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16 September 2012 @ 09:09 pm
Walt & Jesse Recap (Part 2/9)  
The Long Winded Blues of The Never
Meta by falafel_musings
Artwork by cylune9

blues redo3 small

"This episode opens with some rather epic shots of Walt and Jesse staggering through the desert, focused on getting home but knowing that going home will only be the beginning of a new ordeal for them. They don't talk to each other and often they walk at a distance but there is a quiet sense of solidarity between them now. Jesse trusts in Walt's plan because what else do they have to trust in but each other?"

Previous Essays
Season One




Seven Thirty Seven

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"Don't we, like, double our chances? I mean, mathematically?"

In the opening scenes of S2 Walt is frantically muttering about how much meth he'll need to sell and how much money he still needs for his family. He doesn't seem to realize yet that he's just witnessed a man being beaten to death until Tuco calls Walt over again and he throws a bloody body at his feet to let Walt see the life twitching out of it. Jesse is quicker on the uptake that he and Walt may now be loose ends in Tuco's scary drug-addled brain. Sure, Tuco really wants Walt's clean crystal to sell and snort but he doesn't trust Walt. And as they are attempting to leave the junk yard, Tuco impulsively grabs Jesse by the neck and throws him to the ground. The message is pretty clear. If Walt steps out of line then Tuco will kill Jesse first as a warning. Poor Jesse always gets the fuzzy end of the lollipop.

Jesse is rightly hysterical with fear and buys a gun for protection in case Tuco comes knocking; another eerie foreshadowing of how Jesse will one day keep a gun to protect himself from Mr White. When Walt gets Jesse to talk through exactly what he plans to do, I don't think Walt is just trying to berate Jesse or mock him for not knowing how to open a gun. After Krazy 8, Walt is the expert on having to kill a man because you know that man will kill you if you don't. Walt knows it's not easy and that Jesse's not capable. So they go back to their usual method of fighting back with science with the first appearance of Chekhov's ricin. The poisoning plan goes out the window when Hank reveals Gonzo's death and gets Walt & Jesse thinking that Tuco is on a killing spree. Walt stealing Jesse's gun was a shitty move and a foolish one. In the end it is Walt leaving Jesse defenseless that enables Tuco to use Jesse as bait to lure Walt into his trap. Jesse's considered to be the liability of their partnership but this time it's really Walt over-thinking their defensive strategy that gets them both kidnapped. Call him an idiot all you like,  Walt, but Jesse would never have left that gun behind.  


Grilled

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"He's my partner. And if he doesn't go, I don't go."

So Walt and Jesse spend an entire night locked in a trunk together. It's ordeals like this one that feed so much into Walt and Jesse's co-dependent relationship. They are hostages at the mercy of a madman who keeps getting crazier the more he snorts the meth they cooked together. They share in the horror and the inhumane conditions and know they can only depend on each other for survival. Walt and Jesse's colors (from their regular color palette) are very appropriate for this episode - Walt is in green and white, the color of money and Jesse in red and black with a skull on his t-shirt (why do all Jesse's t-shirts have skulls on them?!) like he's already marked for death. This is exactly how Tuco sees them. Jesse knows he's expendable and so he's panicking; daring Tuco to shoot him in the trunk, blowing their ricin plan with his "chilli powder" signature and at one point - hilariously - asking Walt if he'd consider "being all sacrificial" since he's dying anyway. I should hate Jesse for going there, but that part cracks me up every time.

Walt does actually have one heroic moment of shielding Jesse when Tuco wants to shoot him in the head on a meth-fueled whim. Walt's "if he doesn't go, I don't go" is the first example of the long held pact between Walt and Jesse to protect each other from harm, even if taking a stand for their partner might result in them both being killed. Of course, it's also true that Walt does need Jesse "very very badly" because the only advantage Walt might have against Tuco is that it's two against one. That is before Walt realizes that Tuco has Uncle Hector and his bell of doom on his team and therefore he and Jesse are screwed; Jesse especially. I'm sure Tuco - who looks at a picture of Walt's family and thinks "lots of collateral" - only let Jesse live so he'd have quick access to someone who Walt cares about to threaten and torture. When Tuco is beating the hell out of Jesse, he keeps glancing at Walt to check his reaction. Walt doesn't want to see Jesse killed but he has no earthly idea how to save Jesse either. That is until Walt sees Jesse grasping for a rock in the sand and so he commits to offering a diversion in support of Jesse's original "let's crack him over the head with something then go for his gun" plan. Scientific genius can't save them all the time. With Tuco, they are reduced to desperately scrambling to survive.

I've heard complaints that it's unrealistic that Walt and Jesse would leave Tuco wounded, rather than finishing him off. Personally I found it a believable choice from both characters, though maybe for different reasons. Jesse was still crying and shaking after almost being shot to death himself. He didn't have it in him to commit murder at that moment when he was still in shock to be alive. And Walt's "let him bleed" was filled with contempt, not mercy. Walt hated Tuco for what he'd done to him and Jesse and so he wanted the man to suffer a long painful death bleeding under the hot sun. Walt had wept that he was sorry when killing Krazy 8 but he's already moving on from feeling any sympathy for his dying enemies.  


