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The Long Winded Blues of the Never

An All Seasons Walt & Jesse recap

5

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


Live Free or Die

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"Jesus...what is it with you guys?"

S5 begins with a glimpse at Walt's future and it's worryingly Jesseless. Or is it? Walt is after all visiting a Dennys. The two previous references to Dennys on the show have been Walt & Jesse planning to go for a Grand Slam after cooking meth in the desert and Walt & Jesse's visit to Dennys after cleaning up the murder of Victor. So I tend to think of Dennys as a Walt & Jesse place, even though the Birthday bacon and Walt's false name 'Lambert' are both references to Skyler. But if Walt is back in ABQ on "business" with a machine gun, I'd like to think that Jesse is a major part of his motivation. If we reflect on Walt blowing up Tuco's lair in 'Crazy Handful of Nothing' and Walt running over the two dealers in 'Half Measures' there is a long established history of Walt committing acts of crazy chaotic violence to defend Jesse. The gun salesman limply wishing Walt "Good luck" makes me think the gun is intended for some sort of rescue mission. Walt may be coming back to save someone in his family, but you'd think anyone in the White/Schrader family could count on the DEA for protection. Jesse is a lonely disowned criminal who for the last year has had to rely mostly on Mr White for his survival.

Getting back to Walt and Jesse in the present; they are driving out to Mexico to see Mike who is predictably pissed that Walt has killed Gus and screwed up the "good thing" they had going. When Mike attempts to shoot Walt, Jesse flings himself bodily into the path of Mike's gun, shielding Walt from death and insisting that Mike will have to kill him too. Mike lowers his gun with a very world-weary "Oh Jesse..." There have been times when Mike has tried to coax Walt into letting him kill liability!Jesse and more recently times when Mike has tried to coax Jesse into letting him kill liability!Walt. But these two partners still stubbornly refuse to let the other die, much to Mike's bewilderment. It would seem that Jesse has a talent for endearing himself to cranky older men as Mike's soft spot for Jesse seems to be one of the main things preventing Mike from killing Walt and sensibly going on the run (well, that and Mike's soft spot for Kaylee). Here we see the makings of the new S3 partnership with Jesse as the glue holding them together. When the three guys drive away we get a shot of Mike and Walt sitting in the front of the car and Jesse in between them on the backseat. In S5 we get an awful lot of shots with Walt and Mike at either sides of the frame and Jesse in the middle in the background. These shots always make Jesse look small, like a child of divorce caught between his warring parents (which he totally is). But it also characterizes Jesse as the mediator and peacemaker of the group; sometimes he's most like the rope in the Walt and Mike's tug-of-war; stretched and straining in the feud of his two embittered father figures.

Maybe it's because he's brought his two surrogate dads together, but Jesse reverts to a more childlike state in this episode after having become more manly and mature in his S4 arc. Jesse is literally jumping up and down with excitement over the "Yeah bitch, Magnets!" plan that was his idea. If there's one passion that Walt and Jesse share it's their love of committing elaborate felonies with science. Mike is warning Jesse to not be a fool; to take his money and flee while he still can. And while Mike has Jesse's best interests at heart much more so than Walt, Mike has always failed to see that Jesse isn't cut out to be a loner like him; particularly with all the guilt and trauma Jesse drags around these days. Jesse needs to belong to something or rather, to someone. Another crazy adventure with Mr White is the only homecoming that Jesse gets.

When Walt and Jesse carry out their magnet plan, they are wearing balaclavas, only without the silly little bobbles on top; which makes me sad though it also makes perfect sense. Walt and Jesse are major league pros now. That said, Jesse still frets over parking the magnet van next to the police evidence building. Wait doesn't yell at him or call him an idiot. He offers Jesse soothing encouragement, even as he is pushing their risky plan to its limits and tipping their van over on its side. Walt has a cool Godly authority and assurance that nothing will go wrong for him. Walt's "Because I said so" inspires the first of Jesse's many scared wary glances in Heisenberg's direction.  
      

