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What was the significance of these details from Breaking Bad?
February 3, 2014 10:51 AM   Subscribe

What was the significance of these details from Breaking Bad, season 3 (includes spoilers)?

Re-watching BB and had some (probably obvious) questions -

1) When Jesse was in the hospital recovering from Hank's beatdown, he tells Walt every loss in his life was Walt's fault and he wanted nothing more to do with him. Almost immediately thereafter Jesse calls and says he's ready to partner. Why did he change his mind so quickly?

2) There's a scene where a dozen Mexicans are crawling on the ground, making their way to a shrine with a drawing of Walt -- was that a ritual? A real thing? Is there a name for that?

3) The twins drew a scythe in front of Walt's house. Of course that meant he was marked for death, but why draw it? Is that a ritualistic thing tied to question #2?

Thanks!
posted by critzer to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I forget the answer to #1.

#2 is a Day of the Dead ritual.

#3 is a great question, which I never thought about.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:55 AM on February 3


#2 is just basic pilgrimage.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:56 AM on February 3


Interesting. As you can see "Breaking Bad + crawling" had yielded nothing.
posted by critzer at 10:58 AM on February 3


The shrine they're crawling toward is a shrine to Santa Muerte, a folk saint who is now associated with the drug trade. The crawling and leaving a votive object (the picture) are fairly typical religious expressions; whether or not they have any specific association with Santa Muerte in life, I don't know.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:59 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]


There's a Breaking Bad wiki page, just google episode number or name...I have asked many similar questions and unfortunately exposed myself to many spoilers. Also there are Quora questions and of course a Reddit subreddit. Basically just google episode name and you're golden.
posted by bquarters at 11:02 AM on February 3


Why did he change his mind so quickly?

Keep the story going? To justify it, any excuse will do - it represents structure in his life, it's part of the father/son dynamic, he needs the money, he sees this as sticking it to the DEA - take your pick. (Been a while since I've seen this and can't recall the scene in question, so these are necessarily a bit flippant. If there's a more solid answer, I'm right behind you in wanting to know.)
posted by IndigoJones at 11:02 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]


Here's some more on Jesse's change of mind:

Jesse does a major 180 in the episode. In the hospital—Saul politely comparing his face to Rocky Balboa, Jesse finally spouts to Walt, ”I want nothing to do with you! Ever since I met you everything I’ve ever cared about is gone, ruined, turned to shit, dead! Ever since I joined up with the great Heisenberg. I have never been more alone!” But only minutes later, Jesse agrees to again become 50/50 partners. Was it the lure of $1.5 million or the father-figure affirmation of having Walt admit to him that “your meth is as good as mine?” Or was it Walt telling Jesse he’s not a monkey? The ego flip felt rushed, and the tireless litany Jesse dreams up for Hank’s demise felt empty—he’s letting off steam, sure—even though the scene gunned for nihilism.

Personally, it seems like Walt's approval is what changed his mind, given the relationship Jesse has with his own parents, but I agree with IndigoJones that sometimes characters just need to do what they need to do to get the story where it needs to go.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:07 AM on February 3 [2 favorites]


The hospital scene had something very significant, but I don't think Jesse was aware of it. When Walt and Saul leave his room, after his rant about being untouchable after the DEA beat him up, Saul indicates that Jesse is going to be killed because he's a dangerous and loose cannon. Walt, after this, suddenly starts demanding that Jesse work with him, he won't cook without Jesse, etc: to save his life.
posted by thelonius at 11:10 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]


An interesting analysis of the scythe and its significance (here, also tied to Santa Muerte):
In the third episode of Season 3, ‘I.F.T.’, a business associate, Mike, is leaving Walt’s home. As Mike drives away he passes over a large chalk drawing of a scythe in front of Walt’s house. Left by the Cousins, the scythe seems to inform Walt that he is being pursued. The scythe ties back in with Santa Muerte as she is said to always be carrying a scythe. What is radically clear about Walt’s demise, given the background on Santa Muerte, is some cult-worshipping murdering narcos are angling to be the ones who make it happen. That is what can be learned from the symbolism of a Santa Muerte shrine, and a chalk drawing of a scythe. Perhaps in American culture, these symbols could not be considered news icons but surely in Mexico, where Santa Muerte has been gaining a record number of followers within the past 10 years (Lomax), narco or otherwise, a report featuring Santa Muerte as a ‘stock photo’ to the words of a news anchor or journalist would conjure the meaning of death, acceptance, and drug culture.

posted by juliplease at 11:23 AM on February 3


Didn't read other replies.