Bit by a Dead Bee

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"So who's your Chief, little injun?"

This episode opens with some rather epic shots of Walt and Jesse staggering through the desert, focused on getting home but knowing that going home will only be the beginning of a new ordeal for them. They don't talk to each other and often they walk at a distance but there is a quiet sense of solidarity between them now. Jesse trusts in Walt's plan because what else do they have to trust in but each other? On their return Walt and Jesse both have to tell elaborate lies to explain their disappearances over the last few days. While nobody suspects that Walt and Jesse were missing for the same reason, people are starting to sense a mysterious presence in both Walt and Jesse's lives. Skyler knows Walt is lying about the second cell phone and she fears the person on the end of those secret calls might be a person with whom Walt is having an affair. And in some ways Skyler is right. Walt does have another "partner" and he's having a burgeoning love affair with his own criminality. Skyler just doesn't guess that it's still that Pinkman kid calling their house. Hank also knows that Jesse is lying about his car being stolen, though he wrongly assumes that a little dipshit like Jesse is not capable of shooting Tuco. Hank demands to know the identity of Jesse's "badass" boss, never considering that Jesse's boss could possibly be Walter White, that other guy who went missing for exactly the same amount of days as Jesse did.

 While Walt returns from their kidnapping ordeal to hugs and concern from Skyler and Junior, Jesse's family show no such concern for where their son has been. It's rather heartbreaking that Jesse phones his dad after getting out of the police station, because I think Jesse was desperately seeking some way to go home and feel safe again after being out in the desert with a gun to his head. God bless Wendy the hooker for at least taking Jesse to Waffle House. Jesse can still call Walt, if only in secret, and he can be reassured that their partnership will continue, though Jesse can hardly believe that Walt still wants to cook. But as Walt says "What's changed, Jesse?" Walt's not going to be scared out of the game by Tuco. His cancer and shortened life expectancy is still the bigger threat.    


Down

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"Dad's cooking breakfast..."

When Walt and Jesse next touch base, Jesse is desperate for money and frantically reminds Walt of their 50/50 partners motto. Walt, it seems, only likes to emphasize that they're 50/50 partners when he wants Jesse to help dispose of the corpses of the people he's killed. When Jesse wants half the money, not so much. Walt talks about needing time to make amends after putting his family through an ordeal, but disregards that he just put Jesse through a far worse ordeal. Jesse's situation quickly becomes more desperate after his parents evict him from his aunt's house. This episode is often described as Jesse's worst day ever. Which...I don't know if that's true since it's coming shortly after a day when Jesse was kidnapped by an insane drug lord, locked in a trunk and barely escaped being shot in the head. But this is the first episode that really shows how much meeting Walter White has taken its toll on Jesse's life. Jesse told Walt they shouldn't work with Tuco and he told Walt not to bring the cook stuff to his house. Now look who's suffering for it. But Walt's so determined to block out Jesse's turmoil that he pulls the phone cord out of the wall. I loved Jesse calling Walt "Daddy Warbucks" because it had me thinking of Jesse as a fucked up version of little orphan Annie. You know, if Annie were male and a drug dealer and drenched in blue shit. Jesse is reduced to crawling into the RV and crying himself to sleep in a gas mask. The ramshackle rolling lab he shares with Walt has become the only refuge Jesse has left.

When Jesse brings the RV to Walt's house in his final phase of desperation, we get a taste of just how unhealthy and volitile this relationship can be. Walt's verbal attack on Jesse is so brutal that Jesse's visibly flinching over every insult - until he snaps and finds himself strangling Walt on the floor. When Walt has Jesse's trembling blue fist raised over him you can just about hear him choke out the words "Do it", the same words Walt will one day say when Jesse is pointing a trembling gun at his head. But Jesse just collapses next to Walt and I imagine they lie there for a long time just panting and realizing how very fucked they are. Then after they taken out their frustrations on each other, something else happens. For me it's S2 where the Walt/Jesse relationship develops beyond being a teacher/pupil dynamic into being a family dynamic. The first little hint of paternal care from Walt comes in his "Want some breakfast?" line to a homeless destitute Jesse. In the early scenes of this episode, Walt's real son Junior was perplexed to see Walt making breakfast which had been Walt's first attempt at a muddled apology to his family. Walt offering Jesse breakfast implies that Walt finally realizes he needs to mend fences with him too. But it's also Walt acknowledging that he can't just ignore Jesse's problems or claim he's not responsible for them. Somewhere along the way Walt did end up adopting this stinking blue urchin.


