Breaking Bad: Jesse Pinkman Lived for Your Sins

Breaking Bad: Jesse Pinkman Lived for Your Sins


Take a look at this scene from the Season
2 Breaking Bad episode Peek-a-boo. What does it reveal about Jesse Pinkman? Jesse notices a beetle on the ground. He squats down and examines it, fascinated. He sees his friend approaching and stands up hurriedly. [Yo.] [Yo.] Skinny Pete walks up and crushes the beetle. Jesse looks down, a little sad, but doesn’t say anything. This scene, without dialogue and in just a few seconds, reveals the core of Jesse’s character. Jesse is someone who looks at the world with childlike wonder. He’s full of sympathy for the weakest. But he lives in the world that crushes the
weak. So Jesse’s story is about a loss of innocence. And like most things Breaking Bad, his transformation works both on a realistic level and on a heightened symbolic one. It can even be read as a dark version of the story of Christ. Jesse is an innocent in a world that punishes his virtue at every turn, and he suffers for the sins of his spiritual father/God, Walt. So let’s look at why Jesse Pinkman lived for your sins. Before we go on, we want to tell you about this video’s sponsor, Audible. Audible is the best audiobook service out
there, with an unbelievable collection of audiobooks just waiting for you to download them and listen. Right now you can get any book of your choice for free, and 30 days of Audible membership for free. Just use our link, audible.com/screenprism, or text the code SCREENPRISM to 500-500. So, go check it out! Jesse is nothing if not an overgrown kid at heart. With the cap’n’cook license plates and ridiculous swagger, [Cheddar, Mr. White. Fat stacks. Dead Presidents. Cash money.] he’s like a high-schooler pretending to be a drug dealer. The oversized clothes make him look like a kid in hand-me-downs. Yes, we meet Jesse jumping out of a woman’s bedroom mid-tryst. But he’s got kid’s innate humor and silliness. [Since when did they change it to opossum? What’s up with that? When I was comin’ up it was just possum. Opossum makes it sound like he’s Irish or
something. Why do they gotta go changing everything?] Because he’s a big kid himself, Jesse has a special affinity with children throughout the series. In “Peek-a-boo,” when he’s looking for the meth heads that robbed Skinny Pete, he finds their neglected child. [Where’s your folks? They here?] Jesse plays with the kid and tries to protect him. [Just don’t go back inside, alright? You stay right here, OK?] He has a close bond with his little brother
Jake, and he doesn’t resent his brother for being the favorite son. And it’s the murder of the unsuspecting kid in “Heist” that drives Jesse to try and break all ties with Walt’s operation. Jesse feels connected to kids, because in the world of Breaking Bad it seems like — apart from Jesse — children are the only ones who can be innocent. Jesse’s relationship with Jane starts like a sweet teen romance. They show each other their sketches and hold hands. But pretty soon they are doing heroin and blackmailing Walt. So very quickly, the innocence of their relationship has been lost. This arc — of Jesse finding something good, and then losing it, and losing faith in the world and himself, is repeated over and over in the show. [OK.] Jesse may want to protect children from harm, but he’s the one who needs protection. He’s essentially an abandoned kid. [Hey dad. Hey mom.] His parents think he is a hopeless screw up and want nothing to do with him. Jesse needs someone to tell him what to do, and so he finds a parental figure in Walter. [Say it like you mean it.] [I’m a blowfish!] [Blowfish!] [Yeah!] Their dynamic immediately resembles a father-son relationship. [Three entire bags of funyuns? What?] [Funyuns are awesome.] [God. How about something with some protein, maybe? Something green, huh?] Walt literally calls Jesse his son on more than one occasion. [You’re good at a lot of things, son.] [Look, I’m his father, all right? I can check on my son’s well-being.] [Son, you need to stop focusing on the darkness behind you.] This is especially strange because Walt not
only has a very low opinion of Jesse [Did your mother drop you on your head when you were a baby?] but also in fact has an actual son, Walter Junior. Yet somehow his relationship with Jesse feels more real and profound. Why is that? The answer is that Jesse is the first and really only person who sees Walt’s talent and power close-up and admires Walt for those things. [This is pure glass! This — this is art!] Skyler’s not hi-fiving anyone over a good batch of meth, and Mike and Gus aren’t fond of Walt, either. Unfortunately, this father-son relationship is a deeply dysfunctional one. [You are a pathetic junkie too stupid to understand and follow simple rudimentary instructions!] Jesse longs for appreciation, but Walt never gives it to him. [You said I was no good.] I’m nothing!] And when Walt does offer Jesse a positive
