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The Long Winded Blues of the Never

An All-Seasons Walt & Jesse Recap

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Walt & Jesse: Season One
 
Walt & Jesse: Season Two, Part One



Picspam and Meta on Walt & Jesse's Relationship through the Seasons


Seven Thirty Seven

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

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

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


Grilled 

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

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

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

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


Bit by a Dead Bee

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

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

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


Down

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"Dad's cooking breakfast..."

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

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


Breakage 

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

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

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


Peekaboo

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

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

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


Negro Y Azul

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"Who messes with the blowfish, Jesse?"

Walt begins this episode at school, talking after class to a surrogate Jesse student. You can tell the kid is a substitute for Jesse because he is helpfully labelled with a skull on his hoodie. Walt is scolding the kid for not understanding what "bonds" are, which is a crafty bit of irony seeing as Walt is currently failing to understand his own bond with Jesse. Walt seems to think Jesse is ducking him because he's chickened out of going to the Spooge house. When Walt goes to see Jesse in person, he finds Jane (not for the last time) barring his access. S2 for me is the season in which Walt and Jesse develop more of a father/son bond, but when Walt pretends to be Jesse's concerned dad it's another cruel irony considering that Walt's paternal influence over Jesse is only used to draw Jesse into deeper levels of criminality. Also, it doesn't help Walt get around Jane who considers concerned loving fathers to be the bane of her life. But Jesse eventually lets Walt in, throwing his money at him and calling him an asshole which even Walt seems to concede he deserves. Walt is horrified when Jesse explains what happened, though he cuts Jesse off when he is about to tell him about the Spooge's kid - which is perfect because, like I've said, that kid symbolises Walt's neglect of Jesse's more childlike emotions. Though Walt does at least have the decency to say "sorry" as he leaves, because as much as Walt uses and abuses Jesse, he doesn't like seeing Jesse get hurt, either physically or emotionally.   

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


Discussion Questions 
1) What is your favourite Walt/Jesse scene of the first half of S2?
2) Is it appropriate to say Walt/Jesse have a father/son bond considering how abusive this relationship is? 

Walt & Jesse: Season Two, Part Two


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