Culture

Breaking Bad Recap: Jesse Pinkman Is a Bad Person

Bad Person

Spoilers through the end of Sunday's episode below.

I've found it very interesting how many fans of Breaking Bad have rallied to Jesse's side in the Jesse-Walt standoff. Not surprising, exactly—Jesse has always been a fan favorite and Aaron Paul, the actor who plays him, is apparently followed by screams of "SCIENCE, BITCH!" whenever he goes out—but interesting. And it's interesting because Jesse Pinkman is a bad person.

There's a clarifying moment in this weekend's episode. Hank, the DEA agent who is also the brother-in-law of Walter White (née Heisenberg), concocts a plan to get Jesse and Walt together and have Walt confess to Jesse, who will be wearing a wire. Hank's partner serves as the stand-in for the audience when he mentions his concern for Jesse's well being. What if Walt pops him?

To which Hank snarls, in so many words, So what if he does? Because Hank—the true hero and moral center of Breaking Bad, if Breaking Bad has a hero and moral center—understands the truth:

Jesse Pinkman is a bad person.

To recap, Jesse Pinkman:

  • began the show as a meth-addicted drug manufacturer who got Walt into the game;
  • helped Walt dissolve the body of Walt's first murder victim in a bathtub filled with acid;
  • shot this man:
    in the face;
  • trawled Narcotics Anonymous meetings to find addicts to sell meth to;
  • covered up the murder of a small child so he could continue cooking and selling meth;
  • and, oh by the by, sold a horribly addictive poison to his community ruining untold lives in the process.

Jesse Pinkman is a bad person.

Jesse Pinkman is not a "lost puppy," as Joanna Robinson over at Slashfilm sympathetically suggested. Jesse Pinkman is not an adorable, cute little dog. Jesse Pinkman is a drug dealer and a murderer and a monster, albeit one who now has a sad. It's important to note that Jesse Pinkman isn't going after Walt because of some moral urge. No. He's going after Walt for revenge. For having played him. For having put the life of a child he loves in danger.

Jesse Pinkman is a bad person.

In some ways, he's almost a worse person than Walt. Walt at least has the excuse of being a sociopath. He's looking at things from a purely utilitarian level: "What will best benefit me and my family?" But Jesse knows better than that. He knows what they're doing is wrong. He feels remorse. He is not emotionally shut off like Walt.

And yet, for 54 episodes or so, he has gone along with the murdering and the drug dealing and the general awfulness Walt got him involved in. You know why?

Because Jesse Pinkman is a bad person.

And he deserves whatever happens to him as this final season crashes to a conclusion.