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The Long Winded Blues of the Never

An All Seasons Walt & Jesse Recap

41win

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



Season Four, Part One

Box Cutter


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"You kill me you have nothing. You kill Jesse you don't have me."

Last season Jesse killed Gale to save Mr White and may have killed his own soul in the process. Now Victor has caught Jesse and brought him back to the lab to wait with Walt to face Gus's intensely silent wrath. At first, Mike seems to smugly assume that Jesse has screwed up his assassination mission while Walt perhaps fears he was asking too much and Jesse couldn't go through with it. When Victor kicks the table and confirms Gale's death Walt turns to look at Jesse with a mix of surprise, gratitude and a little concern. Walt can see that he's broken Jesse again but he can fix him again later, so long as they are both alive. While they wait for Gus. Walt retreats into his ego for comfort, bitching about how Victor is surely going to fail at the cook he's attempting. And Walt is still talking to Jesse like he's a normal functioning person and not the pale catatonic wreck sitting beside him.

Walt's smug speeches become nervous and stuttering when Gus arrives, zips on a raincoat and takes out a box cutter. When the blade is hovering over them both, Walt makes the same plea for survival that he made to Tuco two seasons ago - that Gus needs Walt to cook and that Walt won't cook if he kills Jesse. Walt show of loyalty gets Jesse to stir from his stupor, raising his head just slightly because the one thing that can give meaning to the unforgivable thing he's done to Gale is that he and Mr White still have their sacred pact to save each other's lives at all costs. However, as with Tuco, Walt making it clear to Gus that Jesse is important to him, lets his enemy know that they can use Jesse against Walt. Tuco took advantage of Walt's attachment by beating Jesse up and threatening to shoot him in the head if Walt didn't fess up. Gus is an altogether different kind of sadistic sociopath and he can think up far more twisted and elaborate ways to use Jesse to hurt Walt. After cutting Victor's throat and spraying his blood all over his two troublesome cooks, Gus focuses hard on Jesse's reaction. While Walt is cowering and seeming close to throwing up, Jesse leans forward in his chair, full of fight and rage and blowfish courage. And Gus likes what he sees. Gus spent twenty years building his empire on pure anger. Anger is something he can use. Jesse is growing stronger while is Walt growing weaker in Gus's mind. So begins Walt and Jesse's "the student becomes the master" role reversal of S4.

After another delightful experience melting a dead body in acid, Walt and Jesse sit together in Dennys; Walt with an untouched cup of coffee and Jesse tucking into a huge plate of pancakes. Walt has probably never seen Jesse eat a full meal, let alone imagined that Jesse has a strong enough stomach to eat after shooting Gale in the face and being made to watch Victor's bloody slaughter. Walt may have a high IQ but he has a hopelessly low EQ, so he can offer very little help for Jesse's numb PTSD. But he isn't completely blind to Jesse's damage. At one point Jesse giggles that Gus must be sorry that invested so much in Gale's chemistry career and Walt flinches at Jesse's uncharacteristic callousness. Walt also looks crushed when Jesse sums up Gus's message to them as "If I can't kill you, you'll sure as shit wish you were dead." Walt spent so much of S3 trying to save Jesse from his death wish and now it seems he's only made it worse. But for now Walt can only focus on Gus and he's already guessing that Gus's next move will be to find a new chemist and to kill Walt once he can replace him. At this stage neither of them suspect that the new head cook who Gus plans on grooming will be Jesse.                  


Thirty-Eight Snub & Open House

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"Getting the shit kicked out of you? Not to say you get used to it, but...you do kinda get used to it."

It could be said the next two episodes focus on the different ways that Walt and Jesse deal with trauma. But well...Walt and Jesse have been moving from traumatic situation to traumatic situation since the Pilot with no real time to recover in between. So they're always dealing. Walt and Jesse have barely escaped being brutally murdered by a more powerful drug lord, but that's nothing new for them. What Walt and Jesse are specifically dealing with now is being murderers themselves, something Walt was insisting they weren't only a few days earlier. Walt still seems to believe he and Jesse can plead 'justifiable homicide' to everything. Even as he's buying himself a concealable weapon and frantically planning his next murder, Walt is still insisting he's acting in self-defense. When Walt tries to draw Mike into a conspiracy to take out the boss, Mike tries to talk Walt down (then just beats Walt down), grudgingly admitting that Walt's won this fight. But that's not enough. Walt has to win the war. So he sits alone in his apartment preparing for battle, repeatedly drawing his gun and shooting an imagined victim in the face, just like Jesse did to Gale. Every time Walt practices his draw, it's empowering for him. It's also Walt's way of kicking fear in the teeth. Walt has the power to make people die; he has the power hit his enemy first and the power to keep himself and Jesse alive.   

