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The Long Winded Blues of the Never

An All-Seasons Walt & Jesse Recap

S22 collage

Season One 
Season Two, Part One

Season Two, Part Two

Better Call Saul


"Conscience gets expensive, don't it?"

By mid S2, Walt has convinced Jesse to take on the role of his puppet kingpin. Besides cooking, Walt's main job in their new organisation is controlling Jesse by insisting that Jesse is the one in control. Jesse is the king, the blowfish, the boss of their street crew. The greater challenge for Walt is that he now also has to keep control over Jesse's three idiot friends, all of whom are an extension of Jesse's chaos and even more haphazard than he is. Jesse loves his boys and takes responsibility for them and Walt has had to allow Jesse that leadership (or an illusion of power) since Jesse was threatening to walk out on him. Jesse already "took care of business" when Skinny Pete got robbed. When Badger gets busted, Jesse intends to do right by him too. Saul Goodman has the criminal lawyer skills to pull it off but it's easier for him to let Badger roll on his bosses. In a panic, Walt and Jesse have to don their silly bobbled balaclavas again and play at being scary enforcers to get Saul to do what they want. It's funny watching Saul's shifting reactions to Walt and Jesse, at first pleading with them and perceiving them as two ruthless thugs and then realizing they are just a couple of desperate amateurs and taking pity on them. Walt and Jesse were recently kidnapped and terrorized by Tuco so they think they can dish out the same imitation themselves. But as Saul points out if they were real crime lords, their first plan would've been killing Badger.

Jesse rejects this proposal because "We're not killing Badger, YO!" while Walt, who's been letting Jesse do all the talking, just seems exasperated because he knows the killing Badger suggestion would be so much easier. Walt will come to see prison shankings as the obvious solution later in S5. But there's no way Walt will keep Jesse on his side if he tells Saul to have Badger murdered. And there's also no way that Walt is ready to admit that Jesse Pinkman might be a more moral person than he is either. But Saul is happy because he gets to charge Walt and Jesse even more money for their complicated predicament. Conscience is expensive, a sentiment which will echo through the show again in S5 when Jesse gives up 5 million for the sake of his guilt while Walt earns a whole shed full of money because he feels no remorse.     

Four Days Out


"Whatever happens, your family will get your share."

Yay! Walt and Jesse go fishing meth cooking in the RV for the weekend! And almost die!! I love the bottle episodes.

This one starts with Walt tearing Jesse away from what would've been a lovely romantic visit to an art gallery with Jane. Jesse is going through one of the happier periods of his life yet Walt assumes (or maybe hopes) that Jesse has no life beyond his servitude to Walt. But apparently Walt still wins the battle for Jesse's loyalties at this stage in the S2 love triangle, though Jesse does object to Walt bitchily referring to Jane as "some stripper". Yet aside from their habitual bickering, Walt and Jesse seem content together on their weekend in the boonies. To me, the process of making meth looks tediously boring, but Walt and Jesse always seem so serene and at peace when they are working together in the lab, especially with the catchy 'One by One' tune accompanying the montage. It's one of their greatest moments of friendship and even equality when they high five over all the money they are going to make off the misery of methheads. Jesse even convinces Walt that they should take the night off at a Denny's some place and maybe that'll actually be fun. 

