ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Breaking Bad: It All Came Down to Contracts!

As we predicted, the finale of Breaking Bad turned crucially on Walt's contract with Uncle Jack pursuant to which Uncle Jack was to kill Jesse Pinkman.  






Back when Walter White was still Heisenberg, he had an psychopathic employee Todd (a/k/a "Meth Damon").  Todd's Uncle Jack had done a few odd jobs for Walt, including killing all of Mike's "guys," a complicated task because they were all killed in various prisons during a two-minute span.  Earlier this season, Walt agreed that he would do one more cook for Uncle Jack's meth operation in exchange for Uncle Jack and his crew rubbing out Jesse Pinkman (played by Aaron Paul -- pictured).   

AaronPaulTIFFSept2012That agreement was modified after Uncle Jack killed Walt's brother-in-law Hank and unearthed Walt's $80 million stash of Benjies.  In exchange for a vague promise that Walt and Uncle Jack were "good," Walt was allowed to live and to keep $11 million.  He was excused from his obligation to do one more cook.  Apparently, with $69 million, Uncle Jack was ready to get out of the meth business.  But Walt still wanted to hold Uncle Jack to his contractual obligation to kill Jesse.

Todd was not ready to give up on cooking meth just yet, as he was hoping t0 play the ditsy Clyde to Lydia's inscrutable Bonnie.  As a result, Jesse was not killed.  He was forced to become the head chef in Uncle Jack's meth operation.  

And so, when Walt shows up at Uncle Jack's lair (which for some reason is still a hovel), and Uncle Jack is about to execute Walt, Walt brings up the fact that Uncle Jack is in breach of his agreement with Walt to kill Jesse.  Uncle Jack may be a lot of things -- a murderer, a drug kingpin, a cop-killer, a Nazi, and a smoker -- but he does not take kindly to allegations of breach of contract.

As a result, he demands that Jesse be dragged in so that Walt can see for himself that Jesse is no partner in Uncle Jack's Meth Shacks, LLC.  This distraction provides Walt with the opportunity to kill Uncle Jack and his gang to the delight of everyone in my basement (except the cats, who were oddly indifferent to the proceedings).  

Ordinarily, we would frown on such self-help for breach of contract and also suggest that an order of specific performance would have cured the breach.  But we like Jesse and were happy to see him get away.  


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