It’s been a decade since Breaking Bad first premiered on AMC, helping to usher in a second “Golden Age” of TV. Walter White’s (Bryan Cranston) transformation from Mr. Chips to Scarface earned 16 Emmy Awards during its five-season run. Now, five years after its end, creator Vince Gilligan is resurrecting the series for a Breaking Bad movie that will air first on Netflix and then AMC, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
With this announcement comes a mixed bag of excitement, trepidation, and a whole load of speculation. Breaking Bad was the story of Walter White’s violent rise to power and bloody downfall, and its spin-off, Better Call Saul, is a prequel about the man who eventually became White’s seedy lawyer Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk).
So what will the movie actually be about? Here’s a look at the details that have already been revealed, along with some educated speculation about where the new installment will go.
As first reported by The Albuquerque Journal, the movie is currently going by the title Greenbrier and was in production from mid-November 2018 through February 2019. The project, according to a November report from The Hollywood Reporter, will “follow the escape of a kidnapped man and his quest for freedom.” THR in February reported that the feature-length film will be a sequel revolving around Aaron Paul‘s character Jesse Pinkman.
With such a logline, it’s impossible to imagine the kidnapped man in question being anyone but Pinkman — the tortured loser who became Walter White’s meth-cooking protege — and it didn’t take long for SlashFilm to confirm this speculation to be true, writing, “Naturally, Aaron Paul is set to reprise the role.”
Back in 2013, shortly after the series ended, Gilligan pondered Jesse’s current whereabouts in an interview with GQ.
“My personal feeling is that he got away. But the most likely thing, as negative as this sounds, is that they’re going to find this kid’s fingerprints all over this lab and they’re going to find him within a day or a week or a month,” Gilligan speculated. “And he’s still going to be on the hook for the murder of two federal agents. But yeah, even though that’s the most likely outcome, the way I see it is that he got away and got to Alaska, changed his name, and had a new life. You want that for the kid. He deserves it.”
In the 11th episode of season 5, “Confessions,” Jesse expressed to Saul (Bob Odenkirk) that Alaska would be a good place to be relocated to. Unfortunately, the audience never saw him make it there.
Cranston, too, acknowledged Jesse’s lesser role in the business.
“I think Vince ended the series the way it was best. Walter White had to die,” he told Indiewire. “He was the person that brought upon all this disaster and decay. And Jesse Pinkman was almost kind of an innocent bystander to it, and paid the price for that.”
It’s Vince Gilligan’s world, we’re just living in it. The series creator is set to write the script and executive produce the project, and some unconfirmed sources have speculated that he will direct the film as well.
With AMC’s move to expand its Walking Dead universe into multiple TV movies, along with the slow-but-steady growth of Breaking Bad‘s small-screen world, giving Gilligan full control of the project feels like a no-brainer. After all, he’s the one who brought Breaking Bad to AMC back when the network was beginning to dip its toes into the world of original scripted content and, with this being the first project to come out of his new development deal with Sony Pictures TV, Gilligan feels like the only right choice for the job.
The crimes of Walter White, along with his death and the untimely demise of his DEA-agent brother-in-law, Hank Schrader (Dean Norris), truly left an impact on the remaining family unit. But if the story follows Jesse, it doesn’t seem like an appearance from Mr. White’s immediate family — Skyler (Anna Gunn), Walt Jr. (RJ Mitte), or even baby Holly would be in the cards. Mitte has since confirmed that he was “not a part of” the movie when speaking to The Wrap in May. That didn’t stop the actor from pitching how he’d like his character to appear in the rumored movie.
“Walt escapes capture, Jesse came back to Walt after the whole shootout, Walt and Jesse disappear for five years, and Walt Jr. is still living with his sister, almost like in like DEA housing,” Mitte explained. “Then Walt Jr. pretty much joins the DEA and is hunting after his father. He kind of takes Hank’s role where Hank left off. My idea is that he’s trying to go out, find what happened to Hank and go after Jesse and Walt.”
Speaking of those connected to slain DEA agent Hank Schrader, it’s very possible that, if Jesse is on the run, he may turn to Hank’s widow, Marie (Betsy Brandt), for assistance.
As you may recall, before Hank was gunned down by the neo-Nazis who took Jesse prisoner — basically, to replace Heisenberg as their go-to blue meth cook — Hank gave Pinkman a place to stay in exchange for his confession against Walt. Things didn’t go according to plan, but when all was said and done, Mr. White freed Jesse from captivity and murdered everyone in the compound with a mechanized semi-automatic trunk gun. Something tells us there may be a loose end or two that needs to be addressed.
