Walt gets the upper hand on Hank; Jesse makes a major discovery
Breaking Bad 511
Credit: Ursula Coyote/AMC

Jesse finally realized Walt poisoned Brock. And Walt gave Hank a “confession” that makes Hank the patsy, effectively silencing the DEA agent for now. Walt may have beaten his brother-in-law at the moment, but he also may have two new adversaries to face. Jesse, of course, and perhaps even Todd.

Let’s start with the Whites and the Schraders.

Walt Jr. is back — probably from eating breakfast — and questions his dad about his whereabouts the previous night. Walt evades the answer, because how do you tell your kid you were out burying millions of dollars in the desert? That’s not in any of the parenting books.

Right before Junior walks out the door, Walt tells his son he wants to talk. He then says his cancer has returned. But why is he telling him now? To keep Walt Jr. from going over to Marie’s, who just called under the pretense of needing Junior to fix her computer.

“What would really help me out is if we all stayed positive,” Walt says to his teenager, when he really means is “What would really help me out is if you stayed away from Uncle Hank and Aunt Marie.” Walt has become a master at emotional manipulation. He used it on Jesse, Skyler, Hank and now he’s using it on Junior.

Hank arrives back at his house to an upset Marie, who realizes Walt Jr. isn’t with him. Here, she calls him “Flynn,” the name Junior insisted on using for a while. She doesn’t want her nephew to be nominally tied to his drug lord father.

Marie becomes even more upset when she finds out that Hank didn’t tell the DEA about Walt. “Don’t tell me how to do my job,” Hank admonishes his wife — and sounds a bit Heisenbergian in the process.

Skyler sets up a camera for Walt in their bedroom. She asks if he’s sure he wants to do this. He says it’s the only way. The camera begins recording, and Walt begins his confession.

Cut to Skyler and Walter siting quietly at a tacqueria, waiting for Hank and Marie to show up. When they do arrive, Marie is wearing black, and it’s Hank who wears purple. For a show that emphasizes colors, this can’t be ignored. Marie is clearly in mourning for the family she thought she had, while Hank may be attempting to atone for upsetting his wife.

All four of the once happy family sit stone-faced at the table. Walt begins cordially, “Thank you for coming.” Hank inquires if Walt is here to confess. Walt tries to get his brother-in-law to drop the investigation, for his kids’ sake. “This investigation, Hank, do you realize what it will do to them?” More emotional manipulation from Heisenberg.

Marie brings the conversation to a halt, telling her brother-in-law to just kill himself — isn’t that what they are all waiting for anyway? Skyler says that’s not an option, and Hank agrees — he won’t let Walt get off that easily, and he won’t let Skyler off, either, if she sticks by him.

And just like that, the short dinner scene — interrupted comically by the waiter asking about tableside guacamole — is over. Walt slides a DVD across the table. Skyler and Walt leave. When Marie and Hank watch the DVD, they get a huge shock. In Walt’s confession, he manipulates the facts to make it look as if Hank forced him to start cooking meth. Walt hits a nerve with Hank when he says he paid for Hank’s rehabilitation. Hank asks Marie what he means. She says she took the money because she thought it was from his gambling. Hank had no idea Walt’s meth money paid for his rehab. But he must know now how this will make him look with the DEA. He’s screwed — even if they do believe that Walt is lying in this fake confession.

NEXT: The return of the ricin cigarette

As for Jesse, he does his best, in the beginning, to protect Walt. Hank’s entrance into the interrogation room snaps Jesse out of his haze. Hank hopes he’ll turn on his partner, but Jesse says he won’t talk to him. Saul comes in, and throws around the threat of lawsuits, and Hank leaves.

Saul brings Jesse out to the desert to meet Walt. While they wait, Jesse stares at a tarantula crawling on the ground — another thing to remind him of Drew Sharp’s death.

Walt’s car pulls up and he asks Jesse what Hank knows. Jesse tells him not much, except that Walt is Heisenberg. Then Walt makes his pitch.

“Jesse, will you let me help you? I don’t like to see you hurting like this. Maybe it’s a time for a change,” Walt says in the same tone of voice he used to tell Junior about his cancer. Walt says Jesse should start a new life, using Saul’s vacuum cleaner guy. Walt even suggests that Jesse could have a family in a new place. “You’re still so damn young,” he says, preying on his protege’s emotions, just as he does with everyone else. Jesse screams at his mentor/father-figure. He wants Walt to just ask him for a favor and tell him if he doesn’t go, he’ll kill him just like he killed Mike. Walt walks up to Jesse and pulls him into his arms. Jesse cries into Walt’s shoulder, but refuses to return the embrace.

