WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, now streaming on Netflix.
In AMC's Breaking Bad, all of the villains pretty much got their due. We saw several of them die -- from the likes of Tuco Salamanca, the Cousins, Gustavo Fring, and come the fifth and final season, Uncle Jack's neo-Nazi gang, as well as his nephew Todd Alquist (Jesse Plemons), finally strangled to death by Jesse (Aaron Paul).
In the series finale, "Felina," the one remaining person who'd become a tyrant, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) himself, also perishes as he frees Jesse from Jack's gang, thus starting the events that lead into El Camino: A Breaking Bad Story.
However, in the Netflix film, the fate of one villain we thought dead is fundamentally changed: Lydia Rodarte-Quayle.
Played by Laura Fraser, Lydia was quite the cutthroat businesswoman, introduced as Head of Logistics at Madrigal Electromotive GmbH, a company that had their hands in everything from industrial equipment, manufacturing, global shipping, construction, and hospitality, which included the fast-food chain in New Mexico, Los Pollos Hermanos.
Introduced in Season 5, Lydia was the person who supplied Gus with methylamine before his drug empire collapsed. She'd ally with Walt after Gus' death, even encouraging him to ship to Europe. However, as the relationship between Walt, Jesse and Mike (Jonathan Banks) fractured after Todd killed a young boy named Drew Sharp following a methylamine heist they all pulled off, Lydia showed she cared for nothing except profit margins.
This is why she saw potential in Todd to be a ruthless partner, although having him replace the retired Walt would push her over the edge as she struggled to service the demand in terms of quantity and quality. Todd just wasn't as good a cook as Walt -- unable to get it to the famous "Sky Blue" purity Walt taught him to make, but still, with Todd and Uncle Jack taking out the Arizona dealer, Declan and his crew, Lydia had no choice but to depend on Todd without Heisenberg in the mix.
In "Felina," when a desperate Walt tried to convince her and Todd to let him back in, though, Lydia faked interest, concocting a scheme for him to meet Todd and Jack and be killed.
The ambush didn't go according to plan and Walt took down the operation, freed Jesse and died. However, just before, Lydia called in thinking Todd got the job done, only for Walt to answer and let her know all the goons are dead and soon, she'd be too. Lydia was poisoned with ricin as Walt had laced her tea with the "Stevia crap" she always puts in, leaving Lydia to comprehend her fate as he hung up.
Of course, fans knew ricin was the kiss of death in the show and we assumed she died off-screen. El Camino confirms this isn't the case, well, not just yet.
In a radio report heard when Jesse tries to chart a new course following his escape, the announcer says, "The drug kingpin once known throughout the southwest as Heisenberg may yet claim a final victim." At that point, it's uncertain who the report's referring to as we thought Walt killed everyone who had to be murdered, but it's then revealed Lydia is the one barely surviving. "Texas authorities investigating the poisoning of a Houston woman are looking into her possible connection to Walter White's criminal organisation. The unnamed woman, who is hospitalised in critical condition, is not expected to survive."
Lydia operated from Madrigal's head office in Houston, Texas, keeping her role in the drug trade as discrete as possible. With no further confirmation of her death later on in El Camino, it seems that Lydia is still technically alive in the Breaking Bad universe, but again optimistic fans think her demise appears all-but guaranteed. Still, one has to wonder why such a power player's death wouldn't be seen on-screen like the others. Theorists even believe a sequel to El Camino could occur with Lydia somehow surviving.
Seeing as Jesse gets his happy ending, if Lydia ends up alive, there's spinoff potential a la Better Call Saul which could be villain-centric off the cuff, focusing on who can fill the gap and construct the new meth empire in New Mexico. Lydia would have raw ingredients, and with all her obstacles out the way, the spinoff could focus on her finding the next Heisenberg, aka the perfect cook.
We're not sure how much of the formula she has from when Gus, Walt and Jesse cooked for her but there's a chance her persistence to sell to the Czech Republic could also come into play, mapping out a Euro-centric series too. Lydia could finally transition into the queen bee she always wanted, but that's all dependent of course, on whether a miracle cure for ricin poisoning exists in the twisted world Vince Gilligan created.
Written and directed by Breaking Bad creator, Vince Gilligan, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie stars Aaron Paul. The film is available to stream now on Netflix, with a later release scheduled for AMC.