I have to sit back and admire the construction of ‘Confessions’ – with a lot of talk-heavy scenes early on, it appears that the episode is going to move at a pace similar to last week’s ‘Buried’, keeping it’s important nuggets of information until the end.
But then halfway through, Hank and Marie sit down to watch a movie. And everything changes.
Up to that moment, most of what’s happening in ‘Confessions’ is reactionary: Jesse’s trying to keep his cool while being grilled by Hank, Walt’s trying to figure out how to deal with the growing Hank problem, and everyone is fighting over Walt Jr. At one point, Walt sits down to record a video (recalling the similar action he took during desperate times in the pilot) – except this time he says “this is my confession” (a stark contrast to his original statement of “this is not a confession”, and a major hint there is some trickery afoot). And boy is it a trick; the video details how Hank manipulated Walt into being a meth chemist, orchestrating to kill Gus Fring and holding Walt’s family above his head as he withered away from cancer.
What a fucking bastard, right? Although the reveal of the video’s contents are a delicious little surprise, it’s the ideas underlying them that form the foundation of this episode: ‘Confessions’ isn’t about Walt telling the truth to anyone; it’s about everyone realizing how full of shit Walt’s been for the past year. And the point is driven home most powerfully in context with Walt’s two “sons”; his two attempts at emotionally manipulating the boys who idolize him are shining examples of Walt as his worst. He’s a manipulative genius: but while Walt Jr. is still unable to see the motivations underneath the statements (he tells Walt Jr. he has cancer again to keep him from the Schrader home), Jesse’s finally found the clarity to see what Walt really is, thanks to Hank (“he’s been using us” he tells Jesse while he’s interrogating him, quietly triggering a light bulb in Pinkman’s brain…. parallels, bitch!).
And it’s because of that opening scene that Jesse is able to make the connections he does later in the episode: after finally giving into Walt’s pleas for him to leave (even though he knows that its his only option, besides death), Jesse makes arrangements with Saul and heads off to begin his new life. And he’s almost there… he’s so fucking close, standing there in his black and red (a sign that Jesse’s darkness is slowly going to turn into rage) sweatshirt, gripping the orange backpack (as we know from Ted’s accident, Carol’s bag, and The Godfather, this means trouble). That new life is an instant away – and then he realizes his bag of pot is gone.
Then it hits him: Walt’s poisoning of Brock finally makes sense. He realizes that Huell (who had bumped into Jesse on his way out of the office) lifted his cigarettes, and used the moment to manipulate Jesse into thinking his ricin poisoned Brock somehow (or that Gus was involved in doing it). Since day one, Walt’s used his speeches (he gets MANY in this episode) and Jesse’s desperate need for paternal love (remember his parents rejection of him in early seasons?) to get what he wants from Jesse, an act that he sharpened enough on him to use on the rest of the world.
And right there, right when he can get away and leave it all behind, Jesse returns. He beats the shit out of Saul, takes his gun, and sets off to the White residence will a container full of gasoline in his hand. It’s not the most subtle of metaphors, but it closes the episode on an angry, frenetic, borderline reckless end, as Jesse begins to burn it all down.
It’s an important moment in the season: this is Jesse’s great awakening, the final cog in the puzzle of hell that Walt’s orchestrated around himself for the past year and change. Everybody knows now (except Walt Jr., Holly, and the police, of course), and with five episodes remaining, it’s all downhill from here. Jesse turning away from his freedom is where it all changes; it represents the moment that Walt lost control of his most important variable, the instant where it went from controlled experiment to chaos. ‘Confessions’ opens with the lighting of a cigarette, and closes on the image of Jesse pouring gasoline around the White family living room – everything that happens in between, is in service of bringing those two elements together. Everyone ready for the heat to be turned up?
- Hank turns away Gomez’s help when he tells him to pull his guys off Pinkman. He’s wearing a purple shirt; like Marie, he’s on Hank’s side, he’s just too damn stubborn to ask for help.
- Saul: “things have gone nuclear.” Understatement of the year.
- Jesse: “can you stop working me for once?”
- Marie, to Walt: “why don’t you just kill yourself?”… Not a bad idea; it may be Walt’s only option to escape and save everyone.
- the colors that stood out to me tonight: Walt and Skylar still hanging onto their vanilla lifestyle look, while Hank, Marie (and even Gomez) stuck to the darker, purple-friendly shades. We also see Walt Jr. wearing a blue zip-up sweatshirt, in what could be a bit of foreshadowing in what is to come (what if Jesse decides to “poison” Walt’s son by giving him meth for the first time?)
- in the opening, Todd tells the story of the train robbery to his crew. Very suggestive that things are not going to end well for Todd, and that these rednecks have something gruesome up their sleeves.
- Walt tries to cover up his black eye from his son: if there’s one person he’ll always try to protect from the truth, it’s his son. As long as his son loves and accepts him, Walt can hang onto his old life, and not feel like the monster he knows he is.
- Hank calls his $177,000 medical bill that Walt paid for “the final nail in the coffin”… should we pay attention that phrase?
- Just go to Alaska and stop breaking America’s heart, Jesse.
-so who will see this tape, and when? These things don’t get introduced without some sort of importance later (cough cough…. Homeland).
- When Walt goes into Skylar’s office, she’s half-lit, staring off into the light (thinking of an escape, or a “good” ending). Notice how Walt is completely covered in shadow: he’s like death incarnate walking into the room.
- Saul: “some people are immune to good advice.”
- Skylar tries to give a man extra change, as if she’s trying to slowly give the money away, a buck at a time. The man doesn’t accept it, however, and asks for the correct (and lesser) amount of change.