Madrigal

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"I don't know what's wrong with me, Mr White."

Towards the end of S4, Jesse had been growing sharp, confident and independent. When he first realized the ricin cigarette was missing, Jesse was fiercely insistent that he didn't just lose it through his own carelessness. Someone must've taken it. Mr White must've taken it! No Mr White wouldn't do that. Gus must've taken it then. Only...no, Brock wasn't poisoned by ricin after all. So where did the ricin go? These worries are keeping Jesse awake at night, his head full of fears that his lost cigarette will end up killing some innocent person (or kid). Walt tries to calm Jesse down and offers to help him search his house. Walt has already got Jesse so frantic - like, they're checking to make sure Jesse didn't "drop" the cigarette inside one of his couch cushions. This is fly chasing levels of crazed hysterical obsessiveness. Walt eventually guides Jesse to check his Romba in which Walt has hidden the fake ricin cigarette. I don't think there was anything sadistic about this manipulation. Walt's purpose was to get Jesse to stop worrying over the ricin, lest Jesse begin to suspect Walt of lifting it again. Walt didn't set out to make Jesse cry. Yet when Jesse does burst into tears and tells Walt how sorry he is for almost shooting him, it's an unexpected outpouring that suits both Walt's ego and his agenda.    

What Walt does to Jesse in this episode is such a perfect example of Gaslighting; a form of psychological abuse wherein the victim's sense of reality is tampered with, causing them to lose all confidence in their own perceptions and judgement. Gaslighting is most commonly a form of domestic abuse and Walt is currently attempting to inflict the same treatment on Skyler, pressuring her to accept his vision of reality where Walt is the noble savior of their family and Skyler is his foolish unfaithful wife who Walt is magnanimously prepared to "forgive". Skyler is more emotionally stable and self-assured than Jesse. She's scared of Walt but she isn't blind to what he's become and so she stubbornly refuses to submit to his attempted brainwashing. Jesse's sense of self-worth is so much more fragile and because of this Jesse gives Walt the emotional response he'd desired but didn't get from Skyler. Jesse crumbles and confesses that he was stupid and wrong. Jesse weeps with remorse and Walt rubs his shoulders, comforting Jesse in the same way he'd wanted to comfort Skyler who now becomes cold and stiff whenever Walt touches her. While Jesse is still sobbing, Walt makes sure to remind him of all the times that they've saved each others lives; emphasizing that the two of them working together and protecting each other is the reason that they've survived this long. And for this reason, they are going forward together. "Go forward where?" asks Jesse apprehensively. It's likely that Jesse had been hoping he could get out of the meth business but Jesse can't say no to Walt when he's already so torn up with shame. Besides, Jesse clearly can't survive on his own and he can't even trust his own mind so it's much safer to do what Mr White says. Mr White's always been the smart one, right?   

So not only does Walt convince Jesse he is a stupid screw up, but I think Jesse really buys into Walt's romanticism and nostalgia over their year-long partnership. Of course Jesse would want to get a new RV when they are making plans for their new business. Jesse's being drawn in by the hope that they could go back to the good old days of being free and evasive in their mobile meth lab. When Jesse tells Walt there's no methylamine to be had on the black market, Walt simply tells Jesse to "have faith", like the universe will bend to Heisenberg's will eventually so long as Jesse is a good disciple. It used to be that Jesse would yell at Walt for making unreasonable demands and that Saul would make fun of them both, but now there's a sense that both Jesse and Saul are tiptoeing around Walt, nervous of voicing any slight objections to his plans.             


Hazard Pay

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"You call them Yes Sir and No Sir."

