I’m calling it right now: Skyler White and Jesse Pinkman are going to defeat Walter White, with some help, of course, from hitman Mike. Hear me out! Although they might seem on the surface to have little in common, Skyler and Jesse each have interlocking pieces to the puzzle of Walt’s descent into evil, and together, they will be a force to be reckoned with. The sooner they realize that, the better.
Last night’s episode of Breaking Bad crammed these two characters together for the first time since Skyler yelled at Jesse for selling her husband weed all those seasons ago, and the results were nothing short of amazing. But first, a bit of background.
After pulling off the heist of a lifetime and obtaining “an ocean of methylamine,” Jesse and Mike are given the chance to be bought out of the meth business by a rival drug dealer for the tidy sum of $5 million each. This is obviously the answer to Mike’s prayers, and Jesse decides to go for it too, because despite his inexperience living in the straight world, he still has a conscience and doesn’t like watching kids get shot. (Or watching his own skull almost get squashed by trains, as the case may be.) Also, he has finally caught onto the fact that Mr. White is crazy and evil when he heard him whistling nonchalantly right after pretending (somewhat unconvincingly) to be tortured over the death of the kid. Going into a pep talk about “the business” right after pretending a murder is keeping you up at night? Not a good look.
The only problem is, the guy wants Walt to give up his share of the juice too, so as to take his awesome blue meth off the market and drive up demand, a prospect they correctly guess Walt will balk at. Jesse goes over to Walt’s house to try to convince him to change his mind, only to find Walt is neither in the meth business nor the money business, but “the empire business.” In other words, he does this purely because being Heisenberg gets his dick hard, which is something I’ve been saying since season one. He recounts how walking away from Grey Matter for $5,000 ended up being a billion dollar mistake, one he doesn’t want to make it again, and I think it’s one of the most genuine things Walt has said to Jesse in a while. His motivation to transform into some kind of scary, omnipotent Scarface character is majorly driven by the shame, betrayal and emasculation he felt when he shut himself out of massive riches for “personal reasons.” And he is going to heal this wound in the most fucked up way he can!
But Walt is not “just” a guy who does bad things for bad reasons anymore: he’s also a huge sadist. So he orders Jesse to stay for dinner, which produces one of the most darkly funny scenes BB has had in a while. Jesse nervously tries to make conversation with Skyler as she kills a whole bottle of wine by herself. I could kiss Aaron Paul for his meandering, poorly received speech about frozen TV dinners. (Related: all the talk of real vs. fake in this episode seems meant to reference how artificial Walt has become.) When he nervously tries to say he’s heard good things about her from her husband/captor, she drops the bomb “did you also tell him about my affair?” and then defiantly goes off to further drown in her wine, leaving Walt to explain.
That Walt tries to use the situation to gain sympathy with Jesse shows how completely reptilian he’s become; he’s so far removed from normal human interaction that he barely even knows how to pretend anymore. Even to an easily manipulated guy like Jesse, it’s obvious Walt has done something to make his wife send her own children out of the house; Walt is trying to elicit a “poor you,” but instead gets a “thank God.” With the exception of when he thought (correctly!) that Walt poisoned Brock, we’ve never seen him this openly defiant before.
Of course, this story isn’t over yet, so Walt is able to regain the upper hand on Mike and Jesse by the end of the episode. But the scene with Jesse and Skyler got me thinking: despite Skyler’s instinctive mistrust of Walt’s drug partners, the two have a lot in common. They have both been manipulated, lied to, and hoodwinked by the same man, from whom they are both now trying desperately to flee. Skyler knows the depth of Walt’s transformation but lacks leverage; Jesse has a bit more leverage (and an ally) and could benefit from an exchange of knowledge. If the two were to sit down and have a heart to heart, I have a feeling the necessary blanks would be filled in. Skyler might mention the plant that went missing from her backyard, and Jesse would regain the rage necessary to kill Walt. He might even figure out that Walt essentially murdered Jane.
Is an alliance between Skyler and Jesse a likely prospect? This depends whether Skyler has checked out to the degree that she can no longer recognize a strategic opening when she sees one. One thing’s for certain: the end of this episode will not be the last time someone holds a gun to Walt’s inimical, craggy, terrifyingly emotionless head.
Screengrab via TVLine