Jesse Pinkman

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Jesse Pinkman
Breaking Bad character
Jesse Pinkman2.jpg
First appearance "Pilot"
Last appearance "Felina"
Created by Vince Gilligan
Portrayed by Aaron Paul
Information
Aliases Blowfish
Cap 'n Cook
Diesel
Jesse Jackson
Chili P
Occupation Meth manufacturer
Significant other(s) Jane Margolis (deceased)
Andrea Cantillo (deceased)
Relatives Adam Pinkman (father)
Jake Pinkman (brother)
Ginny Pinkman (aunt)

Jesse Bruce Pinkman is a fictional character in the American television drama series Breaking Bad on AMC. The character, portrayed by Aaron Paul, was created by series creator Vince Gilligan and is the only character besides the protagonist, Walter White, to appear in every episode of the show. For his portrayal, Paul won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series in 2010, 2012, and 2014.

In the Spanish-language remake Metástasis, his character is renamed Jose Miguel Rosas and is portrayed by Roberto Urbina.[1] The character also appeared in the season premiere of Saturday Night Live, season 39.

Character biography[edit]

Background[edit]

Jesse Bruce Pinkman was born in September 1984 into an upper middle-class family in Albuquerque, New Mexico. At the time the series starts, he has long been estranged from his parents due to his drug abuse and lifestyle. After being forced to leave his parents' residence, Jesse moved in with his Aunt Ginny, who he cared for until her death from cancer; afterwards, he was allowed to stay in her home, the ownership of which fell to Jesse's parents.

Jesse was a poor student in high school, largely due to his inattention and apathy. Walter White (Bryan Cranston), whom Jesse almost always calls "Mr. White", was his chemistry teacher and flunked Jesse in his class. Walt himself later tells Jesse that he "never thought much" of him,[2] although Jesse's mother (Tess Harper) recalled that Walt "must have seen some potential in Jesse; he really tried to motivate him. He was one of the few teachers who cared."[3] Jesse would later deliver on that potential, producing batches of methamphetamine on his own which Walt begrudgingly concedes is as good as that which Walt himself produced and superior to that which was produced by Gale Boetticher (David Costabile), who held an advanced degree in chemistry. Walt refers to himself and Jesse as "the two best meth cooks in America."[4]

Season one[edit]

When Walt accompanies his DEA agent brother-in-law, Hank Schrader (Dean Norris), as a ride-a-long during a DEA drug bust, he spots Jesse running away from a tryst in the upper-level out the window of the scene; he subsequently realizes that Jesse is "Cap 'n Cook", a meth producer Hank is investigating. Walt uses high school student records to track down Jesse, his former pupil, and blackmails him into letting Walt "cook" in the production-side of Jesse's illegal drug trade. Walt plans to use his knowledge of chemistry to cook potent crystal meth that Jesse will distribute, giving him $7,000 to purchase an RV which will be used as a rolling meth lab.[2] It is revealed in Season 3 that Jesse wasted most of the money while partying at a strip club, but one of his friends, Christian "Combo" Ortega (Rodney Rush), let Jesse purchase his family's RV for $1,400.[5]

Jesse is impressed with Walt's product and approaches Domingo "Krazy-8" Molina (Maximino Arciniega), an Albuquerque meth distributor, over the prospect of doing business with him. Unbeknownst to Jesse, Krazy-8 is a DEA informant who is suspicious of the proposal. When Krazy-8 drives to the desert to meet the duo, his partner, Emilio Koyama (John Koyama), recognizes Walt from the previous DEA bust. When they attempt to kill him, Walt produces phosphine gas that kills Emilio and incapacitates Krazy-8, allowing him and the unconscious Jesse to flee.[6] Walt has Jesse shop for a plastic container in which he plans to dissolve Emilio's body with hydrofluoric acid. Jesse dissolves the body in a non-acid-resistant bathtub upstairs, burning a hole in the bathroom floor and depositing the remnants of the body in the downstairs hallway.[7] After cleaning up the scene and disposing of Krazy-8, the duo are forced to sell their meth on their own.