In the early parts of 'Hazard Pay' we get a glimpse of Walt and Jesse acting like true partners; as seeming equals. Jesse has as much of a say as Walt does as they shop around for a new cook site. Walt is no longer belittling or ungrateful for Jesse's contributions and Jesse expresses his ideas maturely; no longer quite so needy of Mr White's approval. The two of them are almost always standing or sitting side by side in this episode, seeming very much in sync. But the scene that best captures their new unity is the latest cooking montage. This is the first cook Walt and Jesse have done together since 'Four Days Out' that's been entirely on their own terms. For many months they've been the oppressed underlings of Gus's organisation; working in an underground lab, guarded by armed henchmen. Now they are the bosses of a new business with underlings of their own who call them 'Sir' and everything. Walt and Jesse may be cooking a highly addictive illegal drug in some poor unsuspecting family's home and yes...that's horrifying. But the 'On a Clear Day' montage is so sublime and pleasurable; romantic even. These are two masters at their craft who have learned to work together in perfect harmony. It's hard not to feel a little bit happy for them.

That said, happiness never lasts long for Jesse. For a moment there, Jesse had been so proud to introduce Andrea and Brock to his "friend" Mr White. Jesse will never get to introduce any girlfriends to his parents, but it's clear that Jesse sees Walt as a good substitute. I don't feel like Jesse is madly in love with Andrea the way he was with Jane, but Andrea and Brock do offer Jesse a chance for an 'instant family'; a little family in need who Jesse can provide for and who'll give him a sense of stability, maybe even redemption. If Walt were a good father figure he might be encouraging Jesse to get out of the meth game, to take his money and escape for a new town and a new life with this young mother and her child. But Walt won't set Jesse free and he doesn't wish to be reminded of that kid he poisoned either. So Walt plays the father figure, treating Jesse to some wisdom which he has seemingly garnered from his own ruined marriage. If Jesse keeps secrets from Andrea there will always be barriers between them, but if Jesse tells Andrea the truth she's likely to be horrified and reject him. Neither option that Walt presents Jesse with is appealing, yet Walt trusts Jesse will be the right choice. That choice being the unspoken yet strongly implied third option that Jesse could just break up with Andrea; the safest option for everyone, most importantly Walt. The really haunting thing about Walt's "honesty" speech to Jesse is how it reflects the core problem with Walt and Jesse's own relationship. Walt has his dark secrets that he keeps from Jesse; secrets that have created barriers between them. Yet Walt can never come clean with Jesse because Walt knows it would destroy their relationship, just as Jesse realizes that confessing to Andrea that he's a murderer would destroy their relationship.                   

Walt isn't the only father figure cutting Jesse off from the very few other people in his life. Mike warns Jesse with one stern glance that he doesn't want him hanging around with Badger and Skinny Pete anymore. Jesse sadly accepts the loss of the only friends and family he had left for the sake of the new business. Walt and Mike may hate each other; Walt and Mike may have only agreed to work together out of necessity and their mutual desire for money. But Jesse really does love and respect his two partners. He wants the business to work so badly that he'll give away a huge portion of his own money just to get his two dads to stop fighting. Jesse offering the hazard pay out of his own share may have been a peacekeeping gesture, but I think Walt takes it as Jesse trying to shame him; making him look petty and greedy when Walt is simply demanding the riches and respect he feels he deserves. I still think Walt's Icarus speech is more a threat to cut Mike's throat than a threat to cut Jesse's throat. But it's still an example of Walt psychologically abusing Jesse and punishing him for not taking Walt's side in the money dispute. Walt's veiled threat was a calculated way of making Jesse feel disoriented and scared - yet Walt's words were so vague that if Jesse ever challenged Walt over it, Walt could plausibly deny the threat and tell Jesse he's being paranoid. Walt was just thinking about Victor, that's all.  


Fifty-One

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"He changed his mind about me, Skyler. And so will you."

