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Recap / Breaking Bad S5 E11: "Confessions"

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Season 5, Episode 11:

"My name is Walter Hartwell White. I live at 308 Negra Arroyo Lane, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87104. This is my confession."
Written by Gennifer Hutchison
Directed by Michael Slovis
Air date: August 25, 2013

"All I could think to do was to make this video and hope that the world will finally see this man for what he really is."
Walter White

At a diner, Todd leaves Walt a voice message telling him about the "change in management" for his old operation, following Jack and the Neo-Nazis' replacement of Declan's crew as distribution. He brags to his uncle Jack and a fellow skinhead Kenny about the train heist he pulled off with Walt and Jesse, while conveniently leaving out what happened to Drew Sharp, before they make their way to New Mexico. Jack asks Todd if he's ready to cook quality meth, to which Todd assures him that he is.

Hank enters the interrogation room where Jesse is detained after trying to toss his $5 million, informing him that he knows of Heisenberg's true identity as Walter White, his brother-in-law. He tries to convince Jesse that if he confesses, they can bring down Walt together. Jesse is clearly conflicted and angry at Walt, but remains belligerent towards Hank and refuses to talk because of his ongoing grudge against him. Saul arrives to control the damage and ushers out Hank.

Back at the White residence, Walt is ordering Saul to use his money to bail out Jesse. When Junior comes home, he tells Walt that Aunt Marie had called him over to help with her computer. Realizing this was another ploy to separate him from his children, Walt tells Junior that his cancer has returned, playing on Junior's love and concern for his father to convince him to stay. Afterwards, Walt and Skyler work together to record an apparent confession.

Walt and Skyler meet with the Schraders at a Mexican restaurant to discuss their situation, and tempers flare. Walt tries to explain that he is no longer involved in the drug trade, and that there is nothing to gain from trying to prosecute him. He claims that putting Junior through the trauma of finding out about Hank's "allegations" would be too cruel after he's just "found out" that Walt's cancer is back. Hank, however, is determined to see Walt behind bars; he's not going to let Walt's cancer claim him before he can face justice.

With both parties at an impasse, Walt leaves a DVD containing his apparent confession with Hank. When Hank and Marie play it at home, however, they find that the "confession" is a ploy: Walt tearfully confesses that Hank had been using him as his cook to start a meth empire using his connections in the DEA. He claims that Hank kept him in line by threatening his family and taking his children from him for three months, that Hank had sold him into servitude to Gus, that Hank's shootout with the Cousins was actually a hit placed on him by Gus after a falling-out, and that Hank had forced Walt to pay his medical expenses while he recovered.

Hank and Marie are left gobsmacked at Walt's sheer audacity. Hank thinks the confession to be an empty threat, but Marie reveals that she had, indeed, taken money from Skyler, who had claimed it was gambling earnings, to pay for his hospital bills and rehabilitation. If the DVD was ever sent to the DEA, that money would give Walt's confession credence, and completely destroy Hank's own credibility.

Out in the desert, Walt meets with Jesse and Saul. Jesse tells Walt that he doesn't think Hank has gone to the DEA with his findings yet, and that he doesn't have any hard evidence. Walt, acting concerned about Jesse's spiraling mental state, suggests Jesse contact Saul's "vacuum salesman" and make a clean break, begin life anew somewhere. Jesse, however, tells him that he knows Walt is only worried about himself, and that he needs Jesse gone to stop Hank from continuing to go after him for evidence. He pleads with Walt to just ask him for a favor for once, and to admit that he doesn't give a shit about Jesse and will kill him if he doesn't do what Walt says, just like he killed Mike. Walt says nothing. Instead, he approaches a terrified Jesse and hugs him tightly.

Afterwards, Walt tells a weary Skyler at the car wash: "It worked". Hank has been rendered defenseless by the fake confession, and Jesse is no longer an issue...

...or so he thinks. Saul is preparing to have Jesse escape via the Disappearer, and scolds him for smoking weed because the guy won't take him if he has any drugs on him. He has Huell drop Jesse off on a roadside to meet with the Disappearer, but as Jesse waits, he searches for his weed and can only find his pack of cigarettes. He realizes that Saul must have instructed Huell to swipe the weed off of him, and that Jesse's initial instinct that Huell had stolen the ricin cigarette from him at Walt's request was entirely correct. Walt was the one who poisoned Brock, to trick Jesse into turning against Gus. Jesse turns and storms off, leaving the Disappearer's van to drive away.