Walt and Jesse move their lab from the RV to Jesse's basement. Their product becomes a big enough presence in Albuquerque's drug scene that it becomes the focus of Hank's investigation. Dissatisfied with the minuscule amount of money Jesse is collecting, Walt convinces him to find a high-end distributor for their meth. Skinny Pete (Charles Baker), one of Jesse's friends, puts him in contact with Tuco Salamanca (Raymond Cruz), a powerful Mexican drug kingpin operating in Albuquerque. However, at their first meeting, the psychopathic Tuco brutally beats Jesse and lands him in the hospital. After Walt strong-arms Tuco into a lucrative, albeit unstable, partnership, he and Jesse expand their operations by stealing a large drum of methylamine. This enables them to produce even more potent meth in larger quantities.[8] Producer Vince Gilligan originally planned to kill off Jesse in this first season, before consulting his writers. Gilligan now refers to this unused idea as the "bad pitch", due to the popularity of Paul's character and the resulting success that he brought the show in the coming years.

Season two[edit]

The second season begins with Walt and Jesse delivering a fresh batch to Tuco, who senselessly beats one of his henchmen, "No Doze", to death as the stunned duo watch helplessly.[9][10] After the DEA conducts a raid on his Albuquerque operations, the increasingly paranoid Tuco believes that Walt and Jesse are set to betray him. Tuco kidnaps the pair and takes them to a remote house in the desert, where he cares for his paralyzed uncle, Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis). There, Walt and Jesse are held against their will for several days, with Tuco stating his intention of taking them to a "superlab" in Mexico.[11] However, the two escape after a struggle with Tuco. Walt and Jesse flee the scene, and watch as Hank—who has been guided to the house by the Lojack on Jesse's car while searching for the missing Walt—confronts and kills Tuco in a firefight just outside the house.[3] Walt and Jesse wander through the desert before hitching a ride back to civilization. Unfortunately, the DEA seizes Jesse's car and money.

Realizing that the authorities will track him down, Jesse seeks help from his friend, Brandon "Badger" Mayhew (Matt L. Jones). They move the lab from Jesse's house back to the RV. The RV is subsequently towed away by Badger's cousin, Clovis (Tom Kiesche), and stored on his lot for a $1,000 storage fee, which Jesse can only pay half of upfront.[12] The next day, Jesse awakens to find his mother evicting him from his home, since his parents legally own the house and have discovered that he was cooking crystal meth in the basement. He cannot find a friend to stay with, and his remaining few belongings and his bike are stolen. With nowhere else to go, he breaks into Clovis' lot and passes out in the RV ("Down").[13]

Jesse eventually resolves to put himself back together. He buys an inconspicuous Toyota Tercel and finds a new apartment. The landlord, Jane Margolis (Krysten Ritter), is a part-time tattoo-artist and a recovering addict. She and Jesse soon become romantically involved. Jane, however, tries to hide this relationship from her father, Donald (John de Lancie), who is the property owner of their building.

Jesse and Walt soon expand their business by hiring other dealers. When one of the dealers, Skinny Pete, is robbed by a pair of addicts, Walt tells Jesse to "handle it". Jesse goes to the addicts' house to confront them, but the plan goes awry when one of the addicts kills the other right in front of Jesse. Horrified, Jesse takes the money and leaves. While traumatic for Jesse, the incident ultimately helps his business; a rumor quickly spreads that Jesse killed the addict, giving him a fearsome reputation in Albuquerque's drug scene.

Jesse spirals into a drug-fueled depression when Combo is murdered by rival drug dealers. He is introduced to heroin by Jane, who relapses back into addiction. Jesse becomes perpetually high and lethargic, nearly costing Walt a $1.2 million drug transaction with the powerful meth distributor Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito); this leads Walt to withhold Jesse's half of the money until he enters rehab, causing a falling out between the two. When Jane learns about the money, she blackmails Walt into giving Jesse his share, hoping to use the money to escape to New Zealand. However, Walt breaks into their apartment while Jesse and Jane are high on heroin and accidentally rolls Jane over on her back, causing her to choke when she vomits in her sleep. Walt watches her die and keeps the incident to himself, leaving Jesse to falsely blame himself for Jane's death and become self-destructively despondent. Walt rescues Jesse from a crack house and checks him in to a rehabilitation clinic.