While Walt's mind is consumed by plotting and practicing a new act of murder, Jesse is doing everything he can to block his own murder out of his mind. He turns up his stereo and stares vacantly at its flashing colored lights. He lets Badger and Skinny Pete into his house, not because either of them can comfort him, but because they talk a lot and Jesse needs their noise. This soon escalates into Jesse's need for complete sensory overload. If his house is full of people and his ears are full of music and his brain is full of meth, then Jesse will be so full there'll be no room in his mind for the memory of Gale. Even while Jesse works at the lab, he keeps the party going in his head, plugging his ears with dark heavy rock music. Walt's too busy with his Die Gus Die mission to help Jesse. Skinny and Badger still have "mad love" for their friend but they don't really know how to connect to Jesse since he got all hollow-eyed and frightening. A visit from Andrea and Brock brings back a little of Jesse's humanity and we learn that just before Jesse went on his suicide mission to kill the two dealers he left a huge stack of money in Andrea's mail box. This is maybe another sign that Jesse is becoming the new Walt, wanting to leave money for his "family" after he's gone.  

There's only one significant Walt and Jesse scene in 'Open House' though it's possibly the saddest little moment between them, like, ever. While they are changing out of their hazmat suits and Walt is bitching about Gus's big brother cameras watching over them, Jesse asks Walt if he wants to do something after work. For a moment Walt perks up as if he's thinking 'Do something? You mean go some place and plot to murder Gus?! Yeah, let's do that!!' But no. Jesse just wants to go Go Carting. Go Carts are fun and fast and a nice distraction from all this murdering people stuff. I'm not as big a Walt hater as most of BB fandom. Walt doesn't usually make me yell abuse at the TV screen, but man...when Walt says no to Go-Carting with Jesse I want to slap him a hundred times while screaming "HOW COULD YOU! HOW COULD YOU, YOU MONSTER??!!!" Walt is still the nerdiest old dude Jesse knows so he has got to be desperately lonely to be asking him in the first place. Jesse's eyes can barely hide how crushing Walt's rejection is. Walt at least seems to notice that Jesse is tweaking and asks if Jesse wants to talk about that. Jesse turns the question around and asks if Walt wants to talk about his new black eye (which Walt really doesn't). Jesse offers Walt some sage wisdom since when it comes to getting beaten up Jesse Pinkman is a veteran. And Walt should listen to his partner because he'll be getting beaten up a LOT in S4. He is the new Jesse and he better get used to it.       


Bullet Points

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"How did everything get so screwed up?"

Jesse doesn't appear until past the halfway mark of 'Bullet Points' but from that point on Jesse suddenly becomes the main focus of the episode. This structure is a great representation of Walt's screwed up priorities as he runs around trying to protect his own safety, his family's safety, his secrets and his crimes and he ends up leaving his concerns for Jesse until last on his list, even though Jesse may be the most in danger. Jesse has become the bastard child of Walt's family so he often gets left out in the cold, but he's still one of Walt's people who he is desperate to protect. When Walt's thoughts first turn to Jesse, it's all clinical. Walt is just wanting to ensure that Gale's murder can't be traced back them. So Walt finally visits the loud debauched cesspit that Jesse's house has become. This is how Jesse lives now; as the king of his own personal hell, wielding electric clippers and turning his meth minions (and himself) into little mock Heisenbergs. Jesse's skinhead puts me in mind of a condemned man having his head shaved before his execution. Jesse is waiting for his own death penalty; he's preparing for it, inviting it even. 

Walt just shakes Jesse and demands that he relive every little detail of murdering Gale for him. Walt is wanting to be certain that Jesse is safe from the law but it's more than that. Walt seems to have developed a morbid fascination with Gale's killing and with killing people in general. In Walt's mind, he killed Gale as much as Jesse did, only Walt wasn't crying when he pulled the trigger. Walt was cold and remorseless, doing what he had to do.  But Walt also wants to shake Jesse out of his dull destructive despair. Walt gently asking Jesse how he is coping has not helped, so maybe forcing Jesse to face what happened will. But Jesse doesn't want that. He'd much rather Mr White just leave him to die in his dark hole. By the end of the episode it seems like Jesse is being taken to his execution, just as they had both been expecting. But Walt can't let Jesse die even when he wants to and that's not all that Walt can't let happen. Walt has been waiting for Gus to make his move, he's been itching for the real chess match to begin. And Walt isn't letting Gus take his Jesse piece this early in the game.                


