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El Camino Originally Had A Much Sadder Ending For Jesse Pinkman

Jesse Pinkman's road could have ended a lot differently.

Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan, who wrote and directed the long-awaited followup El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, revealed in a recent interview that he originally had a much different ending in mind for Pinkman (Aaron Paul) — and it may not surprise you to know that the extremely put-upon former meth cook almost ended up behind bars. Please be advised that spoilers for El Camino follow.

At the conclusion of El Camino, Pinkman was finally able to make good his escape with the assistance of Ed "The Disappearer" Galbraith (the late, great Robert Forster), and he was preparing to head off into an unknown future in Alaska. After getting Ed to agree to one last favor — delivering a letter to Brock, the son of his late girlfriend Andrea — Pinkman slipped behind the wheel of a new ride and struck out toward the nearest small town, allowing the slightest trace of a smile to creep onto his face.

According to Gilligan, the ending he originally conceived was quite similar — but far, far darker. Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Gilligan said that his plan was for Pinkman's impulses to get the better of him... not his worst ones, but his best ones.

"I didn't get super far down the road, but [Pinkman's downfall] was probably going to be a young woman who needed some help," the director explained. "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."

Gilligan continued to say that this peace would have been illustrated by the reversal of a gimmick of sorts which never made it into the finished movie. "I think there was going to be this component where [Pinkman] couldn't sleep," he said. "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.'"

Well, sure, Mr. Gilligan — if by "cool," you mean "an absolutely brutal way to end Jesse Pinkman's story." Fortunately, the character was given his relatively happy ending following the timely intervention of Gilligan's girlfriend Holly Rice (who got her very own Easter egg in the flick) and Breaking Bad executive producer and Better Call Saul co-creator Peter Gould.

"I pitched some version of that to my girlfriend Holly, and I also separately pitched that to Peter Gould and the writers, and everybody looked at me like I was absolutely insane. [They said], 'You can't have Jesse back in a cell at the end of the movie! People will tar and feather you!'"

Well, that might be a little extreme — okay, no, Gilligan may very well have found himself tarred and feathered if he had gone through with this version of the ending. While he admitted to being bummed that his original idea didn't work out, he did admit that it was probably for the best.

"I'm glad I listened to them," he said. "I think there is a version of that [ending] that if perfectly executed would work, but I don't know that I was the guy to pull it off. I'm glad I wound up doing it the way I did it."

Another proposed ending was not as different, just as sad

Paul expressed his happiness to EW that Gilligan had chosen to give poor Jesse a break, and the actor also dropped a very interesting tidbit: El Camino's ending, as it stands, almost ramped up the heartbreak before allowing Pinkman to ride off into the Alaskan sunset. (Sunrise? Midnight sun? We're not sure exactly how the sun works there.) According to Paul, Pinkman's final flight was nearly accompanied by a voiceover: of Pinkman himself, reading the contents of the letter that he gave to Ed.

"That letter to Brock was the very first thing that Vince wrote when writing this script," Paul said. "Once he completed that letter, he started the script. Originally the voiceover of that letter was how the movie ended — just driving through Alaska and you could hear what was inside of that letter. It's heartbreaking, it's beautiful, just honest. But Vince just thought, 'You know what? Maybe it's best left unknown.' And we don't need it. He was right. But I love knowing what was in the letter."

Wow, Mr. Paul, we're sure you do! Care to clue any of the loyal fandom in? Asked for any details he could give by EW, Paul deadpanned, "Dear Brock," before shutting down the line of questioning.

""I swore to Vince that I would never share what was in that letter. But... [Pinkman] just could not be more open and honest. It's just really him saying, 'I'm sorry,' and that's it."

Well, at least we know that the little boy that meant so much to Pinkman got a chance to get some closure. Fans can at least know that, when little Brock reads that letter, he'll rest a little easier knowing that Pinkman is safe... right?

"If he's ever even able to read it," Paul teased. "I'm sure his grandmother is the one that's going to open it up, and probably take it to the police, and... who knows?"

That... that was just unnecessary. We're going to go ahead and assume that Brock gets his letter and hides it away where prying eyes can never see, and that Pinkman is finally able to put behind him the hell that had become his life ever since he agreed to join forces with Walter White.

Unless, of course, it means that we eventually get Alaskan Ice: Another Breaking Bad Movie. In that case, the hell with it, throw the poor dude back in the fire.

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie is currently streaming on Netflix.