LIKE YOU NEVER WANTED A SUPERPOWER
An insightful conversation about Jesse’s superhero drawings shines new light on his personality (We already know he’s got some mad skills). As Jane mentions, you can see Jesse in all of the drawings: “Wonder what a shrink would say if he saw them.”. At first it seems coincidental or at best a general description of Jesse’s mindset, which is true by the way, but then again throughout the series there are occasions where his behavior almost fits certain superpowers (Jesse and Walt fill the superhero/villain roles of the show, each with their own specific abilities, as discussed before). Let’s go over the drawings:
- Hoverman: He can surf, skate, glide, because he’s got a six feet cushion of air under his feet. The description vaguely brings Jesse’s addiction to mind, which is a way for him to distance himself from the troubles and repress his guilt; an escapement to glide over responsibilities and evade danger. He tends to smoke meth (or other substances) before doing something terrible, like shooting Gale, or when deeply hurt (as in this episode). In “Mandala” there’s a great sequence which basically shows Jesse getting high after experiencing heroin for the first time, as if there’s a ‘six feet cushion of air beneath him’, lifting him upwards. Then again, Hoverman brings us back to his easygoing, partly reckless outlaw attitude in the first season, an example of which being when we learn that he’s spent most of Walt’s savings in a strip club (3.05). That attitude always landed him in trouble, and is arguably the main reason his parents, unfairly though, didn’t want to have him around in the first place.
- Kanga-Man: Half man, half kangaroo who along with his sidekick joey, fights crime. The relevance seems far-fetched but the fact that he’s basically got a kid as his sidekick makes it all the more curious. We’ve talked about how Jesse is emotionally connects with kids and how they always tragically end up getting hurt through his business with Walt. It seems Kanga-Man comes from Jesse’s need to make up for his difficult upbringing, his inherent kindness towards children who perhaps remind him of his little brother or his own childhood and the lost innocence he longs for (Remember Spooge’s kid?). Jesse’s drug problem is a product of the way his parents have treated him as the ‘unworthy’ child, revoking their responsibilities and simply ignoring his existence. In that sense, Jesse’s another “product of experimentation” or rather extremely-disciplinary cultivation, like Kanga-Man. So Jesse too feels protective of his sidekicks like Kanga-Man, who’s “definitely” a dude that also happens to have a pouch.
- Then there’s Backwardo/Rewindo: Jane asks if this guy can time travel, but Jesse corrects her: “He just walks backwards.” – Now this one perhaps resembles Jesse more than the others, on the surface and conceptually. It’s a bit confusing what it is that this guy makes go in reverse, everything or simply himself? Either way, both these possible superpowers fit Jesse’s character as there have been occasions where he had wished he could have gone back in time and correct his mistakes but also ones where he’d basically retraced his steps down the same path and would make the same bad decisions. An example of the former is Gale’s murder; If he could have turned back time, or more specifically rewound the course events, would he have made the same choices, or run away instead?
- Altering the course of events is one of the major themes in “Fly”, in which Walt retraces his steps since that fateful night when Jane died and concludes that if he had just lived up to the moment at home watching the elephants (in the room!) documentary it would have been perfect. Rewindo stands for Jesse’s regret and his wish to relive the events and make better choices. On the other hand, Backwardo could hint at how he seems to repeat the same mistakes, namely with kids being constantly victimized directly/indirectly through their actions, or later on, in trusting Heisenberg . Jesse adds: “He [walks backwards] like really fast – say someone’s coming at him with a knife – he can just zip backwards away from him.” – This fits how Jesse always seems to evade imminent danger/death just in time; an example of which being the way he saves himself, Mike and Gus by shooting Joaquin while escaping the cartel hacienda (4.10).
- Finally, Jane as Apology Girl: Although their love is a genuine one, at times she sort of manipulates Jesse, like with getting his share from Walt: “I’m your partner…” (2.12) or here, as she lies about the reason behind ignoring him: “I was helping you out, protecting you.” – Every time Donald intervenes, we see a different side of Jane; one that’s no longer the confident, witty and fun-to-hang-out-with girl next door type, but a desperate individual who ignores her drug problem and manipulates Jesse just so she could escape Donald’s watch. The way she pretends she doesn’t know Jesse intimately in front of her father and the following cold line: “Who’s ‘you and me’?” resembles how Walt keeps Jesse out of the circle in 5.08: “Who’s we?! There is no ‘we’, Jesse, I’m the only vote left!” – She even makes it all about Jesse’s addiction, like Walt always does:“You think I’m gonna be all like: Dad! Meet the stoner guy who lives next door, and by the way, I’m sleeping with him?!” Of course in the end she pulls a ‘Rewindo’ and apologizes to him.
- Speaking of these comic book characters, you should definitely check out the awesomely crafted and surprisingly relevant webisode “Team science“, if you haven’t already:
- We’ve talked about how Jesse’s bed is thematically incorporated with Jane’s death. This time there’s a possible hint towards her death which again fits the bed/sleep motif: Jesse: “You weren’t supposed to wake up” – Jane: “Ever?”
Next: The Spectrum…