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While we wish all shows on television could be as dense and thought-out as Breaking Bad was, that kind of quality control is more of the exception than the rule. (Thankfully, creator Vince Gilligan’s follow-up drama Better Call Saul is able to go even deeper with it.) Sometimes the details are such a natural part of the process that they can fly over anyone’s head, even that of Gilligan himself, which was the case for a particular clothing choice for Jesse Pinkman near the end of Season 5.
In the picture above, which came from one of Breaking Bad’s best episodes, Jesse Plemons’ Todd is in the process of showing Walt and Jesse just how dedicated he is to their cause. The effort ends with him shooting an innocent passerby child, so it goes without saying how striking a scene it was. Flash-forward to the penultimate episode of the series, when Jesse is being held hostage by Todd and his neo-Nazi uncle. Not long after he was put is his cage, Jesse is seen wearing the same shirt Todd was wearing in the train robbery scene.
And it’s this amazingly logical choice from costume designer Jennifer L. Bryan that blew Vince Gilligan’s mind when he found out. Here’s how he put it on the most recent episode of the podcast Better Call Saul Insider.
It’s so fucking brilliant. I had to be told that because I didn’t have that great an eye for it. I should’ve noticed it, but as soon as I heard, the hair stood up on the back of my neck. I said, ‘That is so perfect.’ That’s the kind of shit that we’re proud of ourselves for coming up with the perfect detail in the writers room, and that was such an ironic thing that makes perfect sense.
As it’s explained, the concept behind Jesse’s clothing choice in that scene spawned from the writers wondering whether Jesse’s captors would allow him to change clothes or if they’d just keep him in the same garments on a daily basis. Realizing that the latter option would just lead to clothes rotting off of him, they opted for the occasional new outfit, which Gilligan said he thought would just come from K-Mart or something like that. But Bryan knew that this would be the perfect way to bring out the strange respect and admiration that Todd still felt for Jesse, despite their extreme role reversal in the meth-cooking game. Todd would definitely see fit to give Jesse some of his own clothes, and unsurprisingly ones that were probably still a part of his daily attire. What a guy, that Todd.
I love that the well of Breaking Bad tidbits will likely take years to dry up, and that we’ll likely have years of Better Call Saul to lead the charge after that. Now we can’t wait to see what Jesse will be wearing when he finally makes his cameo on Better Call Saul.