Season three[edit]

While in rehab, Jesse is told by a counselor (Jere Burns) to accept himself for who he is. At this point, he has learned that Jane's father, an air traffic controller, was so distraught over her death that he inadvertently caused a deadly mid-air collision. Jesse tells Walter that he has taken the counselor's advice and accepted himself as the "bad guy" because of his perceived role in these two incidents, unaware of Walter's culpability in both of them. Jesse leaves rehab clean and sober, and sets out to settle unfinished business. First, with help from his lawyer Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), Jesse dupes his parents into selling him his aunt's house at a drastically reduced price.

Hank correctly deduces that Jesse's RV is the rolling meth lab used by Heisenberg, and tracks it down to a local junkyard. Walter and Saul send a fake emergency phone call to Hank telling him that his wife is in the hospital, allowing Walt and Jesse to destroy the RV in a compactor. Enraged upon finding out he's been duped, Hank tracks Jesse down to his house and beats him into unconsciousness. The incident leads to Hank getting temporarily suspended from the DEA. While Jesse is hospitalized, Walter—who has been hired by Gus as a meth cook—persuades him to renew their partnership. Despite his dislike for Jesse, Gus is convinced that their partnership is for the best. Jesse and Walt cook larger amounts of meth in Gus' underground "superlab", earning considerably more money.

Jesse becomes romantically involved with Andrea Cantillo (Emily Rios), a single mother and recovering meth addict from his Narcotics Anonymous meetings. He eventually discovers that her eleven-year-old brother, Tomas, had killed Combo on behalf of two competing dealers. Jesse concocts a plan to kill them with ricin, but is forced to abort after learning that the dealers are protected employees of Gus. However, after Tomas is found murdered, Jesse sets out to kill them. Walter saves Jesse at the last moment, running over the two dealers, killing one and fatally shooting the other in the head.

After Jesse goes into hiding, Gus replaces him with Gale Boetticher, Walter's previous assistant in the superlab. Walter realizes Gus is plotting to have Gale master the "blue sky" formula as part of a larger plan to be rid of him. To prevent this, Walter plans to pre-emptively kill Gale. Jesse unsuccessfully advises Walter to go to the police instead. When Walter is cornered by Gus's men Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) and Victor (Jeremiah Bitsui) at the superlab, Jesse is forced to kill Gale himself, confronting him at his apartment. Despite Gale's pleas and his own reservations, a tearful Jesse shoots and kills him.

Season four[edit]

Immediately after Gale's murder, Walter and Jesse are brought back to the superlab, where Gus slices Victor's throat with a box cutter in a gruesome show of force. Jesse ignores Walter's fears that Gus is planning to kill them, preferring to escape his guilt by setting up a perpetual rave at his house. He also places a large amount of drug money in Andrea's mailbox, urging her to leave Albuquerque with her young son, Brock. Jesse becomes increasingly indifferent to his own welfare, stealing meth from the superlab to fuel his drug-laden parties.

Mike informs Gus of Jesse's recklessness, but instead of ordering his execution, Gus has Mike take Jesse on an errand to collect drop money. On the last pickup, Jesse sees a man approaching the car with a shotgun and attempts to run over the man but ultimately rams the man's car and drives away. It is revealed that the man with the shotgun was working for Mike and this was all just a test for Jesse, a test which he passed prompting Mike to call him a hero. A relieved Walt finds Jesse in the lab where Jesse tells him that he will be doing more work with Mike. When Walt informs Jesse of his suspicion that the alley incident was a setup, Jesse reacts with hostility, while Walt declares his belief that Gus is trying to wedge their partnership. During Jesse's next assignment with Mike involving the retrieval of a stolen bag of product, Jesse shows some craftiness by getting one meth addict fixated on digging a hole in the yard and disarms another wielding a shotgun, which draws praise from Gus. Shortly after this point, Jesse has resumed a relationship with Andrea and her son Brock, whom Jesse treats as a son.

