We are now three episodes deep into season 5B of Breaking Bad and things are starting to heat up for everyone involved. If for some reason you have not caught up with the series, do yourself a favor and watch it in a marathon fashion on Netflix and find the episodes from this season on your on-demand, because you will not regret it. If you haven’t caught up yet and do read this recap, though, you will regret it. Keep that in mind.
In an episode like “Confessions” it is all about pacing, building up to something that leaves you, the viewer, on edge. We learn a lot about the characters throughout this episode, characters that we already know and have opinions about. There are some that believe that you can’t truly know someone, that you can’t truly know what they are capable of, until they have been pushed to the edge. Then you can meet the real them, you can see what they are really made of. That is what the revelations in “Confessions” play out as.
We all knew that Walter was capable of horrific things, but throughout this episode we learn not only what he is capable of, but what Skyler and Jesse are capable of, who they really are when pressed hard enough. I’m not sure that we like what we see, at least in the case of Skyler. Jesse, on the other hand, has fully realized his metamorphosis; he is the protagonist now, he and Hank are the ones that we are compelled to see win.
The episode begins with quite possibly the most chilling character outside of Walter by the way of Todd. Maybe if Todd wasn’t such a whitebread, unassuming guy who possesses reptile blood it wouldn’t be like that, but Todd is just insane. Todd leaves Mr. White a message about his “disagreement” with Declan before he tells his uncle and friend about the legendary train heist before they head back to Albuquerque with a tank of methylamine being tethered behind them.
Finally, after all of the tension, we return to Hank and Jesse. Their strained relationship doesn’t lead to the solution that Hank has been wanting and instead, Jesse Pinkman is saved by Saul Goodman, which doesn’t seem like saving if you consider that Saul still answers to Walter.
A desert rendezvous between the three leads to Walter suggesting that Jesse use the cleaner to leave town and never look back, only for Jesse to finally put his foot down and call Walter out on manipulating him. What happens when you catch a liar in a lie? You get an awkward hug with Saul Goodman looking on, that’s what.
There is still the question of what will happen with Hank, as we get a glimpse of Walter beginning a “confession” into a camera with Skyler behind the lense, only to find out that his confession is intended to scare Hank off of the case. After admitting to Walt Jr. that the cancer was back as a ploy to keep young “Flynn” away from dinner at Aunt Marie and Uncle Hank’s, it is clear that the Schraders are not about to back down. This leads to an awkward dinner meeting at one of the most overpriced Mexican restaurants in Albuquerque, Garduno’s. Instead of running up a $100 check on a margarita apiece and a few plates of beans and velveeta, Walter and Skyler remain quiet, only to get up and leave a disk behind -- a confession!
Back in the Casa de Schrader they watch the confession of Walter White, only to find out that it is not a confession at all, but Walter blackmailing Hank, painting him as the mastermind behind the drug ring alongside of Gustavo Fring. You see, Walter was just being forced to do it for the safety of his family, he was scared. He also, you know, paid for Hank’s medical bills, something which might look bad if this “confession” ended up with the DEA.
Hank is effectively stuck now.
What’s worse is that you learn the extent that Skyler will go to, the depths that she’ll sink to, to protect this lie that they fabricated. She is willing to risk ruining the lives of everyone around her in the name of self-preservation. The question now is, will Jesse Pinkman do the same thing? Will he go through with having his identity wiped out and just disappear to keep Walter White’s plan intact? What’s sad is that Jesse is always willing to help someone else out, even confronting the fact that Walter murdered Mike, the only mentor that Jesse really had that respected him.
If you want to know what Jesse’s breaking point is, it will always be the children, always. Mike was an adult who was a part of the game, but what about Brock? While Jesse is waiting on the side of the road to be erased, he reaches for his weed in his pocket, only to find that it had been lifted at Saul’s office, then he pulls out his cigarettes, only to come to a startling conclusion that the cigarette with the ricin in it met with the same fate; lifted by Huell. Jesse has the realization that we’ve all been waiting for; the one where he realizes the extent of Walter’s wrongdoings to him (at least he thinks), learning what Walter would do to a child to protect Heisenberg’s empire.
The episode reaches a fever pitch as Jesse holds a gun to Saul’s head, getting him to admit to his sins before he steals Saul’s car and leaves in a huff. Walter is at the car wash, panicked, taking his pistol from the soda machine, all covered in ice, before he leaves in a hurry.
The episode ends with Jesse Pinkman, a character that last week I described as the Sword of Damocles, being precisely that; a sword hung about Walter’s head, held together by one thread. That thread has snapped. There’s a jug of gasoline being emptied into the White’s living room as the screen cuts to black.
For an episode where it seemed like much didn’t happen early on, things picked up in a big way throughout the episode. The question is if this is what leads to the White’s house being boarded up with “HEISENBERG” spray painted on the wall. My gut says “no,” as there are five episodes still left. As much as Jesse has grown and learned, it seems like there are shades of regression throughout the episode, right down to his wardrobe going from mature and nuanced to messy and childlike again. Walter has always been able to talk Jesse out of things and with his fragile mental state it almost feels like Jesse is ripe for the picking, to be talked down off of the ledge and to continue his downward spiral.
All of the while, Skyler is in denial as to the reality of her situation. She is so set on Walter “winning” and her getting away with all of the money that she is willing to blackmail her own sister and brother in law who just want the best for her and her children. They want her away from the monster that is Heisenberg while all she wants is to be a part of something important, to be a winner. What’s frustrating is that Hank still has no solid evidence yet, although we know that he’s been tailing Jesse Pinkman and Saul Goodman.
Saul’s car with its “LWYRUP” license plate rushing to the White residence with Jesse Pinkman, a can of gasoline, ready to meet with Walter White and his icy-cold pistol seems to be leading to a confrontation that might include more than just Jesse and Walter.
Walter has become a black hole, ready to suck in any and all that find themselves in his vicinity, to be absorbed into the darkness and to become no more. His lies are so big, so massive, that there is no other way to explain it.
As always, I find myself drawn to music to explain the situation, this time finding myself drawn to Bruce Dickinson’s solo work. What could be more fitting than from the album “Chemical Wedding,” called "The Alchemist?"
“Don't try and blame me for your sins
For the sun has burned me black
Your hollow lives - this world in which we live
I throw it back
Don't try and blame me for your games
Your games are death
My world is light - the angels fill my eyes
With every breath...
And so we lay
We lay in the same grave
Our chemical wedding day”
Dave Walsh is a writer residing in Albuquerque, New Mexico who is best known for his work as a Kickboxing and Mixed Martial Arts journalist. His work has been featured on a number of publications, including BloodyElbow.com, MiddleEasy.com, CageSideSeats.com, Heavy.com as well as his own site, LiverKick.com.
His first novel, The Godslayer, is on sale now.