affirmations it’s usually to manipulate him. [Your meth is good, Jesse.] The father-son dynamic makes it all the more tragic when Walter betrays Jesse’s trust — [Would you just for once stop working me?] it’s like he’s hurting his own child. For a while, Jesse finds a new surrogate family in Gus and Mike. They treat him like a child too — Gus at one point has Mike essentially babysit
Jesse. [I can smoke, right?] [Not a chance.] Both Gus and Mike have a more genuine respect for Jesse than Walter does. [The kid’s a hero.] Possessive Walt can’t stand these rivals showing interest in his Jesse. Jesse starts out with a great deal of loyalty and respect for Walt, [Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!] but he ends completely disillusioned with his father figure. [And all for that asshole Mr. White! He poisoned Brock!] In this sense Jesse’s arc mirrors a teen coming of age story, which is also often about a loss of innocence — becoming disillusioned with the parents you thought were good and all-powerful, or with the world in general. Jesse even acts out the way a teen would — by throwing massive parties or angstily shutting everyone out. Jesse has been around longer than Walt on the drug scene, but it’s clear that Walt is the natural
here while Jesse is out of place in the world of crime. He’s not cut out for the “survival of
the fittest” world of Breaking Bad. And so this world finds endless ways of punishing Jesse’s moral purity. When Walt insists they connect with a bigger drug dealer and they meet with Tuco, [Mr. White, it’s too risky.] Jesse ends up in the hospital. When Walt tricks Hank into thinking Marie is hurt, it’s Jesse who again gets beaten to a pulp. And when Jesse isn’t being beaten he’s beating himself up, often for things that aren’t even his fault. [I almost shot you. I’m so sorry.] He’s consumed with guilt over the deaths of Combo, Jane and Tomas, and over Brock ending up in the hospital. [Go ahead, just take it. Take it.] Walt is a master at convincing himself that his actions are morally necessary, [No matter how it might look, I only had you in my heart.] but Jesse’s the opposite — he refuses to let himself off the hook. [I’m the bad guy.] He just won’t let himself stop suffering. [So no matter what I do, hooray for me because I’m a great guy? It’s all good? No matter how many dogs I kill, I just do an inventory and accept?] So Jesse is punished again and again, by himself, because of his desire for virtue. He tries and fails, multiple times, to get out of the business — [I’m pretty much a self-starter, so.] [I’m thinking there’s a little misunderstanding.] Jesse passionately wants to do the right thing. [This man needs help!] [This man pays my salary.] What’s really sad is that Jesse suffers for sins that aren’t even his — Slate’s Jessica Winter made the point that Jesse suffers for Walter’s sins. As she wrote, “You could judge the progress of Walter’s moral corrosion at any given
moment by measuring how hollowed out Jesse was, how pulped and zombiefied.” Walt somehow has a hand in most of Jesse’s
pain. Both directly [It’s gonna have to be you.] and through chain reactions of destruction. Look at the situation with Jane — Walt pushes to expand their meth-selling business, [It’s not our territory!] which results in Jesse’s friend Combo getting killed over turf. Jesse blames himself for Combo’s death and turns to drugs, causing Jane to start doing drugs again, and introduce Jesse to heroin. The innocent romance they had is gone. Then Walt shakes Jesse, causing Jane rolls over on her back and starts choking, and Walt chooses to stand by while she dies. Every time Jesse experiences tragedy, does something terrible or blames himself for something, Walt is directly or indirectly behind it. [Everything I’ve ever cared about is gone. Ruined, turned to shit, dead. Ever since I hooked up with the great Heisenberg.] So after all these ways that Walt punishes and abuses Jesse, the question that many people asked after the series finale is, why does Walter save him in the end? This is the mystery at the heart of the ending, just as the strength of their connection is a mystery throughout the show. The dark interpretation of the end is that by choosing to let Jesse live at a point where Jesse has lost everything he has to live for, Walt once again asserts his dominance over