Walt tasks Jesse with killing Gus by the use of a vial of ricin, which Jesse hides in a cigarette. Later on, when Gus is having a meeting with members of the cartel, Jesse considers spiking his coffee with the ricin, but refrains from doing so upon realizing that he could poison the third parties present. At one of his NA meetings, Jesse breaks down and reveals that he is only attending to sell everybody meth. Walt pushes Jesse to try to set up a meeting when he learns that Hank is investigating Gus, but backs off when he sees a text message implying that Jesse has been lying about not meeting Gus since the diner. Walt uses a bug to track Jesse's vehicle, learning that he had dinner at Gus's house the night before. Walt confronts Jesse about his betrayal, causing a fight, which Jesse wins. The pair have a violent falling out as a result.

Gus and Mike take Jesse on a trip to Mexico in order to have him teach Walt's formula to the cartel's chemists. Impressed with Jesse's skill, Gus seemingly arranges to leave Jesse behind with the cartel. However, during a party, Gus uses a poisoned bottle of tequila to kill off the cartel's leadership, including Don Eladio (Steven Bauer). Afterwards, Gus offers to hire Jesse as his full-time cook. Jesse accepts on the condition that Gus spare Walt's life. When Walt's wife Skyler White (Anna Gunn) seeks protection from the DEA, Gus uses this information to portray Walt as an informant in an attempt to further the gap between him and Jesse. Walt goes to Jesse's house to plead for help, but Jesse throws him off his property.

Shortly afterwards, Brock falls mysteriously ill. Jesse seems to correctly guess that Brock has been poisoned by ricin, arousing Andrea's suspicions. Jesse immediately assumes Walt is behind the poisoning, showing up at his house to confront him at gunpoint. However, Walt convinces Jesse that it was Gus who poisoned Brock, reminding him of his propensity for killing children. Jesse eventually tells Saul about Gus' visits to Hector's retirement home, leading Walt to visit Hector himself and talk him into luring Gus to the location. Gus is subsequently killed when Walt sets up and Hector activates a pipe bomb beneath the elderly drug lord's wheelchair. After learning of Gus' death, Walt storms the superlab and rescues Jesse.

After they destroy the superlab, Jesse reveals that Brock was not poisoned by ricin, but by poisonous Lily of the Valley berries. Jesse realizes that Gus couldn't have poisoned Brock, but Walt assures him that killing Gus was the only acceptable course of action. The final scene of the fourth season shows a potted Lily of the Valley in Walt's backyard, suggesting that Walt had poisoned Brock all along.

Season five[edit]

Jesse is torn up about what happened to Brock and can't rest not knowing what happened to the ricin. Jesse has Walt help him search his house for the cigarette containing the poison. Walt manipulates Jesse further by planting a fake replica of the ricin cigarette in his vacuum cleaner. This causes Jesse to feel guilty about threatening to kill Mr. White, thinking he had poisoned Brock.[14]

Jesse agrees to continue cooking meth with Walt as a result. He and Walt join forces with Mike to establish their own meth operation. After trouble with their supplier leaves them without any methylamine precursor, they decide to steal a thousand gallons of methylamine from a train traveling through New Mexico. During the heist, their accomplice Todd (Jesse Plemons) shoots and kills a young boy, Drew Sharp (Samuel Webb), who was witness to the crime.[15] From there, Jesse is shocked and wants to quit the meth business.[16] When Walt refuses to pay him the five million dollar buyout, Jesse storms off, saying he no longer cares about the money. Walt eventually decides to stop cooking meth. After this, he goes to Jesse's house and pays the remainder of the buyout.[17]

