On the one hand, he had to develop a self-contained story that would appeal to millions of Netflix subscribers scrolling through their accounts and seeing a movie with a weird Spanish car name. On the other hand, however, he knew he had to satisfying the legion of Breaking Bad fans, looking to return to the world of Breaking Bad for the first time since 2013 (save for the Better Call Saul prequel years of course).
The end result is a satisfying modern Western that also just happens to feature a mountain of Breaking Bad Easter eggs and references. Here we have gathered all of those aforementioned Breaking Bad Easter eggs and references in El Camino. Let us know if you uncover any that we’ve missed.
The following contains massive spoilers for El Camino. Click here for our spoiler-free review.
– Welp, right off the bat, Vince Gilligan delivers a treat for Breaking Bad fans. Mike Erhmantraut! Mike, of course, has become a regular character on Better Call Saul, but it’s still thrilling to see this latter day version of everyone’s favorite enforcer. Jonathan Banks once again reprises his role as Mike to share some words of wisdom with Jesse. When Jesse says he’ll finally have the opportunity to “put things right” after he retires, Mike says “No. Sorry kid, that’s the one thing you can never do.” Haunting words from the man who will be killed by Walter White shortly after this scene.
– And the hits keep on coming! Netflix made it clear that we would be seeing Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) and Badger (Matt Jones) in El Camino, but it’s still nice to see them so soon. Skinny Pete and Badger were always the natural choice for Jesse’s first visit after his emancipation. They’re not the brightest of dudes but they are certainly reliable. It’s pretty amazing to watch them stand in awe of Jesse and the journey he has gone on thus far. Skinny Pete even develops a pretty solid plan to help Jesse escape sans El Camino.
– Old Joe (Larry Hankin) of Old Joe’s Junkyard? Now the cameos reach a near parody level. Old Joe doesn’t stick around for long as he realizes the police has tracked Jesse’s car. But he does reminisce about the days of Breaking Bad past. “MAAAGNETS. That was a good one. I can tell you now that that I did not think that would work.”
– After Jesse departs Skinny Pete’s, El Camino flashes back to Jesse’s time as a captive of Todd Alquist (Jesse Plemons). Though long dead, Todd becomes a pretty crucial character in El Camino.
– In Jesse’s flashback, he recalls the time that Todd took him out on a little field trip to his apartment. Todd needed help disposing of the body of his cleaning lady Sonya. He killed Sonya because she discovers where his secret stash of money is. Interestingly, Todd killed her via strangulation, which is how Todd will eventually die.
– Todd’s apartment has quite a few Easter eggs. He still owns the tarantula that previously belonged to the little boy he killed in the New Mexican desert. He also has a Vamonos Pest shirt lying around.
– The cigarettes in Todd’s glove compartment are Morleys. That’s an old favorite fictional cigarette brand of Vince Gilligan’s dating back to his time on The X Files.
– In the past, Todd offers Jesse a pizza for not killing him. Jesse says he likes pepperoni on his pizza. The pizza that Walt threw on the roof of his house in Breaking Bad was a pepperoni pie. When Jesse orders pizza in season 4 episode 2, however, there doesn’t appear to be pepperoni on it. WHAT GIVES, GILLIGAN?
– Back in the present, Jesse’s parents Adam and Diane Pinkman are on TV urging Jesse to turn himself in. Also, a quick note on the news programs that frequently report on Jesse’s disappearance. Both “KHM News 1” and “4 KDS News” appear to not be real news stations in New Mexico or anywhere else.
– Speaking of the news, the radio reports that a woman suspected to be a part of the Heisenberg cartel is in the hospital with acute poisoning and is not expected to survive. R.I.P. Lydia Rodarte-Quayle.
– Neil Kandy and his partner of Kandy Welding Company pose as cops when Jesse is looking for Todd’s money. Kandy is played by Scott MacArthur, who plays a fun villain on The Righteous Gemstones.
– “I was wondering when you were gonna remember me.” It turns out that Jesse has a personal connection to this Kandy Man. Neil welded the apparatus that kept Jesse in bondage but also mobile enough to cook meth back at Jack’s. We later see Neil and another Breaking Bad cameo player Kenny (Kevin Rankin) via flashback. Neil is very confident that the gussets and fishplates he’s installed will keep Jesse from escaping. Turns out he was mostly right.
– So why is Jesse urgently looking for a vacuum shop? Longtime viewers of Breaking Bad know why and El Camino watchers find out soon as well. Ed Galbraith (Robert Forster) is more than just a mild-mannered vacuum repairman; he’s an expert in getting criminals off the grid. Saul Goodman and Walter White both utilized his services and Jesse was supposed to as well before he opted to return to Albuquerque and get his revenge on Walt. Ed makes it clear that he won’t help Jesse again unless he pays him $250,000. Jesse is $1,800 short.
– Jesse calls his parents to get them out of the house. Turns out his brother Jake, is on a band field trip to London. Guess he stayed off those drugs! The combination to the safe containing two guns has been changed. It’s now Jake’s birthday, solidifying his status as the preferred son.
– Breaking Bad was always a modern Western so it’s only fitting that El Camino‘s climax finally concerns a quick draw scenario. Jesse wins said draw because as we all know, two guns is better than one (especially when one is concealed). Jesse’s quick dispatching of Neil and his friend is reminiscent of Walt’s remote controlled machine gun attack on Jack.
– El Camino saves its biggest flashback for….second to last. Yes, Bryan Cranston as Walter White pops up! Based on the condition of Walt’s cancer and their bullet hole-ridden RV, the scene in Owl Cafe occurs somewhere around late season 1 or early season 2. “You’re lucky, you know. You didn’t have to wait your whole life to do something special,” Walt says ominously, as though this life is something to be proud of.
– Owl Cafe is a real place in Albuquerque.
– So why Alaska as a landing point for Jesse? Well for one, Mike suggested it way back in the episode’s first scene. Also, Aaron Paul previously mentioned Alaska as an ideal spot for Jesse to live out his days after Breaking Bad.
– Jesse gives Ed a message to deliver before his disappears forever. That letter can only be intended for young Brock.
– The real final cameo in El Camino belongs to Jane Margolis (Krysten Ritter). It’s a fitting choice because Jane’s death is certainly the beginning of the end for Jesse’s chances at happiness. “I was being metaphorical,” she says of following the universe’s path. “It’s a terrible philosophy. I’ve been going where the universe takes me. It’s better to make those decisions yourself.”