Breakage

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"You need me more than I need you...Walt"

'Breakage' is the first and one of the only episodes in the entire run of Breaking Bad wherein Jesse calls Walt by his first name rather than "Mr White". Jesse has managed to roughly put his life back together but he knows that while he's still working with Walt, there's a danger that it'll be turned upside down again. So Jesse wants to have total control over the sales division of their meth business. And before Walt can argue back, Jesse has the nerve to call him "Walt" and threaten to walk away if his old teacher doesn't agree to his plan. Walt quickly becomes very bitter over Jesse not only acting like they're equals but suggesting that Walt is the more needy member of their team. Walt can't really deny that he screwed up by insisting that they work with Tuco, so Walt grudgingly allows Jesse to take over their distribution. Yet Walt just seems to be waiting for Jesse to mess up so that he has an excuse to knock him down again. Walt gets the opportunity after Skinny Pete is robbed. Despite Jesse's dismissal of Walt, he really has been working hard in the hopes of pleasing him. Jesse telling his drug dealer crew to "Apply yourselves, mofos!" shows he still considers Walt to be his mentor and he still looks to Walt for instruction. In his frustration, Jesse offers Walt another grand from his own share of the drug money, but they both know that's no solution.  

Late at night, Walt gives Jesse a gun and orders him to "handle it". I don't know if Walt really expected Jesse to go out and threaten the meth thieves at gunpoint. Walt might have only wanted a bit of revenge because Jesse had dared to assert himself and now Walt wants him to admit that he's not cut out to be a scary enforcer. Walt will call Jesse later (too late) to casually call the whole thing off, like he never imagined Jesse would go through with it anyway. But that's not the impression Walt gives Jesse when he comes to his house that night. It's Heisenberg who knocks on Jesse's door and it seriously sounds like Heisenberg wants Jesse to go shoot some meth-heads and get his money back.


Peekaboo

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"You have a good rest of your life, kid."

Jesse having encounters or close bonds with tragic children has become a re-occurring motif of Breaking Bad. It may be on purpose that these tragic children are always young boys (the Spooge kid, Tomas, Brock, Drew Sharpe, etc). These unfortunate little boy characters are all somewhat symbolic of Jesse's own inner child, their sad fates echoing the tragedy of Jesse's lost innocence. The Spooge house is very much a warped depiction of Jesse's current state of being; they are both trapped in a world that's dirtied, disturbed and corrupted by crystal meth. Jesse, as a drug dealer, is partly responsible for creating that world. But he's also a victim of it because he currently has no means of escape. Just like the Spooge child, Jesse has been abandoned in this horrible house by his parents; not only his real parents who've disowned him but his surrogate father figure Walt who has sent Jesse into this situation alone.

Walt's story in this episode has nothing to do with Jesse. Walt is so busy trying to sustain the lie he told about Gretchen and Elliot  paying for his treatment that he's all but forgotten giving Jesse the gun and sending him off on this dangerous mission. There's a part of Jesse's soul that is manifested in this starved neglected child. Jesse's attempts to preserve the kid's innocence and to rescue him from that house in the hopes that child services could offer him a fresh start express Jesse's own buried desire for a paternal figure come along and pull him out of his current life in the hope that he could still lead a better one.


Negro Y Azul

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"Who messes with the blowfish, Jesse?"

Walt begins this episode at school, talking after class to a surrogate Jesse student. You can tell the kid is a substitute for Jesse because he is helpfully labelled with a skull on his hoodie. Walt is scolding the kid for not understanding what "bonds" are, which is a crafty bit of irony seeing as Walt is currently failing to understand his own bond with Jesse. Walt seems to think Jesse is avoiding him because he's chickened out of going to the Spooge house. When Walt goes to see Jesse in person, he finds Jane (not for the last time) barring his access. When Walt pretends to be Jesse's concerned dad it's another cruel irony considering that Walt's paternal influence over Jesse is only being used to draw Jesse into deeper levels of criminality. The dad lie doesn't help Walt to get around Jane who considers concerned loving fathers to be the bane of her life. But Jesse eventually lets Walt in, throwing his money at him and calling him an asshole which even Walt seems to concede he deserves. Walt is horrified when Jesse explains what happened, though he cuts Jesse off when he is about to tell him about the Spooge's kid - which is perfect because, like I've said, that little starved kid symbolizes Walt's neglect of Jesse's more childlike emotions. Walt does at least have the decency to say "sorry" as he leaves, because as much as Walt uses and abuses Jesse, he doesn't like seeing Jesse get hurt, either physically or emotionally.