Of course, Walt and Jesse forget that the universe loves to screw them over and that Jesse in particular is a magnet ("bitch!") for disaster. Jesse's already killed the battery and quickly makes it harder for Walt to fix things as he blows up the charger and puts out the fire with all their drinking water. Walt doesn't actually get mad at Jesse, maybe because he lied to him about the methylamine spoiling. If Walt gets to manipulate Jesse's life then Jesse gets to screw up Walt's life. That's the deal. Jesse doesn't get mad at Walt for lying either (it's the first time Walt really does lie to Jesse. Up until this point Walt's lied to everyone but Jesse) because Jesse realizes Walt's cancer must be taking hold. This episode is one of Cranston and Paul's two man plays but unlike 'Fly' it doesn't really involve much conversation or philosophizing. '4 Days Out' is more of a visual poem depicting two men and their damaged souls stranded in the merciless desert. Walt and Jesse stagger around in the hot sun, numbly trying to survive, too tired and thirsty to even despair over their plight. In the end, they just lay down together on their camp beds, Walt ready to accept his fate because it makes sense that he deserves it. But Jesse still wants to live (Jesse has something to live for...that trip to Santa Fe with Jane) and Jesse still believes that Walt is a superhero who can save them with science and build "a robot!" out of scrap parts. Or build a new battery. If they had died in the desert they would've died at their best; Walt the masterful scientist and Jesse applying himself. It's their combined minds that save them (Walt would have given up without Jesse) and together they conquer the desert, There's no hugging or celebrating. Like when they returned from their ordeal with Tuco, Walt and Jesse just slowly make their way home, both quietly mutually traumatized after yet another shared near-death experience. 
There's something very touching that happens in the car at the airport as Walt awkwardly murmurs "I know I can trust you" to Jesse, acknowledging that his partner is a decent person and they have a trust bond now. Jesse more openly expresses his devotion to Walt's dying cause because God knows Jesse himself would've been dead about five times over without Mr White.



"Never you mind, Death Professor..." 

Next episode Walt is all bored and bitter because he isn't dying anymore and so he has no good excuse to go out and break the law. Walt is restless in his housebound life of lingering sick leave. Walt only sounds energized again when he calls Jesse and asks to meet. The little scene at the cafe kills me. I always cry over Walt's families reaction to his cancer being in remission, but Jesse's joyous "Mr White you kicked it's ass, yo!" is the most precious thing ever (okay, I'll stop gushing over Jesse now). Jesse asks eagerly how Walt wants to proceed, clearly hoping Walt's news will mean they are prolonging their partnership. But no, Walt can't rationalize that, even though he seems more depressed than Jesse about their run seemingly coming to an end. Jesse seems saddened too, but he doesn't get clingy. Jesse has been through this before with his parents disowning him and his Aunt Jenny dying on him and it's easier for Jesse to cope with the looming loss of Mr White because Jesse isn't alone anymore. Jesse is in love. Unlike Walt, Jesse seems to relish the domestic bliss of sharing his home with Jane and he's a happy little slave cooking her breakfast. The illusion is shattered when Jane refuses to introduce Jesse to her father as her boyfriend. Jesse is Jane's dirty secret, just as he is Walt's dirty secret. The two most important relationships Jesse has right now are both with people who don't wish to acknowledge that they really know Jesse.    

Walt's lost in OCD mania for most of the episode. His identity and his desires are so fragmented that Heisenberg briefly slips out at a family party to ply Junior with alcohol and rage at Hank. Walt doesn't find his footing again until the awesome final scene of the episode when he comes across a copycat version of his and Jesse's meth operation. First Walt notices the alternate universe Jesse blatantly buying cook stuff (Walt, your Jesse is waaaay cuter). Walt doesn't get angry. He just kindly informs AU Jesse that he's doing it wrong and he gets a kick out of the guy running out of the store like a spooked rabbit. Imitation is a form of flattery after all. Heisenberg has become an urban legend and now there are pretenders to Walt's throne. All the more reason for Walt to march out and reclaim his crown (while the chilling DLZ song kicks in). Walt comes face to face with the wannabe Heisenberg; who looks more like Hank and Walt scares this guy out of his drugs territory where he'd failed to scare Hank out of his home territory.  



"Because he does what I say. Because I can trust him."

