding: “I didn’t get super far down the road, but it was probably going to be a young woman who needed some help.
“He was hiding out by the Canadian border, and this woman was working at a motel as a housekeeper or something. [He] goes into the process of saving her, knowing full well that he’s going to suffer for it, he’s going to get caught for it, but he does it anyway. And the last scene would be maybe him in a jail cell but at peace for the first time since the movie began.
He continued: “I think there was going to be this component where he couldn’t sleep. He wouldn’t get a single night sleep for a week or so upon escaping. The police are looking for him and he’s too haunted and he’s too adrenaline-charged. And at the end of the thing, he’s in a jail cell, and ironically he can fall asleep like a baby. And I thought, ‘Ah, that’d be kind of cool.’”
Thankfully after speaking to his girlfriend, and to Breaking Bad executive producer Peter Gould, Gilligan realised that fans needed to see Jesse remain free.”I’m glad I wound up doing it the way I did it,” he said.