So just like when Jesse got hospitalized by Tuco after following Walt's orders, Walt dresses up in his Heisenberg persona and he goes to do the drug dealing on Jesse's behalf. And Walt is thrilled to learn that Jesse is now rumored to be an insane violent killer. It's so great! Isn't it so great to have this new terrifying reputation, Jesse? Walt seems to experience a vicarious pleasure through his partner becoming a feared drug lord because this is exactly what Walt wants for himself. Jesse however is appalled and just wants to crawl under a blanket in his dark room and hide forever. It takes another one of Walt's abusive teaching moments to change Jesse's perspective. The blowfish speech is one of my favorite Walt & Jesse scenes because it's one of those moments where I really don't know whether to laugh or cry. Cranston and Paul play it for humor, but Walt is only building up Jesse's confidence so he can use him as a puppet; a paper badass to scare off threats and rivals. But Jesse embraces his blowfish identity because (as he says in a later episode) he always wanted to have a superpower. By the end of the episode, Jesse is back to calling Walt "Mr White" and Walt is back to pushing Jesse into taking bigger risks and well, nothing good's going to come of it.


Walt & Jesse: Season Two, Part Two

 
 
Current Mood: geekygeeky
 
 
 
(Deleted comment)
falafel_musings: lostcharliefalafel_musings on September 16th, 2012 10:28 pm (UTC)
Grrr. LJ has been eating a lot of my comments too lately. I'm reduced to coping every comment just in case my posting fails. Thanks for rewriting though. :)

I like your taking in the father/son relationship, because that can be read in terms of power relationships too.

I've found some BB fans really object the father/son reading because Walt is eeeevil and it's so unhealthy, yada yada. But it's worth acknowledging that some paternal bonds are abusive and as you say, that is rooted in abuse of power.

it connects very well with jesse's constant identification with child characters, as you mentioned above. For as long as he remains wanting/needing a parental/authoritative figure, he remains that teenager,

*happy sigh* This is what makes Jesse the character I always wanted Charlie Pace to be back in my Lost fandom days. In my fic I'd always write Charlie like a teenager because I think if a person gets into abusing drugs in their teen years they fail to grow up and depend on other people for guidance. Jesse's over identification with kids, as you put it - I think it really is about Jesse pining over his own lost innocence.

the first step in Walt's game, but also the hardest, and most important one - controlling Jesse, so he can control everything else.

Yes! Yes! In a way Jesse is the only thing that slows Walt's moral decline, because Walt is too pious and defensive in the early seasons to admit that Jesse Pinkman might be a more decent person than he is. For this recap, I was recently rewatching 'Better Call Saul' and it's clear that Walt really does just want to kill Badger to stop him talking. But Walt can't do that because Badger is Jesse's friend so Walt has to go through a far more complicated elaborate plan just to keep Jesse on his side. Now in S5 Walt can kill 10 guys in prison but he's lost Jesse and that seems to have rendered everything pointless. So pointless that Walt quits! Sorry, I know you hate that part but I'll be willing to forgive it if this is confirmed as the reasoning.

Oh, by the way. I've been meaning to share this picture/banner with you for ages. I didn't make it and I forgot to save a credit for the person who did. But I saw it and saved it thinking "OMG, I must share this with, Len!!" :)

Photobucket

How are you getting on with Homeland? I've ordered the DVDs from the library out of curiosity...

Edited at 2012-09-16 10:33 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - hanfastolfe on September 16th, 2012 10:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - waltzmatildah on September 17th, 2012 12:47 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - hanfastolfe on September 19th, 2012 10:30 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - waltzmatildah on September 17th, 2012 12:31 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cylune9 on September 16th, 2012 11:30 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - waltzmatildah on September 17th, 2012 12:33 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cylune9 on September 17th, 2012 01:35 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - falafel_musings on September 17th, 2012 06:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cylune9 on September 17th, 2012 06:36 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - falafel_musings on September 17th, 2012 07:36 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cylune9 on September 17th, 2012 07:42 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - hanfastolfe on September 18th, 2012 12:19 am (UTC) (Expand)
Han Fastolfe: Jesse2hanfastolfe on September 16th, 2012 10:50 pm (UTC)
"He's my partner. And if he doesn't go, I don't go."

That really sums it up. At the core, Walter and Jesse are bound almost irrevocably and permanently. And this show really makes you feel sorry for Jesse, the way he ends up in the blue shit as a metaphor for the way the universe seems to love to open up and just dump crap all over the kid.

"Abusive teaching" - I like that. Very apt! Walt really does adopt a blustery, bullying teaching method with Jesse, but it's telling how codependent and into each other's heads they are that when Walt has half a chance to get rid of Gale, he replaces him with Jesse.

And Jesse groks the cook. He groks it so well that when Gus has to begin his chess endgame with the cartel, his prize cook, Jesse, can come in at 96%.

That's the ultimate vindication for this uneducated loser of a kid whose sole redeeming qualities are his big heart and a long-latent drive to improve himself.
Han Fastolfe: Jesse1hanfastolfe on September 16th, 2012 10:58 pm (UTC)
1) What is your favourite Walt/Jesse scene of the first half of S2?

Not having re-watched this one yet, I'm harder-put to recall it. But I think if I had to place it, I'd say the blowfish moment. Walter is really good at boosting Jesse's ego ("moment of the rest of your life" talk!) when he needs it to serve some greater objective.

2) Is it appropriate to say Walt/Jesse have a father/son bond considering how abusive this relationship is?