Overwhelmed with guilt, Jesse tries to give his money away through Saul Goodman. When Saul refuses, Jesse tosses his money out to the streets.[18] He is quickly arrested, and interrogated by the APD, who then allow Hank to question him regarding the Fring/Heisenberg case. Jesse, however, does not confess anything and is quickly bailed out by Saul. Shortly after, Saul, Walt, and Jesse meet in the desert, where Walt suggests the adoption of a new identity to Jesse. Jesse agrees, and just as he is about to get picked up, he realizes that Saul's bodyguard Huell (Lavell Crawford) took his ricin cigarette. He goes back to Saul's office and assaults Saul, who admits that Walt was the one who orchestrated Brock's poisoning and gave the order to Saul to steal the ricin. Jesse then goes to Walt's house, kicks in the door, and furiously pours gasoline throughout the building.[19][20]

Before he could light the fire, Hank arrives and intercepts him. Hank convinces Jesse that the best way to get Walt is for them to work together. Hank allows Jesse to stay at his place, so he can tape Jesse's confession on their criminal activities. After taping the confession (which is shown off-screen), Hank plans to have Jesse wear a wire in order to record the conversation between Jesse and Walt (after Walt calls Jesse and asks to meet him at the plaza). Even though Jesse reluctantly agrees to meet Walt, he fears that it is a ruse for Walt to kill him. Jesse goes to the meeting, while Hank and his partner watch on at surveillance trucks. Jesse stops the meet after noticing a suspicious man next to Walt, so instead he walks to a payphone and calls Walt, threatening him that he is going to get him. When he goes back to a furious Hank, Jesse tells him that he has a better way to get Walt; through his drug money.[21]

Hank interrogates Huell and deduces that Walt buried his money in the desert. Jesse calls Walt claiming that he has found the money and threatens to burn it if he doesn't show up. Hank and Jesse follow Walt to the money's location via the cell phone signal. Upon seeing that nobody is there, Walt realizes that Jesse has tricked him and asks Todd's uncle Jack, a leader of a white supremacist gang, to come with his crew and kill Jesse, but then calls it off when he sees Hank and Gomez are accompanying him. Walt gives himself up and lets Hank arrest him. Jack's crew then arrive and confront Hank and Gomez, as a panicked Walt attempts to defuse the situation to no avail. A gunfight ensues and Hank and Gomez are killed. Jesse hides under Walt's car, but Walt gives away his situation. Todd suggests they first interrogate Jesse to find out what information he supplied to the DEA. Walt reveals to Jesse his involvement in Jane's death before Jack's gang takes Jesse away. At Todd's headquarters, a beaten and scared Jesse is detained in a cell having revealed all information. Todd escorts him in chains to a meth lab, where Jesse notices a photograph of Andrea and Brock, before Todd tells him he must cook.[22][23]

Jesse uses the paper clip from the photograph of Andrea and Brock as a pick to remove his ankle and hand cuffs to escape from the dungeon. Jesse successfully manages to escape, but is caught by Jack and his men when he begins to scale the outside fence. Jack's men, including Todd, take Jesse by Andrea's house. Todd executes Andrea in front of Jesse, who is watching from the nearby vehicle. Jack threatens to kill Brock next if Jesse attempts to escape again.[24]

Jesse is brought before Walt at Jack's compound. Walt pretends to angrily tackle Jesse to the floor when gunfire erupts on the cabin, killing most of Jack's gang. When Todd goes to examine the gun mounted in Walt's trunk, Jesse strangles him to death using his handcuffs chain, and Walt shoots Jack. Walt hands Jesse the gun and tells him to kill him. Jesse doesn't believe Walt wants him to kill him only because of guilt, and forces Walt to admit that he actually wants to die. When he does, Jesse puts the gun down and tells Walt to kill himself. Before Jesse leaves, he nods gratefully to Walt. Jesse then drives off, laughing with relief, leaving Walt behind.[25]

Production[edit]

