Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Real Reason Jesse Turned On Walt In Breaking Bad

Of all the famous partnerships in television history, perhaps none was quite so toxic as the one between high school chemistry teacher-turned-meth king pin Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and his pupil-turned-partner Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) on the classic AMC series Breaking Bad. Sure, Jesse had been in the meth business for some time before Walter decided to turn to cooking the drug in order to provide for his family after a terminal cancer diagnosis, and the kid could be a shameless manipulator, often returning to the home of his flustered parents whenever things got rough. But due to Walter's increasing ambition — which eventually gave way to outright ruthlessness — Jesse was forced into situations and acts that it's tough to imagine he would have been involved in otherwise, up to and including cold-blooded murder.

Jesse and Walter quarreled, broke off their partnership, and reunited more often than love struck teenagers — but there came a turning point during Breaking Bad's fifth season, a moment at which Jesse turned squarely against his mentor. The seeds for that moment were planted during Breaking Bad's fourth season. The pair's crooked lawyer Saul (Bob Odenkirk) had his employee Huell (Lavell Crawford) surreptitiously lift a special cigarette from Jesse's pack — one containing a small vial of the deadly poison ricin, which Walt had synthesized and given to Jesse to hold with the idea that he would use it to kill their employer, Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito), with whom they were on extremely thin ice. When Brock, the young son of Jesse's girlfriend Andrea (Emily Rios), fell mysteriously ill, Walter convinced Jesse that Gus had been behind the poisoning, going so far as to plant a fake vial of ricin in Jesse's robot vacuum cleaner to throw suspicion off himself. Saul, though, had occasion to direct Huell to perform his little trick again during season 5 — inadvertently causing the truth to come crashing down on Jesse like a ton of bricks.

Huell's pickpocket trick made Jesse realize the unthinkable

In season 5's eleventh episode, "Confessions," Walter convinces Jesse to use the services of Saul's "disappearer" to leave town for good, as Walter's DEA agent brother-in-law Hank (Dean Norris) has become wise to Walter's activities and the nature of his connection to Jesse. Jesse agrees, but insists on bringing along a small bag of marijuana. Saul, knowing that this will not fly with the disappearer, directs Huell to lift it, which he does. When Jesse discovers it missing while waiting for the van that will spirit him away to his new life, he puts two and two together.

Jesse bails on the disappearer and bursts into Saul's office in a rage. He proceeds to beat out of his former lawyer the confirmation that, indeed, Walter had directed Saul to have Huell lift the ricin cigarette from Jesse. Finally realizing what Walter was truly capable of — and the appalling extent to which he had been lied to and manipulated — Jesse simply snapped like a twig. His next stop was Walter's house, with two giant cans of gasoline in tow. Yet, before he could strike a match, he was stopped by Hank, who convinced him to help the DEA take down Walter once and for all.

Walter, of course, had poisoned Brock with the purpose of implicating Gus, hoping to give Jesse all the motivation he would need to murder the man. Walter had used the extract of a plant called Lily of the Valley, and not the ricin, but that detail ended up being surprisingly insignificant. In the end, Walter's ploy to turn Jesse against Gus — and Saul's unbelievably ill-timed re-deployment of Huell's pickpocket skills — would set into motion the events that would send Breaking Bad hurtling toward its epic, tragic finale.