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Jesse Pinkman’s future looks bleak — but beautiful — in Netflix’s Breaking Bad: El Camino trailer

The full trailer for Netflix’s Breaking Bad movie finds Jesse fleeing the law — and his own ghosts.

Aja Romano writes about pop culture, media, and ethics. Before joining Vox in 2016, they were a staff reporter at the Daily Dot. A 2019 fellow of the National Critics Institute, they’re considered an authority on fandom, the internet, and the culture wars.

If you’re a Breaking Bad fan, you’ve probably spent the years since the show’s dramatic 2013 finale wondering what came next for Jesse Pinkman. Now, the first trailer for Netflix’s new El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie gives us a glimpse at an answer.

The trailer, like the film, picks up right where the show left off. The finale saw Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) driving away scot-free from the brutal fight between Walter White and the drug-peddling neo-Nazis that were after him, at least for the moment. But the movie, written and directed by Breaking Bad’s creator, Vince Gilligan, won’t let our favorite sidekick rest easy for long.

The trailer shows Jesse fleeing what seems to be both law enforcement and the remnants of Uncle Jack’s band of neo-Nazis. At the same time, he’s clearly grieving his long-time partner Walt and trying to make sense of the upheaval of his own life. Mostly shot in sepia tones of shadows and sun-scorched daylight, the whole trailer is set to the Reuben and the Dark song “Black Water,” whose lyrics sound as though they could have been written for Jesse: “I saw my face in the mirror / Though I know I’ve changed; ... I lock fate in the lion’s cage / And wait for my time to come.”

While Jesse awaits his fate, we’re treated to tantalizing glimpses of what Gilligan, in his film directorial debut, has in store for us: We get a shot of Jesse digging up something unknown as well as brief shots of a few figures in the distance. Could they be familiar faces? For instance, private investigator Mike Ehrmantraut’s actor Jonathan Banks has already confirmed he’ll be making an appearance, despite his death early in the show’s final season. Still, could that somehow be him we see on the distant shore of a lake? A vision, perhaps?

We also see Jesse apparently accepting his fate, whatever it is, in the final moment of the trailer, as he’s confronted by a mysterious man in shadow. Could it be Ed the “disappearer” (Robert Forster), the Breaking Bad character who gives people new identities and helps them escape into new lives? Or is Jesse meeting a far different kind of fate?

The tone of this trailer is somber and dark, with no hint of the black comedy Breaking Bad was often famed for. But that’s entirely in line with the series’ darkening final seasons when fans were forced to contend with the truth of their antihero’s growing greed and sociopathy. In many ways, Jesse was a victim of Walt’s descent into darkness, and though the series left him alive, El Camino makes it clear it didn’t leave him unscathed.

But then, Breaking Bad’s ability to mix gravitas, beauty, comedy, and meditative darkness is what fans love about it, and while humor is absent from the trailer, it’s got enough of the rest to make us excited.

El Camino arrives on Netflix on October 11, 2019.

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