Kelly Likes El Camino (2019)!

El Camino 001Rating: A-

Basically: Characters can be compelling and stories can be suspenseful when they get to where they need to be.

Summary: We learn what happened to Jesse Pinkman after the series finale of Breaking Bad.

Once upon a time on a small cable network, a man named Vince Gilligan debuted what’s possibly the greatest television show of all time: Breaking Bad. Possibly for many people and probably for me. Though there are many I hold close to my heart, there haven’t been a lot of shows I hold in such high regard. And this is a real A- and not a Deadwood A.  Yeah, it’s a bit fan servicey at times, but in the best of ways and it’s more of a quick wink rather than a wink, nod, and full turn to the camera. Each episode was carefully crafted, every season was a slow burn, and the ending came with a fury and left a big gaping hole in people’s hearts.

The thing that sets Breaking Bad apart from other shows is that the show consistently delivered and never wavered off its path. It was a series that didn’t take its audience for granted. It didn’t try to confuse you, the most interesting moments were in the slightest of actions, and audiences were taken along on a journey right beside the characters. Not only were we emotionally invested in the likes of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, but we got to know them so well, that we were able to foresee their actions, hope for the best outcomes, and fear for the worst. And due to Gilligan trusting the viewer, trusting the actors, and the whole process- the payoff was just a little more special than anything else. I think Breaking Bad ended on a truly perfect note.

Make that two perfect notes, because El Camino plays such a grand tribute to a much loved character. While Breaking Bad was certainly Walter’s show and its ending deservingly focused on his demise, Jesse was the character most people loved and felt protective of him. I don’t want to give too much away, but it feels right that we get to see how things turned out for him. It’s an appropriately bittersweet and somber ending that feels exactly in the right place.

I’d say if it’s been a while since you’ve seen the series, you might want to revisit it before watching El Camino. There are plenty of past characters that make an appearance and I struggled to remember them and then couldn’t understand the callbacks to then understand what might be taking place. And I also couldn’t really appreciate those performances. Gilligan is so careful in his crafting that everything is intentional and meant for you to notice- I felt almost guilty about not being able to piece some things together. For those expecting… I don’t know, a loud bombastic episode of PINKMAN IS BACK, BITCH, ah… again, maybe it’s best to revisit the show and those quiet character interactions, because that’s where the show really shines.

I’ve lucked out this year with some much needed farewells to some very beloved characters. While I hope not all television series come back with an unnecessary movie, I do believe we needed this one.

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