Is It Okay to Root for 'Breaking Bad's Todd?

Throughout Season 5 of Breaking Bad , two things have been abundantly clear: Todd is not okay and Jesse Pinkman is still the heart of the series. Apparently, Vince Gilligan's AMC series hasn't made enough of an effort to drive those points home though, because there are some folks out there who think Todd is the hero of this drugland tale, and that Jesse deserves to die. Enter the following posts on a Breaking Bad Reddit thread, in which the poster claims that Todd should be the last one standing: "I absolutely love Todd. He's my favourite character, and other than Walt, the only character I'm really rooting for."

This started a series of pro-Todd comments that are worth reading, including the part in which the original commenter writes, "I root for [Todd] because I like his polite mannerisms and pragmatic, calculated behaviour, and while this won't bode well in this subreddit, I kind of appreciated his attitude towards Jesse." The user also makes the case that Jesse "used to be funny which made him likable, but now he's just a broken silhouette of himself and is always crying and being irrational."

"I find myself not hating Todd . As ruthless as his actions are, the way he is able to remain level headed is a characteristic I like," says one commenter. He later adds a theory about the series end: "Todd was getting an ice cream like the adorable child he is, and when he enters the complex he sees Jesse pointing a gun at Walt and pops him in the head. Then shoots Walter when he tries to kill Todd, and Todd just shrugs as he eats the rest of his ice cream."

The knee-jerk reaction to these wild claims is to discredit them. After all, they're just silly comments on some subreddit, right? But then you have the folks who still see Walt as a man trying to help his family, even though everything he's done has put them in jeopardy. There are the people who've hated Skyler for years because she continually stood up against Walt after he'd committed spousal rape, stored millions of dollars in illegal cash in their house, and operated as a drug dealer, bringing their entire existence into danger. These Reddit theories about Todd being someone to root for, while Jesse is rendered an emotional lunatic fit right into the history of Breaking Bad fans finding their own, and often disturbing, interpretations of the series' events.

But there are many ways to look at Breaking Bad. There are no clear losers or winners; no heroes and villains. There are just people making decisions that affect their lives for better or worse, and all of these people have reasons for their actions. It's up to the audience to judge and interpret those reasons. Todd, however, is an interesting case because he's seemingly so sweet on the outside, yet on the inside, he holds the capacity to beat Jesse to a pulp and murder the woman Jesse loves right before his eyes. This is not someone to root for, unless...


... and as Jesse Plemons' (Todd) mom, you have a hard time distinguishing between your son and the guy your son plays on TV. Of course, you'd see his rational decisions as the best possible options. Of course you'd think, well, he made sure that Jesse kid didn't die and he didn't kill Skyler, so he's still okay! And of course, you wouldn't root for Todd to die, because it would be surreal to watch your son get shot on television.

Still, that's a pretty big bundle of "ifs."


"[Jesse] used to be funny which made him likable ... We're supposed to pity him, but instead of linger on broken and weak, I'd rather him die or just snap into ragemode," says one of these Reddit commenters. Sure, Jesse did used to be more fun. He did used to say "Bitch!" a lot more and make us laugh, but then these terrible things happened because of Walter White, a.k.a. the point of the entire show, and now he's — as any human in his situation would be — broken. But yes, please tell us how much of a weakling he is.

Of course, this dude has one point: Funny people are super likable.


Pro-Todd Redditors have called Todd both "adorable" and "friendly." Here's the thing: Sure, Todd is a young blonde guy with a sideways smile and the gait of a bounding golden retriever. Sure, he calls Skyler "ma'am" when he's threatening her baby girl. And yeah, he gave Jesse ice cream in a bucket that one time (you know, right before he shot Andrea and broke Jesse's spirit completely). Todd's moments of goofy amiability are not there to confuse you. They're not there to make you like him. If anything, they're there to make him a more interesting character, and one whose capabilities for violence and wrongdoing are completely obscured by his seemingly polite exterior. So if by "adorable" you actually mean "wildly fascinating," then sure, he's adorable.


Remember when Walt watched Jane die because it solved the problem she presented to his business? Remember when he poisoned a little kid for the same reason? But the whole time, Walt had a code that kept him from harming his family members who got in the way, like Hank and Jesse.

Now, remember when Todd shot a little kid because he got in the way? And then killed Andrea to keep Jesse from getting in his own way? But the whole time, Todd refuses to kill people who he admires, like Jesse and Skyler, who is basically an extension of Walt to him. Does any of this look slightly familiar?

The difference is that we can sympathize, on some level, with Walt because we know him. We know where he came from and why he thinks he entered the meth business. Todd, however, is an enigma — a product of an environment we've only seen a slice of (his white supremacist uncle). He's not the same as Walt, but he identifies a sort of similarity in his meth mentor: calculated, rational decisions. Todd should serve as someone who helps reflect Walt's flaws, and possibly a walking human tragedy. A hero, however, he is not.


Look, I understand being confused by Todd. That's why Todd is a great character (though not, I repeat, a heroic or sympathetic one). But letting your confusion about Todd turn you against Jesse, the one true North other than perhaps Baby Holly and Walt Jr., is insane. Rooting against Jesse because his heavy emotions are bumming you out and his actions no longer feel like those of a Grand Theft Auto character is not okay. This series is not a Spike TV show about people being badass. It's a series about humans thrust into a very unforgiving reality. If your viewpoint is that Jesse is boring in his emotional distress or a wimp, I fear that, in fact, you are not okay and you do not deserve Jesse Pinkman.

Image: AMC