I don’t have AMC so I had to wait a day to catch Breaking Bad on the train. There’s a guy that watches it on his 3rd generation iPad and every week I make sure to sit right behind him so that I can watch too. It’s great. I’m pretty good at reading lips so I catch the important stuff and this week’s episode was a doozy.
This season the DEA is closing in! Walt is pissed at Jesse and Jesse is pissed right back from older seasons. I hope this isn’t spoiling too much, but Walt (aka Heisenberg) is a high school meth teacher who stops teaching meth and starts cooking it for fun and cash when he gets lung cancer. He befriends a dropout kid who was probably super adorbs back in the day, but is now just a burnout-failure-junkie. Jesse loves this one special chick and her son Brock, so Walt figures he better poison the kid with Ricin (like really strong rice wine which is Chinese which is where the name Heisenberg originates). Walt realizes the kid eats Fruit Loops and he pours Ricin dust or whatever in the box. The kid’s mom probably just thinks it’s sugar dust or some harmless preservative like BHA used to keep the cereal fresh. She feeds him like ten bowls because kids love cereal. The last shot of the episode is this haunting shot of the kid just chewing his cereal. Then the credits flash.
That’s when it hit me. Jesse Pinkman is Calvin.
I know what you’re thinking. There are already a lot of cute little depictions of Walt and Jesse as Calvin and Hobbes all – over – the internet. Ok fine, but point to one TV series or movie that doesn’t have a Calvin and Hobbes send up. Joker/Batman, Doc/Marty, Blues Brothers, He-Man/Battlecat, Dr. Who, Han/Chewie, etc. This guy is on a mission to insert every pop culture duo he can into Calvin and Hobbes.
I’m talking about something more sinister. I allege and intend to prove that Vince Gilligan and the writers of Breaking Bad are, really, covertly writing the continuing adventures of Calvin. Furthermore, their success is built on the hard work and creativity of Bill Watterson’s famous comic. Let’s look at the facts.
1)Their Childhood Homes and Upbringing
Calvin is a child of the suburbs. He’s an only child and lives in a quiet house on a quiet street with a nice family.
I imagine if Calvin lived in the suburbs of Albuquerque (the one in New Mexico) his childhood home might have looked something like the Pinkman house.
That might not be the most damning piece of evidence you’ve ever seen, but it sets the stage. This is Aaron Hernandez, not OJ. I’m proving this fucker way beyond a reasonable doubt and I promise there is evidence aplenty just sit tight.
2) They Are Both Academically Challenged
Jesse develops, but he’s basically dumber than a box of rocks in the academic sense. Walt remembers Jesse basically failing his way through high school science. What kind of kid would fail his way through high school? Presumably one who failed his way through grade school. Calvin wowed teachers with things like his infamous “Bats Are Bugs” report.
Some of you may think that’s cute. A little boy with a giant imagination fails to excel in school because he always waits until the last minute to do his homework. Cute indeed. Community colleges across the nation, you know, the ones with names like Northwest Southeast University, salivate at the thought of kids like Calvin with parents who believe in them and are willing to waste some cash to prove it wasting a few years on campus before heading off to an illustrious career as a meth dealer or sign spinner at the Mattress Mart. At least, that’s the stereotype. Some of my smartest and most financially savvy friends went to community college and had jobs while I was long term unemployed with my degree from a ridiculous, money sucking, scam of a University. The point is: it’s not cute to be stupid.
Let’s just peek at some evidence from Pinkman’s high school career. Here’s a science test of Jesse’s that Walt graded.
Circumstantial, I know. But consider…
3) Their Wild Imaginations
Calvin talks to things that are not there. A lot. Constantly.