They do have one. Jesse almost never seems to truly take initiative, even when it seems like he does. He always asks "Mr. White" to cook with him, never to cook on his own. And even when Jesse knows he needs to start executing people to boost his reputation, he can't do it and needs Walter to puff his ego up.

In doing so, he becomes an extension of Walter's will without really realizing it, and in the most profound way when Walt orders Gale's execution, and Jesse robotically follows those orders.
(no subject) - waltzmatildah on September 17th, 2012 12:46 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - falafel_musings on September 17th, 2012 07:25 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - falafel_musings on September 17th, 2012 06:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
cylune: bbcylune9 on September 16th, 2012 11:19 pm (UTC)
I love your Epic recaps so much!!!

So Walt and Jesse spend an entire night locked in a trunk together. It's ordeals like this that feed so much into Walt and Jesse's codependant relationship.

I'm no psychologist but I would tend believe that people who suffer traumatic events together might be prone to create unnatural (or even perhaps artificial?) bonds quickly.

Walt's "if he doesn't go, I don't go" is the first example of the long held pact between Walt and Jesse to protect each other from harm, even if taking a stand for their partner might result in them both being killed.

I like that they never talked about it... it's a silent pact and it's just something that happened naturally without any form of 'formal' acknowledgement. It's just the way it is.

Hank also knows that Jesse is lying about his car being stolen, though he doesn't think a little dipshit like Jesse is capable of shooting Tuco, so he demands to know the identity of Jesse's badass boss, never considering that Jesse's boss could be Walter White, the guy who was missing for exactly the same amount of days.

God, I would have so loved to be in Hank's head when he realized those two events were connected (I think he definitely did at the end of season 5.a). Jesse is connected to the blue meth. He was missing. Walt is a chemist. He was missing at the same time as Jesse. Hank was looking for Walt when he found Tuco. Poor Hank. The answer was right there before his eyes and he missed it.

I believe 'Breakage' is the only episode in the entire run of Breaking Bad wherein Jesse calls Walt by his first name, rather than "Mr White".

It is. I never really noticed in my first watch but it startled me during my re-watch. I had to re-wind (did I just heard Jesse call Mr. White 'Walt'???. Yes, yes, he did. O_O)

Jesse having encounters or close bonds with tragic children has become a re-occuring motif of Breaking Bad.

Jesse's attempts to preserve the kid's innocence and rescue him from that house in the hopes that child services could offer him a fresh start; for me, this expresses Jesse's own buried desire for a parternal figure come along and pull him out of his current life; in the hope that he could still lead a better one.

Good observation. I love Jesse but his neediness and dependence on other people is really one of his biggest flaws. I was so proud of him for finally walking off (without any form of alternate support) in season 5. Took a long time but I was yelling at my computer when it happened.

1) What is your favourite Walt/Jesse scene of the first half of S2?
Probably the 'Want some breakfast?' scene. One of those rare moments when Walt is actually being nice to Jesse.

2) Is it appropriate to say Walt/Jesse have a father/son bond considering how abusive this relationship is?

Oh, absolutely. I don't think there at that stage yet in season 2. I think at the end of season 2, as he told Jane's father, Jesse is like a nephew. Part of the family but not immediate family. I believe the transition from 'nephew' to 'son' happened in Half Measures.

Most abusive relationships happens between family members. I've seen way too many abusive parent/child relationships. So really, I don't think father/son bond and abusive relationship is mutually exclusive.
waltzmatildah: [bb] jesse + walt | there'll be no rescuwaltzmatildah on September 17th, 2012 12:44 am (UTC)
So really, I don't think father/son bond and abusive relationship is mutually exclusive. Hehe. Jinx.

This is what I just commented with:

well, it's not like father/son relationships and abuse are AT ALL mutually exclusive...
(no subject) - cylune9 on September 17th, 2012 01:49 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - waltzmatildah on September 17th, 2012 02:26 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cylune9 on September 17th, 2012 02:47 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - falafel_musings on September 17th, 2012 07:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - cylune9 on September 17th, 2012 08:38 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - falafel_musings on September 17th, 2012 09:20 pm (UTC) (Expand)
waltzmatildah: [bb] jesse | back to the camerawaltzmatildah on September 17th, 2012 12:42 am (UTC)
Again, holy crap, Falafel, this is A THING OF BEAUTY. You're making me SO BADLY want to rewatch all the episodes, but my DVDs are currently out being used to convert the masses [aka: I've lent them to a friend!!]. MUST GET THEM BACK!

I freaking loved your observations on the power dynamics between Jesse and Walt and the pseudo father/son implications that arise and that are then played upon by the writers. Also, you mentioned the significance of the costuming choices, which is something that I have always freaking LOVED about this show. For me, it's things like that that really tell you [as a viewer] that the people behind the scenes really do CARE about the story that they're telling you. That they've thought about it from every possible angle. That they know WHAT they want to say and HOW they're going to say it. And, having watched far too many shows where it's painfully obvious they're making it up as they go along, it's quite possibly the thing I love this show for the most. It's integrity.

