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Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad is a drama about Walter White, a chemistry professor who is diagnosed with lung cancer. He enlists the help of his former student Jesse Pinkman to manufacture and sell methamphetamine. AMC 2008-???

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Episode 11 - Confessions

28 August 2013

Credit AMC

Synopsis: The Whites and Schraders meet for dinner and Walt attempts to negotiate. When that won’t work Walt gives them a filmed confession where he incriminates Hank as the man who made him cook meth. Saul gets Jesse out on bail and takes him to meet Walt. Walt suggests that he start again in a new town. Jesse uses Saul’s disappearing guy but when Huell lifts some weed from his pocket on the way out the door he realises what really happened to the ricin cigarette.

The Good: The Jesse story was the culmination of Walt’s lies. Jesse has sometimes understood Walt’s manipulations and at other times fallen for them. The reason they have worked so often is that there is genuine fatherly affection mixed in with the self serving rhetoric. But clearly the accumulated guilt forced Jesse to “act out” and throw money into the streets and the accumulated lies led to his emotional outburst in the desert.

It was yet another fine performance from Aaron Paul. His cracking voice and hunched posture conveyed all those hours Jesse has spent alone thinking about the path that led him here. Once Walt killed off Mike and all his men Jesse was able to look back and realise that in all those moments when he gave his mentor the benefit of the doubt, he shouldn’t have. The horror of the mass murder (508) clearly resonated with Jesse, shaking him into seeing almost everything that Walt has done in the recent past as self serving and immoral. So now he backs away from more manipulation and demands to be told the truth: that he will soon be killed unless he starts a new life far away. It was such a sad moment and a cathartic one for the character to have a rare moment of seeing Walt exactly as he is.

And yet still that fatherly affection clouded things. Walt’s decision to hug Jesse probably does still come, in part, from a genuine place. It would make Walt’s life far more secure if Jesse were dead but I suspect he still includes him on the list of family that he won’t touch. But at the same time I think there would come a breaking point for Walt. A point where he would cut Jesse from that list. So he hugs him as if to say “please don’t make me reach that point.” It’s such a sad moment because even as Jesse cries in his arms I don’t think either man is pretending that Jesse’s assessment of their relationship was wrong.

So Jesse agrees to leave and Huell picks his pocket. As soon as Huell asked to be excused I knew what was about to happen. But it was less the dynamics of what happened to Brock that mattered. It was the accumulation of mistrust. It was finally seeing Walt for who he really was. It was knowing that as much affection as there was behind the hug, the threat was still there. Once Jesse had the final piece of the puzzle and realised that the missing cigarette was just another of Mr White’s plays then there was nothing left to stop him turning his fear into hatred. We have to remember the parts of Jesse’s life that we don’t see. It’s the life with Andrea and Brock that he tossed away that is now fuelling the anger inside him and not just the part he played in the murders Walt perpetrated.

The last twenty minutes of this were superb payoff and leave Jesse as an extreme live wire about to start the process of turning the White house into a shell. Will Jesse be arrested for arson? Will he tell the police more of what he knows? Is there anyone in the house? That was a potentially horrifying cliff hanger.

The first half of the episode was pretty damn good too. Polite Todd and his Nazi-tattoo wearing relatives are clearly intent on being the next meth kingpins and we aren’t done with them. Meanwhile Skyler sits by and films Walt as he performs one of his most direct manipulations. There’s been a lot of speculation about whether the police would perceive Hank to be a part of Walt’s operation when the facts came out but now Walt just goes ahead and holds his own freedom hostage in order to keep him silent. Walt’s story is cunningly plausible and his performance devilishly sincere. Clearly Skyler is uncomfortable and shaken by having to threaten her own sister like this but if she isn’t going to back out now then this is how dirty the water will get. It was classic Breaking Bad to provide the awkward diners with a chirpy waiter. Walt’s manipulation of Walter Jr was clever but is he about to regret it?  

The Bad: Nothing.

The Unknown: Did Skyler give Hank an important clue by claiming that Walt was now out of the business?

Best Moment: For me it was Jesse backing away from Walt asking him not to work him. I think those jail murders really changed Jesse’s perception of Walt. Looking back he could suddenly see everything that Walt had done in a new light. Now he just wanted to hear the truth rather than live with a death sentence hanging over him but all he got was a hug.

The Bottom Line: This was emotional. It was the culmination of Jesse’s relationship with Walt. Having Huell lift the weed off him was not some genius piece of writing. It was an obvious contrivance to remind Jesse of the time it happened before. But that didn’t matter as the real issue was just waiting for the scales to fall from his eyes. And once they did things became very serious.

