Directed by Peter Medak | Written by J. Roberts & Vince Gilligan | 47 min
9.1 / 10
Ever since his introduction in the pilot episode, Jesse Pinkman has acted as Breaking Bad’s unlikely moral compass. Even though he’s a crystal meth junkie who may or may not be implicated in several murders, he’s been a welcome source of occasional compassion. You might even say that Jesse Pinkman is the heart and soul of Breaking Bad.
In the first scene of “Peekaboo,” Jesse watches as a bug crawls across the sidewalk. Instead of crushing it, he lets the insect scutter across his hand before setting it on its way. No one else is around — just the two carbon-based life forms. It’s not often you see a drug dealer empathizing with a beetle.
Yet in true Breaking Bad fashion, someone else is always there to squash the metaphorical beetle before you even have time to think.
Last episode, Skinny Pete was robbed by two meth-heads (descriptfully listed as “Spooge” and “Spooge’s woman” in the credits). Walt handed Jesse a gun and told him to “handle it.” But we know that, unlike Walt, Jesse’s not a killer. A job that probably would’ve taken Tuco ten seconds to complete ends up taking Jesse ten hours.
First off, Jesse breaks into the addicts’ home to discover that — despite everything — the crackheads somehow raised a kid. And because the crackheads aren’t home, Jesse takes it upon himself to babysit until they come back, keeping the child occupied by making sandwiches and playing the titular “Peekaboo.”
It’s heartwarming to watch yet harrowing to comprehend.
Not often does Breaking Bad engage in social commentary. In fact, “Peakaboo” might be the only time we get an extended look at the wide-ranging horrors of drug abuse. Even Jesse is an outsider to this type of pained existence. As a result, it feels like an episode of The Wire.
When Spooge and his woman finally return to their dilapidated “house,” Jesse has no intentions of murder, especially with a kid in the next room. Yet in true Breaking Bad fashion, Jesse’s the one who eventually ends up unconscious with a gun pointed in his face.
As Spooge and his woman try to break into an ATM machine that they somehow managed to steal (crackhead strength?), the couple get into a heated argument. It ends with Spooge’s head crushed under the ATM machine, while Spooge’s girl sits on the couch and shoots heroin.
Jesse frantically dials 9-1-1, tells the kid to cover his eyes (once again, “peekaboo”) and sets him outside as sirens approach in the distance. He’s done the right thing — the kid’s parents probably would’ve died soon anyways. Thanks to Jesse, they won’t be dragging their kid down with them.
Before Jesse leaves, he imparts some words of encouragement: “You have a good rest of your life, kid.”
Jesse’s storyline in “Peekaboo” is among the best material that actor Aaron Paul has worked with so far. He not only steals the episode; he steals the series. You might even forget that Walt makes an appearance.
But Walt’s storyline is perfectly contrasted with Jesse’s — while Jesse is dealing with two of the lowest life forms on the planet, Walt receives a surprise visit from Gretchen Schwartz, who exists on the opposite end of the spectrum. Gretchen drives a Bentley, makes expensive lunch reservations and became a millionaire by profiting off Walt’s scientific research.
As a result, Walt only has two words for her: “Fuck you.”
“Peekaboo” marks a turning point in Breaking Bad season two. From here on out, Walt and Jesse’s actions will have drastic consequences. Often, the ramifications are wide-ranging and unknowable.
Their crystal meth enterprise is causing junkies to die and planes to fall out of the sky. But every once in a while, a character like Jesse is able to change someone’s life for the better.
Here’s hoping that the kid grows up alright. It’s thanks to Jesse that he’ll even grow up at all.
-On Walt’s first day back at school, he teaches his class about Dr. Tracy Hall, who invented synthetic diamonds. Dr. Hall only made a pittance from his invention while General Electric made an incalculable profit. This sums up Walt’s feelings towards Gretchen, Elliot and Gray Matter Industries.
-Walt also teaches the class about carbon-based life forms — everything is made up of the same material. Whether it’s über-rich one-percenters, lowly crackheads or a beetle crawling on the street, we’re all one and the same.
-Gretchen finds out that Walt has been lying about where his cancer treatment money is coming from. Although she doesn’t reveal the truth to Skyler, she tells them that they are “no longer able to provide any more money.” To cover his tracks, Walt tells Skyler that Gray Matter is going bankrupt.
“How ‘bout you feed the kid a decent meal every now and then, huh? Give him a bath. Put some baby powder on him. Get him some decent TV to watch. I mean, what is that shit? Are you serious?”