Shotgun

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"I can't do this alone. Nothing else happens until I get my partner back."

Say what you will about Walter, but when he remembers that he cares about Jesse, he makes sure that he shows it with his crazy wild acts of violence and chaos. At the start of 'Shotgun' Walt's driving like a mad man, taking only a minute to say his possible last goodbyes to his wife and kids, then he's storming into Los Pollos; either planning to murder Gus or to hold a gun to his head and demand that he gives him his partner back. This could have been Walt's blaze of glory, a last heroic act of loyalty. But instead Walt is reduced to awkwardly loitering in a fast food restaurant until Mike calls to tell Walt that Jesse is with him and that Walt shouldn't worry his little bald head over it. Walt gets to talk to Jesse on the phone and he seems a little frustrated that Jesse is not chained up in a dungeon waiting for Mr White to come rescue him. Even though Walt had been expecting to die while making this stand for Jesse, Walt has been facing death for a year and he'd surely choose to live his final moments in his own personal Die Hard fantasy. But Jesse is stubbornly refusing to play the damsel in distress, so Walt's hero mission is defeated and he must go back to being a helpless meth cook slave. Back in the lab, Walt drops barrels from the forklift and tantrums that he can't do the grunt work that he relies on Jesse to do for him. Seriously though, Gus taking control of Jesse away from Walt was a masterful way to torture him. Having control over Jesse the one thing Walt has always depended on.  

Though Jesse doesn't show it to Mr White, I think Walt's panicked phone call does affect him. There's a part of Jesse that always fears that Walt is just using him, that Walt doesn't really give a shit about him and Walt's insensitive pressuring of Jesse to relive his Gale trauma might have strengthened those fears. Walt's call at least lets Jesse know there's one person in the world who cares if he dies and that seems to stir Jesse's survival instinct, at least so Jesse will not to go down without a fight. But Mike's not killing Jesse. Mike has been told he has to babysit Jesse all day and he doesn't know why and he's pissed as hell about it. For Jesse older guys who yell at him and insult him just have a warm fuzzy fatherly feel, so Jesse tries his best act as Mike's scrawny little bodyguard, much to Mike's exasperation. Mike seems to be mourning the loss of Victor. They didn't quite have a Walt/Jesse bond but Mike may be yearning for a young protege more than he knows it. Even though Mike is aware the robbery is staged, he seems impressed and even touched by Jesse saving the stash and passing the test. This is the first of many times that Mike will gruffly call Jesse "kid", the closest he'll get to a term of endearment. Mike might be an old soldier who does what he's told but he doesn't fake being nice. This is a genuinely sign of Mike taking a liking to Jesse.  

Walt and Jesse are reunited the next day at the lab (no hug, no tears). Jesse rudely disregards that Walt has been worried sick over him. But then maybe Jesse doesn't want Mr White being protective of him if that protectiveness only leads to Jesse having to shoot people in the face. In his bitterness, Jesse brags to Walt that he took care of business and he saved Mike from some anonymous bad guys. Jesse having "two jobs" really means Jesse having two partners or on an emotional level; two dads. So Walt now has a chess game and a love triangle to deal with. Walt also has reason to be jealous of Jesse's new-found status in Gus's organisation. Not only was Walt denied his own moment of heroism earlier this episode. Now he has to hear about Jesse being the hero and saving the guy who recently beat Walt up.           
 

Cornered

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"This whole thing, all of this...it's all about me."

It's interesting to me that Walt makes his infamous "I am the danger" speech at a time when he's at his most helpless and emasculated. Skyler is fearful of Walt suffering the same fate as Gale, not knowing that it was Walt who ordered Gale's death. Walt calls himself "the one who knocks", even though it was Jesse who knocked on Gale's door that night. It's got to the point where Walt sees Jesse as an extension of himself; like the Ariel to his Prospero, a spirit servant who he can send out to do his will. Walt is desperate to reaffirm his own status and power. A big part of that is still his influence over Jesse.    

