After taking a backseat to the women of the show last week, the three prominent male leads return to the forefront in “Confessions”.
When season five started there were three things that had to happen in the final 16 episodes: Hank had to find out about Walt and confront him, the ricin capsule had to be used, and Jesse had to find out about Jane and/or Brock. The former happened in the mid-season premiere, with creative team punching viewers in the mouth like a right cross from Hank Schrader in “Blood Money”, not wasting time setting up a Walt vs. Hank showdown. The latter, and most heartbreaking of the three, happened this week when Jesse finally realized that it was Walt who poisoned Brock after all.
Walt has been manipulating and using Jesse for nearly the entirety of the series. As I stated last week, Jesse is the most dangerous person in the world to Walt. Instead of cooperating with Hank and working against his former partner, Jesse agrees to leave town with a new identity after meeting with Walt in the desert. Aaron Paul has delivered countless great scenes as Jesse Pinkman, and this may be recency bias, but I don’t think any are better than him pouring out his heart and hatred for Walt and how he’s treated him. He was nearly catatonic for the first two episodes then absolutely unloads here. He’s 100 percent right about Walt needing him to leave town for his own self-interests, and any reason to the contrary is bogus. The interest in leaving town is short lived once he makes the connection between Huel lifting his weed and him lifting the ricin cigarette in season four, sending him into a violent rampage that leaves Saul bloodied and the White’s house smelling like a Hess station.
Lesser shows would use a flashback of Huel lifting the cigarette in season four during Jesse’s epiphany to pound home the point they were trying to make. Breaking Bad trusts its viewers will make the connection themselves. As exciting as that final scene was, the flash-forward in “Blood Money” spoils it a bit. Yes, the White’s house is fenced off and condemned but the inside isn’t burnt either. Jesse has never been even tempered when the wellbeing of children is at risk so it’s understandable that he’d react the way he did. He’d be better served cooperating with Hank and the DEA, but the bloodlust doesn’t look to be subsiding anytime soon. As beloved as he is to fans, I’ve long believed that he has to be the one to die at some point. That time may come sooner rather than later.
The single most ingenious thing Walter Hartwell White has ever done is make the fake tape confession he gives to Hank. It’s absolutely perfect in intent and execution. He has just a much evidence of Hank running a drug empire as Hank has against him. Walt’s story is more believable to a layperson. Are you going to believe a nebbish, cancer stricken high school teacher is capable of being a drug kingpin, or the head of the local DEA office? Hank’s reaction while watching the video said everything while saying nothing. You could tell by his face he felt doomed. Heisenberg had once again outsmarted him. Worse yet he was made aware that Walt paid for his rehab, torpedoing any chance he had at making a legitimate case against him. If you can win an Emmy for reaction shots alone, Dean Norris should take home the prize next year.
Obviously, Hank isn’t going to stop his pursuit of Walt. He’s not a quitter and the show has been building to these moments for five seasons, with Hank now acting as the protagonist. Walt has made his life hell for a little over a year and he’s going to keep digging even if it’s the last case he ever works. We know Walt eventually needs a fake ID, a new look and a machine gun. The question is why? He may have temporarily halted Hank’s progress with the video, but with only five episodes to go he can’t keep Hank at bay for long.