The recent Netflix release of the Breaking Bad film, entitled El Camino, gives us a look into the aftermath of Jesse's tortured time in captivity with Jack, Todd, and his Neo-Nazi crime syndicate. A series of significant flashbacks, escapes, and other events showing Jesse's struggle to pick up the pieces in his life, lead into an epic conclusion where Pinkman goes full Wild West-style action hero.
But while El Camino showcases a reborn, liberated Jesse in prime badass form, there is no shortage of moments in Breaking Bad in which Pinkman shines as a truly awesome protagonist, rather than merely a sidekick to Walt, Mike, or Gus. With that said, let's look back on the epic 5-season run of Breaking Bad as we examine 10 of Jesse Pinkman's most badass moments in the show.
10 Taking The Fall For His Little Brother
This basic act of kindness by Jesse for his kid brother doesn't quite hold the significance or excitement of some of his more action-packed moments. Still, The season 1 episode, entitled "Cancer Man" is among the first times we really see some of Pinkman's humanity, beneath his tough guy and seemingly delinquent exterior.
The episode involves Jesse revisiting his family home and trying to reconnect, particularly with his younger brother, a bookworm who seems to get all the accolades. In an amusing twist, Jesse's confronted by his parents when they find a bag of pot, which we discover is actually being used by his brother. Jesse is pressured to leave, but before he does, his brother asks for the drugs back, as Jesse destroys it while informing him "it's skunk weed anyway."
9 Taking Charge Of The Cartel Meth Lab
It was only an episode before "Salud" that a frantic Jesse desperately asks Walter for help, after which the two get into a pretty brutal fistfight at Pinkman's house. At this point, we assume Jesse to be screwed, as he's forced to travel to Mexico and cook a quality batch of crystal meth from start to finish, while cartel cooks loom over him.
Yet, Pinkman not only steps up to the plate here, but he also asserts his dominance, claiming "I'm the guy your boss sent here to teach you how to do your job," after the men question his legitimacy. After making them clean the lab, he cranks out a batch that, while not as great as Walt's, still exceeds the level of the cartel. This is one of those classic fist-pumping moments where Jesse excels and conquers, much to the surprise of the viewer and those around him.
8 Buying His Parents' House
While much of the show focuses on a number of amusingly sly, calculated moves by Walt, this is an example of Jesse engaging in his own clever moment of triumph over those who have slighted him. In this case, it's his own parents that he looks to (at least indirectly) "get back at," as they've sent him out on the streets and pretty much disowned him.
Through the connections and manipulations set up by Saul, Jesse manages to buy his parents' (and his former) property by threatening to expose the home's history of harboring a meth lab, thus diminishing its value. Seeing his parents evacuate as they wait for the new owners - only to fight a smirking Jesse walking with the keys to the house - is one of the more satisfying payoffs in the show.
7 Turning The Tables On Tuco
This entry doesn't deal with clever manipulations or bouts of warmheartedness by Jesse. Rather, it's basically just straight-up chest-beating and assertion of his dominance physically. Still, in its own blatant way, it's equally effective in letting Pinkman's badassery shine through and coaxing the audience root for him.
After being treated like dirt by Tuco Salamanca - tossed in a trunk, beaten, and threatened with a gun - it's pretty delightful to see the tables turn the way they do. Jesse wallops a preoccupied Salamanca with a large rock and kicks him, while shouting his favorite word, "Bitch!"
6 Standing Up To Gus
Rather than honing in on one particular scene, this is a moment of strength that's reoccurring in a number of episodes during season 4. During these moments, Jesse reasserts that he intends to stay loyal to Walt, as Gus and Mike look to turn him away from Walt so that they can "deal with him" without trouble from Jesse.
These acts reestablish Jesse's defiant nature, in addition to further strengthening his sense of comradery with Walter. His quote, which is a warning to one of the most powerful drug kingpins in the Southwest that he's going to "have a problem" if something happens to White, is Jesse at his rebellious and reckless best.
5 Getting His Money From Spooge And His Wife
The episode, entitled "Peekaboo," adds a dimension to Pinkman's character, demonstrating his new sense of confidence and assertion, which coincides with his and Walt's rising drug business. After a couple of meth junkies hold up Jesse's friend and pusher Skinny Pete, Walt rather sternly tells him to "handle it."
While we had seen Pinkman try to take matters into his own hands before, he had often flaked out or messed up entirely - like collapsing a whole section of floor/bathtub when trying to dissolve a body, for instance. This is the first time we really see him successfully take the initiative on his own, and kick some ass while doing so, as he intimidates Spooge and his wife. While he gets his money through a roundabout means, it's "mission accomplished" nonetheless.
4 Ditching Badger's Cousin And Driving Off With The RV
Setting the stage here - Jesse had just recently been thrown out of his house and had seemingly sunk to an ultimate low, breaking into a repair yard and falling into a portapotty after trying to crash in his RV for the night.
Given these circumstances, and the fact that Badger's cousin Clovis was pretty close to pawning the vehicle, seeing Jesse plow through the gate as he drives off makes for a fun action scene and a satisfying moment for fans of Pinkman. It's also a neat bit of foreshadowing for an even more badass scene involving an escape by Jesse far later in Breaking Bad.
3 Dealing With Scary Skell And Getting The Batch Of Meth
First of all, no, we are not making up this cheeky nickname for the paranoid meth junkie Jesse confronts during the episode fittingly called "Cornered." It is, in fact, the name given by the showrunners - we were amused when we found out too. In this intense episode, Mike and Jesse set out to take care of a few errands for Gus and his business - one of which involves dealing with a couple of whacked-out druggies and retrieving their stolen batch of methamphetamine.
While Mike suggests "waiting them out," Jesse decides to get creative, convincing Skell's friend Tucker to dig a hole, while he carefully and delicately deals with Skell himself. It's another cool moment where we get a sense Pinkman "growing up" and stepping up to the plate in brave, cunning fashion.
2 Saving Mike And Gus From The Cartel
In perhaps the coolest action-hero moment for Jesse, we see him take charge of a pretty intense situation in which Gus and Mike have just poisoned much of the cartel. The ringleaders of this plot are basically down for the count at this point, as Mike has been shot and Gus is struggling to regroup from the remnants of the poison he had regurgitated.
Lucky for Jesse, he manages to find a car with its keys, and, literally carrying the two men out, he tosses them into the car and high-tails it out of there. It really doesn't get much more badass for Jesse; a guy who basically started in season 1 as a delinquent with little influence or direction in life.
1 Killing Todd And Escaping Jack's Hideout
This memorable escape scene, which literally closes out the entire action-packed odyssey of Breaking Bad, is both thrilling and satisfying to watch. The showrunners have spent several episodes building up to this relieving and exciting payoff, which sees Pinkman, with the help of Walt, joining forces one last time and overcoming the Neo-Nazi gang.
Despite Jesse being held in captivity for quite a long time, he musters the strength to use his own handcuffs to strangle Todd to death. This is followed by the liberated man getting into Todd's car and smashing right through the gates of the hideout. Jesse's scream of triumph directly following this action-packed romp really says it all. This is certainly an epic way to lead into the recently released El Camino!