Jesse runs into Saul's office, punching him in the face and threatening him with his own gun as he accuses him of helping Walt poison Brock. Saul admits he had Huell take his ricin, but claims that Walt never told him what he was going to do with it and only told Saul that he was "saving" Jesse. Jesse storms off with Saul's car and gun. As Saul warns Walt about the situation, who nervously retrieves his gun from the car wash's vending machine, Jesse breaks into Walt's house and starts to dump gasoline around the floor, intending to burn it to the ground...

This episode provides examples of:

  • Bastardly Speech: Walt's "confession", in which he essentially accuses Hank of being Heisenberg and manipulating and threatening Walt into cooking for him.
  • Butterfly of Doom: Huell taking Jesse's weed because of the vacuum salesman's rules causes Jesse to cancel his plans to flee so he can get revenge for an otherwise resolved conflict.
  • Call-Back:
  • Camera Abuse: Jesse really wants to make sure that camera burns.
  • Cooldown Hug: Walt gives Jesse one when he angrily asks him to stop pretending to be concerned for him and admit that he needs Jesse to leave so Hank won't make another attempt to get his testimony, outright expecting to get killed if he refuses. Jesse ends up breaking down in tears on his shoulder.
  • Crocodile Tears: Used in full force in the "confession" tape, with Walt claiming to be afraid of Hank coming after him and his family for wanting out.
  • Double-Meaning Title: Walt makes a "confession" tape that's actually a means to blackmail Hank. Jesse however, beats a real confession out of Saul that Walt was the one who had his ricin cigarette lifted and poisoned Brock.
    • Furthermore, two other attempts to get a confession are made in this episode, first by Hank who tries to get Jesse to give him the goods on Walt, then by Jesse who asks Walt to tell him honestly that getting him to leave town is for his own good and not Jesse's.
  • Drone of Dread: While Jesse is pouring gasoline on Walt’s house, combined with a harsh thudding drum beat. It’s fittingly named Gas Can Rage.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: When Jessie realizes Huell swiped his joint off him, he thinks back to when he lost the ricin cigarette and proceeds to put two and two together, and he is pissed.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Saul makes it clear to Jesse that he never would have knowingly helped Walt poison a child.
    Saul: Yes, okay, I had Huell lift your cigarette, but Walt made me! He told me he was helping you, he was saving you! I never would've agreed to it if I'd known what he was gonna do!
  • Frame-Up: Walt makes a tape that paints Hank as the Lawman Gone Bad mastermind behind everything he did, and himself as a coerced stooge. It won't get him off anything, but the threat of Taking You with Me is clear.
  • Heroic RRoD: After Jesse finds out about Walt's role in Brock's poisoning, he goes into an unstoppable rage. By the time he goes to pour gasoline in Walt's house, the sounds he makes are between primal grunting and tired wailing as if his rage is literally wearing him down, but he just won't stop.
  • Hypocrite Has a Point: Jesse indirectly nearly leaves Walt's children without a home, but he is right that Walt is a bastard for poisoning Brock.
  • Internal Reveal:
    • Jesse realizes that it was Walt who poisoned Brock, and beats Saul down until he gets a complete confession to it.
    • While it was clear to the audience that Jesse was aware that Walt killed Mike, Jesse finally confirms it out loud to him in the desert.
    • Walt Jr. learns that Walt's cancer is back. Tragically, Walt uses it to manipulate Junior into staying in the house and away from his aunt and uncle.
    • A twofer: Walt mentioning Hank's hospital bills in the confession video leads Marie to realize where the "gambling" money used to pay for Hank's physical therapy came from, while Hank didn't even know that Walt had paid for his treatment.
  • Ironic Echo: Marie point blank tells Walt that he should kill himself. In the "confession" tape, Walt "admits" to having been suicidal in the past.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Walter is willing to ruin the life and reputation of his brother-in-law if it keeps him out of jail.
    • Hank reassigns two of Gomez's men to watch Jesse, and when Gomez confronts him about it, Hank angrily tells him that he'll call the guys off and to get out of his office.
  • The Last Straw: After continuing to believe in Walt even after being put through the wringer thanks in large part by him over the course of the last year, Jessie fully turns against Walt after realizing Walt manipulated him into thinking Gus poisoned Brock and vows to make him pay.
  • Mood Whiplash: The tense meeting between Walt, Skyler, Hank, and Marie being periodically interrupted by an obnoxiously cheerful waiter.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Downplayed: Hank isn't mad, but he resignedly tells Marie that using Walt's money to pay for his medical bills has effectively killed any chance they have at getting Walt without his own career going in the toilet.
