It's impossible to talk about the Breaking Bad phenomenon without talking about Walter White. Immortalized on novelty T-shirts, baseball caps, and coffee mugs, the chemistry genius turned public-school teacher who became a meth-cooking drug kingpin known as Heisenberg after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, was the driving force of AMC's nail-biting, Emmy-winning prestige TV sensation. The journey from "Mr. Chips into Scarface," the oft-repeated elevator pitch that creator Vince Gilligan used to describe the series, provided the backbone to all the machine-gun-firing mayhem and pizza-tossing absurdity that ensued. As big as the world of the show got, it all came back to Cranston's iconic character.
Not surprisingly, the actor, sporting what looks like a mildly distracting bald cap, makes a cameo appearance in Netflix's El Camino, which follows Aaron Paul's long-suffering sidekick Jesse Pinkman following the events of "Felina," the series finale that aired back in 2013. He's not the only familiar face to pop up in the movie -- other Breaking Bad characters, notably Badger, Skinny Pete, Mike Ehrmantraut, Todd, and even Krysten Ritter's long-dead Jane, make appearances, as does Ed Galbraith, a.k.a. the Disappearer, played by the great Robert Forster, who died at age 78 on the day El Camino debuted on Netflix. Other bit players (e.g., Old Joe, Neil Kandy, Jesse's parents) turn up as well, but White is the one who will resonate the most with fans of the series. After all, he's the one who knocks.
Whether or not Walt would reappear -- and, more outlandishly, whether he'd be alive or dead -- had been a topic of speculation ever since El Camino was first announced, as his death in the Breaking Bad finale remains one of the most argued-over events in modern TV history. Now that El Camino has revved its way to Netflix, let's get under the hood and figure out what exactly makes the movie's poignant, heartfelt ending tick.