The next time Walt gets to see Jesse at the lab, he takes him aside for "an update", not seeming to care that Gus may see them conferring on his cameras. Walt may even want to emphasize to Gus that it's still Walt/Jesse Vs the world. Jesse avoids saying too much about his new job. Maybe Jesse just wants to have a new friend and a new purpose without Mr White ruining it. But Walt can't believe Jesse has been chosen to be a member of the cool gang. Walt reminds Jesse that he is only alive because he is under the protection of the Great Heisenberg and not because Jesse is important or wanted or anything. Both Walt and Jesse are a little bit right and a little bit wrong in this scene. Walt (insufferable bastard though he is) is right that the robbery was a set up and that Gus is trying to play divide and conquer. But Jesse is right that Gus and Mike have seen potential in him and that he is no longer a worthless junkie loser in their view. Earlier in the episode we get a tender moment with Mike noticing Jesse's withdrawal shakes and giving him his meatloaf. Jesse gets so little of this paternal care and nurture. Jesse senses that Mike's concern for him is real. It actually IS real and yet here is Mr White telling Jesse he's being fooled and he's just a little pawn in this chess game between two kings. Or as Walt - hilariously - puts it "It's all about ME!".   

Walt has always been a legend in his own mind and the hero in his own story. Jesse was just his dopey sidekick. It's unthinkable that Jesse should be taking center stage unless it's all just a trick that Gus playing on Walt. Yet the more Walt insists that Gus's gang are only pretending that Jesse is worth something, the more Jesse is driven to prove his worth. Jesse has some training in dealing with dangerous meth-heads but while Jesse lost his gun in an attempt to threaten the Spooges, the new Jesse manages to grab a gun off one of the meth-heads and take charge of the situation. When Gus later tells Jesse that he sees something in him it is both true and a tactic to pull Jesse away from Walt. But Jesse has never been told that there might be something special about him and even coming from a man he hates, that's one of the few incentives Jesse has been given to go on living.      


Problem Dog

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"Close. I mean, closer than you and me right now." 

Jesse's new will to live is emphasized in the opening of the next episode. He is now forcing himself to relive Gale's murder through his 'Rage' video game with part of him longing to quit but ultimately being drawn to making a new start. When Walt comes to visit Jesse he is painting over the scary mess of graffiti that covers his walls. In the same way he is covering up his own ugly emotional turmoil and presenting himself as a new blank slate of a man. When Walt talks to Jesse he is up on a ladder, which reminds me of the ladder scene in 'Fly' and Jesse's fate hanging dangerously in the balance. Only this ladder seems firm and steady; more a representation of Jesse becoming elevated above Walt and beginning to turn his back on his old master. In the previous scene, Walt has been given the idea by Saul that Jesse stands a better chance of getting close to Gus than Walt does. Walt seems to resent Jesse having close connections to anyone but him. And not just Jesse's new love affair with Mike; Walt even bitches about Jesse talking to Saul before him. Walt doesn't seem aware of how his increasing possessiveness is just driving Jesse further away. Walt also doesn't seem to care how transparent he is being when he's coaxing Jesse into doing his bidding. Walt reminds Jesse that Gus is a very bad man, that Gus tried to kill them both, that Gus kills poor little children and that Gus also thinks Jesse is so stupid he'll fall for his obvious manipulations. Walt is the only one who is allowed to manipulate Jesse after all and it's sad how much Jesse is aware of Walt using him and yet goes along with it anyway. In S3 Jesse accepted that he was the bad guy and now in S4 it seems Jesse accepts that he's the guy who kills people when Mr White tells him to.

Walt provides ricin for Jesse's new murder mission; a little reminder of the good old days when they were trying to kill Tuco. Poison may well be the best way to kill Gus, but Walt playing on his and Jesse's history together is also a good chess move to hold onto Jesse's loyalty. At Gus's cartel meet, Jesse gets two opportunities to kill Gus; he could have poisoned his coffee like Walt would've wanted or Jesse could've shot Gus (and surely been shot himself) which is much the way Jesse had planned to die in 'Half Measures'. Jesse doesn't kill Gus either time and (in my mind) this has nothing to do with switching loyalties. Jesse can neither embrace his role as a killer, nor feel ready for his own death until he has confessed his sins. Jesse attempts to do this with his speech to his NA group, implicitly telling them about killing Gale and (when they try to absolve Jesse for that) admitting that he'd planned to get them all back on meth. The 'Problem dog' speech tells us where Jesse is at as much as the 'One who Knocks' speech tells us where Walt is at. Jesse has always been a bit of a problem dog himself who many people have tried to put down. And like any good dog, Jesse has been told his greatest virtue is loyalty. Jesse may be drowning in self-loathing, needing to be judged and punished, but Jesse needs other people to do that for him. Jesse is still a pet trained to obey whoever takes ownership of him. Jesse is everyone's bitch and he only lives now because he has to come when his masters call. 

Walt & Jesse: Season Four, Part Two
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