Breaking Bad is still considered one of the greatest television shows of all time. Many ingredients made the show a masterpiece, one of which was the complex relationship between Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. Their relationship was beautiful, messy, and twisted. As a team, they worked well together, yet were also incredibly dysfunctional. Smart writing and impeccable performances by Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul made their relationship and all its nuances feel authentic.
To celebrate and reconcile the core relationship that held Breaking Bad together, it's the perfect opportunity to look at the best scenes shared by these characters.
10 A Deal Is Struck
The first scene between Walt and Jesse in the pilot episode is also one of their best. Walt confronts his old student after seeing him nearly busted by the DEA, but agrees to not turn Jesse in as long as he partners with Walt to make crystal meth. The scene does a great job highlighting the fundamental differences between Walt and Jesse while also showing the spark between them, and a hint that this crazy scheme might actually work.
As Walt says, Jesse knows the business, and he knows the chemistry. The audience also gets their first glimpse of Walt's manipulative side as he essentially blackmails Jesse into working with him. It's the foundation of all the craziness that ensues.
9 "Yeah, science!"
When Walt promises Tuco an exorbitant amount of product in the final episode of season 1, Jesse is understandably anxious about how they're going to deliver on the promise. Walt's detailed explanation of how they'll produce so much product in such a short period of time is delightfully juxtaposed with Jesse's surprised, joyous exclamation of "Yeah, science!"
The scene gets even better when Jesse doesn't believe he can get everything they need to deliver on their promise and Walt tries to motivate him with a speech that begins with "Today is the first day of the rest of your life." Walt trying to be a father figure of sorts to Jesse while also doing business with him has always been a fascinating thing to watch.
8 Making A New Battery
The season 2 episode "4 Days Out" is one of Breaking Bad's most important installments. It provides an essential turning point in Walt and Jesse's relationship and in Walt's entire outlook. The best scene comes when Walt is at his lowest point and Jesse provides the spark that will save them. Stuck in the middle of nowhere with a dead battery in the RV and all options seemingly exhausted, Walt is ready to give up.
It's Jesse who suggests they use what they have to build a new battery, with Walt figuring out what they can use to make it a reality as the two of them work together. The whole experience creates a deeper, more authentic bond between them, one forged by two people who don't think they have much time left together, though of course, the game-changing news at the end of the episode changes that.
7 "I am not turning down the money. I am turning down you."
When Walt tries to get Jesse to team up with him again in the season 3 episode "One Minute", the emotion in Jesse's voice is palpable and heartbreaking, especially in light of everything Jesse lost. Walt has done a lot for Jesse, but Jesse recognizes the toxicity in their relationship and what it has cost him. No amount of money can fix that.
He is adamant in his refusal, making it clear that he's not turning down the money; he is turning down Walt. Yet, the audience knows Jesse will go back to work with Walt, especially after Walt says Jesse's meth is just as good as his, thereby adding an extra sense of existential dread to the scene.
6 The Perfect Moment
"Fly" is one of the least popular Breaking Bad episodes, yet it contains a phenomenal moment between Walt and Jesse. At one point inside the lab--and when he's not chasing the fly--Walt reflects on what would've been the perfect moment to kill himself, a time after Holly was born but before Skyler knew the truth, a time when his family felt whole and things still made sense.
He realizes the ideal moment passed the same night Jesse's girlfriend Jane died. Walt shares that he went to a bar that night and shared a drink with a man he later learned was Jane's father Donald Margolis. Walt wishing he could've killed himself at the perfect moment is gut-wrenching, as is Jesse desperately wanting to hear what Walt and Donald talked about, hoping to hear something that will make sense of the tragedy. Wondering if Walt will reveal his role in Jane's death makes the scene even more intense as well.
The penultimate episode of season 3 saw Jesse going to confront the dealers responsible for the death of young Tomás. Before the dealers can take out Jesse, Walt's car bursts onto the scene. He mows down one of the dealers, gets out of the car to kill the other one, then looks up at Jesse and says, "Run."
Despite all the conflict that unfolded between Walt and Jesse that season, Walt showed he would still risk everything to help his partner. Walt was in a prime position with Gus at the time and without saving Jesse's life, things could've stayed that way. Instead, he chose Jesse. No matter how far Walt strayed, in the end he would always come back for Jesse.
There are plenty of intense and heartbreaking moments between Walt and Jesse. That made any positive or triumphant scene between them feel particularly rewarding. At the end of the day, Walt and Jesse made an effective team that got the job done.
Putting their brains together and working with Mike and Joe on the magnets scheme perfectly embodies all those elements. Everyone involved is surprised and pleased that it works, which is often the case with Walt and Jesse's ideas. It's perfectly punctuated by the thrill in Jesse's voices as he triumphantly raises his arms and shouts, "Magnets!"
3 The Empire Business
Walt often tried to reason with Jesse and sway him through logic. Knowing this, Jesse tries to reason with Walt in the season 5 episode "The Empire Business" so Walt will walk away from their drug empire. Jesse's approach backfires as Walt reveals more about what really happened at Gray Matter Technologies with Elliot and Gretchen Schwartz.
Their betrayal and Walt's failure to reach his potential level of success has not only haunted him but also been one of the driving forces behind his involvement in the drug business all along. The deep-seated need to make up for what he lost and prove himself worthy and succeed will always be stronger than Jesse's appeal to logic.
2 Walt's Sacrifice
Walt righted as many wrongs as he could in the series finale. His betrayal of Jesse was arguably his most egregious wrong, though. It's therefore fitting that saving Jesse and slaying his captors is Walt's final act. Like much of their relationship, their final scene together is fraught with tension and a range of complex emotions.
What's different is that Walt finally gives ownership to Jesse and lets him make his own choice in this scene. Their relationship was always the heart of the show, which makes it the perfect way for Jesse to gain the freedom he deserved and the perfect way to culminate Walt's story.
1 "You're really lucky."
Arguably the best scene in El Camino, the film treated fans to a never-before-seen flashback from season 2. The diner scene encapsulated the crux of Walt and Jesse's relationship, especially at that earlier stage in their dynamic. Walt tries to be a father figure in this scene, but it's not quite landing.
Like much of their relationship, it's both beautiful and twisted when Walt tells Jesse he's really lucky. The scene brilliantly juxtaposes the Jesse of season 2 with the wiser Jesse of El Camino and the person who shaped him most.