1) When Jesse was in the hospital recovering from Hank's beatdown, he tells Walt every loss in his life was Walt's fault and he wanted nothing more to do with him. Almost immediately thereafter Jesse calls and says he's ready to partner. Why did he change his mind so quickly?

Actual reason? Fans loved the partnership and the writers weren't going to deprive them. Story reason? Jesse loved Walt. Was the father he never had. This is not the first abusive relationship to which the abused party felt irrationally drawn. And Walt, like many abusers, really did love Jesse in spite of his treatment. I.e. "it's complicated".


2) There's a scene where a dozen Mexicans are crawling on the ground, making their way to a shrine with a drawing of Walt -- was that a ritual? A real thing? Is there a name for that?

Not a real thing, specifically, but definitely a representation of a bona fide streak of really blazing sense of ferver in the faith of many Mexicans. It's one reason they're rapidly converting to the more hell-fire, spirited traditions like Baptism and Pentecostalism, and rejecting more staid Catholicism. In the story, this served to explain that the twins weren't just bad guys, they're bad guys with some really extreme dedication/devotion/huevos. It makes them scarier.


3) The twins drew a scythe in front of Walt's house. Of course that meant he was marked for death, but why draw it? Is that a ritualistic thing tied to question #2?

Per your last question, and my last answer, the twins aren't just hired-gun hit men. They've got a deeper fervor driving them. This is just another indication than that. And it makes them scarier.
posted by Quisp Lover at 11:36 AM on February 3


1) Jesse changes his mind because Walt wants him to. Walt's skill at manipulating Jesse is much, much stronger than Jesse's resolve to be done with Walt. Jesse is conflicted and vulnerable, and Walt is a strong, driven, powerful, and skilled manipulator. Walt is a little bit more in control of Jesse's mind than Jesse is.
posted by Corvid at 11:49 AM on February 3 [3 favorites]


1) When Jesse was in the hospital recovering from Hank's beatdown, he tells Walt every loss in his life was Walt's fault and he wanted nothing more to do with him. Almost immediately thereafter Jesse calls and says he's ready to partner. Why did he change his mind so quickly?

Walt stressed in that scene that rather than replace Gale as an assistant, Jesse would be a 50/50 partner. He also, after Jesse told him off, said that Jesse's meth was every bit as good as his own. Jesse thought that this was his chance to become an equal to his mentor, rather than just his "monkey." When he calls Walt he emphasizes that they are to be partners.

At least, that's what Jesse tells himself. Others have noted the abuser/victim dynamic. Whatever Jesse may say or however much he may lash out, he is always drawn back to Walt. Walt knows this and uses it to his advantage.
posted by payoto at 11:52 AM on February 3 [4 favorites]


My sister lives in Mexico City and claims the Santa Muerte scene is based on reality, but that "they don't really crawl like that." I guess there is kneeling and crawling involved, though.
posted by BabeTheBlueOX at 12:21 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]


I'd say the reason Jesse changes his mind, as presented, is because Walt gives him a crumb of affirmation about his meth being good (surrogate father, etc).

More broadly, in Breaking Bad things happen as they must for the story to work; it's a wonderful character piece, and one of the truly great shows, but its plotting often teeters riiiight on the edge of contrivance.
posted by Sebmojo at 12:25 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]


Wasn't the shrine also dedicated to Jesús Malverde? Or am I getting confused between the village crawling and the nano-plot involving Hank and Gomez fooling around with a Malverde figure?
posted by threeants at 6:13 PM on February 3


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