BREAKING BAD 5.11: “Confessions”

BB08251302To tell the truth, Walt’s confession changed everything on this week’s BREAKING BAD.

Of course, it wasn’t so much his confession as a confession by him, but it accomplished what he set out to do — not clear his conscience, but allow himself to sleep at night by putting some distance between himself and Hank by painting Hank as the drug kingpin of the Southwest.

Heisenberg’s alibi is flawless: The only thing the press (and the community) will eat up faster than a meth-king school teacher is a meth-king cop. Especially one who heads up the local office of the DEA. There’s no way Hank could get out from under if Walt indicts him. No one will believe his brother-in-law could have been operating right under his nose for all those months without Hank looking the other way. He’s supposed to be a celebrated supercop, after all, right?

So now the central question of the remaining episodes flips from “How far will Walt go to save himself?” to “How far is Hank willing to go to take down Heisenberg?” Will Hank sacrifice his career and go down in flames just to make sure he takes Walt with him? And what would be the point if Walt promptly drops dead from the cancer?

BB08251301Jesse (Aaron Paul) was remaining silent during his interrogation at police HQ when Saul (Bob Odenkirk) burst in a put an end to things. He got Jesse out on bail. Meanwhile, Walt (Bryan Cranston) kept Flynn (RJ Mitte) from going to see his Aunt Marie by telling him that his cancer is back. Walt then convinced Skyler (Anna Gunn) that they had to make a video. “This is my confession…” Walt told the camera. Then the Whites invited Hank (Dean Norris) and Marie (Betsy Brandt) to dinner at a restaurant for some tense negotiating, which the safety of Flynn and Holly topic No. 1. Topic No. 2 was Marie telling Walt to kill himself — but Hank wasn’t going to let Heisenberg off that easily. Frustrated, Walt left — leaving behind a DVD he recorded. On the video, Walt confessed that he was working a cook for Hank, who was in fact Heisenberg. Walt laid out a detailed map of the meth operation, and mentioned the $177,000 spent on Hank’s medical care. When it was all over, Hank was trapped.

Then Walt set about trying to free Jesse, telling him he should adopt a new identity and start over in another state. Jesse was tired of being manipulated by Walt and exploded at him, but in the end he accepted Walt’s advice and decided to move to Alaska. But not before sparking up one last time. Saul didn’t want Jesse meeting his contact high, so he had Huell (Lavell Crawford) lift the bag of pot off Jesse before he left. At the rendezvous point Jesse noticed he’d been pickpocketed of his weed — which suddenly made a light bulb go off over his head. Huell had earlier lifted the pack of cigarettes containing the ricin from Jesse… and since he works for Saul, that means Huell was working for Walt. And so Walt must have poisoned little Brock! Furious, Jesse beat the snot out of Saul, took his gun and went after Walt. But he didn’t go to the car wash (where Walt was waiting with a gun of his own) — he went to Mr. White’s house and started splashing it with gasoline!

We know Jesse won’t burn the place to the ground because we saw the house intact in the flash-forward scene from the premiere a couple of weeks back, so… why not? If Walt can once again talk Jesse out of doing something drastic, that must be one helluva conversation!

BB08251303Walt obviously decided that his lies to his son are usually little better than his makeup skills, so he came clean about the cancer coming back. He’s slightly better at putting a spin on the truth, noting, “I beat this once, there’s no reason to believe I won’t do it again.” But was Walt really talking about the cancer or his life as Heisenberg?

As Heisenberg’s nemesis, Hank, Norris has had to do a lot of transfixed, smoldering stares this season, and this week’s grimaces may have been his most intense yet. From the snarling lawman in the Mexican eatery who warned Skyler that he’d take her down right alongside Walt to the sputtering brother-in-law who only just learned that his hospital bills were paid with drug money, Hank was left with nothing but impotent rage by Walt’s “confession.” He has nothing on Walt that he can take to a judge, and now faces the prospect of not ever getting anything. Hank had tried to strong-arm Jess in the interrogation room – without hitting him this time – but Saul came in strong and booted Hank from the room. Sooner or later, Hank must get tired of being helpless. And I sense that he might try something extreme.

That interrogation by the police was literally a blur for Jesse. Paul is the master of the unfocused gaze and the neck crook. And this week he very shaky — as in Jesse always seemed to be vibrating in place; a bundle of nervous and frustrated nerves. But after not speaking at all last week, Jesse got a giant cathartic release this week as he wailed at Walt to stop trying to play him and manipulate him — only to have Walt literally hug him. And it doesn’t get much more manipulative than that. Later, I could practically feel Jesse’s rage through my TV screen as he grunted incoherently and splashed gasoline all about the White homestead.

BB08251304But one doesn’t need words to communicate how messed up and angry Jesse is. And how scared he was of being… “taken care of” out in the desert. Jesse is certain Walt killed Mike, and he finally got it off his chest – at the risk of upsetting Walt. But it seemed like he wanted to force Walt’s hand. Even if it was to bury him in the desert, at least Jesse could feel like he wasn’t being “handled.” Jesse seems far past caring whether he lives or dies. Well, he did – until he found out about the ricin cigarette. Now perhaps he’s living for revenge. But… revenge for what, since little Brock wasn’t poisoned by ricin but Lily of the Valley, right? So how is the ricin related?

Finally, it’s worth noting the cigarette motif this week: The episode opened with Todd (Jesse Plemmons) lighting a cigarette, and closed with the revelation of the ricin cigarette.


“Happy people usually don’t go around throwing millions of dollars away.” – Hank to Jesse

“Just kill yourself.” – Marie to Walt

“Are you here to confess?” — Hank to Walt

“There’s nothing to confess.” — Walt to Hank and Marie

“You have no evidence to support your claims. Why tear this family apart?” – Walt to Hank

Oh, yeah? Sez you!

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