Breaking Bad: Confessions

"So. How 'bout that guacamole?"

One of the big continuing questions in this series has always been, does Walt truly care about Jesse?

And I still don't know.

Jesse stayed loyal to Walt. No snitching for Jesse. He was even ready to do exactly what Walt said, get out of town and lie low for Walt's sake. Jesse crying in Walt's arms had me in tears -- mostly because of Aaron Paul's exceptional performance, and because I really, really want Walt to care that much about Jesse. But despite that incredibly moving father-son-like hug, it felt like what Saul had set up was a hit.

When Jesse was waiting for the pick-up, he was standing in front of a big cement structure that looked like a sea of symmetrical tombstones. Saul mentioned that Jesse could "swim with the dolphins" in Florida. That's a lot like "sleeping with the fishes", or taking a "trip to Belize". And there were two greeting cards behind Skyler at the car wash that had swimming dolphins on them. Saul has suggested eliminating Jesse more than once. Jesse and Saul are the only two people (other than Skyler) who know enough to put Walt away, after all. Saul would probably keep his mouth shut forever, but Walt knew Jesse was losing it.

And then, right before the van pulled up, Jesse realized that Saul had had Huell take the dope out of Jesse's pocket, and Jesse looked at his pack of cigarettes and put two and two and Walt and Brock and poison together. I always wondered what Jesse would do if he found out the worst that Walt has done, and now he has. (Although he still doesn't know about Jane.) Is Jesse really about to burn down Walt's house?

As Jesse was losing control, Walt managed to defang Hank and Marie. His "confession" was an absolute masterpiece, so clever, so perfectly constructed, that I kept saying "Wow" out loud. He took every instance of Hank's inadvertent involvement in the Whites's lives over the past year, and turned it into evidence of Hank being the mastermind behind the meth empire -- from the initial ride-along in the pilot episode, to the hit by the twins, to Gus Fring and Tio Salamanca -- even the money Skyler gave Marie for Hank's therapy, and Hank and Marie taking custody of the White kids. Outstanding writing. And of course, they had to get some symbolic color in there, so for the latter half of Walt's "confession", there was a red stripe down the middle of Walt's face.

Walt also manipulated his own son with yet another confession. That was such a disturbing little scene. Junior was at the point of tears, realizing that he might lose his father after all, but I absolutely got the impression that Walt was "confessing" that his cancer was back in order to keep Junior away from Hank and Marie, and for no other reason.

With all that money at his disposal, why the hell doesn't Walt pack up Skyler and the kids and leave the country? He could buy an island and a jet or a yacht to get them there, hire a private oncologist, and live out his life, no matter how long or short, in absolute luxury and where Hank could never find him. Why won't he? I would.

Bits:

-- Walt and Marie continued to wear white and beige during that meeting with Hank and Marie, who were wearing black and very dark blue. Throughout the episode, Walt's clothes got progressively darker.

-- I loved the tacky Mexican restaurant they chose for that life and death discussion. At least it wasn't Los Pollos Hermanos.

-- Walt put on a clumsy glob of make-up to hide his black eye, much like Jesse did back in season one.

-- There were several office shots: Saul's, Hank's, Skyler's, and all of them were oddly dark. When Walt came into Skyler's office at the car wash, he was completely back lit and black.

-- Walt retrieved his gun from under the soda machine. It was literally on ice. Who's the gun for, Walt?

And pieces:

-- Todd called Walt on the phone just to say hi. Uh huh. The restaurant scene showed Todd telling his uncle and the other guy about the Great Train Robbery in "Dead Freight". And it featured blood going down the toilet. And the methylamine on its way into New Mexico.

-- Because he can't tell him even a particle of the truth, Hank is losing his close working relationship with Gomez. That's sad.

-- I hated seeing Jesse beating Saul. I can't help but be fond of Saul.

-- I can't remember. What happened the last time Saul ordered a specific part for a vacuum cleaner? Was that a hit, or just a way to get someone out of town?

-- This week's Most Obvious Symbolism was probably the tarantula crawling toward Jesse in the desert scene. I couldn't help thinking of the little boy on the dirt bike in the train robbery episode.

-- Gold acting stars for Aaron Paul; this was Jesse's episode. Bryan Cranston was also awesome. That confession was a masterwork.

-- Seriously. What were those cement slabs where Jesse was waiting for the van? That was a fascinating location shot.

Quotes:

Walt: "What do I have to do to make you believe me?"
Marie: "Why don't you kill yourself, Walt?"
Point, Marie.

Saul: "It's always a desert."

Jesse: "Will you just for once stop working me?"

Exceptional episode. Four out of four dolphins,

Billie

15 comments:

Jess Lynde said...

Well, no sympathy for Walt this week. Just a lot of open-mouthed horror at what an evil, slippery bastard this guy is. First he played Walt Jr., then Hank and Marie, and then poor Jesse. Poor, poor Jesse. I hated seeing that part of him still needed the hug to be real.

You know, I never considered that Walt and Saul were setting Jesse up for a hit with the identity guy. Why would Saul be so fanatical about the dope if it wasn't a legit effort to just get Jesse a new life? Would a hired killer really care that much about whether his target was smoking dope? Maybe.

I sort of want you to be right though. Because I got rather angry with myself for not wanting Jesse to go. I was looking at this as his chance to make it to Alaska and have a new life, and I should have wanted that "happy" ending for him. But, in the moment, I didn't want Walt to get his way. I didn't want Hank to lose this possible link. And I didn't want Jesse to slip away without knowing the full scope of the ways in which Walt has messed with him. I was relieved when he figured out Walt had poisoned Brock. And I was mentally cheering when he walked away from the car. And, if that was really his shot to get out, I probably shouldn't have been. Because now there's probably no happy ending for Jesse. *Sniff.*

I loved that shot of Skyler glowing in white in her office while the dark devil, Walt, hovered in her doorway. Quite evocative. She suddenly seems to be having a lot of second thoughts about going along with Walt. Perhaps his "confession" putting Hank and Marie in the cross hairs is giving her a new reason to question her allegiance.

