Monday, October 3, 2011

Breaking Bad - WWJD?

I think I know what Jesse would do -- the Jesse Pinkman character of Breaking Bad fame, that is -- and it doesn't square with last night's dramatics. Amanda Marcotte tries gamely to justify the ways of Jesse to viewers:
With Jesse, I think the key to understanding how quickly he blamed Walt depends on a couple of factors. For one thing, the Walt we're seeing onscreen now has become more sympathetic than the Walt a few episodes ago. He had an emotional breakthrough regarding his son and his conscience is starting to creep back. He's remembered that he's a family man, and that should be more important than his own massive ego. But Jesse hasn't been witness to any of this, since they haven't been speaking. When Jesse last spoke to Walt, Walt was at a moral and emotional low point in his life. He had become quite naked with his willingness to manipulate Jesse, and for all Jesse has known, it's gotten worse. Jesse is acutely aware of how much of a control freak Walt is, and so, with a little added paranoia and emotional peaking, it's easy to see how he could leap to the conclusion that Walt would really go this far. Plus, as far as Jesse knows, Walt is the only person who knew about the ricin.
Alas, no. I think the characterization simply faltered here. The Jesse we have come to know would draw the most obvious conclusion, that the kid snuck a cigarette while he wasn’t watching --- while he was asleep, in the bathroom, absorbed in a video game, whatever -- and that it turned out to be the ricin-laced cigarette.

At that point Jesse would sink into his familiar pattern of self-recrimination and despair over all the misery, pain, and suffering his choices bring to others. He might pause to lash out at Walt, Gus, and others along the way, but he would ultimately make a beeline toward the usual guilty self-loathing that has defined so much of his character. Put differently, Jesse would have needed a good deal of ‘help’ to connect Walt to this poisoning—Gus would have needed to arrange some clues/hints to give that impression much more strongly -- and yet nothing of the sort was presented.

It was a rare but glaring misstep for what continues to be one of the two or three best things on tee-vee right now.

1 comment:

Reuben said...

Good analysis. I had also found the scenario unconvincing, to the point where I was immediately baffled when first Jesse accused Walt, but then I settled into an uncomfortable acceptance. Even having him visit Walt, figuring that Gus was responsible and wanting to renew alliances (as I initially thought), would have fared better. As nicely as your characterization identifies a more plausible outcome, that would not have changed affairs the way the writers (or whoever) needed - namely, getting the bros back on the same page.

Pity, given the increasingly riveting last ten minutes or so of each new episode.