Also, for Jesse and Walt and Skyler and Marie and Saul and GAH. All the things! But also the integrity!!

1) Oh, MAN! Tough questions are TOUGH. I might have to do my re-watch and get back to you with the definitive response, but, off the top of my head, all the scenes they share re. the Tuco debacle as I think it's those scenes that really do lay the most significant groundwork for the relationship we have between them today.

2) YES. So freaking appropriate. And I think it's only emphasised as the show goes on. Also, the abuse part... well, it's not like father/son relationships and abuse are AT ALL mutually exclusive, in fact, I think the abuse really only cements the dynamic for me. Especially when taken in context of Jesse's abandonment by his own parents.

I am so going to be reccing the shit out of these posts, btw. As long as you don't mind.

Edited at 2012-09-17 12:43 am (UTC)
falafel_musings: breaking bad 2falafel_musings on September 17th, 2012 08:30 pm (UTC)
I am so going to be reccing the shit out of these posts, btw. As long as you don't mind.

Oh please do. I'm still fairly new to BB fandom so I'm still seeking fellow BB fans and would love more people to come and reflect on the Walt/Jesse story in obsessive detail with me. Part of the reason I'm doing this recap is because it's the sort of meta that I - as a fan - go looking for online. I hope other BB fans would be pleased to find and follow these posts.

the abuse part... well, it's not like father/son relationships and abuse are AT ALL mutually exclusive, in fact, I think the abuse really only cements the dynamic for me. Especially when taken in context of Jesse's abandonment by his own parents.

Yes, I know that paternal bonds and abusive relationships can easily go together. I was thinking of a recent interview with some of the cast at comic-con where Paul and Odenkirk were talking about Walt seeing Jesse as a son and Jonathan Banks objecting with "What kind of broken home are you people from?!" But that's the truth of it. Walt/Jesse are a fucked up family to each other and Jesse has no other family and it looks like Walt won't have his family either in the end. Walt in the Denys and Jesse in his house in 5x8 is the most alone we've seen these guys; I can't help wanting them back together again. Even though they'll probably cause apocalypses together.
E McGeemelusinahp on October 23rd, 2013 09:37 am (UTC)
"in support of Jesse's original "let's crack him over the head with something then go for his gun" plan."

This! Vince Gilligan said, "Jesse is a leader who thinks he's a follower."

Over and over again, he comes up with the idea that sparks the plan that saves the day--the magnets, the draining the train plan.

And, yeah, your observation about how quickly Walt becomes accustomed to killing gives me the shivers. It's fascinating to go back and watch how he agonises over killing Crazy-8, then compare it to his behaviour in the final series.

I'm really, really enjoying these essay, by the way.
falafel_musings: breaking bad 1falafel_musings on October 23rd, 2013 05:26 pm (UTC)
This! Vince Gilligan said, "Jesse is a leader who thinks he's a follower."

Yes, totally. It's a great irony in the 'Grilled' episode that Walt sneers at Jesse's "crack him over the head and then go for his gun!" plan and then that's exactly how Jesse defeats Tuco. Walt can often over-think their escape plans. Sometimes you just have to get scrappy to survive.

Glad you're enjoying the essays! I should be posting more BrBa fic soon too.
(no subject) - melusinahp on October 23rd, 2013 06:03 pm (UTC) (Expand)
baberaham lincoln: actor emergencybessiemaemucho on October 23rd, 2013 07:04 pm (UTC)
Ugh, yes to all of this.

Somewhere along the way Walt did end up adopting this stinking blue urchin.


I've gotten in arguments with some of my friends about whether or not Walt considers Jesse "family"... I think he obviously does! My friends argue that Walt's such a dick to Jesse that that couldn't be true, but Walt just has a fucked-up idea of what it means to be a father/family member. I think it's very tied up in Walt's fairly regressive gender roles (which we see more explicitly stated later, with Gus, who feels similarly).

Sometimes I think I should go back to grad school and write a dissertation called "Why Jesse Pinkman Needs Feminism." Or I could save myself some student loans and just put it on Tumblr, whatever.

These unfortunate little boy characters are all somewhat symbolic of Jesse's own inner child, their sad fates echoing the tragedy of Jesse's lost innocence. I also think a lot about Jesse's relationship with Jake. I wished we had seen more of Jake in the series. It's pretty clear Jesse and his parents are through, but I think Jesse and Jake still could have hung out occasionally (... without his parents' knowledge). Though, after a certain point, Jesse probably rightly figures it would be too dangerous for Jake to associate with him at all. :'(

Isn't it so great to have this new terrifying reputation, Jesse? Walt seems to experience a vicarious pleasure through his partner becoming a feared drug lord because this is exactly what Walt wants for himself. Sigh. Exactly.

