Lately, I’ve been thinking about man’s bent toward self-destruction. Real positive stuff, I know. Questions like why is it that some people just can’t say no? Why is it that some people give in to the very things that are killing them, day after day? Why do I do the same?
The thought stems from Breaking Bad. My wife and I recently started the series though we are incredibly behind—I think we started the first season as the fifth was about to air. Really it’s a shame because I could write a million things about the show but since we just barely made it into the third season, there’s nothing I can really write that hasn’t been said before or that isn’t completely outdated. No one wants to hear commentary about the second season of a show that aired three years ago. It’s like trying to submit a movie review about Schindler’s List. But I will attempt nonetheless. Even though I may say something about how profound or confusing a moment in some episode was and everyone else is going to say, “Duh, you idiot, haven’t you seen the last season?”
As I see it there are three faces of self-destruction throughout the series. Personified, as they should be, by the two main characters themselves and other minor characters.
Jesses version of self-destruction is a passive destruction. Jesse, so far, has always been the passive recipient of what happens to him, he never makes anything happen on his own, it is always in response to what someone else does to him. At the core, Jesse is a good soul with a compassionate heart, though he is a very misguided and young individual. How he deals with life as it happens to him is to check out. He gets high in response to the events around him. This is the only real action he takes, an action that is and has been his downfall. Others do not trust him for his drug use. His parents despise him for giving him so many second chances without any success, and are frustrated by his lack of ambition, his lies, and his inevitable return to using. Walt gets frustrated with Jesse for similar reasons, repeatedly denigrates him for being worthless, almost never paying Jesse a compliment through the entire series. Therefore, Jesse chooses self-destruction because he believes he will always be this way. In one episode he even remarks in reference to the business of meth, “It’s the only thing I’m good at.” He knows, perhaps subconsciously that either using or selling will land him in jail or dead in a ditch, but he has too little belief in himself to ever change, a belief reinforced by the fact that no one around him encourages or supports him to be a better person. Walt is Jesse’s only real role model. He is the only one pushing Jesse to do better, although ironically, the better is smarter and more efficient ways of peddling and producing meth.