“Confessions” is the perfect recipe for a combustible chemical reaction. Add a sprinkle of ricin, a whole heap of lies and mix thoroughly with videotape. What you get might just be the best episode of the final season so far.
Continue Reading for my spoiler filled thoughts and reaction to Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 11 “Confessions“.
After stuffing Drew Sharp’s body into barrels of hydrofluoric acid back in episode 506, we saw Todd’s true face – a remorseless and emotionless psychopath. So in the cold open, it’s kind of chilling to see this other side to Todd. It’s almost like he’s putting on a mask or slipping into the skin of another man because he’s actually quite charismatic while smiling and boasting about the train heist casually over lunch.
One little factoid that Todd conveniently omitted is killing the boy in cold blood. Even among mass murderers (they just annihilated Declan’s crew) and white supremacists, he can’t confess to killing a child. He’s a monster that doesn’t fit in anywhere in society, not even with the dirtiest scumbags he calls family. Like many other characters, he’s lying and manipulating but very few things remain a secret on Breaking Bad as we see later in this episode.
Last episode’s cliffhanger had me going back and forth if Jesse would turn informant or not. For fear of spoilers, I don’t look ahead to the titles of the remaining episodes. For those that do, naming Episode 511 “Confessions” is crafty misdirection on part of the producers.
We’ve seen Jesse in the interrogation room multiple times before and he’s always found a way to evade conviction. However, because of Jesse’s guilty conscience and the flash forward that revealed Heisenberg’s identity is public knowledge, I could envision his confession as the catalyst for the remainder of the season to play out.
The beauty of the writing is that even when I think I’ve gotten to know a character over five seasons, there’s a plausible ambiguity at play that leaves rooms for twists that are logical.
If Jesse’s drug addiction is an extension of his self-destructive behavior, it would be within character to punish himself by getting caught by the police, knowing the discarded blood money would be like a trail of breadcrumbs.
However, an act of penance would also incriminate Walt which is not Jesse’s intent at this point. And immunity from prosecution wouldn’t absolve Jesse of his guilt or crimes so it makes sense he wouldn’t take the deal to rat on Heisenberg.
So when Walt hugged Jesse to show he truly cared do you think it is genuine or is he still manipulating Jesse? I think it was a bit of both. Walt does not like to leave loose ends, the dead prisoners from episode 508 are proof of that. He could have killed Jesse in the desert like he did with Mike. But I think he considers Jesse as family, which as we learned last episode, killing family (eg. Hank) is not an option.
On the other hand, Jesse is out of control and Walt needs to make him disappear with the help of Saul’s mysterious contact. It’s a touching scene. Jesse’s emotional, teary-eyed expression shows he really needed that hug. Walt used to be someone he looked up to, a father-figure. Jesse needed that moment to let go and move on. Creating a new identity in Alaska may have been the best case scenario for Jesse – a fresh start. However, if that was Jesse’s send off it wouldn’t have felt right, especially with 5 more episodes to go.
Now if Hank told the truth to Gomez about the real reason why he has two agents following Jesse, this episode’s ending might never have happened. If those agents weren’t pulled off, they would have seen Jesse on the highway out-of-town, breaking his bail conditions and hauling his butt to jail.
The whole ricin cigarette revelation is admittedly a bit confusing and it took me a moment to figure out how Jesse put the pieces together. In a nutshell, when Huel pick-pocketed the pot this episode, it reminded Jesse of his suspicions back in Season 4 that the ricin cigarette was also lifted from him.
The confusion is that Walt used lily of the valley to poison Brock not the ricin as Jesse believes. But the point is, Jesse knows Walt poisoned Brock and lied about it at gunpoint in Episode 412. This revelation is the tipping point that gives Jesse every reason to destroy Walt although we know the house doesn’t get burned down.
Figuratively, the roof is blown off the house. This is a great pay off in terms of story advancement and for Jesse’s character. In anticipating how Breaking Bad will stick its landing, for me it comes down to honoring the journey of these characters. With many secrets that have remained hidden over the seasons, the writers have a challenge in balancing the needs of the character versus the natural progression of the plot. For example, how important is it for Jesse to learn that Walt let Jane die?
As a fan, it would have felt something was missing if Jesse never found out about the ricin cigarette switcheroo. It’s all the more important because this character moment will impact the plot of the final episodes. The same goes for Hank discovering his medical bills were paid by drug money. If he goes after Walt, he’s essentially digging a grave for himself.
My favorite scenes are the awkward dinner and video confession. It’s a perfect blend of black comedy, family drama and suspense. The waiter was hilarious, where can I get service like that? When Marie blurted out, “Just kill yourself”, it’s pretty shocking yet an honest moment where someone says exactly what on their mind. I was thinking Marie might be one of the more honest characters, until I remember she’s likes to steal and lied to Hank about the medical insurance albeit for his own good. Does anybody on this show tell the truth?
What is truth and what are lies are becoming indistinguishable. For example, Marie questions Skyler if the whole Ted affair was a lie. And there’s more evidence to support Walt’s lie that Hank is the true mastermind than there is to prove the truth.
The video confession is a call back to the first scene in the pilot episode. But whereas the video in the pilot was a loving, heart-to-heart for his family, this episode’s video was Heisenberg at his finest – his get out of jail free card. I had a gleeful smirk on my face as Walt twisted many events over the seasons to make it plausible that Hank was behind it all. Brilliant. However this stalemate is short-lived with Jesse going ballistic and with good reason to take the immunity deal to get vengeance on Walt.
It’s funny how poised Walt is in the video and in manipulating Junior to not go to Marie’s house but he’s totally a nervous wreck at the car wash trying to make up an excuse to get the hidden gun. Walt sure loves his secret hiding places – the ricin behind the electrical outlet, barrels of cash beneath the original cook site, and now a frozen pistol at the bottom of a vending machine!?!
What do you think Todd is up to and how will it affect Walt? When Walter hugged Jesse was it for real? What’s your favorite scene of the episode?