The dad lie doesn't help Walt to get around Jane who considers concerned loving fathers to be the bane of her life. :(
falafel_musings: BSGfalafel_musings on October 24th, 2013 03:34 pm (UTC)
I think he obviously does! My friends argue that Walt's such a dick to Jesse that that couldn't be true, but Walt just has a fucked-up idea of what it means to be a father/family member. I think it's very tied up in Walt's fairly regressive gender roles

I think Walt does feel fatherly towards Jesse, Walt just happens to be an abusive father by nature. Walt hid his true nature from his real son for so long though it still flared up occasionally (most notably in the scene where Walt gets Flynn so drunk he pukes in the pool). With Jesse, Walt shows his true colors. He's a bullying, controlling and possessive parent. In fact, Walt has all the classic characteristics of a narcissistic parent and this is the kind of parenting he inflicts on Jesse.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissistic_parent#Characteristics

I'd really love to hear more of your Walt and Jesse thoughts in terms of gender roles/feminism. I'm a Gender Studies student from way back when but there's never been much feminist discussion on BrBa.

I think it's probably for the best that Jake views his older brother as a flashing red stop sign. It is partly the fault of the overbearing Pinkman parents that both their sons seem drawn to recreational drugs as a relief from the pressure put on them to be the perfect child. However, if Jesse and Jake were to spend more time hanging out and bonding, Jake might start to see his parents as the bad guys. He could start idolizing his rebellious outcast brother like a lot of younger siblings look up to their older siblings. And when it comes down to it, Jesse himself doesn't wish to be that bad influence on Jake's life. I think there's a part of Jesse that realizes he could've been Jake if he'd tried harder at school and not got mixed up in drugs.

Edited at 2013-10-24 03:40 pm (UTC)
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hollywoodlawnhollywoodlawn on October 28th, 2013 02:52 am (UTC)
Great essays
Hi falafel,

I know it's a bit after the fact, but I came across your lj via a tumblr link and am really enjoying your thoughts.

I haven't touched my lj account in a while, with the exception of a few random ONTD BrBa posts, but I'm glad that I found your blog. The commentary here has been very refreshing after the horror show that is IMDb left such a bad taste in my mouth regarding the show's fanbase.

Walt and Jesse were definitely the main draw (out of many) for me when it came to this incredible show. I could talk about their relationship forever. And you brought up so many great points from the first season, that I'm nodding my head up and down vigorously over here. I actually entitled a post, "Jesse Pinkman--The Voice of Reason" based on the many warnings he gives Walt right off the bat that his partner never heeds. There are plenty of Jesse-bashers that like to point to him as the scapegoat of all Walt's problems (particularly in the falling out with Gus) but they seem to forget that if Walt had listened to Jesse just ONCE, he wouldn't have gotten them into half the awful scenarios that happened. Of course, they also wouldn't have garnered a million dollar deal, but --as Jesse critically notes in my favorite S2 episode, "Breakage"--the bad shit didn't happen until Walt's greedy ass came along.

One of my favorite themes, however, is the differences between the way Walt and Jesse conduct business. Some of the posters here mention how both men use the "blowfish" proto-type to make themselves look more threatening, and therefore "manly". But one of the earliest montages really draws your attention to Jesse's model of "providing for the outcasts".

As has been discussed, Jesse views his production of crystal meth as an art form. But most importantly, he's a meth user before he's a meth maker. He doesn't remove himself from his customers, he actively engages with them, which is why I love that montage of Jesse spending all night selling teenths to the rest of the "fuck-ups" that are his customer base and the people he feels connected to. He doesn't judge the woman who needs a little something to keep her up all night so she can fold laundry to make some extra cash. He revels in the camaraderie of the street and feels a kinship to them, regardless of his background. Jesse and his crew are consumers of the product they sell and to create "the bomb" is a cause for pride in the work.

But Walt, and most certainly Gus Fring and his coterie, have nothing but disdain and disgust for the people who make them rich. It's the main reason that I can't judge Jesse as harshly as I do Walt for the same crime.

Anyway, I'll be commenting more as I go through your thoughts. I've been so itching to have a discussion about some of these post-show feelings, but I refuse to go on TWOP, and AV Club doesn't really have the format that creates good discourse. So, thanks again for your posts!
falafel_musings: hannibalfalafel_musings on October 28th, 2013 06:56 pm (UTC)
Re: Great essays
Hey Hollywoodlawn. Thanks for affirming for me why it's always good to avoid IMDb message boards. Yeah. I know a lot of folks are moving on from LJ these days but I still find it to be the best plaform for simple thought sharing and one-on-one communication. Tumblr has been a good place to pimp my essays but I'd rather get one fantastic comment like yours than a 100 impersonal tumblr likes and reblogs. So thanks for taking the time to comment!

if Walt had listened to Jesse just ONCE, he wouldn't have gotten them into half the awful scenarios that happened.

