If you are not completely caught up with Breaking Bad, do not read any further… spoilers ahead.
“Goodbye Jesse Pinkman, hello Mr. Credit To Society.”
The greatest aspect about watching Breaking Bad (I know what you are thinking… how could I possibly pick one thing) is that you get the sense that Vince Gilligan is similar to Walter White in that you never know how or where the show will go next… he’s is seemingly always one step ahead of the rest of us, and the results are always spectacular. Confessions delivers not just one “oh hell no” moment… but at least three; Walt’s so-called “confession”, Jessie’s realization of just how deep Mr. White’s (I love that he still refers to his former partner in crime as Mr. White) depravity and manipulation really goes, and his subsequent reaction.
Although the episode begins with Todd sharing the story of how the Heisenberg gang came into their bounty of methylamine with his Uncle Jack and fellow member of the Aryan Nation, and I’m sure the implications of this exchange, the fact that Todd is going to begin cooking again with the re-stolen methylamine (I’m assuming that’s what they were doing) and are returning to New Mexico, will resonate later… this little tease is all we get of the the ancillary characters spinning their wheels in the absence of Heisenberg… but I have a feeling that we were meant to be reminded of just how far Walter White will go to get what he wants, regardless of who it puts in danger, and just how close he’s willing to cut it.
We left last weeks episode with Jesse and Hank in the interrogation room, and we pick up with Hank entering and making it clear that he knows who Heisenberg really is. He tries to get Jesse to talk, but he’s still staying mum… but the look he gives to Hank is more than enough to get Hank quite excited that what he believes is true… if only he had some hard evidence… and if only Saul didn’t show up and end their little impromptu grilling.
The whole scene in the interrogation room was little more than an opportunity for Saul to get Jesse out of lock-up and out on bail, and for us to see just how far out of the norm Hank will go to get Walt. There was nothing legal about Hank’s discussion with Jesse, and he knows it… so when Saul threatens to sue, Jesse is released.
When we next see Jesse, he and Saul are out in the desert to meet with Walt. If the first episode of the season was Walt and Hank’s turn to shine, and last weeks episode was Skyler and Marie’s turn, this week is Jesse’s… and after hearing another bullshit monologue from Walt about how much he cares about him and how the best thing for him may be to leave the state and get a new identity, start over with a clean slate, Jesse finally calls him out and makes it understood that he knows that he doesn’t care, that he killed Mike, who really had been the father figure that Jesse has always been searching for and mistakenly thought it could have been Walt, and that he expected to be murdered there in the desert if he didn’t acquiesce to the plan of going into hiding.
Similar to Todd recalling the train heist, much of this episode seems to be about the past. We are meant to remember that Saul had once told Walt about the guy he knows who can simply make you disappear with a new identity, we are meant to recall that Walt used his drug money to pay for Hank’s medical bills (more on that in a moment), and we are meant to recall the events regarding the ricin and the poisoning of Brock… but let’s back up a bit and go over what happened between the Whites and the Schraders.
After Walt Jr. conveniently shows up (where is he most of the time?) to let his dad know that Aunt Marie needs some help with her computer, Walt recognizes this to be another attempt to take his children away from him, he lets Walt Jr. know that his cancer has returned, thus manipulating his son into staying with him and not going over into what is now enemy territory, and still keeping Junior in the dark. The fact that Walt makes a point of saying, “I just don’t want to keep things from you: Yesterday I passed out very, very briefly”, shows how little he regards the truth… and how unwilling he is to simply give up, which makes the next scene of him recording his “confession” that much more jarring. Seriously… did you think he was going to actually come clean? Honestly… for a moment I did.
So the two families finally have a sit down, and they do so in a very crowded, very annoying Mexican family restaurant. Although the waiter is overly chipper (“How about that guacamole? We make it right here at the table!”), the mood at the table is about as chilly and strained as could be possible, and at one point Marie suggests that Walt should simply kill himself and make it easier on everyone. Walt was hoping for some sort of compromise, and Skyler all but admits that their suspicions are correct, but pleads the case that the illicit activities are in the past and prosecuting a dying man would be pointless and destructive… but Hank will take nothing short of a confession… and Walt quietly stands up from the table, Skyler follows suit, and he lays down a DVD… his confession… and walks out of the restaurant.
