“El Camino” Composer Prepares His Thoughts on Revising the “Breaking Bad” Finale

It’s been over five years since a dying Walter White (Bryan Cranston) wiped out a group of Nazis in a rush to glory, while a sobbing Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) headed for freedom and an uncertain future. Seven years and a prequel series later, AMC fans breaking Bad finally find out what happened right after the events of the last episode of the series, “Felina”.

***WARNING! The following contains spoilers for El Camino! ***

That’s because the man behind the crystal blue madness, Vince Gilligan, wrote and directed a feature film sequel to breaking Bad. Entitled “El Camino,” the film – named after the make of the car Jesse escapes in – explores what the magnet-loving hooligan did after the events of Heisenberg’s death.

The film (now airing on Netflix and airing in select theaters) is a shameless love letter to fans and brings back many familiar faces and references in a move only Tuco Salamanca could describe as “tight!”

However, the real question is how Gilligan & co. shoot, edit and mark the thing without anyone noticing? We knew the project was underway, of course, but had no idea it was finished until Netflix released the first teaser and the date announcement in late August.

“Well, I think it all comes down to our pride and the pride of the collective group in the breaking Bad the universe and the things Vince created that we had the chance to work on ”, El Caminothe songwriter, Dave Porter, told me in an interview.

Porter marked all five seasons of breaking Bad and is currently the composer of the aforementioned prequel series, You better call Saul, which explores the origins of Walt and Jesse’s shady lawyer, Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk). A fifth and possibly the final season of this show is currently in the works.

“I just think we care so much about the audience experience and their ability to benefit from it, that these things are really important to us,” Porter added. “I’m really lucky in this regard because I’m almost last in the process. Adding music to the movie is one of the last things we do, so I have to stay in the dark for as long as possible. I had to keep secrets for a relatively shorter period of time than everyone else.

Through his work on Saul, Dave was not really removed from this universe. But as the music has transformed in 10 and a half years, it was always a unique challenge to come back at the end of breaking Bad when cyclically it gets closer to the start of everything.

“A lot has changed by season 4 or season 5. And the same [goes for] You better call Saul. And so, I’ve evolved musically and the way we use music to help these stories over the years. It’s been kind of a linear thing. At the end of breaking Bad, I started again with Saul and [came up] with something very unique for [that show], but as Saul got closer to the breaking Bad timeline, the music moved closer to where it was when breaking Bad begins, ”he explained. “To review the El Camino history … [I had to] go back [on] half of this period until the end of breaking Bad again and start from there. It was touching in the sense that I think it was such an event not only for the show, but for everyone who worked with it. I said goodbye to these characters, so I didn’t expect to be able to see them again or continue this story.

And since Walt is no longer alive, the story revolves around Jesse and his plans to cash in and leave town… with the help of Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) and Badger (Matt Jones), of course. In many ways, this sounds a lot like a neo-western about a lone outlaw and gunslinger trying to keep his freedom from the fluff after a job gone awry. This stint at Pinkman turned out to be a fun exercise for Porter, who had always put more (and rightly) emphasis on the character of Cranston.

“While [Jesse] was a very important player in the series, he was not the most important character in the series, ”continued Dave. “And so, a chance to develop, musically, more in depth, the character of Jesse Pinkman, was exciting for me. Not that we didn’t explore it in depth over the course of the series, but being able to do it in a very focused way was unique and different from working on the series where there are more threads to follow and more characters to pursue. . We were doing more round trips. Being able to spend that time and devote more time to it was intriguing, of course, and exciting. “

Nonetheless, the memory of Jesse’s former professor and business partner continues to haunt our main hero, who decided too late that he was fed up with the death and destruction Walt left in his wake. As Porter pointed out:

“I think with or without Walter White, whether he’s physically present or not, his shadow hangs over everyone, especially Jesse. It was true in breaking Bad and it is certainly still true in El Camino. I think a lot of the central story of all of these stories is about the consequences of bad decisions. Jesse is certainly guilty of his own dire decisions, but he’s also greatly affected by Walter White’s decisions – present, future, and past, so in that sense I don’t really think that much changes. Jesse is in the predicament he’s put himself in and how he’s able to move forward in the story from that still has a lot to do with everything that has happened before.

Although he joined the project so late in the process, Dave still had long conversations with Gilligan and together they almost ended up changing the musical lexicon of breaking Bad.

“Vince was pretty open to anything and I certainly tried a lot of different things at first, but it became pretty clear pretty quickly that there was something unifying about the sound of the show,” he said. he continued. “It ties everything together and without that I think something would have been missing… However, there are some things that we really wanted to do and some of them just have to be with the format of making a movie as opposed to making a movie. television series.

What did El Camino so different from the shows is that Porter has spent a lot more time with the music. Working alongside Gilligan in his studio every week, he’s been able to really pour that creative juice out and come up with a score that truly connotes the cinematic nature of this two-hour sequel.

“It was important to all of us that it was a really good theater experience in addition to a great TV experience,” he said. “And so when I think you approach it from a scoring point of view, it’s a little different. Ee Breaking Bad [score] is sometimes very, very sober and I think the El Camino the score stays true to that, but there is a complexity and a depth to the music which is more and more complete in order to fill more sound space in a theater. It was something we were definitely looking for.

Surprisingly, El Camino doesn’t have as many needle drops as the show that inspired it. Reveling in Porter’s soundtrack, the film uses its licensed tracks sparingly, whether it’s to highlight the subconscious madness of Todd Alquist (a returning Jesse Plemons) or to add an exclamation mark to the end credits, which leaves us on a high and optimistic note.

“I think it’s fair to say that it falls into the same category of things that have worked so well in breaking Bad and we weren’t looking to break the mold there, ”Porter said. “The I see it – and I think Aron Paul said [the same thing]- is that it’s the continuation of a story we know and love, and it’s not something I imagined I needed until I saw it. And now I can’t imagine the breaking Bad universe without him.

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