Over the seasons, there have been several "love triangles" woven around the Walt & Jesse relationship - Walt/Jesse/Jane, Jesse/Walt/Gale, Walt/Jesse/Gus, etc. You could say S5 centers around the Walt/Jesse/Mike triangle but I'm more intrigued by the subtle tones of a Jesse/Walt/Skyler triangle this season. There's a continuous on the theme of Jesse being the one who gives Walt the love and respect that Walt can no longer get from Skyler. On his 51st birthday, Walt wants his life (and really, his survival) to be celebrated. Walt wants a celebration fit for the king he's become; his ego demands cool cars and chocolate cake. Walt casually mentions his birthday to Jesse; not as a hint that he wants a gift, but just because he wants to get away from work early to attend the imagined party he thinks Skyler is throwing for him. Skyler walks a careful line of not doing anything special for Walt's birthday but still following Walt's orders so he can't lash out at her for disobeying him. Walt may have become a monster but he still craves human affection and he's no longer getting that from his cold distant wife or his son who has a better bond with his heroic cop uncle. At dinner, Walt starts reflecting on all the times he thought he might die during the last year, adding that "someone" always came through for him. From his family's perspective this seems like Walt crediting Skyler for supporting him through his cancer recovery. But we all know Walt is speaking more about his many brushes with death in the drug world and if there is one person who always came through for Walt in that context, it's Jesse - the unknown bastard child of Walt's family; the only one not invited to his party.    

In the end, Jesse winds up being the only one who surprises Walt on his birthday, giving him a gift which was both unexpected and extravagant. When Walt is given his flashy new watch he's still feeling numb from Skyler telling him that she's waiting for the cancer to come back. In contrast to his wife wishing death on him, Jesse not only cares about Walt's life, but Jesse is a person who'll jump in the path of a gun for Walt and who still values Walt's judgement and authority. Jesse may love Mike too but he doesn't love how ruthless Mike can be in his snap decisions to kill people who cause them problems. Jesse is pitifully deluded if he really thinks he can be part of a non-violent drug ring but Walt will make that false promise in return for Jesse's devotion. The episode ends with Walt showing off his new watch to Skyler which is maybe the closest Walt gets to his own "I fucked Ted" moment. Walt wants Skyler to know that someone still loves him, even if she does not. And Walt's someone once wanted him dead too. Walt's claim that Jesse "changed his mind" about him is chilling, because it implies that Jesse misjudged Walt rather than Jesse being cruelly manipulated to trust Walt again. It's also heartbreaking to see Jesse so earnest in the gift giving scene, only for Walt to treat the present as proof that he conquered this person. Like Walt's personal relationships are now just another game for Walt to win.     
  

Dead Freight

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"No one, other than us, can ever know that this robbery went down." 

I feel like Jesse and Walt have come to share a love for adventure and capers in their criminal lifestyle. When Lydia suggests the train heist solve the methylamine problem, Walt and Jesse both seem excited by the scientific challenge and the prospect of playing Jesse James. I'm sure Walt especially would like the legend of Heisenberg to include wild stories of a daring outlaw pulling off a train robbery. Skyler notices the sand on his clothes and asks Walt if he's been out burying bodies, but Walt doesn't like that dark depiction of himself as a monstrous serial killer. Walt will take the credit for killing evil super villains like Gus Fring because in that context Walt can see himself as the outlaw hero who beat the bad guy and saved his family. Walt poisoning a child to achieve that victory is not something he would want included the history books. It has been well established that Jesse doesn't want to go through with any plans that involve killing innocent people. As this point, Jesse even objects to the killing of not-so-innocent people like Lydia. As I've said before, Jesse deludes himself into believing his crimes will cause no real harm because the selfish part of Jesse enjoys having a purpose in life. Jesse wasted his education and he has no other career prospects, so coming up with the idea for the perfect non-violent heist is the best thing that Jesse can achieve.