the boy. But on the lighter side, he may be driven to protect Jesse because of a last faint parental instinct. In the beginning, Walt needs Jesse to boost Heisenberg’s ego. But his reasons for needing Jesse evolve. By the end of the show, Heisenberg is a legend and he doesn’t need ego boosting anymore. But he seems to want Jesse around for something else: Jesse is Walt’s true son — and it would be better to say that he is Heisenberg’s son. And as his life comes to an end in the final episodes, Heisenberg is concerned with his legacy. And so he needs Jesse because Jesse is the one who’s known Heisenberg the best, from the beginning — the one who truly carries on the memory of who his spiritual father was. Thus we can see a selfish aspect to the final act of saving Jesse, so that Heisenberg can still live on in Jesse’s mind — but we can also see that Heisenberg has always somehow loved this kid, for reasons that neither of them ever truly understand. So Jesse is taking upon himself the sins of others, bearing the marks on his body and soul — and thanks to all this suffering, Jesse can be seen as a Jesus figure. Jesse isn’t quite the image of obvious virtue you’d associate with Christ, but that makes sense because of the world we’re situated in. If Jesse is Jesus, and Heisenberg is his father, that makes Heisenberg God the Father — but he’s a bad God of a very twisted, corrupt world. So what we’re seeing is Jesus if he weren’t the son of God — but of the devil instead. [Mr. White — he’s the devil. He is smarter than you, he is luckier than
you. Whatever you think is supposed to happen, I’m telling you, the exact, reverse opposite of that is going to happen, OK?] And since Jesse is a devil’s Jesus, that’s why he’s not really suffering for the sins of all mankind, but for the sins of his father in particular. [I watched her overdose and choke to death. I could have saved her. But I didn’t.] We get a few hints at this Jesus connection in the show. Jesus was a carpenter and Jesse mentions that he would like to be a woodworker, because he enjoyed the craft in high school. [I built it out of Peruvian Walnut with inlaid Zebrawood. It was fitted with pegs, no screws. I sanded it for days until it was smooth as glass.] Later, when Jesse is locked in the lab of Uncle Jack’s gang he fantasizes about building another box. The scene is shot luminously and feels even more clearly like a Christian association. The time Jesse spends in captivity could be a parallel to the time between Jesus’ death and resurrection — after Jesse witnesses Todd killing Andrea, he is locked in a pit, which could be interpreted as corresponding
to the cave Jesus’ body was kept in after the crucifixion. Jesse’s hair and beard are longer than they’ve ever been in the series, also bringing to mind a biblical martyr. And then the resurrection comes when Walt sets Jesse free from captivity. But Jesse’s final escape is a dark resurrection — he’s not returning to Heaven; he’s returning to bad Earth, from an even worse Hell — and there’s no foreseeable end to his suffering. What’s the deeper meaning of all this? Why have this symbolic, dark Jesus story woven in here at all? Jesse as pure innocence, abused and beaten
up through the story, illuminates the darkness at the core of the Breaking Bad world. Evil actions may be punished here, but good intentions and the desire to be virtuous are answered far more severely. Jesse brings to mind the maxim, “No good deed goes unpunished.” He’s a reminder that trying to be good doesn’t mean that good things will happen to you in return — in fact in Breaking Bad virtue is a clear disadvantage. So if we want to hold onto our moral goodness we have to do so, regardless of the outcome — we have to be prepared to suffer for it for it to go completely unacknowledged and unappreciated. In spite of everything he experiences, Jesse never goes Walter’s utilitarian way of weighing the value of not hurting other
people against the value of some “greater good” or the power he desires. In spite of everything, Jesse keeps the faith in what he believes to be good — not hurting others, protecting children, and treating people equally. And he holds himself accountable. So when in doubt, we can ask ourselves, what would Jesse do? [You have a good rest of your life, kid.] This video was brought to you by Audible. Have you ever thought about founding your own startup like Walt and Jesse, but one that’s, you know, legal? If you’re a self-starter like Jesse Pinkman, check out all of the amazing audiobooks on
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100 thoughts on “Breaking Bad: Jesse Pinkman Lived for Your Sins”

