Television

A Guide to the Cameos in El Camino

Who’s back in Netflix’s Breaking Bad movie, and what you need to remember about them.

Aaron Paul in El Camino
Aaron Paul in El Camino.
Ben Rothstein/Netflix

Which Breaking Bad characters would and wouldn’t make an appearance in the spinoff movie El Camino—now available in movie theaters and on Netflix—was a closely guarded secret. But now that the movie is finally out, let’s look at who shows up and what we need to remember about them. (This post contains spoilers, but we’ve steered clear of revealing major developments, including how El Camino ends.)

Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks)

The first scene in El Camino flashes back to a moment between Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) and Mike on the banks of a river, not long before Mike’s death at the hands of Walter White. As Jesse contemplates what he’ll do after they sell their last batch of meth and make their escape, he asks Mike where he’d go if he were Jesse. Mike’s typically terse response: “I’m not you.”

Skinny Pete (Charles Baker), Badger (Matthew Lee Jones), and Old Joe (Larry Hankin)

Jesse’s first move after escaping the Nazi compound is to seek refuge with his old buddies, who are surprised to see him and shocked at his bedraggled appearance. After taking a much-needed shower, Jesse’s first order of business is to ditch the titular El Camino, which he correctly presumes the police will be looking for. In one of the movie’s deepest cuts, he makes a call to Old Joe, the salvage yard owner who destroyed Walt and Jesse’s RV in Season 3 and helped dispose of Mike’s body in Season 5.

Jesse’s Parents (Tess Harper and Michael Bofshever)

Jesse’s parents last made an appearance in Breaking Bad’s third season, but the manhunt for Jesse brings them out of the woodwork. He first sees them on a TV news broadcast, pleading for him to turn himself in—although the movie leaves it open-ended as to whether they’re more concerned for his safety or worried about what he might do.

Todd Alquist (Jesse Plemons)

El Camino offers a surprisingly meaty role to Todd, affectionally dubbed “Meth Damon” by Breaking Bad fans. Having been strangled to death by Jesse in the show’s final episode, he’s obviously not around for the current-day storyline, but he’s present in several flashbacks to Jesse’s time as a meth-cooking prisoner of Todd’s uncle Jack and his white supremacist gang. We get an extended look at Todd’s apartment, which he proudly notes is decorated in hues of Easter egg pastel, and a reminder that of all of Breaking Bad’s characters, he might be the most blankly amoral.

Ed Galbraith (Robert Forster)

In plot terms, the most significant Breaking Bad character to turn up in El Camino’s present-tense scenes is Ed, the “extractor” who forged a new identity for Saul Goodman so he could run a Cinnabon in Nebraska. Jesse’s going to need his services if he wants to make his own escape, but first there’s the little matter of an unpaid debt.

Kenny (Kevin Rankin)

All you really need to remember about Kenny, the Nazi gang’s second-in-command, is that he’s a sadistic asshole who once said he wanted to “smack the shit out of” kids for wearing bicycle helmets.

Lydia Rodarte-Quayle (Laura Fraser)

Walt’s treacherous former partner doesn’t show up in El Camino, exactly, but a radio report indicates that the ricin Walt poisoned her with the last time they met is still doing its job, and although she’s not dead yet, it’s not looking good for her.

Jane Margolis (Krysten Ritter)

Before his relationship with Andrea and her son, Brock, Jane was Jesse’s best hope for getting his life together—which, naturally, is why Walter White let her choke to death. El Camino features a postscript to a Breaking Bad scene—itself a flashback—in which the two visit a Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit. When Jesse is baffled that O’Keeffe painted pictures of the same door multiple times, Jane explains: “Sometimes you get fixated on something, and you might not even get why. You open yourself up and go with the flow, wherever the universe takes you.” There’s a good argument that “going with the flow” got Jesse into a whole lot of trouble, so in El Camino, Jane has cause to rethink that little bit of New Age wisdom.

Walter White (Bryan Cranston)

As if they’d make a Breaking Bad movie without an appearance by Heisenberg himself. El Camino waits until it’s almost over to pull him onstage, and when it does, it flashes back to the morning after one of Walt and Jesse’s RV cooks. (The timing isn’t specified, but it’s after Walt shaved his head; three effects artists, including gore maestro Greg Nicotero, are credited with making Bryan Cranston’s bald cap.) They’re riding high on their success, Jesse piling his motel buffet plate high, but the feeling of accomplishment also underlines how long he’s lived what he considers a mediocre life. “You’re really lucky,” he tells Jesse. “You didn’t have to wait your whole life to do something special.”