During the planning of the train robbery, Walt is again treating Jesse as an equal. Walt happily tells Todd, the new student of their group, that it was Jesse who came up with the idea to replace the methylamine with water. Jesse is used to being the youngest most inferior member of the crew, so he seems to enjoy this moment of schooling the new kid. When Jesse tells Todd that "nobody can ever know" that the robbery went down I'm pretty sure Jesse was only meaning to warn Todd that he shouldn't go around bragging to his friends. Jesse wasn't ordering Todd to kill any potential witnesses because Jesse's plan was designed so nobody would ever know the train got robbed. When Todd praises the brilliance of the plan, Walt smiles at Jesse, seeming content to share this moment of outlaw heroism. Walt is not merely possessive of Jesse. He has come to truly enjoy having Jesse by his side. Jesse even seems to have embraced Walt's love for pushing the limits. In the middle of the heist, Jesse reluctantly follows Walt's order to keep on syphoning the methylamine till the last moment, even though Jesse then has to lie down under a moving train. Jesse doesn't punch Walt for risking his safety. Jesse is whooping and celebrating their victory, which seems all the sweeter for Walt increasing the level of danger and chaos.  

Their celebrations are halted by the appearance of a kid on a dirt bike who Todd immediately shoots dead just as Jesse is opening his mouth to scream for him to stop. When we first saw the kid (Drew Sharp) in the teaser, I had thought the show might be flashing back to Jesse's childhood. The kid letting the spider crawl over his hand reminded me of Jesse playing with the bug at the start of 'Peekaboo'. Jesse also used to ride a motorbike before it was stolen in 'Down'. The kid turned out not to be a young Jesse but there has always been a pattern of little boy characters being symbolic of Jesse in the show and sometimes foreshadowing Jesse's end of season fate. In S2 Jesse rescued a little boy from a disgusting drug pit and in the S2 finale Walt rescues Jesse from a disgusting drug pit. In S3 Jesse tries to put a stop to a little boy being ordered to kill rivals in the drug game and by the S3 finale Jesse is ordered by Walt to kill his rival in the drug game. This abrupt end to Drew Sharp's life could be symbolic of the abrupt end of Jesse's criminal career; much like Brock's poisoning by Walt was symbolic of Jesse being emotionally poisoned by Walt. However part of me fears this boy being killed as a witness is a more literal foreshadowing. Maybe by the end of S5 Jesse will turn police witness and he will be shot for it by some random gang member...and then maybe Walt will be the one screaming "No!"        


Buyout

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"Did you ever dream of having five million dollars?." 

Jesse is understandably not present in the opening scene when his partners are dissolving the dead kid and his bike in strong acid. Drew is actually not the first kid to die due to Jesse's involvement in the meth business. Jesse played a big part in the events leading up to Tomas's murder too, though he never intended for that kid to die either. When it was Tomas, Jesse's response was to attempt to kill the two dealers who murdered him. Jesse's response to Drew's killing shows a greater level of maturity. Jesse knows nothing will be solved by killing Todd in revenge. Jesse can't hope to defeat all the child killing criminals in the world. The best thing Jesse can do is to simply stop involving himself in criminal organisations that kill people. If Walt and Mike agree on anything then it's the need to be ruthless and to vote against Jesse's ludicrous attempts to bring morality into their criminal enterprise. Jesse can't be the placated kid anymore. He has to face up to the way thing are. That said, Walt still attempts to comfort Jesse when he tears up over a news story about the dead boy's disappearance. Jesse almost gives in; he briefly lets Mr White nursemaid him and insist that everything will be okay from now on. Then Jesse hears Walt cheerily whistling and he's reminded that Mr White isn't really Mr White anymore.

Mike and Jesse tell Walt they want out and Walt isn't even ready to deal with Jesse leaving yet. Walt's first task to offer a strong justification for why he won't be taking the 5 million dollar buyout. Jesse is already prepared for this particular debate. Not only does Jesse reasonably point out that 5 million is a much greater sum of money than the $737, 000 dollars that Walt originally claimed he needed to secure his family's future, Jesse's argument reminds Walt of a time when he still had his humanity and Walt does wince at the memory of that time. Walt also attempts to use their shared history to win the debate, reminding Jesse of how much they've suffered and bled for this business. Walt's 'Grey Matter' story is a decent explanation for Walt's reluctance to sell out and Gretchen & Elliot have certainly played into Walt's bitterness, but I still think this is just another of Walt's excuses. As Jesse wisely points out Walt can't claim that his desired meth empire is a suitable replacement for his lost billion dollar chemical corporation that's doing some good in the world. Running the murderous drug ring is not something that either of them can be proud of.                  