Aside from the DEA and FBI, who will most certainly be on Pinkman’s trail, there’s a possibility that Lydia (Laura Fraser) — Gus Fring’s (Giancarlo Esposito) methylamine supplier, and one of Walt’s foes throughout season 5 — could still be alive; that is, if she didn’t ingest the ricin Walt replaced her Stevia with.
And let’s not forget Pinkman’s buddies, Badger (Matthew Lee Jones) and Skinny Pete (Charles Baker); the last we saw, they were still very much alive after Walt’s short visit with them in the finale. Could Jesse meet up with his old meth-head pals? It wouldn’t be the smartest move, but Pinkman has always been one to think with his heart, not his head.
In Better Call Saul, both Gilligan and his writing-producing partner Peter Gould have regularly exercised caution in the way they’ve brought Breaking Bad characters and storylines into the prequel series. Now that a TV movie is in the works, we can only wonder if Jesse’s story may coincide with Saul’s newest identity, Cinnabon manager Gene Takovic.
We’re not exactly sure how the two characters would reunite, or if it’d even happen. It would depend on the prequel’s trajectory. Better Call Saul season 4 sparked a huge shift in Jimmy McGill’s character and finally alluded to the arrival of Saul Goodman. It also featured regular flash-forwards to Goodman’s depressing life as Gene, which leads us to believe it could be very possible that Better Call Saul will end after five seasons.
“In an ideal world it would make a beautiful Blu-ray or DVD set or whatever futuristic media may exist eventually to have the shows kind of bookend and be roughly the same number of episodes,” Peter Gould said to The Independent, regarding an implied symmetry of both shows.
If that ends up being the case, it wouldn’t entirely be out of the question for the series to end but for Saul’s story to live on in the Breaking Bad movie, bringing a satisfying sense of closure to both Jesse’s and Saul’s storylines.
Since the inception of Better Call Saul, there’s been much speculation regarding the appearance of Walter White on the series. Nothing has been ruled out as of yet, given the show’s knack for playing with time periods. But will Mr. White show up in the Breaking Bad movie? That’s the burning question.
“I don’t know if there is an appearance, or what kind of appearance. I have no clue,” Cranston said when asked about the film during a visit to The Dan Patrick Show. “But I’m excited about it because it’s Breaking Bad, and it was the greatest professional period of my life. I can’t wait to see all those people again even if I just come by to visit.”
A few months later, when asked by Entertainment Tonight if Cranston’s iconic teacher-turned-druglord would “pop up” in the rumored sequel, the actor vaguely stated, “Well, rigor mortis has a way of allowing that to happen.” The Emmy-winning actor didn’t leave things there, though, admitting it’s possible for him to return in “a flashback, or a flash forward. I’m still dead, Walter White, I don’t know what [could happen.]”
Would it even make sense for Mr. White to show up? It depends. He could easily make an appearance in flashback form, but in our opinion, that would be too simple-minded for Gilligan. Instead, why not go the hallucination route? While we’ve seen this choice before in Fight Club, Mr. Robot, and even season 3 of Daredevil, it’d be an interesting choice. Not only would Heisenberg be able to make his return, but he’d continue being the thorn in Jesse’s side — and the chemistry between Cranston and Paul is begging for such a reunion to occur.
On Tuesday, June 25, Paul and Cranston updated their social media accounts with an image of a two donkeys standing side by side in the desert. The actors supplied the same caption: “Soon.”
Once the image hit the internet, rampant speculation followed. What did the photo mean? Are Paul and Cranston teasing their highly-anticipated return to Albuquerque, New Mexico? Further stoking the fire was Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul executive producer Peter Gould, who retweeted Aaron Paul’s post, saying, “Looking forward to this.”
While the overall consensus is that Paul is indeed starring in the film currently known as Greenbrier, the actor told Rotten Tomatoes he knew nothing of the movie when we spoke to him at the 2019 Sun Valley Film Festival.
“I honestly cannot confirm or deny that that movie is even happening,” he said. “I’ve said this before — if Vince were to approach me and ask me to be a part of anything, I would say yes. And so if that’s Breaking Bad, then so be it. I’m where I’m at today because of him. So I owe him a lot, and we all do from the show, and feel very blessed.”
Considering production on the movie was slated to end in February and will require plenty of time for editing and other post-production needs, the earliest it could hit the air would be late 2019 or early 2020.