His car, one of the last remaining joys in his life, serves as a catalyst for Sebastian to get work as a stunt driver. Initially, his stunt work pains him because he blames the film industry for luring Mia away from him. He also blames himself. Part of Sebastian's subconscious hopes that he will die in a stunt accident, allowing Hollywood to finish what it started with Mia's departure from Sebastian's life.
Sebastian becomes desensitized. Stunt driving brings no thrill to him anymore, and he's too skilled to allow himself to die...so he turns to crime and becomes a getaway driver for heists. The events of Drive then follow. Sebastian's heart begins to open up again as he grows closer to Irene, but they do not end up together. After Sebastian kills Bernie Rose (and is grievously injured in the process), he drives off and vows to never again return to Los Angeles.
Sebastian drives across the country, eventually ending up in upstate New York. Acutely aware of Bernie's threat that Sebastian would forever be hunted by the Mafia, Sebastian adopts the name of Luke Glanton and finds work as a motorcycle stunt driver. Upon learning he is the father of his ex-lover Romina's child, Sebastian/Luke decides to stop stunt driving so he can stay in town and provide for his "family," even though Romina is with someone else now and decline's Luke's help. To provide for his child, Sebastian/Luke once again turns to the only thing he's known for years: crime. Sebastian/Luke's life finally meets its tragic end when he is shot dead by Avery Cross during a botched heist.
Avery is tormented by the guilt of killing Sebastian/Luke; as part of his attempt at redemption, Avery digs deep to discover Sebastian/Luke's origin. Using security camera footage and gas station receipts, Avery determines that Luke Glanton is Sebastian Wilder, a former Los Angeles jazz club owner who, after becoming a stunt driver, became involved in organized crime and was presumed dead. Avery discovers that Sebastian's parents had died years prior; however, he locates Sebastian's closest living relative, a scientist by the name of Eldon Tyrell. Tyrell accepts the body of Sebastian/Luke, and uses it as a template for a prototype series of Replicant. One of these Replicants is active in the year 2049, known as Officer K. Officer K may or may not be aware that he is a Replicant whose likeness is based on Sebastian Wilder.
I'll admit there are some temporal holes in the theory:
- The narrative of the first act of The Place Beyond The Pines is set in 1996, meaning it chronologically takes place before Drive AND La La Land.
- The car models used in some of the chase scenes of Drive carbon-date the film's setting in the late 2000's; however, the production design of the film was deliberately modeled after gritty 1980's neo-noir films, so it could spiritually pre-date Pines.
- If Drive is set between 2009-2011, then a whole lot has to happen over the course of 8 years to arrive at the version of Los Angeles seen in Blade Runner.
- Alternatively, Drive could take place before La La Land, with Pines taking place after La La Land. After his relationship with Mia ends and his jazz club fails, Sebastian flees LA and returns to the stunt driving and crime lifestyle that once nearly cost him his life (only this time, it does get him killed). The same chronology issues still exist, however.
- Just like (most) of the musical numbers in the film adaptation of Chicago taking place in Roxie's mind. I like it.