Walt can't quite win this argument but Walt can force Jesse and Skyler into a painfully uncomfortable dinner as a way of punishing them for their 'betrayals' against Walt's will. The dinner scene is framed like a family meal though Jesse does not sit in Junior's chair. Jesse sits in the chair that is typically unoccupied (note: Walt says in the 'Full Measures' flashback that he always wanted to have three kids). Walt, Skyler and Junior most often share breakfast scenes at this table in the full light of day. Here we get an evening meal as the setting for this darker fucked up formation of the White family. Walt is bringing home his bastard child, spawned from his love affair with crime. Walt is a cold silent bully in this scene, though Skyler at least seems to realize the best way to cope with bullies is to ignore them and to walk away. Jesse is just babbling and trying desperately not to offend anyone. It's a funny moment that ends up saddening me because Jesse was raised in a nice middle class home which he can never return to. Walt is ready to take advantage of Jesse's insecurity and their shared pain over lost families. Walt tells Jesse that Skyler has taken his kids away and is waiting for him to die, so the business is the only thing he has left. Jesse couldn't really sympathize with Walt's Grey Matter angst, but when it comes to losing everything you ever cared about? Yeah, Jesse can't ignore a plea like that.   


Say my Name

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"If there's a hell...we're already pretty much going there, right?"

So Walt sets his own wrist on fire to sabotage Mike's methylamine buyout. Again it's Walt doing something that would be beyond most humans just to carry out his will. Walt will have his way and he will win. He wants to get rid of Mike anyway, he's happy to replace him with Declan's distribution network and Jesse...well, Walt has always found some way to bring Jesse back on side so he'll worry about that later. Walt credits Jesse to Declan's crew as being one of the two best meth cooks in America, continuing his S5 technique of encouraging Jesse but also steamrolling Jesse's free will (and possibly endangering Jesse if the Phoenix crew ever need him as a replacement for Walt). Jesse reminds Walt that he's out. Jesse reminds Mike that he's out too. Both older men barely resist patting Jesse on the head and saying "Suuure you are".  Mike at least advises Jesse to look out for himself which is a nice contrast to Walt demanding that Jesse devote his life to serving the cult of Heisenberg. As Mike and Jesse shake hands for the last time, Walt watches them with naked envy and resentment. He had shook hands with Jesse in this manner at the end of S4. Walt used to share these simple moments of human connection. Now all Walt has is Skyler and Jesse's fearful politeness. When Walt and Jesse come to collect the methylamine from the carwash, Skyler and Jesse pause to stare at the "vamanos" logo and feeling a mutual desire for escape. In the moment where they look back at each other in the shadows, it may be that they are starting to recognize each other as fellow hostages of Heisenberg, both longing to be free of a man they once loved.     

The scene that soon follows was well described by [livejournal.com profile] cylune9 as Walt's 'Greatest Hits' of manipulating Jesse into staying in the meth business. Walt uses every trick in the book, starting by ignoring Jesse's need to get out, like he's hoping Jesse'll be too scared of displeasing Walt to bring it up (worked in Madrigal!). Before Jesse can say anything Walt starts in with the compliments and the lucrative offers; telling Jesse again that his meth cooking skills are just as good as Walt's own (worked in One Minute!). When Jesse repeats to Walt that his feelings haven't changed, Walt tries to convince Jesse that being a meth cook is such a prosperous career for a young man and Jesse can't just abandon his potential (worked in No Rough Stuff Type Deal and Nergo Y Azul!). Jesse digs his heels in and refuses to take the bait. So Walt just lashes out at him, callously pointing out that Jesse has nothing and nobody in his life apart from video games and go-carts (hey, leave the go-carts alone!!). Walt scornfully predicts that if Jesse has no purpose he'll end up using again (worked in...well no, Walt's verbal abuse never really works, but old habits die hard). When Walt gets vicious Jesse's face drops and he murmurs "Mr White" in shock. Even more heartbreaking than Jesse's shock is how quickly he recovers from it - Walt has always been a mean old bastard to him, even if those warm fatherly chats had caused Jesse to forget for a while. Walt realizes that the low blow has not helped his cause so he backtracks and tries showing sympathy for Jesse's heartache over the murdered boy, insisting that he is just as upset about innocent kids getting hurt (worked in Face Off!). When Jesse doubts that Walt gives a shit about the dead child, Walt just outright attacks Jesse for daring to take the moral high ground. He gets Jesse thinking about his own terrible sins (specifically killing Gale) in an effort to convince Jesse that he can't go back to a nice normal life when he's guilty of so many dark deeds (worked in Hazard Pay!). Walt also throws in that if Jesse is religious then he can't even hope for a nice afterlife because he and Mr White are most definitely going to hell (Walt has never tried this manipulation before, but he'll try just about anything to make Jesse stay at this stage). Walt even tries promising Jesse that they won't have to kill any more people now they are in charge of the business; which both of them know is bullshit.