Series creator Vince Gilligan originally intended for Jesse Pinkman's character to be killed at the end of Breaking Bad's first season.[26][27][28] Originally, Gilligan wanted Jesse to die in a botched drug deal as a plot device to plague the main protagonist Walter White with guilt. However, Gilligan said by the second episode of the season, he was so impressed with Jesse's character and Aaron Paul's performance that "it became pretty clear early on that it would be a huge, colossal mistake to kill off Jesse".[29] Gilligan also liked the chemistry between Paul and Bryan Cranston.[30] The character has been said to become the "flawed moral center" to Walter White in later seasons. Paul has said that he initially saw the character as "black-and-white", but that over time it has become evident that he "has a huge heart; it just got messed up".[31]

Paul felt that he had a "lock" onto who the character was when making the episode "Cancer Man," in which his family (which disowns him) is introduced. Paul also noted how after Jesse's parents abandoned him, the character looked for a father figure in Walt and Mike.[32]

The writers wrestled with the question of how long Jesse's innocence will survive Walt's influence. Gilligan opines that his naivete make Jesse the better man between him and Walt.[28]

Paul found difficulty playing Jesse sober in the third season. Paul says it "really threw me for a loop. It was hard to nail him. I had no idea where they were going with this character. He's so numb and cut off from everything."[27] Paul prepared by spending time at a rehabilitation clinic, observing its patients and interviewing its director.[28]

The fourth season premiere "Box Cutter" showed Walt pleading with Gus to save Jesse, demonstrating his paternal relationship and loyalty to Jesse. Walt tells Gus that he refuses to continue cooking if he kills Jesse. Aaron Paul felt this was "the first moment that Jesse realizes that Walt's loyalty is to Jesse."[33][34]

The party scenes at Jesse's house in "Thirty-Eight Snub" and "Open House" were created as a way for Jesse to cope with his guilt and self-hatred after murdering Gale Boetticher in the third season finale, "Full Measure".[35] Gilligan said these scenes were written because he wanted to demonstrate that the actions of the characters in Breaking Bad have major consequences. The writers discussed how Jesse would react to having killed Gale, and chose the party story arc in part because they felt it would be the most unexpected for the audience.[36] Bryan Cranston says of the plot "I thought it was a great way to show a person going through a private hell. That everybody suffers, deals with their own personal loss in many different ways."[35][37]

The party scenes continued in the next episode, "Open House," though the party was darker and more decrepit in this episode.[38]

In "Open House," Jesse goes go-karting by himself. The idea was inspired by Paul and other crew members who partook in kart racing between filming of Breaking Bad episodes.[39] The idea for Jesse to have his head shaved in "Bullet Points" was also Paul's idea, as he felt it was appropriate for Jesse's inner struggle.[40]

In the original pilot script for Breaking Bad, Jesse's name was Marion Alan Dupree.[41]

Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

Jesse's character development has received critical acclaim. Alan Sepinwall noticed a gradual change when audiences shifted their sympathies from Walt to Jesse, who had received mixed reception in the first season. Aaron Paul thinks some of the major turnaround episodes for this are "Peekaboo" and "ABQ."[32] In his review for "Peekaboo," Erik Kain of Forbes writes that as Walt grows increasingly less sympathetic, Jesse is growing more human and complex, as evidenced by his relationship with the neglected son of two drug addicts.[42] Emma Rosenblum of New York Magazine writes that "Jesse started as an "absurd screwup" with a "defiant gait" and traits of a wannabe gangster. Her opinion changed beginning with "Peekaboo." Gilligan said the writers' decision to write that episode was to get into Jesse's mind-set.[27] Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker noted that "Gilligan "swivel[ed] background characters into the spotlight, where they can absorb the sympathy we once extended to Walt." [43] Critics thought "Blood Money" expanded Jesse's role as a contrast to Walt and the moral conscience of the series. The Hollywood Reporter's Tim Goodman also noted Jesse's role as a contrast to Walt and his character development.[44] Alyssa Rosenberg of ThinkProgress contrasts Walt with Jesse's growing moral conscience.[45]

Alan Sepinwall noted how "Down" showed how far Jesse has fallen: Jesse, once a kid with a normal suburban life, becomes a drug dealer. He noted how he was "trapped," which made his storyline paralleled to Walt's character arc. Sepinwall also praised Paul's work.[46]

