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The Long Winded Blues of the Never

An All Seasons Walt & Jesse Recap

5. S3

Season One
Season Two, Part One
Season Two, Part Two 
Season Three, Part One

Season Three, Part Two

I See You

iseei see2

"There's nothing wrong with Jazz. It's just that I require...classical."

At the start of 'I See You' we get a scene which is - honestly - one of my favourite Walt/Jesse moments ever. That being the moment when Walt is having his meth lab boyfriend break up with Gale with his outstandingly bullshitty "I'm classical, you're jazz." speech, which is at least more original than "It's not you, it's ME!" Jesse comes blundering into the lab, obnoxiously loud and hyper as he sees their new meth cooking toys which are all so big and shiny. As far as musical metaphors go, what is Jesse? He's some sort of alt emo thrash metal track. Jesse is Twaughthammer and Twaughthammer definitely does not go with Walt's classical symphony. Gale is painfully polite but he's not stupid. He grits his teeth and seethes "This makes nooo sense". Well yes, Gale, it's Walt and Jesse's relationship. It takes several long winded fan essays to make sense of it. Little does poor Gale know that this particular relationship will soon (very literally) be the death of him. Both Gale and Victor (oh they'll do you in too, Victor) make a hasty exit and leave Walt and Jesse to their weird inexplicable codependency. Walt seems to be looking forward to a long hard day of condescending and yelling at Jesse, but then Jesse floors him with the news that Hank's been rushed to hospital with gunshot wounds. Jesse has perhaps earned the right not to feel remotely sympathetic towards Hank, but he at least looks a little sheepish when he's about to tell Walt what he saw in the emergency room.     

So Walt spends a traumatic day at the hospital, slowly piecing together the worrying puzzle of Hank's shooting, the legless Cousin crawling towards him and Gus Fring handing out chicken to the ABQ police. Jesse is left all alone to play in the shiny new meth lab. Jesse had actually seemed more mature in the early part of S3 when he'd been forced to sober up and stand alone. Since Walt has adopted Jesse again he seems to have happily regressed to the mentality of a ten year old and pesters Walt all day long with phone calls at regular intervals. Walt knows Jesse is a hazardous little fool prone to melting bodies through bathtubs so he forbids Jesse from cooking alone. However Walt does talk to Jesse about the time they were trapped in the desert with Tuco and Jesse confirms Walt's suspicions about the Cousins. In this sense, Walt does require 'classical' in his cooking partner. Walt needs the partner he has been with from the start, the person who he has survived through all this shit with, especially now that their past crimes and catastrophes are catching up with them.  



"What's the point in being an outlaw when you got responsibilities?"

'Kafkaesque' opens with a very uncharacteristic conversation where Jesse (who's suddenly a Marxist) is angry about how small a cut they are earning from Gus's empire while Walt suddenly doesn't seem to care about his income or status in the business at all. Jesse can't make sense of this new Mr White who isn't greedy for more money and power. He isn't aware that Walt is becoming increasingly terrified of Gus, who Jesse has yet to meet. If Jesse is worried that they are becoming oppressed servants (millionaire servants, but still) then Walt may be more fearful that he is becoming a hostage cook. Tuco had wanted to take Walt away to cook in a secret lair super lab. Gus was supposed to be different. He was supposed to be a reasonable businessman. But when Walt asks what lies at the end of his three month contract, Gus is only offering more contracts - not the option to quit. Crucially Walt realizes that it was Gus who engineered the shootout between Hank and the Cousins to suit his own needs. This will allow Walt to be one step ahead when Gus seemingly engineers another self-serving shootout in 'Half Measures'.  
I don't think either Walt or Jesse are driven by money, though they both claim to be. Walt does it for the power and control that he has lacked all his life, while Jesse craves freedom and affirmation. Jesse is missing the freedom of the RV and even slinging little handfuls of meth with Badger and Skinny gives him a thrill of rebellion. But Jesse can't free himself of Walt because he is still desperately seeking approval from a teacher or mentor. Jesse admits in his NA group that he has no major ambitions beyond making stuff and working with his hands. What Jesse makes is meth, but his job could have so easily been woodwork or drawing or something not so felonious. Just anything that Jesse could turn into his own art form and use it as a focus for his twitchy energies. Jesse talks about making a beautiful box in school just for the sake of impressing a teacher and proving to himself that he could do better, much like the perfectionist process Jesse has gone through trying to master Mr White's formula. But even when Jesse achieves those dizzy heights and makes something he can proudly call 'art', he throws it all away for the cheap thrills of drugs and dealing, maybe just because being a failure has become Jesse's comfort zone.  