So in the end Walt resorts to withholding Jesse's money. And at that point, Jesse grins a half-crazed grin of triumph because he's never been greedy like Mr White and if walking away from 5 million dollars is what it takes to escape this madness then Jesse Pinkman can do that. Walt desperately screams after Jesse that if he leaves he'll have nothing but as Jesse walks out the door it really feels like Walt is the one being left destitute. Walt could not have said or done anything more to get Jesse to stay beyond holding a gun to Jesse's head. But threatening Jesse's life is the one line that Walt has yet to cross. That said, before this episode ends Walt does have a gun in his hand and he has a person he can use it on. As Walt will reflect later - there was no logical reason for him shooting Mike. It was a crime of passion. It could be said that Mike's rants about Walt ruining the "good thing" they had with Fring and sneering that Walt shouldn't known his place was enough to whip Walt into a murderous rage. But this isn't just about Walt's pride and his ego. Walt didn't have a good thing going with Fring; a man who kept him like a slave, who desired to kill him, who threatened to kill all of Walt's loved ones. The only 'good thing' Walt had going in the drug world was his partnership with Jesse. And now that has been ruined too. In the aftermath of losing Jesse, Walt had to listen to Jesse heroically offering to get Mike's bag and Mike nobly telling Jesse not to put himself in harm's way; two friends having each others back; exactly the kind of bond Walt always liked to he and Jesse shared. It's not actually Mike's fault that Jesse left the business, but he's the best target for Walt to take out his frustrations and maybe even his jealousy on.      


Gliding Over All

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"I used to love to go camping..."

A few hours after murdering Mike, Walt is sitting alone listening to a fly buzzing around his head. The last fly that buzzed around Walt drove him so crazy that he nearly confessed to Jesse he was the cause of Jane's death. Now Walt's done it again; he's secretly killed another person who Jesse loved, yet another untold betrayal against his partner. Todd arrives to help Walt dispose of Mike's body - Todd his new assistant, his new pupil. Unlike Jesse, Todd doesn't question Walt's judgement or his morality. Todd never calls Walt a 'bitch'. Todd also seems devoid of all those pesky human emotions that had held Jesse back and made him so difficult to deal with. Walt ought to love Todd yet their interactions seem so lifeless. When Jesse arrives at 'Vamanos Pest', he asks first if Mike got away safe ("He's gone" is all Walt can say) and then asks what they are going to do about Mike's guys in lock up. Maybe Jesse is naively holding out hope that Walt has some brilliant scheme to save them from jail without having to kill anyone. Didn't Walt promise that nobody else was going to die? Well, Walt no longer cares to keep silly promises to Jesse. "There is no WE, Jesse" Walt says and even in this dark moment it amuses me that Walt is using couples break up speak. Walt gestures for Jesse to leave and as Jesse walks away he seems to realize exactly how Walt is going to "handle it". Jesse has finally made the choice to stop being the bad guy and to play no further part in their bloody business. But Jesse can't stop people dying because of this game he started with Mr White. Jesse is still too scared to get in Walt's way and he can't offer any other solution. On a more personal level I think Jesse is hurt by Walt's rejection. While Jesse desperately wanted out of the drug ring, I don't think he wanted to lose his relationships with Walt or Mike; yet both men shut the door on Jesse, same as his real parents. 

