Posted on Monday, August 26th, 2013 by Joanna Robinson
As we promised in “The Ones Who Knock” Kickstarter, I will be doing weekly recaps here for each episode of Breaking Bad. For those of you unfamiliar with my recapping style, it’s less of a straightforward plot summary and more a distillation of the most interesting elements of each week’s episode. The recaps will spoil everything up through the current episode (S5E11 “Confessions”), but won’t spoil any future episodes or even scenes from the “Next Time” segment of the show. There will, however, be some light speculation and straight-up crackpot theories. No theory or speculation is based on foreknowledge of the show. So hold on to your pork pie hats, because here we go.
1. Confessions: The titular confession of the episode, of course, was not quite what we were expecting. After Pinkman’s defiant “eat me” to Hank in the interrogation room, we’re left with this much more damning piece of “evidence.” In a deliberate mirror to the pilot episode’s heartfelt and improvised confession, this cooly calculated web of lies is Heisenberg at his most conniving. He manipulates facts and bends reality as it suits his needs. That’s been Walter’s MO for the entirety of the series. Side note: I love the continued Western showdown imagery that Hank and Marie represent in this shot. They’re squared off against Walt in a classic three point configuration that’s reflected in the painting over Hank’s bar.
I also admire the way director Michael Slovis had Walt’s taped confession blur, warp and distort as the lies continued to tumble forth. Chilling, horrific imagery. And, of course, that tape wasn’t Walt’s only bravura performance this week. Before manipulating his son with cancer half-truths, Walt literally puts on stage make-up. Albeit not very well…
2. Temptations: If we follow the religious imagery that Walt so cannily distorts with his “confession” we get this, The Last Temptation Of Jesse Pinkman. Here everyone’s favorite martyr goes into the desert to treat with the Devil one last time. And like he has before, Walt is all purring seduction: “Jesse will you let me help you? I don’t like seeing you hurt like this. It is time for a change. Get a legitimate job. Something you like. Meet a girl. Start a family. What’s here for you now anyway?” In the bible, Satan flies Jesus to the top of a mountain and show him all that could be his. And here, of course, we all cheered when Jesse/Jesus sees the Devil for what he is and our hearts sank when he succumbed anyway. Is Jesse headed for the ultimate sacrifice? I wouldn’t be at all surprised.
3. Revelations: But before we get there, we’re here at a roadside revelation. This scene played out brilliantly allowing us, the audience, to share Jesse’s panic and confusion before everything snapped into place. The disorienting camera angles and Aaron Paul‘s absolutely stunning performance sold the importance of the moment. He let that maroon van (and possibly his salvation) pass him by.