This is a fake comic strip, but Calvin very well may have been medicated in real life. ADHD was a craze in the 90’s where every parent who’s child was slightly unable to sit still for hours at a time and amuse themselves was given a powerful stimulant called Ritalin to help them focus. There’s this thing on the internet which suggests that Ritalin is correlated with drug use as an adult. It’s from a college in Utah which is pretty legit, however Walt – who teaches science – would probably caution us that you cannot infer causation from a simple correlation. But just maybe, Calvin (aka Jesse) was given Ritalin and it didn’t help his grades, but it predisposed him to drugs. The very drugs he does, sells, and makes with Walt.
Some folks prize Calvin’s imagination, but at some point he’s really just talking to the stuffed tiger. Look at that last frame. That’s reality. The reality is that the tiger isn’t really talking back. That’s some scary shit. You know who else imagines entire conversations with people who aren’t there? Jesse Pinkman. Here he gets super meta with his imaginations and imagines his friend Badger imagining an entire pie eating episode of Star Trek: The Original Series. This is likely because of the drugs, but maybe Jesse didn’t actually need drugs to get to this place. Maybe his whole life he’s been imaging tigers and pie-eating-spaceship shows that weren’t even there.
Calvin also imagines giant dinosaurs destroying cities and fancies himself a space explorer.
Jesse Pinkman had an imaginative childhood too. He drew all kinds of sci-fi creatures and adventures. That’s some pretty causal correlation if I do say so myself.
4) Their Cars
This was the final piece of the puzzle for me. Like when Gus Fring figured out that Walt Jr. and Sal were the same person. The discovery blew his mind and this will blow yours too!
Remember your first car? If you’re like me or Jesse Pinkman, your boringly white-bread dad or mom drove the lamest Oldsmobuick van-wagon. They did this out of some unforgivable sense of suburban, middle class frugality coupled with a desire to cater to the safety and comfort of their children over how they’d look driving around in the damn thing. Fine for them, but somehow the damn thing limped along well past 200,000 miles and survived until your 16th birthday.
That morning your dreams of receiving a really awesome car that you could turn into the ultimate shaggin wagon are shattered as your proud parents toss you to the keys to the Oldsmobuick. You make sure your smile is gracious and excited, but your insides burn hot with your tempered screams of, “Fuck you mom and dad! Thanks for fucking nothing.” They see you smile and assume that they have instilled their values in you. They assume you will appreciate the practicality of their gift and appreciate that, in their words, “you even have a car at all”. You recall all those times your dad reminisced about the badass Corvette he bought with the money he made working at the grocery store during summer vacation when he was 16 and think again, “fuck you Mom and Dad.”
Let’s take a look at Calvin’s dad’s sweet ride which he presumably handed down to his son one day.
Here’s Jesse Pinkman’s sweet ride.
Look familiar? Coincidence? Calvin and Hobbes was first published in 1985. Calvin’s dad had probably bought his car two or three years before the years covered by the strip. It’s like a 1983-ish model van wagon.
Jesse Pinkman was born in 1984 and his car is a 1984 Toyota Tercel. That’s a Japanese car. You think an American car from 1984 could last like that? I don’t. The Tercel is a very practical, four wheel drive station wagon that probably replaced the Corvette or Camaro or t-top Cutlass that Mr. Pinkman probably drove around picking up chicks in before inadvertently knocking one up and marrying her. The Tercel was Jesse’s dad giving in to a suburban death sentence. That very death sentence played out by Calvin’s dad in frame after frame.
Now, I know the show suggests that Jesse didn’t get his car as a hand-me-down. It suggests that his motivations were to remain inconspicuous. However, they’ve obviously taken some liberties with Calvin’s story by calling him “Jesse Pinkman” so maybe this is just another place where Vince Gilligan and the Breaking Bad team fiddled with the story so that the notoriously litigious and protective Bill Watterson wouldn’t sue them. (Bill was kind enough to give us permission to reprint all of his comics here just to help prove our point. Thanks Bill!) Also, Jesse has two fathers (Walt is a kind of surrogate father) and Walt advises him on this car purchase. Plus, Walt is Heisenberg and Heisenberg is Asian and Toyota is from Asia. I rest my case.