Skinny got robbed, Badger got busted, now Combo gets killed. It's Walt's fault for pushing to widen their territory and throwing down a gauntlet for a turf war at the end of 'Over'. But Walt refuses to accept responsibility and doesn't even know which dealer Combo is. So Jesse ends up blaming himself for his friend being murdered. The circumstances of Combo's death are already foreshadowing Jane's death which Walt is also responsible for, yet Jesse ends up shouldering all the guilt and grieving over the loss. A dangerous gap starts to widen between Walt and Jesse here; they sit in Saul's office with Walt moaning about their lousy business set backs and Jesse smoking, twitching and quietly dying inside because they got a guy killed and he was Jesse's friend. Walt is thrilled for the opportunity to connect with a real business man in the drug trade but when Jesse arrives at the Los Pollos meet the void stretches between them again. To Walt's mind, they are advancing, moving up a level. For Jesse, this is a fall. They have blood on their hands, his friend's blood. So no, Jesse is not going to sit there with his happy meal.

Walt hangs on, determined to ascend and he finally gets his meet with Gus who says straight up that he won't work with Walt because Walt has chosen to work with the obvious walking disaster that is Jesse. I gotta say, I love that Walt doesn't offer to cut ties with Jesse in a bid to get into business with Gus. Walt doesn't deny that Jesse is a tweeked out mess. And when Gus asks Walt to explain why Jesse is his partner, there is a great weight and sincerity to his answer; "Because he does what I say. Because I can trust him." Yes, Walt uses Jesse. Yes, he treats the poor kid like his servant. But how Walt has come to value having Jesse. But Gus is right. Walt can't trust a junkie because however trustworthy Jesse might be, Jesse is losing himself to addiction, turning to harder drugs than he's been on before because it's not like Walt offered him any comfort over Combo's death or even noticed that Jesse was broken up over it. The cracks couldn't be bigger by the end of the episode when Walt finds Jesse zoned out on heroin and all he can do is slap him and shake him, screaming to know where the product is. Walt's own child being born isn't enough to halt his drug deal with Gus and Jesse's wasted condition doesn't even cause Walt to pause. 



"Yes, as a matter of fact, I do know what is best for you..."

The next morning Jesse calls Walt in a panic, thinking their meth has been stolen and Walt hangs up on him because Walt's just mean like that. Jesse eventually figures out that it was Walt that broke in and goes to tell him off for being an asshole, but it's no good. Jesse is the one in the doghouse here. Jesse shouldn't really have to hide his drug use from his partner in drug dealing but Mr White is still the closest thing has to a parent now and Jesse is used to squirming and making false promises as parents scold him for taking drugs. What Jesse won't stand for his Walt insulting Jane. Walt has known that Jesse has a girl in his life for a while now and he seemed to be hoping this was just some trashy meaningless fling, not a relationship Jesse was seriously invested in. When Jesse throws the glass beaker and it smashes inches away from Walt's head, it's a sign that the drugs are making Jesse dangerous and that someone else may have a stronger claim on Jesse's loyalties now. Walt is losing his grasp on the one person he thought he could trust and control. All because he under-estimated Jane who is soon on the phone to Walt, blackmailing him into giving Jesse his money. 

Jesse doesn't like Jane threatening Walt but Jesse is easily led at the best of times and Jesse-on-heroin is a dazed and confused wuss while Jane-on-heroin is a deadly unstoppable bitch. Walt sneers at Jesse for being so obviously enslaved by his girlfriend (it seems Walt never forgot Jesse mocking him for his 'nice job wearing the pants' with Skyler) but when Jesse promises Walt he'll never hear from either of them again, Walt softens because he doesn't want to end things this way. Technically this should be the perfect solution. Walt has his money for his family, his daughter has been born, Skyler still doesn't know the truth. Now Jesse is either going to OD or run away with Jane and either way; doesn't that tie up those two loose ends? Walt will later call this time his perfect moment to die and he missed it. He missed it all because he realized he cares about Jesse and he couldn't let him go. When Walt refers to Jesse as his "nephew" when talking to Donald, I take that as Sopranos-speak that Jesse has become Walt's son in his criminal life and God knows Tony and Chris had something far more intense than the average father/son relationship. Walt sees Jesse as family now and takes Donald's advice not to give up on him. Which for Walt partly means not giving up on his power over Jesse.

