After more than six years, El Camino finally brought us back to the night that Walter White died. Series spinoff and prequel Better Call Saul has turned out to be a great accompaniment to Breaking Bad, but ever since the show’s finale, fans have craved a look at the world in the wake of the fall of the Heisenberg empire.
Breaking Bad, as well as Better Call Saul, is full of easter eggs and subtle details that have fueled elaborate fan theories on Reddit for years now. Whether it’s the symbolism of various colors, or the ways in which Walt takes on the traits of his victims after he kills them, creator Vince Gilligan has designed a world worth revisiting over and over again.
El Camino is no different, and even after watching the film a couple of times this past weekend, I’m sure there are still many hidden references I have yet to find. There are plenty of fan-service moments that Gilligan put out in plain sight, others that certainly appear to be Breaking Bad references, and a few that really could just be nothing at all. Here, we’ll do our best to compile every yell, nod, and wink in the movie. Let’s go hunting for some Easter eggs.
Definitely an Easter Egg
Flashback With Mike
In El Camino’s opening scene, we see a past conversation between Mike Ehrmantraut and Jesse. The setting should look familiar; the riverbank where they’re meeting is the same one where Walt shoots Mike in Season 5’s “Say My Name.” Mike and Jesse are discussing what their plans are, now that they’re both retiring, and Mike tells Jesse that, if he was in Jesse’s shoes, he would go to Alaska. The two formed a special bond over the series; Mike saw the good in Jesse and tried to look out for him, doing his best to warn him about the danger of working with Walt. It’s only fitting that Jesse’s new Alaskan life as Mr. Driscoll was inspired by Mike himself.
Saul Goodman’s Office/Los Pollos Hermanos
In a series of quick transition shots near the beginning of the film, we get glimpses of the modern forms of a couple of crucial Breaking Bad buildings: Los Pollos Hermanos and Saul Goodman’s office. With Gustavo Fring long gone, the original Hermanos location from the series is no more, with the real-life restaurant Twisters set up in its place. And with Saul off doling out Cinnabons somewhere, his office is gone too, as the strip mall where it was located is shown missing the iconic inflatable Statue of Liberty that once stood above it.
While Jesse is trying to figure out what to do with Todd Alquist’s El Camino, he calls up Old Joe, the clever junkyard owner who helped get Walt and Jesse out of several binds over the years. Joe reenacts an iconic Jesse Pinkman moment from Season 5’s “Live Free or Die,” when Jesse comes up with the plan to use magnets to wipe the data on Gus’s impounded laptop. Joe leaves out a pretty crucial word in his account of the story, but forgive him, it’s been a while.
Holly Ave & Arroz Road
A long shot focuses on the cross streets of Todd’s apartment, revealing his address to be at the intersection of Holly Ave and Arroz Road. Since “arroz” translates to “rice” in Spanish, this Easter egg is just a shout-out from Vince Gilligan to his longtime girlfriend, Holly Rice.
Todd’s “pastel” apartment—which definitely isn’t creepy at all—is full of Easter eggs. So many, in fact, that Todd even considered painting them right onto the walls themselves:
There’s a Vamonos Pest shirt lying around, which is the shady pest control company that Todd works for when we first meet him in Season 5.
There’s also Todd’s pet tarantula, formerly owned by a young boy named Drew Sharp, the poor kid who happens to witness Walt, Jesse, and Todd’s train heist in Season 5’s “Dead Freight” before Todd shoots him.
As Jesse rips apart Todd’s apartment in search of a money stash, there’s a quick callback to the iconic Season 4 shot of Walt lying in the crawl space underneath his house:
And last, but certainly not least, there’s Todd’s snowglobe collection, with one piece that stands out in particular:
Here we find a figurine of Todd, on the left, with a little mug in front of him, and on the right, we have Lydia Rodarte-Quayle, sitting atop a giant cup of tea. It appears to be a re-creation of the meetings the two would have in Lydia’s favorite café, back when they were running Walt’s meth empire before his disappearance in Season 5. Todd never hid his affection for the uninterested Lydia, so it’s not very surprising that he bottled up one of their shared moments so it could exist forever in snowglobe form. If that’s not (unrequited) love, I don’t know what is.
Jesse and the Beetle
Throughout the course of Breaking Bad, Jesse shows an affinity for children and animals; he always does his best to protect the innocent despite his line of work. In the opening scene to Season 2’s “Peekaboo,” while Jesse is waiting for Skinny Pete to show up and provide him with Spooge’s address so he can reclaim their stolen meth, Jesse notices a beetle crawling beside his feet. He looks down, picks it up in his hand, smiles, and sets it back down peacefully, only for Pete to show up and immediately stomp it into oblivion. And in El Camino, Jesse picks up and gently releases another beetle the very same way. Despite everything he’s been through, that part of Jesse remains intact.
The last phone call we ever see Walter White take in Breaking Bad is one from his former business associate, Lydia, in the last minutes of the series finale. After Walt shoots up the neo-Nazis and Jesse gets revenge on Todd, Walt walks over to pick up Todd’s ringing cellphone (which, naturally, has a custom ringtone set for Lydia’s number). Walt proudly reveals to Lydia that he poisoned her with ricin, and in El Camino, we get a quick update on her health, courtesy of the radio: “Texas authorities investigating the poisoning of a Houston woman are looking into her possible connection to Walter White’s criminal organization. The unnamed woman, who is hospitalized in critical condition, is not expected to survive.” It sounds like Lydia won’t be pulling through after all, but hey, at least she’s already been immortalized in a pretty sweet snowglobe.