"He said never give up on family...and I didn't."

Part of the reason this episode is so endlessly fascinating to me is because it's clear that the fly is not a simple allegory, yet it is also clear the fly is much more than a simple fly. Every time I see this episode the fly can mean something slightly different to me. Walt calls the fly a "contamination". We have previously seen Walt have a crazy OCD fit over the rot contaminating the timbers of his family home. Back then the rot obsession was triggered by Walt's cancer going into remission and Walt's dread that he'll have to give up his criminal lifestyle. In this episode the fly obsession is triggered by Walt realizing that Jesse is stealing meth and Walt knowing that when Gus realizes Jesse is stealing meth, Jesse will be killed. Jesse lies to Walt, blaming it on the "vestiges!" and Walt doesn't argue with him. Already Walt is going into denial, focusing his frustrations and fears on the fly instead. The fly is such a little thing, so much more insignificant than Jesse is in Gus's empire. If Walt can kill the fly, he'll have regained control. Control over the lab, control over Jesse, control over the deep shit he's in with Gus, control over his own fracturing mind.

Jesse returns to the lab to find that Walt has been chasing a fly all night. There are some preciously funny moments with Walt and Jesse hitting each other with the flyswatter, Walt locking Jesse out of the lab, Jesse commending the fly on his skills, etc. Yet the surreal fly farce is broken up by moments of genuine fear and emotion. When Jesse demands to know why Walt is so freaked over the fly Walt comes out with "There's no room for error. Not with these people." It's a hint at what is really driving Walt crazy. Gus isn't going to kill Walt over a fly in the superlab but he might kill Walt for bringing a thief into the lab as his partner. Jesse, bless him, won't leave Walt to go crazy on his own and joins the fly quest. Jesse is still struggling to figure out what is wrong with Mr White. Did he hit his head? Did he snort their meth? In a sweet moment, Jesse awkwardly tells Walt a story of his Aunt Jenny getting obsessed with a possum invading their house. This is Jesse's way of trying to ask Walt if the cancer is back but I also feel like it's Jesse's way of telling Walt that he cares about him as much as he cared about his Aunt Jenny; that Walt is like family to him now. Walt in turn ends up telling Jesse about the time he had a drink with Jane's dad and how he took Donald's advice not to give up on family. And when Walt says "family" here, we know (though Jesse does not) that he means not giving up on Jesse when he was a heroin addict. This is the closest we're likely to get to Jesse and Walt admitting that they love each other, that they are family to each other, but that can never truly be expressed on Walt's part without also confessing that he let Jane die that night.

Now Walt's guilt over Jane's death is heavy on his mind and Jesse has slipped Walt sleeping pills in the hopes of getting the older man to sleep off his crazy. And the fly is still buzzing around somewhere. Jesse makes it his mission to save Mr White's sanity and starts climbing a dangerously balanced ladder to reach the fly and finish it off. Walt grips the ladder from below, drowsily aware that Jesse is risking his safety just to kill some little insect for him. This little moment on the ladder represents Walt & Jesse's whole S3 storyline for me. It may be the crux of their entire relationship story (please never dare to call 'Fly' a filler episode around me). Jesse's life and emotions hang in a dangerous balance. If Walt lets slip with his hand or his words, Jesse will fall and break, either physically or psychologically. Walt is genuinely sorry about Jane, but he can't confess without harming Jesse even more. So Walt just has to live with the contamination between him and Jesse, just as he has to accept that everything else in his life is contaminated too. Walt has missed his perfect moment to die; he's blown all his chances to get out clean.     