Re: some of your questions. Apparently someone's going to stop Jesse from burning the house, because in the Mr. Lambert flashforward, there didn't appear to be evidence of fire damage to the house. (That was still a hell of an ending though.) The vacuum thing was what Walt was supposed to say when he called the number for Saul's "new identity" guy. And I believe I read that stone wall is some sort of spillway or other drainage control feature.

TheDarkShape said...

It wasn't a hit, Billie. Why have Huell take Jesse's pot in that case? Why wasn't Saul terrified when Jesse came back in (if Jesse's back, clearly he survived the hit)?

Also, ordering the vacuum cleaner part is what Saul told Walt to do in Crawl Space.

Billie Doux said...

Okay, it's likely that it wasn't a hit. But all that "swimming with the dolphins" stuff sure sounded ominous to me.

Drainage control, huh? in a show full of water imagery? That looks like tombstones? Fabulous.

Yeah, we've seen the house in the future. But it could have sustained some fire damage and gotten repaired, right? :)

Henrik Bennetter said...

Wow. The rage in Jesses eyes and face when he had the epiphany. All the lies and the manipulation and the scheming. And earlier the utter "fuck-all" portrayal when in the desert, waiting to be whacked.
What a performance by Aaron.
And Bryan, when doing his "confession". My gods this really is going to be one hell of a blowout isn't it?

Gus Brunetti said...

I actually thought Billie was saying the hug scene felt like Saul was setting up Jesse to be killed by Walt.

Suzanne said...

Billie,

I was fascinated by your analysis considering that it might be a hit. I wonder if Jessie had those doubts, too. Who wouldn't given al Walt has done, just the fact that Saul alone made a big deal about the pot wouldn't negate your theory since that could be an act. However, I suppose Huell going to the trouble to steal the pot out of Jessie's pocket does make the theory seem less likely. Who knows with Walt. Anything is possible!

All I kept thinking when Jessie was in Walt's house pouring the gasoline was that Walter Jr. Might be in danger. Remember how he said he wouldn't leave the house after Walt manipulated him into staying. Also, there was the foreshadowing when Skyler told Marie the kids were safe now.

The video "confession" was incredible! I felt the way Marie and Hank looked. I like how the camera angle made Hank look really small next to Marie, just like he must have felt. Walt is a monster, and I am in no way rooting for him. I am rooting for Hank, Marie, and Jessie, but I fear no one comes out of this in good shape.

Ben P. Duck said...

You play a lot on the color theory in your review, but I think the Hamlet theory was the one overwhelmingly in evidence in this episode.

The brooding prince wracked with doubt about the king and whether he is in fact guilty of crimes against Hamlet (he is certainly guilty of plenty). But the real giveaway is when he sends Hamlet/Jesse off to England/Alaska and an uncertain fate. Its then that Hamlet discovers that the king is certainly guilty and returns determined to take vengeance.

I thought the parallel was what made me sure that Saul had arranged a hit (although taking the dope does cast a lot of doubt on that).

Anonymous said...

Brilliant episode, great review. We felt that Jesse was likely not to make it to Alaska alive... hard to say why, but the vibe was that Jesse was being "taken care of." However, with the "confession" stopping Hank and Marie, and Walt's attitude that all the bad stuff is in the past, I think a downfall is coming soon. And my gut instince? I can't help but think that Junior is doomed -- soon.

Mark Greig said...

Jesse is never getting out of Albuquerque alive, is he? :(

Billie Doux said...

Oh, Mark. I hope you're wrong but I'm afraid you might be right. :(

Billie Doux said...

Aaron Paul got "performer of the week" on TVLine. I'm sensing a trend.

http://tvline.com/2013/08/31/aaron-paul-breaking-bad-breakdown-scene-jesse-pinkman/

Josie Kafka said...

I'm almost caught up!

Excellent review of an excellent episode.

I don't think Saul meant to order a hit on Jesse with the vacuum cleaner thing, because in the desert, when Jesse mentions that Walt chose the location so he (Walt) could kill him (Jesse) if needed, Saul does a double-take. I don't think it had occurred to Saul that Walt would kill him or Jesse.

Billie, I've been speeding through this show so quickly I can't remember if you mentioned this in one of your earlier reviews or not: Walt's street name, and the connection to dirty water there.

Billie Doux said...

Josie, I am impressed!

Do you mean Heisenberg and hydrodynamics? I mentioned the real Heisenberg and his uncertainty principle back in season one, I think, but nothing else -- I don't know all that much about the real Heisenberg, so do tell.

Josie Kafka said...

Nothing science-y!

Just that his street name is Negra Arroyo, which means "Black Stream" or "Black Stream[bed]" Why it's Negra and not Negro? No idea. Either my Spanish isn't up to answering that question (arroyo is masculine), or it's one of those funny grammatical errors.

And now I see what we did. I said "street name" and meant "the street on which he lives." You read "street name" and thought--logically--that I mean his handle, his tag, whatever the kids call it these days. :-)

Anne said...

Billie, I found this quote from the D.P. as to exactly what the "tombstones" are: "That’s a dam. It’s at the base of an arroyo and it’s used to slow the water from rushing down the mountain when they get these torrential rainstorms during monsoon season in Albuquerque."

Nobody has mentioned the first scene of this episode (probably because the entire eppy was so intense). I loved the first scene with its shades of Reservoir Dogs. Todd's uncle and his sidekick are some seriously scary dudes and I am anticipating their reappearance before the show finally ends.