After separating from Jesse, we get the story of Walt murdering ten imprisoned men in two minutes followed by Walt taking on the role of kingpin in his own international million dollar drug organisation - all in a couple of sweeping montages. Some fans have complained bitterly about the writers fast forwarding through this part of the story. However this narrative choice just confirms to me that this is a show about Walt and Jesse's partnership more than it's a show about Heisenberg's meth empire. If Walt and Jesse are not together, then the story is missing its heart and soul. The only other time the show has jumped forwards like this was when Walt was recovering from surgery and Jesse was recovering from heroin addiction. Our boys weren't together so the writers just skipped ahead (love you, writers!) The striking effect of the 'Crystal Blue Persuasion' montage is how it conveys Walt's boredom as he goes through the old meth making meth selling routine over and over - cooking the blue, transporting the barrels, getting his money, laundering his money, then sitting at home all alone. There's no Gus trying to kill him, no Skyler arguing with him, no Jesse creating chaos for him. Walt has earned nothing from his empire but massive bail of paper; a heap of dirty money that neither he nor his family can ever hope to spend in their lifetimes. A brief glimpse of Walt going in for a hospital scan suggests that his time may almost be up. If Walt's just been told that the cancer is back then it makes my heart burst that Jesse is the first person he wanted to see.

 Three months out of the meth business and Jesse is a pale burnt out shell, living his dark empty house with the phone unplugged, surrounded by beer bottles and bongs, almost setting himself on fire as he falls asleep smoking. Getting free of Walter White and the drug trade has not saved Jesse. He's still lost, aimless, drugged up and more isolated than ever, just as Walt predicted he would be. When Walt appears at Jesse's door, his eyes widen with fear, yet he still lets Walt inside. Jesse knows that Walt ordered the deaths of ten men. Jesse and Saul may also suspect that Walt has killed Mike, seeing as Walt's suffered no reprisals for killing Mike's guys. But Walt hasn't come to Jesse's house to talk about all the people he's killed. He just wants to chat about the old days in the RV. Like Walt says earlier to Hank "I used to love to go camping". Walt will always want what he doesn't have. For most of the show Walt wanted the power and riches he's been denied through his life. Now Walt is bored with his power and riches, the thing he wants most is the humanity that he's lost along the way. Jesse briefly shares in Walt's nostalgic ramblings, but he is very careful to keep a distance between them and in a hurry to end their conversation. Walt smiles at Jesse fondly and it feels like Walt wants to thank Jesse for the adventure they've shared; for giving Walt some excitement in his life before he dies. But Walt has never been good at expressing his affection for Jesse in words. So Walt simply leaves telling Jesse that he's left him something. And let's say the cancer is back. The last time Walt was diagnosed with cancer he had wanted to leave money for his family. If the cancer has come back then Walt's first impulse this time around was to leave money for Jesse. It's tragic moment of Walt believing he is making amends with Jesse and leaving a legacy for his surrogate son. Yet as Jesse collapses in a trembling heap and shakily removes a gun from his jeans, we learn Jesse's been waiting for the day when Heisenberg would knock on his door. Walt strangely never worried about Jesse flipping on him, but Jesse's fear of assassination makes me wonder if he considered going to the cops as the only option for halting Walt's killing sprees.     


Discussion Questions
1) What do you consider to be the best episodes or scenes for the Walt/Jesse relationship so far?
2) Where do you predict that Jesse is at the time of Walt's Denny's flashforward?
3) What would be your ideal ending for the Walt and Jesse story? 


Hope you've enjoyed my Walt & Jesse meta! Sadly the final part will have to wait till late summer, 2013. 
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