In the end it's not killing the fly that allows Walt to give in to sleep. It's Jesse starting to come down from the ladder. Just a brief moment of relief for Walt that Jesse isn't going to get himself killed; tonight at least. Jesse dutifully takes Walt's shoes off, tucks him in on the couch and sets about doing the cooking for them, which makes me believe that Jesse really wasn't lying when he said he took care of his Aunt Jenny through her terminal illness. The next morning Walt has one of his rare honest and tender moments with Jesse, like they did after they were stranded in the desert together in '4 Days Out'. After a good nights sleep, Walt seems to have the clarity to admit what's really been driving him crazy all along. Walt knows Jesse's been stealing meth and he knows if Gus finds out he won't be able to protect Jesse. Walt has managed to save Jesse from Krazy 8 and Emilio, from Tuco and Hector; he's protected Jesse from Jane's heroin needle and Saul's options. But Gus? Gus is too big, too clever, too powerful. So Walt has to resort to pleading with Jesse not to get himself killed. But Jesse's hostile response just seems to confirm that Jesse getting himself killed is actually the whole point of the meth stealing. Is the fly that Walt can't control Jesse's death wish? Maybe. The following night, Walt is sleepless again and the fly is still hanging over him, like Jesse on the ladder.  



"Never make the same mistake twice."

Next episode, Walt takes charge of weighing the meth in an attempt to protect Jesse while Jesse demands that Walt just go ahead and accuse him of stealing because he doesn't want protecting, remember? It's clear now. Jesse wants to be in trouble; he wants to be punished because he is the bad guy who causes poor recovering addict girls to relapse. And just to remind himself of this, Jesse gets busy seducing Andrea and trying to sell her the blue meth. Or at least that is the plan before Andrea's son Brock walks in and manages to melt the ice that's been covering Jesse's frozen heart through S3 with just one little fist bump. In an earlier flashback to Jesse/Jane at the Georgia O'Keefe museum, they argued over the meaning of O'Keefe painting the same door over and over. The only reason Jesse can see behind such a repetitive ritual is to make something perfect; to get it right. In this episode Jesse is getting a second chance with a couple of ghosts from his past with Andrea becoming his new Jane and Brock becoming his new Spooge kid. Maybe he can make things perfect with them this time? But it seems these ghosts come in threes as Jesse learns that it was Andrea's kid brother who was forced to shoot his friend Combo. This is what finally takes Jesse out of his 'bad guy' role as he discovers there are worse people than him in this world and they just happen to be the faceless overlords he's working for.   
Walt is mostly distracted from Jesse since he and Skyler are busy with money laundering schemes and there is hope that Walt may get his family back after all. But in the lab, Walt notices Jesse forgetting to put on his respirator, yet another hint that Jesse is becoming very careless about his own safety. It's Walt that gets the invitation to have dinner at Gus's house, while Jesse still hasn't even been allowed to meet their boss. Gus pretends there is no special purpose to their shared meal, just work colleagues breaking bread together. But later on Gus makes his intentions plain by giving Walt a little whisper of advice; "Never make the same mistake twice." And it's obvious what Walt's mistake is in Gus's eyes. Gus made it very clear in his first meeting with Walt that choosing Jesse as his partner was poor judgement; it was a mistake that made Gus very reluctant to work with Walt. Now Walt has chosen Jesse for his partner for a second time. And maybe Gus only allowed Walt to bring Jesse into the organisation so he could smooth over Hank's shooting with Walt. That was the mistake that Walt really made; it was not being aware of the threat that Gus posed to Walt's loved ones. Hank might have been killed and now Walt realizes that Jesse is being threatened. The only question is if Walt is going to do nothing about it...and make the same mistake twice.     

