I just watched Breaking Bad for either the 5th or 6th time (it’s hard to keep track). It’s my favorite show of all time, and rightfully so, it’s incredible. Even having seen it that many times, watching it over again this time I picked up on things I either never realized, or had forgotten about. Watching it this time (and then reading the AV Club recaps of the episodes which are so good) made me dive deeper in the Breaking Bad universe and pay closer attention to all the themes, all the recurring motifs, all the small clues, everything. But the thing that has always bothered me the most about Breaking Bad, and maybe the Breaking Bad online community, is the pass Jesse Pinkman gets. He is lauded online as this hero. As this poor soul who is used and manipulated by big bad Walter White. As a nice kid who lost his way.
Oh, Jesse likes kids, I guess he’s just saint, huh? Oh Jesse cried here and there, I guess he’s just a marvelous person? Give me a fucking break. Jesse is a junkie meth dealer who goes to rehab so he can find new clients to sell to. Jesse got Jane back into drugs. Jesse stole product from his own cooks that he was already getting paid for just so he could be in control of something. Pure ego. Oh, and he killed Gale. Sure you can say “but he killed Gale to save Walter” which is true, but I didn’t know we were in the business of letting murder slide, because at the same time, everyone wants to give Walter grief for his murders.
Walter killed Emilio and Krazy 8 to protect himself and Jesse. He ran over those drug dealers to protect Jesse. He killed Gus, Tio, and Tyrus to get himself and Jesse free from Gus who was a second away from killing them at any point.
And what did Jesse do in return? Ratted on him, like a little bitch. He turned on Walt in 3 seconds and talked to the DEA. All because of little Brock. Sure, poisoning a kid is fucked up. We can all agree on that. But Walt knew what he was doing. He knew how much to give Brock, and guess what? It worked. It saved Jesse, it saved Walt, and Brock was fine. If Walt doesn’t do that, shit gets real bad, real quick, and everyone is probably dead. If Jesse would have trusted Walt instead of Gus/Mike he wouldn’t have had to do that, but his hands were tied.
At the end of the show, Jesse had all the money he wanted and I’m supposed to feel bad for him? That when he finally got his big pay he couldn’t handle it? He was fine cooking meth and selling to druggies and robbing trains for 4 seasons, but then he gets 5 million dollars and has a nervous breakdown, flips on Walt, and I’m supposed to have sympathy? Have some conviction! Have a spine! You can feel bad for what you’ve down, but all of a sudden becoming “the good guy” ain’t it. When Hank finally handcuffs Walter and reads him his Miranda Rights, how does he respond? He looks at Jesse and calls him a coward. I was like god damn right. What did Tio did when the DEA came for him? Shit on their floor. What did Gus do? Spun them off his trail. What did Jesse do? Gave up Walt in a heartbeat.
The final scene of Breaking Bad is beautiful. Walter looking at his reflection in the meth lab, appreciating himself and his life’s work one last time before dying. A hero’s death. Jesse wasn’t even smart enough to take some of that $80 million before driving away. He’ll be back using in no time. Hopefully gets locked up and put in jail for his crimes against society.
Jesse is no hero. Not even close. I get people like defending him or feel sorry for him because of how Andrea ended up and the whole being held as a meth slave for Todd and Uncle Jack. But his decisions led him there. You know why I’ve never been a meth slave? Because I’ve never sold meth. I’ve never killed people. And if I do, I hope nobody feels bad for me.