Skyler and Walt Jr. served as key characters throughout Breaking Bad, but despite a plethora of original series cameos, they were both notably absent from 2019’s El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie. Anna Gunn and RJ Mitte portrayed the figures for all five seasons of the AMC series created by Vince Gilligan. As the wife and teenage son of the central character, Walter White (Bryan Cranston), Skyler and Walt Jr. encountered a roller coaster of emotions as a result of the drug kingpin’s actions. Despite the rumors that they would return in the sequel film, Gilligan upheld their previous conclusion.
El Camino debuted six years after Breaking Bad came to an end in 2013 even though it picked up directly after the original series left off. Focusing on Jesse Pinkman’s (Aaron Paul) journey after his escape from the neo-Nazi compound, El Camino incorporated a few familiar faces as it documented the original character’s face. While Jesse fought for a new identity, he sought help from Badger, Skinny Pete, and Ed Galbraith. In addition to the role reprisals by Matt Jones, Charles Baker, and Robert Forster, El Camino featured flashback appearances by Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), Jane Margolis (Krysten Ritter), Todd Alquist (Jesse Plemons), and of course, Jesse’s former partner, Walt.
Based on the timeline, there was always an expectation for El Camino to feature well-known figures from Breaking Bad. Some fans even refused to believe that Walt was truly dead, predicting that he would play a key role in the sequel project. In the end, Gilligan decided that he wanted the movie to be focused on Jesse’s evolution. According to an interview (via Vulture), Gilligan did want to bring figures like Skyler and Walt Jr. back. The White family tried to move on from their connection to Heisenberg prior to Walt’s series finale death. The mass murder and news of Walt’s demise would have deeply affect Skyler and Walt Jr. but it wasn’t imperative to the film. Gilligan worried that their inclusion might feel “overstuffed” before stating that “at the end of the day, it’s very much Jesse Pinkman’s story.”
Characters like Skyler and Walt Jr. may have been important to Walt’s journey, but that wasn’t the case for Jesse. In fact, Jesse had never even directly interacted with Walt Jr. throughout Breaking Bad‘s run. Since El Camino was presented through Jesse’s point-of-view, it didn’t feel necessary to have Walt’s family members blended into the story. Though it may have been a treat for fans to see the return of well-known faces, it wasn’t a justifiable enough move.
The same couldn’t be said Walt and the hopeful return of Cranston in the award-winning role. Gilligan couldn’t pass up the opportunity to reunite the two figures for a flashback set well before Walt’s full-blown Heisenberg transformation. Since El Camino featured characters important to Jesse during Breaking Bad, it was necessary to show Walt’s original mentorship mentality. Even though Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) played a huge role in Jesse’s life, he remained absent for the sequel movie. It’s always possible that Gilligan decides to expand the Breaking Bad universe beyond the Better Call Saul prequel and El Camino. If that’s the case, don’t be surprised to see appearances by Skyler and Walt Jr., who is undoubtedly going by Flynn these days.