    Hank: Oh, Christ, Marie... You killed me here. I mean, it's the — that's the last nail. That's the last nail in the coffin.
  • Oh, Crap!: Hank and Marie get a double dose of this: first when they find out Walt's "confession" video is a ruse to destroy Hank's credibility, and second when they both realize that Walt's drug money paid for Hank's hospital bills and physical therapy/rehab, meaning Walt's alibi is actually airtight.
  • Opportunistic Bastard: Walt waits until Marie is trying to get Junior out of the house to inform his son that his cancer has returned and that he passed out, at which point Junior decides to stay with his dad. It's notable that Walt never lies during this conversation, and yet makes it clear that he's no longer above manipulating his son to get what he wants.
  • Paper Tiger: Saul lampshades this about Huell when Huell does nothing to bar Jesse out of the office:
    Saul: What do I pay you for?
  • Pet the Dog: In the full version of the confession tape, Walt goes out of his way to never mention Jesse once.
  • Plausible Deniability: This is what Walt's "confession" really boils down to. It doesn't get Hank off of his back and it doesn't save him, but it creates enough reasonable doubt that Hank can't go to the DEA without anything less than actual, physical evidence of guilt.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Upon realizing Huell had taken the ricin cigarette off of him, Jesse doubles back to Saul's office, and beats the shit out of him. Once he gets confirmation that Huell did swipe off the ricin cigarette and Walt used that to make him think Gus poisoned Brock, Jesse makes a beeline over to Walt's house... and begins to douse it in gasoline.
  • Refuge in Audacity:
    • Walt's "confession". Accusing the head of the Albuquerque DEA of running a meth empire behind the scenes for the sole purpose of blackmailing him is bold and outlandish, but Walt manages to concoct a story that would at least sound plausible to an outside observer (especially in the wake of Gus Fring's crimes being made public), aided by several facts such as Hank unknowingly using Walt's drug money to pay his own medical bills.
    • Huell's pick-pocketing strategy, with the 400-pound man standing in the doorway as Jesse leaves so they're forced to make contact.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Jesse is correct that Huell lifted the ricin cigarette off of him, but he's incorrect in thinking that Saul was aware of and in on Walt's plan. Saul makes it clear that he didn't know the full plan and would have never participated in it if he'd known a child's life would be endangered.
  • Shout-Out: Jack compares the story of the train heist to the movie Hooper, only for Kenny to remind him that the scene in that movie involved a helicopter, not a train.
  • Spot the Thread:
    • Marie tries to write off Walt's "confession tape" as being entirely filled with lies... but then Hank takes notice of his mentioning of using $177,000 to pay for Hank's medical bills...
    • While waiting on the side of the road for Saul's "cleaner", Jesse goes for his weed, only to realize he can't find it, only managing to pull out a pack of cigarettes. And in his frantic search for his weed, right then and there is the connection made in his head about the ricin cigarette.
  • Tranquil Fury: Throughout the entire "confession", Hank remains silent but looks like he's ready to choke Walter to death if he could reach through the screen, especially when Walt claims that Hank threatened to hurt Walt's family.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom:
    • During his "confession" tape, Walt makes a special mention to the fact that it was Hank who showed him how much money people make in the business of drug manufacturing in the first place.
    • Marie letting Skyler pay for their medical bills earlier is now the final nail in Hank's coffin.
    • Saul orders Huell to pocket Jesse's stash so that he doesn't show up to the meeting with the identity eraser while high. In the process, Jesse realizes that Huell pocketed the ricin cigarette earlier and that Saul was (unknowingly) in on the plan to poison Brock.
  • Villains Out Shopping: In the opening, Todd and Jack are eating in a diner, chatting about his previous involvement with the train heist.
  • Wham Episode: Walter makes a "confession tape" saying that he was coerced by Hank who was the true mastermind behind everything in the series. Meanwhile, right before getting a new life and identity, Jesse finally realizes that Walt was the one who poisoned Brock, beating a confession out of Saul and going to Walt's house and pouring gasoline over everything.
  • Wham Line:
    • The moment Hank and Marie realize what Walt's "confession tape" really is.
      Walt: (On tape) If you're watching this tape, I'm probably dead... Murdered by my brother-in-law, Hank Schrader. Hank has been building a meth empire for over a year now, and using me as his chemist.
    • "Why don't you just kill yourself, Walt?"
  • Wham Shot: The look on Jesse's face when he realizes that Huell lifted his weed off of him. We see him finally come to the conclusion that Walt had him do the same thing with the ricin and that Walt was the one who poisoned Brock.

"We got a big problem."