WARNING: The following contains spoilers for El Camino, A Breaking Bad Movie, now streaming on Netflix.
With El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie detailing the journey by Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) following the events of the 2013 series finale, there was a lot of speculation about which characters might return, and how. Fans knew key players would appear in flashbacks, but there were quite a few survivors from Walter White's war on the Albuquerque drug scene that we thought wrapped Vince Gilligan's beloved AMC drama six years ago.
With the story continuing in the form of a Netflix movie, however, Gilligan delivers plenty of treats with a slew of returns, with some noteworthy surprises. Let's look at who came back to conclude Jesse's adventures as he tries to break free from the shadow of Walt's empire.
Jonathan Banks' return as Mike was no secret, and we knew it would be a flashback, as he was killed by Walt (Bryan Cranston) after their relationship soured. The reunion occurs in the first scene, in which Jesse and Mike hang out and discuss their roles in Walt's plans. This is where Jesse decides he wants out of the business, and Mike advises him go to Alaska -- which is where Jesse ends up by the time El Camino concludes.
However, Mike makes it clear a fresh start doesn't mean Jesse will ever make things right. When asked what he would do with the millions he made upon retirement, Mike reveals he'll do the "same thing I do with all the other money" from their drug deals. That's a nod to Better Call Saul, in which we we learn he sends his cash to his daughter-in-law, proving Mike was indeed as much heart as he was brawn.
SKINNY PETE & BADGER
The tease for El Camino placed Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) in the interrogation room, deflecting questions about Jesse's whereabouts. While this scene isn't in the film, Pete and Badger (Matt Jones) are a focal point once Jesse escapes the Nazi stronghold from the series finale. They're the first people he turns to for aid; they provide him with supplies, and a place to stay for the night.
They help hide Jesse's El Camino, and Skinny Pete even comes up with a plan to save him, instructing Badger to take the car to near the border with Mexico, but leave it so the police can find it. It's part of a wild goose chase, with Jesse will take Badger's car, as well as much-needed cash. When Jesse asks why they're going to such lengths to help him, Skinny Pete replies, "Dude, you're my hero and shit."
OLD MAN JOE
After arriving at the home of Skinny Pete and Badger, Jesse knows he has to get rid of the El Camino, as the cops have linked the car to the Nazis and to Walt's massacre. Jesse immediately calls Old Joe (Larry Hankin), as he helped him and Walt clean up many incidents in the past. The owner of junkyard Rocker Salvage arrives and offers Jesse this one for free as he's a good kid, having brought him a lot of business.
Joe even mentions the giant magnet with which they erased incriminating video footage from Gustavo Fring's laptop, stored in the evidence room at police headquarters. Although that stirs Jesse's memories, the wave of nostalgia comes to an abrupt end when Joe's scanner picks up the Lo-Jack signal on the El Camino. He knows the police or, worse, other Nazis will soon follow, so he bolts, wishing Jesse the best.
Jesse Plemons gets a good deal of screen time, reprising his role as the heinous Todd Alquist. In the series finale, "Felina," Jesse strangled Todd for overseeing his enslavement, but El Camino flashes back to a road trip taken by the two. Jesse is temporarily freed from captivity for a cleanup mission for Todd. When Uncle Jack's Nazi gang departs for a while, Todd is in dire need of Jesse's services to dispose of his cleaner, Sonia.
Todd killed her because she found his money stash, although she didn't realize it was his and had no intention of stealing it. Nevertheless, Todd uses Jesse to bury the in the desert. What makes this road trip even more tense is that Jesse wants to escape, but knows Todd will retaliate against his loved ones.
When Jesse tries to steal hidden money from Todd's apartment, he's stopped by a couple workers from the Kandy Welding Co., posing as cops. They eventually broker a deal, but Jesse quickly realizes they're the crew who helped Todd's white supremacists build the cell in which Jesse was kept as a prisoner.
In a flashback, the gang lieutenant Kenny (Kevin Rankin), who cruelly places a bet with the welder, Neil, whether Jesse can break the chain. Kenny was killed in "Felina" when Walt's machine-gun ambush wrecked Jack's house. It's obvious from this new scene why Jesse basked in his death.
Short of cash, Jesse needs $1,800 to complete the fee needed to disappear, and he turns to his parents, Adam and Diane Pinkman (Michael Bofshever and Tess Harper). They try to convince him to turn himself in, throwing fans back to Season 3, when they cut ties with Jesse. They appear twice in El Camino, on national TV begging Jesse to do the right thing, and then when he phones them as part of a ruse.
Jesse arranges a meeting with them, but it's only to get them out of the house, trailed by the police, so he can break in and steal his father's antique guns to get the money from the Kandy workers. Interestingly, Jesse does make peace with them through his final words: "I don't know if it'll mean much to you, but you did your best, and whatever happened to me, it's on me, nobody else."
ED GALBRAITH, THE 'DISAPPEARER'
Robert Forster's cameo as Ed Galbraith is bittersweet, because El Camino premiered the day the veteran actor died. To start anew in Alaska, as Mike advised, Jesse visits Best Quality Vacuum to speak to Ed, on whom he bailed in Season 5. Ed's business is legitimate, but on the side he provides a new identity and a fresh start to anyone who will pay the price and follow the rules.
It wasn't until the penultimate episode of Breaking Bad, "Granite State," that we met Ed. Here, Jesse brings the money he stole from Todd's apartment to arrange a new deal. Ed doesn't compromise, however, demanding payment for the first job, and even calling the police when Jesse balks. Ultimately, they work out a deal, and the final moments of El Camino finds Ed giving Jesse his new identity.
Through news reports, El Camino confirms that Walt is indeed dead after the finale shootout. However, after Jesse gets the rest of the money needed to head to Alaska, we see a flashback to a new scene shot for the Season 2 episode "4 Days Out," in which they went into the desert for a million-dollar cook and get breakfast.
Walt wants to know how quickly they can move the money so his family can profit, which establishes how early the scene falls in their partnership. To create a bonding moment, Walt even discusses Jesse's future, and the possibility of college, with Jesse admitting an interest in sports medicine. The conversation is meaningful to Jesse because, despite the eventual deterioration of his relationship with Walt, it's revealed he always secretly dreamed of having a clean life.
Krysten Ritter's Jane Margolis, whom Walt allowed to die from a drug overdose so Jesse would stay in the business, makes a shocking return in flashback. During the Walt scene, we hear Jesse talking with her on the phone. However, as El Camino ends, Jesse recalls a loving moment they shared.
Ready to begin his new life in Alaska as Mr. Driscoll, Jesse remembers telling Jane he thinks her philosophy of "going where the universe takes you" is a good one. However, Jane is as cynical as ever, killing the romantic mood by telling Jesse, "I was being metaphorical. It's a terrible philosophy. I've gone where the universe takes me my whole life. It's better to make those decisions for yourself." It's something he ultimately does when he leaves his old life behind in Albuquerque.
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.