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  • william edmisten says:

    I watched this show for the first time ever a couple weeks ago I didn’t know anything about the show itself I jus knew it was breaking bad but from my first watch I went in totally mind free not knowing who to like or not to like who’s the bad guy or who’s the good but from my first watch I honestly didn’t like Walt’s character he obviously made the show from his acting but character wise I saw that he was manipulating everyone n was delusional n stuck in his ways I really wasn’t a big fan of Walt I honestly only liked Jesse n Saul Goodman n mike …. I cant wait for the movie tho it’s gon be a crazy one

  • Jesse is NO JESUS!
    Jesse is conflicted, from a dysfunctional family and drawn to the dark side of Walt, and discovers Walt is also flawed.

  • Nothing "moral" about the evil meth drug business; and as long as Jesse was in it, he was part of the problem, and NOT the solution!

  • wtfkidproductions says:

    “A dark version of the story of Christ” the story of Christ is incredibly dark, much darker than fuggin’ breaking bad, Jessie never got crucified

  • Y E E T T H E S L A V S says:

    jesse's reaction to the beetle getting crushed is kinda the same as mine when my dad unknowingly crushed a random catterpillar

  • I always felt he was the weakest actor in the whole cast, I found his style way too amatuerish and two dimensional. Unlike, say, Dean Norris who was output was always on the nail and solidly believable. Great series, but Aaron Paul was the weak link for me.

  • Good video but your thoughts on Jesse's motivation for compassion for kids aren't accurate. Jesse doesn't love kids because he is a big kid himself. He loves kids because his parents gave up on him and abandoned him. He feels the need to do right by the kids he comes in contact with as a result. The whole narrative with Jesses's parents seems aimed at making this pretty clear.

  • Great video and I agree with most of it except Jesse wasn't as pure and good as stated. He did try and sell meth to people in a recovery program. I hated this part it really was a horrible thing for him to do and pretty put of character if you as me.

  • And this to me, confirms everything i have ever thought about people getting involved with drugs. Sad, pathetic and ultimately leading to tragedy.
    So sad. And people still go out and do it, that egotistical outlook of 'it wont get me, things wont go bad', then ultimately ends as it was always destined to.

  • It’s Ya Boy Dre says:

    Man, you just blew my mind with all that. I’ve seen this series twice and never really seen it from that POV. This was a dope video 💪🏾

  • I believe Walt kept Jesse alive because Jesse is the only living person to know the recipe for the blue meth as to keep his legacy alive because he knows on some level that Jesse will have to keep making methTo survive now that he has no other option

  • One thing that really showed jesses true empathy and misunderstanding was the scene when he took the rap for his brothers weed. Really powerful scene that is never mentioned.

  • The Jesus comparing is ridiculous and blasphemous. Jesus is the eternal Son of God, who became flesh and lived a SINNLESS life. Jesse P lived a life of depravity.

  • Dr. King Schultz says:

    He is not obsessed with kids because he himself is overgrown child or he sees himself in kids. Vince Gilligan just wanted Jesse wanted to be a good person. Dont overthink much.

  • This is why I cannot wait for the new movie. Will Jesse find happiness again? Or will he have to suffer more than he already has for Walt's sins? Is Jesse even capable of finding happiness and innocence again after everything he's been through? We'll see.

  • Best show I've ever watched and I can watch it over and over again until I die and still would find the story so tragic. But why the fuck do we have to relate everything to god and the bible. Really walters god from a twisted world and jessie's jesus. Gtfo. Just let the show be what it is. Amazingly terrible but still amazing and shocking.

  • Jesse was the character that was the most punished throughout the show. There were points where I was rooting for him to just be put out of his misery, because he was just a walking mass of despair that ruins everything.

    As the only living person who can cook blue, he unwillingly carries Walter's legacy.

