El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie gave Jesse Pinkman a heartfelt and poignant ending… but Better Call Saul‘s big season 6 death just made it even better. Breaking Bad‘s final episode is widely considered among the best in television history, giving each character a satisfying, emotional exit. Aaron Paul’s Jesse Pinkman, for example, escapes imprisonment by driving an El Camino into the sunset. Though already a strong final chapter, the El Camino sequel movie builds and improves upon Jesse’s closing moments by showing Aaron Paul’s character beginning a new life in Alaska.
Ever since Better Call Saul first aired in 2015, viewers have speculated what becomes of characters not present during the Breaking Bad era. As Nacho Varga takes a gun to his head and pulls the trigger in Better Call Saul season 6’s “Rock & Hard Place,” one of those questions has now been answered definitively. Left with little choice after betraying the Salamanca family, Michael Mando’s Nacho bids farewell to Better Call Saul, seizing one last moment of defiance by taking matters into his own hands.
There’s plenty to say (and plenty will be said) about how Better Call Saul executes Nacho’s final moments, but his season 6 death also casts Jesse Pinkman’s El Camino ending in an entirely new light. Nacho is essentially the “Jesse” of Better Call Saul. Both enter the New Mexico narcotics underworld as young men, lured by the so-called glamour of money, excess, and violence. Both mature on the job, and by the time they realize gangster life isn’t as great as they initially thought, a career change isn’t an option. Nacho and Jesse both receive stark wake-up calls as loved ones come under fire from disgruntled enemies, and each of them ultimately dreams of starting a new life. The difference, as proven by Better Call Saul season 6’s shocking death, is that Jesse Pinkman actually achieves that goal.
Whereas Jesse successfully absconds to Alaska in El Camino, evading both the authorities and lingering adversaries, Nacho finds himself between a rock and a hard place (see what they did there?) and makes peace with knowing his youthful arrogance and criminal sins have made death inevitable. Better Call Saul‘s season 6 Nacho ending is a tragic cautionary tale of cartel life – shocking in its brutality and merciless in its message – but that bloody final stand makes Jesse Pinkman’s unlikely, daring escape all the more special. Michael Mando and Aaron Paul’s characters cross over in so many ways, yet their final destinations couldn’t be more divergent. Jesse could’ve easily ended up in the same predicament as Nacho, laying on the ground being plugged with bullets by Hector Salamanca, but he defied the odds, escaped death, and forged a fresh start. Nacho’s failure to do the same in Better Call Saul season 6 emphasizes how huge Jesse’s achievement truly was in El Camino.
There is, however, another way of looking at the Jesse/Nacho dynamic after Better Call Saul season 6’s huge death scene. Although Jesse Pinkman escapes in Breaking Bad and El Camino, many of his loved ones aren’t so lucky. Jane succumbs to an overdose, Andrea is murdered, and Brock gets poisoned. Better Call Saul‘s Nacho, on the other hand, agrees to be killed because it’s the only way to ensure his father’s safety. His life is sacrificed so his family avoids harm. That’s not to say Jesse wouldn’t have made the same sacrifice given an opportunity, but his survival came at great cost, whereas Nacho’s death came with a great reward… even if he isn’t around to see it.