Half Measures


"Get em young and they're yours forever."

Jesse asks Walt to get a beer with him after work, but at the bar Jesse is drinking coke. Jesse is still stone cold sober and more serious than he's ever been in his life. Jesse tells Walt what he has learned about Combo's murder and he asks him for ricin to rid the world of the scumbags who were behind it. Walt makes plenty of good arguments against Jesse's reckless vendetta, reminding him that in the past they've only ever plotted to poison people in self-defense. And also if Jesse is so determined to avenge Combo's death then why has he waited until now? But Walt doesn't get it. Jesse was upset about Combo but Jesse blamed himself for putting his friend on that corner. What Jesse is upset about now is that little kids are being used to commit murders. Jesse is appalled that drug crews are recruiting kids to be their dealers and foot soldiers because they are "easy to control, easy to fool". Jesse sees how the young are most susceptible to manipulation and conditioning by their older bosses, yet he doesn't seem to realize that this is one of the main reasons why Walt chose Jesse to be his partner. Jesse has always been a kid in Walt's eyes; the naive schoolboy who does what Walt says and who still calls him 'Mr White' like he never grew up.   

Still seeing Jesse has a troublesome child, Walt goes to Saul with a plan to get Jesse arrested and put in jail for a while. Like Walt imagines jail is some sort of nice safe creche where he can drop Jesse off until his temper tantrum has subsided. Saul thinks it's a stupid idea. Mike comes over to Walt's house to say it's a stupid idea. Then Mike tells Walt his iconic 'Half Measures' story and (for Mike) the moral of the story is that when you're dealing with a volatile person you're better off just shooting them in the head rather than trying to reason with them. Mike is not a deep thinker and this is just his little vague cautionary tale to tell Walt that he needs to let them kill Pinkman already. But words are open to interpretation and the real meaning to the Half Measures story is that Jesse is the abused wife who needs to be saved, not the drunk husband who needs to be shot. How many times has Walt seen Jesse beaten black and blue by dangerous men in the drug world? How long before Jesse ends up killed at the hands of men like this? Will Walt (like Mike with the little wife) soon be living with the regret that he didn't take the measures that were needed to save Jesse? Jesse who he's been struggling to save since S2?    

Walt doesn't get it at first. He chooses the half measure and thinks that he can reason with Gus (the abusive husband from the parable). So Jesse, the eternal schoolboy, is called in to the scariest headmaster's office ever to meet with Gus (for the first time) and the dealers who had Tomas kill Combo. And Jesse finds out it's Walt who told on him. And I love that despite all the trouble Jesse is in, it's Walt betraying him that bothers him the most. Jesse is terrified of Gus (as any sane person would be) but when Gus orders Jesse to make peace he still tells him "No" and even shames Gus for his reasonable businessman facade. Jesse only accepts Gus's terms when he says "no more children" but Jesse still looks like he wants to throw up when he is asked to shake the scumbags' hands. As Walt drives Jesse back to his car, he lectures him about how his actions affect other people and hey Walter, ever think about how your actions affect other people? Remember who started that turf war in the first place?       