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  • Thanks Robin for the clarification about the ricin plot. That makes perfect sense now but as it was detailed I wasn`t sure if I had it right or not. Cheers :)

    Posted by Kay, 02/09/2013 4:58am (6 years ago)

  • Lastly, one thing I didn't understand: In the end it turned out NOT to be ricin poisoning of the kid, right? But instead Lily of the Valley poisoning. (And we get that chilling shot of the plant out on Walt's pool patio.) Later Walt "discovers" the ricin, safe and sound and un-swallowed by anyone, in the vacuum cleaner, and I thought that everyone (Jesse) had concluded that neither Walt nor Gus had poisoned the kid, that it had been an accidental poisoning.

    Jesse HAD been hysterically raving about how one of Saul's guys must have picked his pocket - and I'm sure this is what he figures out now MUST have happened, hence the craziness and gas can - but I thought this was all settled.

    Now if he had happened to see the plant, with the tag clearly reading "Lily of the Valley", on Walt's patio, I could see him putting two and two together, but not with the ricin.

    Am I missing something?

    Posted by Bruce Caward, 28/08/2013 9:10pm (6 years ago)

  • Last week Skylar mentioned that the best option for them was to try and stay quiet, and silence seemed to play a huge role throughout the episode. There were many dramatic moments with very little dialogue, where one character would just wait and see what the other was going to do, and questions asked that people gave no response to gave away a lot more information than the questions they did answer. This was punctuated by Jesse, who opened and closed the episode with two scenes in which he conveyed everything he was feeling but didn't utter a single word. When Hank closed the door at the end of the episode I knew in this week's Jesse's silence was going to break, and once it did the White's would no longer to able to live quietly.

    Walt's "confession" scene initially felt a little shaky to me, not because it didn't make sense, but because I felt that it wasn't the game changer it was presented as. Hank was already extremely hesitant to come forward for fear that his ties to Walt would either implicate him or make him out to be a fool. I didn't initially think that the rest of the DEA would possibly buy that hank himself is Heisenberg. The more I thought about it, though, the more I appreciated all of the details that would indeed make Hank seem suspicious, including the time Hector came in and asked for Hank by name, the day he happened to stumble upon Tuco, etc. Even his obsessive pursuit of Heisenberg could end up looking like he was trying to cover his tracks, and his behavior has certainly been erratic at times, especially as of late. I ended up deciding that it was an effective way to take Hank off the chess board, at least for the moment.

    This whole storyline came as a distant second, however, to Jesse finally being awoken. He is, in my opinion, the beating heart of the show, and he has been for some time. His tragic emotional outburst in the desert had me choked up and my girlfriend in tears, and when his discovery of how thoroughly Walt has uses him finally unleashes his wrath, my heart was racing so fast that I had to watch the rest of the episode while pacing around the room. These two moments made this episode something truly special, and the first three episodes overall have me feeling very confident that this show will do what few of even my favorite shows have done, to have a last season that is a home run.

    Viewer score: 79 / 100

    Posted by Dan B, 28/08/2013 8:18pm (6 years ago)

  • One last thing I've always meant to point out at this site:

    When discussing Walt's murders, everyone always equivocates about Jane's death - Walt watching her die is not the same as actually killing her.

    But remember that when he goes to rouse Jesse, he causes Jane to roll over on to her back. Jane had mentioned earlier how dangerous sleeping on your back can be, so this nudge had been deliberately adumbrated. He still didn't set out to kill her, but he definitely caused her death. And he didn't let her die to save Jesse from a future with a drug addict, as has been speculated. He saw a way to get clear of a very effective blackmailer, pure and simple.
    Thanks, got that off my chest...

    Viewer score: 80 / 100

    Posted by Bruce Caward, 28/08/2013 4:46pm (6 years ago)

  • Still trembling.
    I had figured that Walt would implicate Hank; it was his only way to control Hank, get him to back off.

    But I didn't guess he'd claim it was all Hank's idea, and the he, Walt, was a victim. That was cold.

    I thought Walt would claim Hank was his partner - or maybe his protector/enforcer. I thought he'd bring up the following, which, viewed with the idea that Hank is involved, take on a whole new meaning:

    1. Hank beating up Jesse
    2. Hank figuring out what happened to Tuco's crushed men in the junk yard
    3. Hank "just happening upon" Tuco at his uncle's, and killing him
    4. Hank being the only survivor of the exploding tortoise incident
    5. Hank getting shot by the twins, with everyone wondering "Why Hank?"
    6. Hank not wanting the promotion, instead wanting to stay back and continue "investigating" Heisenberg; Hank's whole obsession with Heisenberg.
    7. Hank "figuring out" about the laundromat, and all the Madrigal stuff.

    In short, every bit of Hank's great detective work could be seen as to good to be true, when looked at this way. Talk about a total crushing by Walt.

