Breaking Bad’s Jesse Pinkman: A Retrospective

Tonight AMC will premiere the first of the last eight episodes of Breaking Bad. There’s the quintessential saying when a fan favorite show meets its inevitable demise, is that all good things must come to an end. Before we do that, let’s start at the beginning to discuss the evolution of our favorite meth dealer, Jesse Pinkman. While Slate has made a pretty good argument on why Skyler White is the best character on television right now, Jesse Pinkman has the most growth throughout the show’s five season run.

Earlier in the series, creator Vince Gilligan revealed that Pinkman was supposed to die at the end of the first season. Essentially he was supposed to be just a bullet point in Walter White’s story of chemistry teacher who broke bad. By the end of the season, Aaron Paul’s Pinkman proved to be indispensable. To Gilligan’s surprise, not only did people take an immediate interest in Jesse, who at one point was nothing more than a one-dimensional squirrely meth dealer to Walter White’s brilliance, but people truly empathized with the character. For many, Jesse’s own insecurities was a mirror for many fans of the show.

Throughout the first two seasons we get a glimpse of the underbelly of who Jesse Pinkman really is. He’s not just a meth dealer with a crest kid smile. The veneer behind his funny one-liners, and baggy pants, runs past his own stereotype. So much that one can argue that before Walter was puppeting Jesse, most of the series is about his mentorship with Jesse, and his necessity to make his former high school student fully realize his potential beyond the drug world.

People wanted Jesse to succeed past what he thought were his own limitations. We saw that progression emotionally and physically (the baggy pants look was ditched for tighter fitting clothes in later seasons). His evolution ran deep as Jesse found himself in his first adult relationship with sober living Jane, and his mentoring of a boy he finds in a junkie couple’s home, proved to be a glimpse of his heart and empathy towards others. In what is probably the most significant moment of his character’s history, earlier in season five we saw Jesse defy Walter White “the drug lord” when he walked away from the fully transformed Heisenberg persona and the world he was starting to fight against.

Although he will always be one hell of a comic relief in an otherwise dark show, Jesse Pinkman is perhaps the humanistic connection we all needed to be sucked into the undertow of a simple man who decided to break bad.

Here’s our favorite Jesse Pinkman moments:

1. The ” yo bitch” compilation

Not only is Jesse Pinkman someone we can root for, but he’s someone we can also laugh with. Here’s a compilation of his most popular catch phrases:

2. Jesse’s relationship with Jane (as told through the music of Coldplay – Chris Martin’s voice never hurts.)

3. Jesse confronts Walter:
For us this is the beginning of the end of Jesse’s tolerance with the path he’s led.

4. Jesse Pinkman’s speech during treatment:
Jesse realizes just how much potential he’s been squandering away because he’s an addict.

5. Jesse Pinkman takes accountability for his actions and we get to see the amount of guilt he has for his journey on the show.

Catch the first episode of the final eight of Breaking Bad tonight on AMC at 9 PM.

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