So I’m catching up on Breaking Bad fast. I put it on at night after the girls go down and I generally fall asleep halfway through the second episode of the night. And then it continues to play another three or four episodes all night, until Netflix gets bored and it shuts itself off, and then I just start where it left off the night before. It’s kind of a Breaking Bad buffet. Like diving in and out at different points along a timeline.
I was nights last night and the girls stayed with Big Grandma so I woke up this morning and decided to have a special episode watch before I got up. It was season four episode four. It’s the one where Mike the Hitman takes Jesse Pinkman on pickups, keeping him away from Herr Heisenberg and off the crystal.
It’s a great point in Jesse’s character arc, because we get to see that what we were hoping all the time, that Jesse is one of the only – and I might argue the only – morally good character if you allow for a grade of morally neutral between good and bad. I’d call Skylar and even Walter Junior and Marie neutral. Holly too. In any case, it’s one of the points in Jesse’s arc that reinforces my empathy for him significantly.
And during 4:4, Walter and Jesse have a little exchange when Jesse shows up at the lab for the morning’s cook after an extended absence.
Walter takes him behind the woodshed (a delivery wagon) and gives him the third degree. And, as with all of the dialogue in this show, there’s a lot, like a lot a lot, going on at different levels both above and below board.
That right there?
See how Walter makes sort of legitimate sense? Like, it is weird that they chose Jesse and everyone has kind of been wondering why. But Walter has to take the opportunity to try and make sure that Jesse questions his own self-efficacy too. Like, “just remember, you’re less than, kid.”
My authentic self is Jesse. Broken but likeable. For the most part, likeable. My internal critic, my superego, my shadow self, whatever jargon you want to to assign to it?
It’s Walter White. And what Walter is doing here is every bit as nuanced as what I do to myself on a daily basis. I pretend to be rationalizing, but I’m subtly undercutting myself every time I grant my inner Walter an audience. And he’s so damn loud that eventually I give in and give him my ear to appease him in return for some small reprieve I hope will be my repayment.
Also, it is column day.
Here is some column related art!