I don’t get why everyone makes Jesse out to be some moral saint while Walter is a madman. Don’t get me wrong, Jesse’s awesome, except for when he tells the drug counseler he ‘made him his bitch’, wtf??? And when he was with Jane and acted like he didn’t need Walter, that was about the most arrogant thing I’ve ever seen. Walter is the one who’s done 80% of the work.
Well, he sure ain’t a “moral saint.” But I think it’s more about the fact that while Walt has become more cold and calculating as the show progresses - and he won’t stop making excuses for his increasingly questionable actions - people are increasingly sympathetic towards Jesse because Jesse wears his heart on his sleeve, and he has a conscience that won’t let him brush off his sins so easily…
Now about your two points -
With Jane (since she came first), I think it’s less about Jesse actively trying to push Walt away, and more that he just likes being with his girlfriend… But- I’m assuming you’re talking about the very end when they try to strike out on their own… (New Zealand…honestly…) As far as I could see, that wasn’t a show of arrogance; it was really just Jesse and especially Jane wanting to escape from overbearing parental figures who judge and belittle them, call them “stupid junkies,” and treat them like children. Because they’re not children. (Not technically…) I mean, to be honest, Jesse would…probably do okay on his own. Keep in mind that he was never as ambitious as Walter was. Sure, he says he’s in it for the money, but all he really wants is to be independent and stick it to the man and march to the beat of his own (slightly off-kilter) drum. Which is exactly what he was doing before Walt came along. So, with his girl and $450,000 Jesse could have been pretty well off for a while (providing they didn’t waste it all on heroin) without feeling the overwhelming need to get back into the drug business. Because meth dealing wasn’t exactly his top career choice; it’s just kind of become his default - the only thing he thinks he’s really good at partly since Walter keeps dragging him back into the fray. Walt has made them both millionaires, sure, but that’s not what Jesse ever wanted. And god forbid he should be happy without making millions of bucks in a meth superlab or anything… And even though we certainly have Walter to thank for much of Jesse’s awesome character development over the course of 5 seasons, it’s also true that Walt has put Jesse in danger - not to mention manipulated him and stepped on his self-esteem to keep him under control - at least as often as he’s saved Jesse’s life. (Plus the fact that he insists on holding the “I saved your life” card over Jesse’s head is a real dick move.) But, back to the end of season 2 - it’s clear that Jesse is torn. He straight-up tells Jane that he’s not thrilled about making Walt give him the money (even when Jane rightly points out that it is his money): Jesse: I’m just, not the sort of dude who rolls…I mean he’s my partner. Jane: I’m your partner. It’s even in the cinematography. In the scene where Jane calls Walt to convince him to give up the cash, you can see Jesse fidgeting awkwardly in the background of the frame, shadowed, out-of-focus, and really obviously uncomfortable with this plan to blackmail his cooking partner/surrogate father figure. When Walt shows up at the door to deliver the money, Jesse won’t look him in the eye. His body language is self-conscious and apologetic. He’s not trying stick it to anyone - he just wants to run away with Jane and live happily ever after.
Second - In the season 4 scene where Jesse starts shouting at the NA group counselor, what’s really happening is that he’s trying to provoke a reaction. The point of Jesse’s entire “Problem Dog” speech was to illustrate that he feels so guilty and so ashamed of his actions that he doesn’t understand how he could possibly deserve the forgiveness and self-acceptance that the NA people are constantly preaching about. It makes no sense to him that they’re refusing to pass judgement on all the bad things he’s done. And he’s confused, because on the one hand he’s hearing “don’t try to change who you are,” and “accept yourself,” but on the other hand he’s come to the conclusion that who he is is The Bad Guy. The irony is that if Jesse really was “The Bad Guy,” he wouldn’t be confessing his sins to the entire NA circle. He’d just keep pushing drugs and not giving two shits. But he’s fed up with the laid-back counselor and his relentlessly accepting attitude, because in his mind, he deserves justice and punishment, and if you go through life “accepting” everything then “what’s the point?” When he angrily asks, “You okay with that?” he’s basically shouting “What’s wrong with all of you?!? I don’t deserve your forgiveness! Can’t you see I’m a terrible person???”
Layers, layers, layers…
I mean, let’s be honest, Jesse Pinkman is a little shit. He makes drugs for a living. He spent Walt’s RV money on booze and strippers. He spent years making excuses to his parents for not getting a real job. But beautiful, beautiful character development happens and he gets a bit better. A lot better, actually. And when it comes right down to it we can see that his heart’s in the right place.
Jesse gets referred to as “the heart of the show” not because he’s a saint, but because he has enough human decency to feel guilty about the fact that he isn’t.