The last time we see Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) in Felina, the final episode of Breaking Bad, he is escaping captivity from an Aryan gang compound in a car belonging to the (very) recently deceased Todd Alquist (Jesse Plemons). This exact instant is where we start El Camino, a Breaking Bad Movie.
Fans of the show will know that leading up to this frantic jump-off is Walter White’s (Bryan Cranston) final act as Heisenberg in freeing Jesse. It was a heroic moment in the life of a bad man who had gone from disappointed chemistry teacher to meth kingpin over the course of 5 seasons of the most extraordinary television ever made.
“…he is a master cook…and there will need to be payback for the people Walter killed.”
Walter didn’t become a sociopath. He always was one. Happening upon Jesse and the meth trade afforded him the scope to act out his wildest retribution on a universe that had done him wrong, and he went all-in when the opportunity came, heedless of the damage it did to the people in his life. His initial impulse was to get into drugs to pay his medical bills after a terminal cancer diagnosis to keep his family afloat financially when he was gone. At least that’s the lie he told himself. As his medical condition improved, as well as his fortunes in the drug trade, he was drawn ever deeper into the world of cartels and criminal violence. It became clear he was in it for the thrill of the game, addicted to the power of being the cook and master of his own boutique corner of the meth industry, as Heisenberg.
In the end, with his cancer returning and once again facing imminent death, he regains some measure of his humanity (or perhaps this is another calculation to rehabilitate his legacy) and decides to rescue Jesse. He does so with typical genius in design, planning, and execution (including the literal execution of the Aryan gang keeping Jesse).