  • Jesus! I get the point of trying to draw links between archetypal stories and modern story lines, but comparing Pinkman's story to Jesus – well, just, "Jesus!". You have amazing recaps of Breaking Bad, i am watching them as sugar candy before El Camino comes out in a week, but this one about Jessie is just so off.

  • Aw man this video alone made me emotional over Jesse. I bet El Camino is going to devastate me haha.

    Love the way you ended the video, "what would Jesse Pinkman do?" He is a much better person than he gives himself credit for and it felt like you were giving him the credit he deserves (I get that it was a joke though).

  • I've never once heard Vince Gilligan verify any of the claims made by this ridiculously over thought Freudian analysis or biblical comparisons. I can apply almost everything the narrator says to damn near anything if I try hard enough. If you know anything about living multiple lives at once to hide a life of crime. Or if you know anything about dealing drugs on as high a level as Jesse and Walt you would see that no matter how many metaphors you attribute or how many biblical comparisons you make it's all bullshit. Breaking Bad is a series that accurately and literally depicts the lives of a couple of polar opposite drug dealers both when they're not doing very well and when they're doing exceptionally well. There's lots of other less significant aspects to the series which I've seen from beginning to end at least 20 times but overall it's exactly as it appears no more no less. I've heard Mr. Gilligan explain his creation and intentions many times and these videos couldn't be more wrong or more ridiculously over analysed. It's so annoying I finally had to say something, I know the show as well as anyone and I know the lifestyle it depicts 1st hand also, only to a much less successful extent. Although it was still very successful which allows me to identify with Walt and Jesse completely and on many different levels. So I definitely have a far more accurate perspective than the Reverend Freud who made these stupid mind numbing and completely inaccurate videos. Whoever you are could you please just stop, you obviously know very little about that lifestyle.

  • aside from when Jesse saves the little kid from his negligent parents, 6:19 is the only other Jesse Pinkman scene that brought that many tears to my eyes

  • what?… no one died for your sins, that's the most idiotic and arrogant thing to say/believe. We are accountable for our actions ALONE. Simple as that.

  • I don’t care Bare says:

    You guys forget that Jesse makes highly addictive drugs which probably harms a lot of people maybe not as much as Walt but he still kills lots by selling meth

  • Alfnir Bjornson says:

    Still, if Jesse never ratted out Walt, Hank and Gomez wouldn't have died, Jesse wouldn't have been meth making slave, Andrea never would've been killed. He could've instead had ratted out the White supremacists, taking Todd out of the picture.

  • As much as i want to agree; no, Jesse is not innocent in this story. If you disagree, watch El Camino. He even tells his own parents that no-one is to blame but himself. But he certainly is helpless and alone.

  • After finding out that Jesse was still making meth, he planned on killing all of them, but after he saw the treatment Jesse was receiving he decided to save him. Walter planned on killing everyone in the room including himself and Jesse

  • Fuckth eChineseGovt says:

    Sorry, but every time I hear somebody say that Gus and Mike had respect for Walt I always say it’s fucking bullshit.

  • While most of the characters are shown as they break bad, we see Jesse's attempt to fight that urge to break bad. For five seasons everything thrown at Jesse would make many people break bad and just give in to crime and apathy. Instead, Jesse's breaking point comes off-screen once, SPOILER!!!

    , the neo-nazis capture and put him in a cage for 5 freaking years! When he comes out, it's definitive that Jesse kinda broke, but he also makes the reasonable decision to isolate himself from the rest of civilization.

  • What a beautiful analysis and commentary! Agree with almost everything. But i do believe walter loved jesse. Walter became hisenberg because he was an underachiever for most part of his life. He got carried away by pride and wanted to seize the opportunity of doing justice to his true potential. This desire kinda ruined him and in the process screwed his relationship with everyone in his life and died alone. He was a reluctant gambler, risk taker who did not know when to stop pushing his luck or a good run. Power corrupted him. When this power and ego trip faded he comes to his senses and realizes his true feelings. All the principal characters in breaking bad are grey! Nicest of them is i think is MIKE – THIS MAN IS ALWAYS IN CONTROL of his actions.

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