    6. Hank "figuring out" about Gus

    Posted by Bruce Caward, 28/08/2013 4:36pm (6 years ago)

  • Another excellent episode. So far the "second half of season 5" (I still think the divided season thing is pretty silly) has not had a weak link.

    I've found Jesse's changing attitudes toward Walt mirror those of us the audience (mine certainly). He has gone from along for the ride, to genuine concern and affection, to a bumpy back and forth of suspicious and mollified states, to plain fear. Now he finally sees Walt for what he really is, the heartless master manipulator. We traveled that path earlier than Jesse, true, because we had more information, but I think the parallel is pretty close. Now that he has finally got past Walt's many-layered curtain of deceptions, Jesse's resulting rage at finding the truth is cathartic, more so even than Hank's, perhaps because Jesse has always been less powerful. It also comes at a moment when Walt has just enacted one of his most horribly brazen, potentially destructive, and frighteningly plausible lies yet with the "confession." (I did not see that coming, and it was brilliant and twisted.)

    Breaking Bad keeps going for the jugular, pushing quickly into the confrontations that we knew were coming, but it keeps doing so in surprising and powerful ways. My confidence, bruised a bit by parts of season 5.1, is fully restored.

    Viewer score: 80 / 100

    Posted by dfault, 28/08/2013 1:57am (6 years ago)

  • This is up there with Crawl Space and I`m still taking it in so don`t have anything original to say yet.

    I had a bit of confusion with understanding Jesse connecting the dots about Brock and would appreciate some clarification on the podcast from you, Robin, or any commenters, please. I understood that this time Saul got Huel to take the weed off Jesse and when Jesse looked for his weed he thought back to last time Huel took the cigarettes off him so he connected it to the ricin. But, given that Brock was not poisoned by ricin and Jesse knows it was lily of the valley, how does Jesse make the connection here? Is it just that he has a flashback to having Huel pickpocket him and then realises if Walt had organised the ricin to be taken off him so it looks like Gus then he must have been behind poisoning him with lily of the valley, too? (In other words, I think the point is that it doesn`t matter that Brock was in fact poisoned by the lily, not ricin; what matters is Jesse is now able to see how Walt has been working everyone around him and since Walt arranged for the ricin to be taken off him to make it look like it was Gus and since Jesse had doubts originally he just suddenly clicked that it was Walt all along).

    This is not a criticism of the show as I don`t doubt the logic but just haven`t processed it yet. I read Sepinwall`s great explanation but if anyone could elaborate it would help a lot. Thanks a lot :)

    Viewer score: 90 / 100

    Posted by Kay, 27/08/2013 11:06pm (6 years ago)

  • I'll be interested to see how much of the house is damaged by Jesse. We saw in the flash-forward that the house was still standing - but how much damage was done? Is it Jesse who writes "Heisenberg" on the wall? The directions to the money were posted up on the refrigerator - do they go up in flames?

    Viewer score: 80 / 100

    Posted by Brick Rob, 27/08/2013 10:31pm (6 years ago)

  • This is as close to a Jesse episode as we would ever get at this point in Breaking Bad, but it really delivered.

    Once more Breaking Bad has exceeded my expectations, continuing to raise the bar.

    The confession video, Walt and Jesse's hug, and Jesse's rampage are all amazing scenes that could have been spread out in different episodes but instead they all worked to make this my favorite episode of the season.

    Viewer score: 80 / 100

    Posted by Ben F., 27/08/2013 6:30pm (6 years ago)

  • Maybe it's just because this is the first season I have watched live or because it is the last few left but few episodes have made me so tense for so much of the episode. From the desert scene on I was convinced that Jesse was going to be killed. The moment the incredibly awkward hug started to the moment he started smoking in Saul's office, I felt this was the end. So much so that when he makes the discovery about Brock I was more confused than anything (and relieved) because he wasn't dying.

    If the episode had any major flaws it was this reveal because while I understood from the way he changed his demeanor he mostly likely figured out Brock was poisoned by Walt. I have a hard time figuring out how exactly he connected those dots.

    The other sort of problem I have with this episode is Skyler's reaction or lack thereof to Walt's confession. I had no real problem with her decision last week to stick with Walt because Hank did come off threatening. However I find it hard to believe that she would go along with the confession or even really believe that Walt is out of the business. Maybe it's just because I see the "confession" as such a heinous thing that I can't understand how anyone but Walt could be in favor of it or maybe I have just seen Skyler as moral than she actually is but I'm not completely sold on her willingness to go along with Walt. I do hope that we see some cracks in their alliance now because whether Jesse burns the house or not it is proven to not be safe.

    Or will it be when the first major character death occurs (I'm guessing Walt Jr.) that Skyler switches sides but it is already too late.

    Viewer score: 79 / 100

    Posted by Derek, 27/08/2013 1:50pm (6 years ago)

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