“I thought it was up to the audience to figure out how Jesse [Pinkman, Aaron Paul] got away, but that it was enough to see him driving off into the night victorious,” Gilligan explains. “But then as the years started to pass” following the TV series finale episode, “I found myself wondering at idle moments, ‘How exactly did he get away? Because that’s no easy feat! And what if he didn’t get away? What if he got busted right around the next corner?’”
Divulging how that version of events would have gone down, Gilligan said, “I didn’t get super far down the road, but it was probably going to be a young woman who needed some help. He was hiding out by the Canadian border, and this woman was working at a motel as a housekeeper or something. [He] goes into the process of saving her, knowing full well that he’s going to suffer for it, he’s going to get caught for it, but he does it anyway.”
Gilligan continues, “And the last scene would be maybe him in a jail cell but at peace for the first time since the movie began. I think there was going to be this component where he couldn’t sleep. He wouldn’t get a single night sleep for a week or so upon escaping. The police are looking for him and he’s too haunted and he’s too adrenaline-charged. And at the end of the thing, he’s in a jail cell, and ironically he can fall asleep like a baby. And I thought, ‘Ah, that’d be kind of cool.’”
The reason that didn’t work? “I pitched some version of that to my girlfriend Holly. I also separately pitched that to [Breaking Bad executive producer/Better Call Saul co-creator Peter Gould] and the writers and everybody looked at me like I was absolutely insane: ‘You can’t have Jesse back in a cell at the end of the movie! People will tar and feather you!’”
As it turns out, Aaron Paul had never heard this version of event. “He never said that to me,” he told EW. “Wow. That’s so interesting.”
Later in the interview, Aaron Paul reveals another alternate ending, one that would have hinged on the letter Jesse hands to Ed to mail to Brock.
“That letter to Brock was the very first thing that Vince [Gilligan] wrote when writing this script,” Paul notes. “Once he completed that letter, he started the script. Originally the voiceover of that letter was how the movie ended — just driving through Alaska and you could hear what was inside of that letter…. It’s heartbreaking, it’s beautiful, just honest. But Vince just thought, ‘You know what? Maybe it’s best left unknown.’ And we don’t need it. He was right. But I love knowing what was in the letter.”