TVLine's Performer of the Week: Aaron Paul

Aaron Paul Breaking Bad Breakdown SceneA weekly feature in which we spotlight shining stars

THE PERFORMER | Aaron Paul

THE SHOW | Breaking Bad

THE EPISODE | “Confessions”

THE AIRDATE | Aug. 25, 2013

THE PERFORMANCE | Let’s get this straight right now: Jesse Pinkman is a punk. He’s a criminal with no real ties to civilized humanity, and he hawked a product that creates ruin in individual lives and chaos in the community at large. He’s a loser, a waste, a killer.

But add Aaron Paul, and this scourge of law-abiding society also becomes a tragically broken young man desperate for connection. On Sunday, as Jesse begged Walt to “just, for once, stop working me” at their desert rendezvous, Paul vibrated with the tension of his character’s grief and guilt. “Just tell me you don’t give a s—t about me and it’s either this,” he said, his voice raised and his eyes wet, “or you’ll kill me the same way you killed Mike.”

Jesse’s conflict was apparent in his portrayer’s every move. As Bryan Cranston’s Walt approached him, Paul’s wiry frame retreated as if readying itself for a fight, but his face began to buckle under the weight of everything that had happened in the past year. During the hug, Paul kept Jesse rigid for a beat, then wilted into gulping sobs against Walt’s chest. He played the moment as a man adrift seeking comfort anywhere he could — even against his better judgment.

Scenes later, after Jesse’s epiphany about Brock’s poisoning, Paul took Jesse’s rage at being bamboozled and funneled it into his frenetic attack on Walt’s house. He moved Jesse with purpose, issuing guttural cries as he marinated the Whites’ home in gasoline. We can’t have been the only ones shouting “Yeah, bitch!” as Paul spun his character so beautifully out of control now, can we?

HONORABLE MENTION | In the few times Jane Fonda has graced HBO’s The Newsroom, the actress has shown that her Leona Lansing is powerful, shrewd and aggressive – but who knew she was also so damn funny? Fonda didn’t show up until the final moments of Sunday’s episode, but her performance of antics both odd (the glee with which she infused the Atlantis Worldwide Media chief’s Daniel Craig tirade) and admirable (the seriousness with which she exhorted Charlie, Mac and Will to regain the public’s trust) made us chuckle and cheer. Viva la Leona!

What performance knocked your socks off this week?

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26 Comments
  1. Elly says:

    Aaron Paul- 2014 Emmy and/or Golden Globe winner for best supporting actor. Calling it now.

  2. Philip says:

    “Breaking Bad” should just win every week for “Performer of the Week” for the next 5 weeks!

  3. shuayb says:

    I’m glad you mentioned Jane Fonda. That was THE best part of the episode. I don’t like the Lansings esp Reese but this was just amazing. Its funny that last year she n Reese were trying to get rid off Will and this year its d opposite.

    • I thought she was great, but it just seemed very out of place for her character to be that on board with Will, Mac and Charlie gaining back the trust. You’re right, she WAS just trying to get them all out, and seemed hell bent on doing it, so why the sudden turn around?

    • Kvivik says:

      I’m waiting for them to find out that Reese started the whole Genoa ball rolling trying to get all of them fired. But he probably didn’t expect Leona’s reaction. Never underestimate trying to separate Mommy from her money.

  4. Mel says:

    Great choice! The acting on this show amazes me, and Aaron just blew me away on Sunday.

  5. CJ says:

    Aaron Paul is always dynamite, but he took it to another level this week. He has been so impressive as Jesse and I hope he is properly recognized for it come next awards season.

  6. Ron says:

    I don’t think anybody topped Aaron’s performance this week. Both powerful and heartbreaking at the same time. In 2014, I think Dean secured his Emmy nomination, but Aaron just stole the win from him with this performance. Every scene Aaron was in, his acting was at a 10! I’m not sure what this year’s Emmys hold, but come 2014, this episode is gonna cause Aaron’s mantle to house at least 3 statuettes. I honestly don’t see another supporting actor in a drama topping this performance in the next year.

  7. Remember when Aaron Paul was a contestant on The Price is Right and Bob Barker was the host back then? Saw it on YouTube and it was hilarious. :-)

  8. Fen says:

    Aaron Paul’s performance throughout each of Breaking Bad’s seasons has been stellar. The way he has evolved with the character is awesome. He just proved that he is a Emmy and Golden Globe worthy actor with his performance last week…it was riveting!

  9. Kat says:

    Aaron’s performance this week was second only to Bryan Cranston’s Crawl Space performance as far as performances I’ve ever seen on TV go. It was that good imo.

  10. Patrick Maloney says:

    Both great performances

  11. Patrick Maloney says:

    I would suggest a change, though. Make the honorable mention the entire cast of Newsroom because that episode allowed for a showcase of every single one, or at least most, of the members’ talents.

    • Matilda says:

      This. Emily Mortimer and Jeff Daniels are amazing. The rest of the cast is wonderful. And I love Jane Fonda and Marcia Gay Harden this season !

    • There are lots of great things on TV right, and most supported with a great cast. But there is something magical about the actors on Newsroom. I am blown away every week and the level of work brought to each episode. Will, Mac, Charlie… all of ‘em, right down to Neil, are easily becoming my favorite thing to watch on Sunday nights. Well, till Boardwalk Empire starts again I guess!

  12. Cate Amos says:

    Aaron Paul’s performance is one of the reasons I will be truly sad to see this show end. I can’t wait to see what he does next.

  13. Joey says:

    Aaron did great in last weekend’s episode. I’m sure he’ll get nominated again next year for the final episodes for next year’s Emmys.

  14. Jay says:

    It’s rare to see anything close to that kind of raw performance on TV, it was incredible.

  15. Katherine says:

    With only 5 episodes left, I get more and more excited for each one, and Aaron Paul’s work on the show is a big reason for that.

    You just know next week’s episode is going to be just as good, if not better. The writer is Sam Catlin (some of his previous work includes 4 Days Out, Half Measures, Crawl Space, and Hermanos)

    • Tony says:

      Same here and I also dread these final 5. You know we are gonna be in for some truly heartbreaking and jaw dropping stuff. Stuff we probably don’t want to happen, but know has been inevitable since this train ride began.

  16. Melanie says:

    Love both choices. I will be heartbroken when Breaking Bad bows. Love the Newsroom: whole cast. Marcia Gay Harden and Jane Fonda jump off the screen with their performances.

  17. Darla Sturtevant says:

    I love Aaron Paul, he continues to amaze me in so many ways..I hate to see Breaking Bad come to an end.

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