Back at Saul’s office, the lawyer packs up a bag of money for Jesse to pay the vacuum cleaner man, including extra from Walt so Jesse can get his life started wherever he goes. Jesse lights up, upsetting Saul, who says the guy won’t take him if he’s high. Jesse reluctantly puts the joint out. Saul asks him to hand over the rest of the dope. Jesse just puts it back into his pocket.

As Jesse goes to leave, he passes by Huell, who grabs the dope off Jesse — unbeknownst to him. This is not the first time Saul’s bodyguard has picked Jesse’s pocket.

At the pickup point, Jesse wants to light up again. He fumbles around for his marijuana and realizes it’s not there. He frantically searches for his cigarettes, and pulls them out. He looks at the pack and his face blossoms with the horrifying realization — Huell stole his dope, and he stole the ricin cigarette, too. (This ricin revelation comes easily to Jesse — and seems pretty pedestrian for Bad. It’s like watching a procedural, where someone says something offhand to the lead detective, and suddenly, the cop knows exactly who did it.) A red van slows to pick him up at the side of the road, but he walks past it and the driver drives off. Oh Jesse, you should have gotten in the car.

Then Jesse bursts into Saul’s office, locks the door, and viciously attacks Saul. As Saul goes to grab his gun, Jesse reaches it first and points it at the bloodied lawyer. He wants him to admit that he stole the ricin cigarette to help Walt. Saul pleads with Jesse. “I’m sorry. 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 have agreed to it if I knew what he was going to do. Jesse, you’ve got to believe me. I never wanted any of this.” As pathetic and desperate as Saul looks and sounds in this moment, he is telling the truth. Once he found out what Walt did to Brock, he tried to quit. (Side note: Are there more Tarantino references in this episode? Saul screams for Jesse to calm down, and Jesse screams back: “Say it again, tell me one more time to calm down” — recalling Samuel L. Jackson’s great “Say what again” speech in Pulp Fiction.)

However, Saul’s allegiance still seems to lie with Heisenberg. After Jesse grabs Saul’s keys and retreats, Saul calls someone and says, “Hey, it’s me. We’ve got a big problem.”

NEXT: Timing is everything

In “Blood Money,” we saw Walt answer a call while he was in chemo, presumably from Saul, and presumably right after Jesse left his office with the instructions to give away his $5 million dollars to Drew Sharp’s parents and Kaylee Ehrmantraut. Walt said “calm down,” but many pointed out that Saul’s demeanor in that episode did not warrant Walt’s words. Fast-forward to “Confessions,” when a hysterical Saul phones someone we assume is Walt — at a time when we know Walt is in chemo. Was this the conversation Walt had in the premiere? Walt is wearing the same clothes in “Blood Money” during chemo that he wears in “Confessions.” Breaking Bad regularly shifts timelines on us, yet this would be trickier than usual.

But back to the action. A distracted Skyler works the front desk of the car wash, and Walt drives up outside. He composes himself, walks into the car wash, and as calmly as possible, grabs the gun he stored in the Coke machine. Skyler, who just gave a customer a five-dollar bill instead of a one, doesn’t notice her husband’s odd behavior. He leaves again, parroting an excuse about a prescription from the doctor.

The next shot shows Saul’s car pulling up to Walt’s house, running over the mailbox. (That’s the second mailbox someone has run over this half-season.) Jesse jumps out of the car, grabs a can of gasoline from the trunk, breaks down Walt’s door, and starts to angrily spread the gas all over the Whites’ house, grunting like a maniac. The episode ends.

Other things of note:

The episode begins with Todd and his uncle Jack, and Jack’s associate Kenny stopping at a diner after their meth lab coup. Before he goes into the diner, Todd calls Mr. White to let him know there’s been a change in the business. At the table, Todd then recounts the great train robbery to his captive audience. Jack asks his nephew if he’s ready to run his own lab and make some money. Todd says he is. The three of them drive off and enter New Mexico. Timing-wise, it’s unclear when this happened. While Walt was dealing with Hank and Jesse, did he know about Todd and his uncle Jack’s killing spree? Although he claims to be out of the business, this is something that would seemingly be problematic for Walt. And, in this scene, Todd is wearing a very familiar green jacket — a similar one has been worn by both Jesse and Walt.

Speaking of clothes, Jesse has reverted to his Pac Sun skater wardrobe we haven’t seen since the early episodes.

Finally, Hank really is defeated. Gomez walks into his office, and asks why Hank put two agents on Saul Goodman’s office to watch out for Pinkman. Gomez chastises his boss, warning him that Jesse could sue, so Hank has Gomez to pull the tail without explaining anything to his friend and co-worker. Hank then tells his secretary he’s going out for a while, and she reminds him of a meeting, which he has her reschedule.

Breaking Bad keeps upping the stakes each week and with five episodes left, it’s hard to fathom how this will end.

Episode Recaps

Breaking Bad

Walter White descends into the criminal underworld.

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