When Walt sits down at Jesse's bedside he finally seems to take in the needles and the blue veins and how much he let Jesse's drug use spiral out of control. Walt didn't come to Jesse's house with the intention of killing Jane. He meant to rescue Jesse from an overdose somehow. So when Jane starts choking in her sleep, Walt's rational brain takes over and halts his human impulse to save the girl. This is it. This his how he'll save Jesse's life and scare him straight. Because Walt knows what's best for Jesse. Look closely and it's not Heisenberg who is letting Jane die; it's Walter White and he's doing it for Jesse. In this moment, Walt has cast all his perfect schemes aside and all he wants is for Jesse to stop killing himself with drugs. I know this is some crazy twisted kind of tough love, but it still feels like love to me.   



"I woke up. I found her. That's all I know."

But let's be clear; Walt did leave Jesse to wake up next to his girlfriend's corpse. Walt is mean like that. Walt knows Jesse well enough by now to predict what he'll do once he inevitably wakes up and finds Jane's body. He's waiting for Jesse to call him in a panic because even when Jesse claims to be done with their partnership he still ends up calling Walt when he's distraught and has nobody else to turn to. At first it appears that Walt has planned to keep Jesse's devastation at arm's length, calling Saul to clean up the mess for him. The combination of Jane's death and his heroin addiction has reduced Jesse to a childlike state of helplessness. After calling Walt, Jesse takes himself outside and sits down on the stoop, like the Peekaboo kid waiting for help to come and not wanting to go back into the house with the scary dead body inside. But Mike arrives and orders Jesse back into the house. Mike will become another father figure for Jesse as the show progresses, but Mike isn't sympathetic to Jesse's fragile emotions here. But he still does what's best for Jesse; cleaning up the scene, telling him what he needs to do next and slapping him hard to be sure he understands. For now, it's Mike's job to do this for Jesse, but one day he'll be looking out for Jesse for free.        

When Jesse's despair leads him to the crack house, Mike offers to continue his paid protector duties and go to fish Jesse out of there. Walt doesn't say why he has to go in himself, risking his life and his arrest if the police are watching the house. Again, it may be some of those fatherly feelings coming out with Walt thinking "No, not you! He needs his real dad." Or it could be another case of Walt accepting that he deserves this and he needs to face it. Walt going into the crack house is really Walt's version of Peekaboo. It's Walt stepping into a scary ruined world that his drug has created and seeing the scary ruined people who live there. And in the middle of all this ruin, Walt (like Jesse) finds a poor abused kid that he wants to rescue from it all. But the damage has already been done and Walt can't fix it just by taking Jesse some place nice and safe. Walt puts his arms around Jesse in an effort to pull him to his feet and Jesse just breaks down because this is what being hugged used to feel like. And like I've said before, I think Walt hates seeing Jesse hurt, especially if he's responsible for it. It's not an excuse but I don't actually think Walt realised Jesse was in love with Jane. He wanted to save Jesse's life but he took away Jesse's main reason to live. Jesse went to that house to die, like Romeo going to the charnel house to follow his Juliet.

After the beautiful echoes to 'Peekaboo', the S2 Walt/Jesse story ends with perfect echo to '4 Days Out'. Walt has got Jesse in rehab, which is what he decided was best for him. Jesse is wrapped in a toweling robe which is dollar bill green - Walt's usual colour (and I'm assuming that Walt paid for Jesse's stay at Serenity which must've been expensive). Jesse's usual loud red and yellow colours have been stripped away and we won't be seeing his little hiphop outfits ever again in present canon. Jesse has slipped away and the shell that's left is just something that belongs to Walt, dressed in Walt's colours and repeating Walt's words. Jesse didn't want to die in the desert, but he's back there now, ready to lie down and accept what he deserves. 

S2 Discussion Questions 
1) The usual: Favourite Walt and Jesse scene of S2, part 2?
2) In your opinion did Walt let Jane die for Jesse's sake or his own?

Walt & Jesse: Season Three, Part One

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