“Grimly determined, fearing nothing, Jesse speeds towards the darkness. It’s up to us to say where he’s headed. I like to call it ‘something better’, and leave it at that.”
So wrote Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan as he capped off Jesse Pinkman’s story in the script for the show’s finale. But it seems Gilligan won’t be “leaving it at that,” as his reluctant meth cook, in news confirmed by Bryan Cranston, is getting his own movie sequel.
The feature, according to Slash Film, will be set after the events of the finale, which saw Jesse escape from imprisonment in a compound, with help from a fatally wounded Walter White.
“Something better” was all the closure I needed on Jesse, and I can’t say I’ve ever craved a sequel. Nevertheless, there are a number of compelling and diverse ways the narrative could go, and it will be a thrill to see Aaron Paul back in the role of Jesse, who served as the heart of the show. Some will roll their eyes and call the film unnecessary, but they’ll be tuning into its premiere like everybody else.
With Better Call Saul, Gilligan made a prequel worthy of Breaking Bad, and one that can stand on its own. Over the past couple of seasons, however, the show has gravitated to a dark, solemn tone more akin to its predecessor. This will surely have to be employed for the Jesse Pinkman movie too – it’s hard to imagine it being a light-hearted affair, and if Jesse does return to crime it’s unlikely to be with “better call Jesse!” gusto. It’s been reported that the sequel will be a TV movie, suggesting that it may even be linked to the AMC prequel series in some way, and I’d be very surprised if we don’t now see Jesse pop up in Saul before the show wraps up.
In terms of what the movie might be about, we have quite a lot to chew over.
Its brief logline only reveals that the film will “[track] the escape of a kidnapped man and his quest for freedom.” But not long after the Breaking Bad finale ended, Gilligan was asked what he thought became of Jesse, and let on more than he probably would have if he’d known then that a sequel was on the cards:
“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. 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.”
Jesse Pinkman wasn’t so much put through the wringer as the thresher in the final season of Breaking Bad. Chained to a lab by a white supremacist gang holding him prisoner, he was doomed to cook high-quality meth for the rest of his days, before Walt’s conscience got the better of him and he came to Jesse’s rescue.
There must surely be consequences for Jesse after the police discover Walt, the lab, and a handful of dead neo-Nazis, but the movie will be utterly miserabilist if Jesse’s life doesn’t look a little more hopeful.
A key moment in Jesse’s Breaking Bad story for me was the daydream sequence in which he imagined a simple life spent doing carpentry. We saw him crafting a perfect box, holding it to his nose and taking in its pleasing smell. Jesse was never going to be an academic (“Aaaaah, wire!”) but he was good with his hands. I’m not saying we’re going to spend 120 minutes watching Jesse varnish tables and open a flourishing Etsy store, but it would be nice if the movie took in his humble daydream.
Though this may only be a working title, The Albuquerque Journal reports that the film will be called “Greenbriar”. It evokes the wilderness, but I suspect it could be the kind of non-specific, corporate American, “nothing to see here” name of a company, of which the Breaking Bad universe is so fond. Another “Madrigal” or “Hamlin, Hamlin & McGill”.
Greenbriar is a private equity transportation investment company based in New York state. The Greenbrier is a luxury resort in the Allegheny Mountains in West Virginia. I don’t think Gilligan would be so literal as to use either of these real businesses directly, but they signal the kind of world we might find ourselves in for the sequel.
I just hope this epilogue for Jesse is a standalone one set mostly outside of Albuquerque. A little more Pinkman I’ll welcome, but it might start to tar the ending of Breaking Bad if Skylar, Marie, Walt Jr. et al‘s stories are picked back up too.
Greenbriar has no release date set, but is expected to go into production in New Mexico soon.