The moment Jesse gets out of Walt's car and storms off, Tomas rides up on his bike, wearing a Jesse style red hoodie no less. Walt took a half measure and later that night someone does get killed; Andrea's kid brother. But since all young boy character's on the show are really mini versions of Jesse, Tomas's death is really a warning to Walt that Jesse will be next. Gus has contrived another shootout to suit his own needs. Even if by some miracle Jesse survives this shootout, he'll surely be killed for breaking the truce he promised at the earlier meeting. And Walt could let it happen; just like he could've let Jesse die of a heroin overdose. But saving Jesse's life is a mistake that Walt can't stop making. Over on that fateful corner, Jesse is trying to correct his own half measure. Instead of using poison and asking Wendy to do his dirty work, Jesse is grabbing a gun and taking care of business himself. But Jesse is not really the bad guy, so he's snorting meth again and trying to turn himself bad, like he did before he went to confront the Spooges. That is until the real bad guy explodes onto the scene, running over one scumbag and shooting the other scumbag in the head (equaling 'zero scumbags'). Jesse is rooted to the spot with horror and has to be told to "Run". Did Jesse ever meet Heisenberg before this night? Well yes, there was the time in S2 that Heisenberg gave Jesse the gun and told him to "handle it". But Jesse has never seen Heisenberg in action quite like this before.  

Full Measure

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"We had a good run. But it's over."

Just to emphasize the return of Heisenberg, Walt dons his pork-pie hat and black jacket. He's going to confront Gus alone, just like he confronted Tuco alone, and Walt is no longer going to be living in fear. He has kicked his fear in the teeth again. Walter White couldn't protect Jesse but Heisenberg could and he's not going to apologize for it and he's not going to get his windshield fixed. Gus calls Jesse a "worthless junkie" and Walt (for the first time ever I think) defends Jesse's motives, even having the balls to imply that he thinks Gus told the dealers to kill the child (which is never confirmed but yeah...I think for sure that Gus gave the order to kill Tomas). There's an unedited version of this scene on the DVD in which Walt smartly tells Gus that if he chooses to kill Walt and Jesse learns that Walt's been murdered, then Jesse will most likely go to the DEA, seeking witness protection in exchange for all the information Jesse can give on Gus's empire. I rather wish they hadn't cut that part out because without having had any time to talk to Jesse it shows how well Walt can predict his partner's next move. 

When Saul arranges a Walt & Jesse rendezvous in his beloved laser maze, the one solution that Jesse offers Walt is that he should go to the DEA and turn informant on Gus. This makes me want to cry because Jesse is trying to make a big sacrifice for Walt here. Jesse knows only one of them can get the witness protection deal and I'm sure Jesse also knows that going on the run will be a hellishly lonely and dangerous future for him; a future that will be brutally cut short if Mike finds him. But Jesse is prepared to accept that fate and I think Jesse really is ready for it to be over, one way or another. At least now Jesse feels some peace that there was one person in the world who cared to save him. But does Walt only save Jesse so he can use him in his own schemes? Walt can't quite bring himself to ask Jesse to kill Gale for him. I truly think Walt would've done it himself and spared what remains of Jesse's innocence. But even so Walt has to guilt Jesse into being an accomplice to Gale's murder by reminding Jesse that he is in his debt. So Jesse does the service of getting poor Gale's address, even while still begging Walt not to do it.

Walt later ends up cornered in the laundry and even I'll admit that at that point Walt does the only thing he could've done to survive. And I'll admit there's an evil part of my soul that cheers when Walt stops cowering and lets Mike know that he's just pwned them all with one quick phone call to "that worthless junkie". I knew that Walt wouldn't give Jesse up, but I have to wonder if what Walt did do was much better for Jesse's well being. My evil soul stops cheering the moment poor Jesse arrives at poor Gale's apartment. When Jesse heard that Mr White was going to be killed, he just grabbed the gun and raced off to Gale's place without hesitation. Like one of my flisters mentioned; it was a robotic response after a long period of programming. Jesse does what Mr White says. Mr White got Jesse young and so now he can use Jesse like a puppet to kill Gale who's a low-level pawn in the game as much as Combo was. Jesse started all this because he was angry about what happened to Tomas and Jesse's fate is to become Tomas; a kid who's given a gun and ordered to kill. Jesse can't kill Gale but he can't let Walt die either and at some point while Jesse's standing there having a nervous breakdown over those things he can't do...somehow, he fires that gun.

Walt & Jesse: Season Four, Part One
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