Looking through the series, I feel like Jesse Pinkman’s character makes less and less sense as it went on and that he just existed to be antagonistic to Walter. The reasoning for their “partnership” feels so out of place even up to Season 3. By contrast, the other characters feel like their motivations make sense and there’s consistent narrative themes for them.
Walter’s arrogance and sociopathy pushes him into increasingly dangerous situations, Skylar had an affair to make Walter feel like an idiot because his lies throughout the early season made her feel like a moron and to take back some of the power in their relationship since he insisted on staying, Hank wanted prestige and to be a hero in the line of duty (which he ends-up getting by losing his life), Gus wanted revenge on every single person responsible for killing his brother (or adopted brother) right in front of him, and so on.
By contrast, Jesse Pinkman isn’t really a character, he’s a plot device just to give Walter a set of ethical dramas so Walter can make decisions. He does so many stupid things because he’s just a plot device. I can understand some dumb mistakes like what happened to his bathroom and him not understanding chemicals early on, but other things just strike me as stupid for the sake of plot. Driving Tuco to Walt’s home to kidnap him, leaving the keys in the ignition of the RV to leave Walt and himself stranded, driving to the RV when Hank was tailing him, deciding to steal some Blue Meth when cooking for Gus while simultaneously suddenly gaining a moral compass to complain about how they were using kids, and on and on.
Jesse seems to be given the idiot ball whenever he’s alone as I never found any of his erratic and impulsive behavior to be realistic. It’s as if the writers wanted to make him behave as stupid as possible to ensure Walt was in danger of getting caught and to create extra layers of tension. When feeling sad about a friend dying on the job, he decides to do meth nearby the “love of his life” who is on rehab. After what seemed to be a reasonable traumatic depression over Jane’s death, he suddenly gets over it to start banging the Hispanic chick at rehab so the plot can progress with him randomly gaining a moral compass over his new girlfriend losing a brother. After that, it becomes so much dumber that I’m not sure how to articulate it well, it’s like the showrunners wanted to show us how completely dumb Jesse Pinkman is. He starts throwing random house parties 24/7 (literally), let’s people steal from his house (he even sees one person steal his microwave and doesn’t care), and spreads graffiti all over his own home. The story has some small segment where it tries to make us believe that Jesse is completely stupid because he shot Gale dead, but I just didn’t find it believable. If it’s about his guilt over the airplane crash and Jane’s death, this isn’t expressed in the narrative either. When that trainwreck of idiocy is done, he jumps into pushing Walter to make money, only to want to quit once a kid is killed (which seems okay at first) but then he proceeds to do the dumbest possible thing and throw his illegal money out of the window. Throughout the entire previous season, he was whining and whining about evil Gus Fring keeping most of the wealth from the meth business, but suddenly when he’s making a comparable amount, then he decides to throw it away in the dumbest way to force Walter to take action. All the while whining about Walter not respecting him, after he literally shows time, after time, after time that he is never a person worth respecting for very long because he’s such an obnoxious, self-pitying, self-hating, and self-justifying idiot. When he’s being obnoxiously stupid, I just don’t find the character believable. It feels like a plot device. To be clear, Aaron Paul is a great actor and he really did well to try to sell this character, but the character of Jesse Pinkman seems way too unrealistic to me.
I kind of wonder if people see Jesse Pinkman as a joe everyman, well sorry to break it to people, but “joe everyman” doesn’t represent anything more than a plot device instead of a character with actual depth. Joe Everyman is just a sock puppet to justify an author’s laziness in not wanting to create a compelling character.
Also, this’ll probably be the most controversial part… but after re-watching the series without missing any episodes… I don’t feel bad for Jesse Pinkman getting tortured. When Walter and Jesse had that fight at Jesse’s house, Walter was right, Jesse would have ended-up in a trash bag if not for Walter and the ending of Breaking Bad proved it. I can take solace in the fact that at least Jesse Pinkman deserved every bit of torture that he received for his disgusting, wretched existence of being a worthless plot device character.
I may give a more thorough review if or when I rewatch the series, but everything I liked about it is also poisoned by the horrible existence of Jesse Pinkman, who frankly deserved to be tortured and killed for his sheer stupidity.