I hope Hank and Marie left Trent a decent tip… he did try.
The first major “oh holy shit” moment of the episode happens when Hank and Marie return home to watch the DVD. Right off the bat, Walt’s master stroke becomes evident and he turns his supposed confession into the ultimate blackmail tool by making it sound as though Hank were the mastermind behind Walt’s meth empire… and there are enough details and truth behind everything that Walt admits to, including the aforementioned money for Hank’s medical bills, that Hank is completely and totally fucked. Game over man… game over… and Hank knows it.
If he though his career would be over once the DEA realized that Heisenberg was not only right under his nose, but in his family… he now knows that if he takes Walt down, his own freedom would be in jeopardy, not just his job. Check… and mate.
Unfortunately for Walt though… Saul convinces Jesse that disappearing would be the best option, but is unhappy that Jesse’s still smoking weed. He doesn’t want him showing up to meet his guy stoned, so he has Huell McDuck pickpocket his stash… and as Jesse waits for the man to show, he reaches into his pocket to have a toke, only to discover that his bag is gone… and suddenly the connections are made. Saul had Huell lift the ricin cigarette way back when, which caused Jesse to believe that Brock, his girlfriend’s son at the time, accidentally took the ricin, then was made to believe that Gus had poisoned him instead… but he never found the cigarette.
Immediately, everything becomes clear and his fugue state has ended (the second “oh holy shit” moment of the episode)… he returns to Saul’s office, leaving the new life in Alaska behind in the dust, and beats the living shit out of everyone’s favorite sleazy lawyer, and eventually holds him at gun point in order to get the real confession of the episode. Yes, Saul helped Huell lift the cigarette, but he didn’t realize that Walt was going to poison the kid. We’ve been wondering for a while now… what would it take to make Jesse finally snap… would it be finding out about Jane, or would it be finding out about Brock… we now have our answer.
Saul calls Walt, and we see the return of the frantic, out of control Walter White that we haven’t seen since he was trapped in the lab working for Gus as the walls closed in on him. He quickly parks at the car wash, races to the door, takes a millisecond to compose himself before going inside, and does some of the worst nervous lying we’ve ever seen from him. On Talking Bad after the show, one of the guests (or it may have been Hardawick) noticed that he is a master of spinning lies to everyone but Skyler, and this scene shows that in stark detail. He fumbles with a soda machine for moment, under the guise of checking the latch, and retrieves a very icy revolver. Walt is now running scared… and it’s no longer the law or a cartel that he’s afraid of, it’s his former partner and friend… and he knows that Jesse is righteous in his indignation.
In the final scene, and the final and third “oh holy shit” moment, Jesse is frantically dousing the White’s residence with gasoline. Cut to credits. Damn.
Now… my first thought was that I don’t recall their house being burnt out when Walt returns at the beginning of the mid-season premiere… but I know some of the back was boarded up and we didn’t get a great look at the house. Do any of you recall if it had fire damage? Also, the preview for next week looks to have at least two scenes in the house, and I don’t see any flames or damage… but that could be some classic misdirection.
So… where do things stand right now? Will Hank continue to go after Walt the legal way… or will he begin to take some extralegal steps? Will Saul finally make that call for himself? Seems like he’s in a shitty position himself, caught between a Walt and a hard place. Will Skyler continue to try to get rid of the money one customer at a time (how often does she give incorrect change, and is it always giving the customer more?)? Will Walt make a hasty decision again, like he did with Mike, and try to take care of the Jesse problem himself? Will Jesse light the White’s house on fire?
I suppose the overwhelming question at this point is who will tie up loose ends first? Jesse? Walt? Lydia and Meth Damon? Hank? Many more confrontations to go… and only five more hours to do so.
The latch on the soda machine isn’t… latching,
Cornelius J. Blahg
PS: I’ve been including so many quotes in these reviews because no other show has such incredible writing… so a big nod to their creative team. There is a reason that this is considered one of, if not the best show of all time… and I’d venture to guess that it starts with a pen on paper. Respect.