Brock goes through a lot thanks to his association with Jesse; his mother is killed by Todd, and he is poisoned by Walt. Brock’s whereabouts after Andrea’s murder are one of the many loose ends left after the series, and while El Camino does little to resolve it, Brock is referenced several times throughout the film. The most important mention comes after Jesse has finally made it out of New Mexico to start a new life. Jesse’s last—and only—goodbye is to Brock, by way of a written letter that Ed says he’s going to mail in a month.
“4 Days Out”
In a perfectly nostalgic flashback, Bryan Cranston finally reprises his role as Heisenberg, as we find Walt and Jesse exiting their separate rooms in a motel before grabbing a meal at a diner. This scene is meant to take place after the duo made it out of the desert after getting stranded during a long cooking session in Season 2’s “4 Days Out.” It serves as a reminder of how much both Jesse and Walt changed since their days spent together in the RV.
The scene also, graciously, provides us with Jesse’s only utterance of what was once his favorite word:
Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Trip
As Jesse drives away from his former life toward a new one in Alaska, he thinks back to a conversation he had with Jane about free will. It’s the final flashback of the film, calling back to Season 3’s “Abiquiu” opening scene. Jesse tells her that he likes her philosophy to go “where the universe takes you.” But Jane disagrees: “I was being metaphorical. It’s a terrible philosophy,” she replies flatly. “I’ve gone where the universe takes me my whole life. It’s better to make those decisions for yourself.” No longer living under Walt’s tyrannical rule or held prisoner by a group of neo-Nazis, Jesse’s redemption arc is fully realized in El Camino, as he’s finally taken full control of his own life.
Could Be an Easter Egg
Foreshadowing Todd’s Death
Though it takes some time, we eventually find out that the main reason Todd has taken Jesse to his apartment is so Jesse can help him dispose of the dead body lying on his kitchen floor. In a potential foreshadowing to Todd’s future demise, Todd reveals that he had strangled his cleaning lady to death with a belt. After being broken out of imprisonment in the series finale, Jesse uses the chain he’d been locked up in to choke Todd.
In what would have otherwise been a quick escape for Jesse, the LoJack car recovery system installed to Todd’s El Camino activates as Old Joe is inspecting the vehicle the morning after Jesse’s liberation. Joe immediately flees, and Jesse, Skinny Pete, and Badger have to improvise a new plan. The LoJack system is potentially a callback to Jesse’s LoJacked Cap’n Cook mobile in Season 2, which Hank uses to unwittingly find a wounded Tuco Salamanca.
“Smoking marijuana, eating cheetos, and masturbating do not constitute plans in my book,” Walt tells Jesse in response to him saying that he has “plans” and therefore can’t go shopping for cooking supplies back in Season 2. Walt, of course, was being a dick to Jesse as usual, since Jesse actually did have plans to go on a trip to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum with Jane. But funnily enough, that’s more or less what we find Jesse’s best friends doing in El Camino, as Skinny Pete complains to Badger that his video game controller is defective due to all the Cheeto dust stuck in it. And the morning after, Badger offers Jesse weed to “take the edge off.” Walt may have been an all-around terrible guy, but he was right about a thing or two.
In the opening scene of the Season 5 premiere, we find a fully haired Walt assuming a new identity as a man from New Hampshire. As Walt opens up the trunk to a Volvo that contains the keys to the car that holds the machine gun he’d just purchased, there’s a shot of the Volvo’s license plate, which displays the New Hampshire state motto and the namesake of the episode: “Live Free or Die.” In El Camino, Alaska’s state nickname, “The Last Frontier,” serves a similar purpose, as Mike refers to it as such in the aforementioned opening scene with Jesse, and it appears again on the license plate of Jesse’s new car as he rides off to freedom.
Throwing Shit Against the Wall (or Pizza on the Roof)
Todd’s Pizza Offering
After a long day out of the cage with Todd, Jesse finally gets his chance to escape when he finds a gun in the El Camino glove compartment. He proceeds to aim the gun at Todd, but can’t bring himself to pull the trigger. As Todd tries to calm down Jesse, he tells him that he had been planning on picking up some pizza on the way back home. “What kind of pizza do you like, Jesse?” Todd asks him. “Pepperoni,” Jesse finally responds, before handing over the gun.
Back in Season 3, pizza—specifically pepperoni—was used in Walt’s attempt to make amends with Skyler and the family after he gets kicked out of the house. The plan definitely worked out better for Todd.
“Let’s Both Go Sideways for a While”
In what could be a callback to Walt and Jesse’s methylamine barrel heist in the Season 1 finale, when the two put on a comical display of their inexperience in the breaking-and-entering business, Todd and Jesse share a similar moment in one of the flashbacks at Todd’s apartment. “What are you better at, going forwards or backwards?” Todd asks Jesse as they try to work out how they’re going to carry the roof of Todd’s El Camino. “Okay, well, let’s both go sideways for a while.” The car top is not nearly as heavy as that massive methylamine barrel, and they’re not wearing fuzzy green and red ski masks either, but the moment is a funny reminder of a simpler time when Jesse and Walt had absolutely no clue what they were doing.
Could this fly be a reference to the infamous bug that wreaked havoc in Gus’s lab back in Season 3, Episode 10?? Eh, probably not. Either way, at least it didn’t take up more than 40 minutes of screen time this time around.