Seth Amitin of IGN wrote of the episode that though Jesse was close to rock bottom, he still could not admit or accept his problems. Amitin called Jesse the "coward in all of us in tough situations." Amitin was still sympathetic to Jesse's pain, misery and being meaningless, in part because of Paul's "fantastic acting."[47] In his review for "Breakage," Amitin thought that the episode "rehumaniz[ed] Jesse." He notes that though Jesse is rebuilding his life, he has not learned from his mistakes.[48]

Jesse's role in "Full Measure" garnered positive reviews. Tim Goodman of the San Francisco Chronicle called the episode as "an exclamation mark on the tortured journey of Jesse."[49] Entertainment Weekly called "Full Measure" one of Jesse's best episodes, and that him killing Gale cost him the last of his innocence.[50] Quentin B. Huff of PopMatters called Jesse's story arc an "emotional rollercoaster animated by intense grief."[51]

Michael Arbeiter praised Aaron Paul in "Box Cutter," calling him "phenomenal" despite barely speaking any dialogue in the episode.[52] Seth Amitin reviewing for IGN called Aaron Paul's performance in "Problem Dog" as "the performance of the series".[53] Myles McNutt of Cultural Learnings praised Paul's performance in the episode as "Jesse descends further into a place from which he might never escape."[54] USA Today 's Robert Bianco wrote of the character in his review for "Blood Money": "Aaron Paul's Jesse, the show's sometimes wonky moral compass, only has to leave a room to set your nerves on edge, wondering what will happen when he returns. That's a tribute to the writers, obviously, but it's also a tribute to Paul, who always seems to be on the verge of either imploding or exploding – and may even be able to pull off both at once. I wouldn't assume he can't." [55]

David Whitehouse of The Guardian and Aaron Paul discuss how popular Jesse has become with viewers. Paul says "It's crazy [that people side with Jesse]. At the beginning, everyone – including me – saw him as just a drug burn-out. A kid with no sorta brains. But as each episode was revealed to everybody, it showed quite the opposite. It's incredible how Walt and Jesse are completely trading positions. Walt has no morals whatsoever any more, and Jesse, who wants to try to be good, is terrified of him."[56]

Robert Downs Schultz of PopMatters notes that while Jesse and Walt are both murderous liars, thieves, con-men and drug dealers filled with selfishness and a desire for respect, only Jesse feels it. While both characters damage the lives of their loved ones, only Jesse is consumed by the guilt, remorse and self-hatred. Schultz writes that Jesse knows he's a bad person who can never properly repent for his sins. A life of crime, however, seems to be the only way for Jesse to not be a failure. Schultz disagrees that Jesse is simply the "conscience of the show, the moral center, the heart," but rather a more complex character.[57]

Alyssa Rosenberg of ThinkProgress deemed Jesse and Walt's relationship "powerful because of its contradictions rather than its clarity." Walt is a paternal figure to Jesse, but a manipulative, "judging, brow-beating, perpetually disappointed" one, making their relationship more tragic than anything else.[58]

Awards[edit]

In 2010, 2012, and 2014, Aaron Paul won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, and has been nominated in 2009 and 2013.[59] Paul won for the episodes "Half Measures" (2010),[60] "End Times" (2012),[61] and "Confessions" (2014).[62]

In addition, Paul won the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor on Television in 2010 and 2012.[63][64]

In 2010, Paul was nominated for the Television Critics Association Award for Individual Achievement in Drama and the Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries, or Television Film for the third season.[65][66]

In 2012, Paul was nominated for the Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for the fourth season, but lost to fellow Breaking Bad cast member Giancarlo Esposito.[67]

In 2014, Paul received his first Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries, or Television Film for the final season, losing to Jon Voight for the first season of Ray Donovan.[68] However, on February 23, 2014, Paul won the Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries, or Television Film for the final season.[69] On June 19, 2014, Paul won the Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for the final season.[70] On June 26, 2014, Paul won his third and final Saturn Award for his portrayal of Jesse Pinkman for the final season, making him the only actor to win this award three times.[71]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]