It's so true. Jesse didn't want to work with Tuco or Gus. Jesse didn't want to expand the territory which is what led to Tomas killing Combo. Jesse didn't want either of them to kill Gale. If Jesse had been in charge it never would have gone further than Walt, Jesse and a few of Jesse's buddies slinging crystal to known methheads in ABQ. Walt's ambition and greed were what put them in danger. Yes, Jesse has his tendency to fly off the handle but most of Jesse's "emotion issues" were caused by Walt in the first place.

one of the earliest montages really draws your attention to Jesse's model of "providing for the outcasts".

What a brilliant observation! I totally agree. It's in Jesse's nature to be a people pleaser. So when he was disowned by his parents he sought out another family. I agree that Jesse was probably a user first and most likely it was just weed to start with (though in 1x4 we see 'just weed' would be enough for Jesse's parents to kick him out). I'm guessing Jesse eventually went into meth because there is a craftmanship and 'art' to it, which appeals to Jesse. But yes, he doesn't just sell it to the outcasts, he hangs around and smokes it with them. And yes, I think it is Jesse's way of belonging. Walt is full of distain when he talks about the 'bunch of methheads' Jesse sells to but they really are Jesse's friends. They are not people Jesse uses and victimizes for money. Though in episodes like 'Peekaboo' it is brought home to Jesse that there are still innocent victims even when his customers are very willing known users.

Look forward to more of your comments! Thanks for sharing your very awesome thoughts.

Edited at 2013-10-28 06:59 pm (UTC)
.yatsirch on December 9th, 2013 05:06 am (UTC)
If Walt steps out of line then Tuco will kill Jesse first as a warning.
It's always going to completely freak me out that Jesse was originally supposed have died at Tuco's hands D:

Jesse knows he's expendable and so he's panicking; daring Tuco to shoot him in the trunk, blowing their ricin plan with his "chilli powder" signature and at one point - hilariously - asking Walt if he'd consider "being all sacrificial" since he's dying anyway. I should hate Jesse for going there, but that part cracks me up every time.
I thought it was hilarious too, until the series finale happened and I ended up thinking back to this scene while realizing that Walt had kind of thrown himself into the line of fire. But more on that later! Otherwise I'll probably end up sobbing under my desk all over again.

This episode opens with some rather epic shots of Walt and Jesse staggering through the desert, focused on getting home but knowing that going home will only be the beginning of a new ordeal for them. They don't talk to each other and often they walk at a distance but there is a quiet sense of solidarity between them now.
This scene will always be my iconic image for them. Speaking of which I really should finish that fanart.

This episode is often described as Jesse's worst day ever.
I wish this was still his worst day ever, but at that point it was pretty awful. I also absolutely agree about s2 and the 'want some breakfast' scene being the first indications that their relationship was changing. How unfortunate that the breakfast bit had to follow some major verbal and then physical abuse on both ends. Fucked up indeed, but for better or for worse, at least Jesse was giving as good as he got at that point.

Walt is horrified when Jesse explains what happened, though he cuts Jesse off when he is about to tell him about the Spooge's kid - which is perfect because, like I've said, that little starved kid symbolizes Walt's neglect of Jesse's more childlike emotions.
OH GOD why do I feel like you're probably right about this? I wouldn't put it past the writers.

The blowfish speech is one of my favorite Walt & Jesse scenes because it's one of those moments where I really don't know whether to laugh or cry.
I'm still surprised by how hilarious their dynamic was in the earlier seasons. Not sure I would've been as invested if they hadn't been such a hopeless odd couple at first, the way that they were always having ridiculous conversations (like the blowfish scene) or flying by the seat of their pants kind of added to the sense that they were really bonding and having to rely on each other.
falafel_musingsfalafel_musings on December 9th, 2013 06:02 pm (UTC)
I thought it was hilarious too, until the series finale happened and I ended up thinking back to this scene while realizing that Walt had kind of thrown himself into the line of fire.

Guh. Of course! I think Walt's machine gun attack on the compound was always going to be a suicide mission. But it does seem like fate taking a hand when Walt catches a stray bullet while he is bodily shielding Jesse. Plus, he finally built Jesse a robot too. *sigh* If only Walt hadn't ruined it all by sending Jesse to be tortured and killed by Nazis first. Kinda spoils your heroic image Walt.

Speaking of which I really should finish that fanart.

Ooh, you do fanart? Where can I see it? Do you have a tumblr?

I wish this was still his worst day ever

Poor Jesse has a lot of worst days ever. His day in 'Down' ending with him being plunged into a chemical toilet would be enough to put me in therapy for months. But I'm a wuss.

I'm still surprised by how hilarious their dynamic was in the earlier seasons.

Walt: Who messes with the blowfish, Jesse?
Jesse: Nobody...

LOL, I love that moment so much. Bryan and Aaron need to do more comedy together. Like, get them to co-host SNL or something.

Edited at 2013-12-09 06:03 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - yatsirch on December 13th, 2013 03:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - falafel_musings on December 13th, 2013 10:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)