‘Breaking Bad’: Why Gale Boetticher’s Death Was a Turning Point in Walt and Jesse’s Relationship

Walter White and Jesse Pinkman have a complex relationship throughout the Emmy-award winning series Breaking Bad. When they begin their quest to make money, Jesse must teach Walt the ways of the drug world. It’s a funny twist on how the duo met with Jesse taking Walt’s chemistry class in high school. The teacher becomes the student and vice versa.

Jesse has a fraught relationship with his own father, who is disappointed that his son became a drug dealer, so Walt becomes a father figure and mentor to Jesse — at least at first. But then a series of events culminates in Walt forcing his partner to murder an innocent man.

Jesse shooting Gale Boetticher is a major turning point in Walt and Jesse’s relationship. After Gale’s murder, everything changes.

Who is Gale Boetticher on ‘Breaking Bad’?

Gale Boetticher
Gale Boetticher | Ursula Coyote/AMC

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Gale Boetticher is a chemist hired by drug kingpin Gus Fring to make superior quality crystal meth. With his nerdy, chemistry focused mind and his absolute devotion to secrecy, we see Gale being groomed to take over as Gus’s main meth manufacturer during Better Call Saul. But then Walter White comes along with a better product.

Recognizing that Walt’s product is superior to his own, Gale teams up with Walt under Gus’s supervision. But all along Walt wants Jesse to be his partner, even if he does respect Gale’s knowledge of chemistry and eagerness to learn Walt’s ways.

Eventually, Walt and Gus’s relationship sours and Walt realizes his boss is teaching Gale to make Walt’s meth so he can murder him. It’s a classic kill or be killed situation — so Walt enlists Jesse to help him take out Gale.

Jesse Pinkman kills Gale to save Walter White

During season 3 episode 13, “Full Measure,” Walt is being relentlessly followed by Gus’s henchman Victor, making it impossible for him to kill Gale and preserve his own life. Walt knows that the decision has been made to eliminate him in favor of Gale and the only way to prevent that is by killing Gale. But he never gets the chance.

Meanwhile, Jesse is hiding from Gus at an abandoned arcade. Gus orders Mike to kill Walt, but before he does, Walt pretends that he’ll give up Jesse’s location if he can just place one phone call. Walt tells Jesse on the call that if he doesn’t drive to Gale’s house immediately and shoot him, Gus will have Mike kill Walt.

Jesse decides to save Walt. He arrives at Gale’s house and shoots him at the front door.

Jesse never recovers from killing Gale

Gale’s death isn’t the most gruesome or tragic on Breaking Bad, but it does represent a turning point in Jesse and Walt’s relationship. Prior to pulling the trigger, Jesse hadn’t killed anyone before.

And the death serves as the most extreme example of Walt manipulating Jesse into doing things that would later leave him guilt-ridden and broken. Even though he’s a drug dealer, Jesse still retains a conscience and feels bad about his wrongdoings. Walt forced Jesse to make an impossible choice, and in doing so, turned Jesse into a cold-blooded killer.

Walt’s manipulation of Jesse will continue throughout the rest of the series, causing Jesse to experience periods of self-hatred and depression. It all began with that single command to kill an innocent person which his protégé unfortunately followed.