Ring of Fire
Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 11 recap
The last episode – Buried - was about brute violence: the desert hit and Hank and Walt fighting in the garage. It’s back to the base violence that Walt never really took to. When given the choice, Walt’s MO has always been grand and dramatic, poisoning and bombs. When Walt does kill brutally (with a bike lock, his car or a gun) it’s out of panic, fear or frustration – emotions that cause messiness and mistakes.
Confessions starts with a post-drug-massacre Todd phoning Mr. White and informing him that a problem that was taken care of, but if Walt is completely out, why would he need to know? Todd heads into the diner and regales his prison uncle and his buddy with a detailed story about the train heist – Todd is clearly enjoying the awe and attention the story is bringing him, milking every last detail. Todd is bestowed his own lab but I don’t believe for a second this kid is ready for it.
In the washroom the Aryan prison guys are lamenting the nanny state (no more smoking on planes and bike helmets) as they freshen up after murder. Some blood is wiped off a shoe, but did the paper towel make it down with the flush? (Seriously guys this is why every public toilet has a sign that says do not flush paper towel.)
Now we are back with Jesse in the interrogation room, and he seems to be disconnected from what is happening around him, but with the mention of “brother-in-law” and “Heisenberg” he perks up. This is Hank’s one true shot at getting Walt, although he probably doesn’t know it. The money is gone, and Walt won’t slip up – Jesse is the key to Heisenberg. Hank goes good cop, but Jesse shuts him down.
Back at home, Walt is using cover up on his face and trying to stop Walt Jr. (or Flynn, as Marie calls him) from leaving the house and going to Hank and Marie’s to “fix a computer.” This is how deep Walt’s ability to manipulate goes: he chooses this moment to tell his son that his cancer has returned, thus ensuring Jr. will want to stay close to home (and not hang out with his aunt and uncle). Even though his prognosis is dire (or is it? He seems to change his cancer story depending on the situation), he gives his son a lot of hope, asking him to stay positive. Walt is asking for positivity to keep Jr. close, not because he legitimately wants more time with his son – a pretty awful way to approach the situation if it is indeed terminal.
Back at the Schrader residence, Hank and Marie butt heads over Marie’s very black-and-white opinion on Hank telling his co-workers. Hank sees the details though – he really has no evidence, and he beat the sh-t out of his only possible ally. Meanwhile, at the White residence, Walt sits in front of a camera while Skyler tapes his confession.
At a peppy Mexican restaurant, the foursome –once so close they went to doctor’s appointments together – sit for an awkward dinner. The baby-faced waiter is very enthusiastic, although I don’t think the tableside guacamole is an option tonight.
Walt appeals to Hank and Marie’s love of the kids (particularly Jr., who would be irreparably damaged by the revelation) and as Walt is going through the logic, Marie has an idea: for Walt to kill himself. Skyler immediately jumps to his defense, and Hank goes into full cop mode, telling Walt to be a man and that he’s out of options (which is clearly untrue – Walt probably has the most options out of anyone). I wish Hank would recognize that bravado doesn’t work with Walt – at least not anymore. Walt is smart, he is cunning and he is ruthless – he may not be able to go toe-to-toe with Hank but he can f-ck him up in unimaginable ways. Walt has often been… underestimated. Hank would be wise to stop with the kicking down doors talk.
At a stalemate, Walt and Skyler quietly get up and leave, sliding a DVD across the table. (Also can we talk about Walt’s Mr. Rogers get-up? I understand the porkpie hat had to go but this is ridiculous.)
Hank and Marie stand in the living room watching Walt’s “confession” – subbing in Hank as Heisenberg and painting Walt as a simple chemist and cook, desperate for money and afraid for his family and life. It’s quite a smart plan – with no physical evidence, the Mexican cartel hit and the medical bills paid, it’s a plausible argument and even if it would be incredibly hard to prosecute Hank, it would absolutely destroy his life. Hank recognizes the threat and freaks out on Marie about the medical bills, because that makes them joined in secrets -- $170,000 worth.
In the desert, Hank, Walt and Saul – Jesse watches a tarantula crawl by, just like the one Drew Sharp had in the jar. Jesse tells Walt everything that happened with the cops, plus offers some insight into Hank’s behavior.
Walt then goes into dad mode, laying it on real thick, pretending to be concerned and coming up with a solution: leave town with a new identity. It’s very transparent, it seems that Walt can hardly be bothered to put any effort into manipulating Jesse. This is typical Walt and Jesse - Walt is offering up everything Jesse wants (normalcy, love, a family) and pretending that everything awful can be erased, whether with money, time or a fresh start.
And, finally, Jesse sees. He knows every single thing Walt says and does is to serve Walt. Jesse knows that if he says no, he will meet the same fate as Mike, but he only has one simple request: he wants the great Heisenberg to acknowledge that he needs Jesse. Even though Walt doesn’t give a damn about Jesse, an acknowledgement of the sacrifices he has made would be all he needs to go quietly. With Jesse in tears, Walt hugs him. Is this Walt realizing that he has truly and forever broken this kid’s heart, or is it just another tactic for him to get Jesse to do what he wants? Or, more likely, a way for him to avoid saying that he needs anything from anyone?
(And another note on wardrobe – Jesse is back to oversized hoodies?)
Hank is at his office, trying to go through paperwork. Gomez comes in and is pissed that his partner is on Pinkman detail, so Hank cancels it. He will not risk anyone knowing what he is doing because that would be the end of his career – and maybe worse.
While working out the details on his new life, Jesse declines to hand over his weed to Saul, and as he leaves, he brushes past Huell. Jesse wants to go to Alaska, he actually seems OK with leaving – the further away (Alaska), the better. At the pick-up spot, he looks for his weed with increasing panic, but instead pulls out his cigarette pack. This is what could only be described as a light bulb moment; in an instant, he realizes that his ricin cigarette was lifted and Walt poisoned Brock (with Saul’s assistance). This was something Jesse suspected but let go, but now he knows his initial instinct was right. This is a firm line for Jesse – more than Mike – that means there is absolutely no going back.
Jesse heads to Saul’s, beats him pretty good (poor Saul, he really didn’t want to do help poison Brock, but I guess if you lie down with dogs…). Heull is the worst security guard ever. After holding Saul and the team at gunpoint (Saul’s receptionist looks like she’s been held at gunpoint before), Jesse gets a full confession and steals Saul’s keys. Saul immediately calls Walt, who goes straight to the car wash and nervously gets his little pistol out of the Coke machine. Walt is jumpy – I like seeing him squirm. No matter how things turn out with Jesse (sob), I hope he gives Walt a hell of a fight.
Jesse takes Saul’s car and hightails it to the White residence, where he takes a jerrycan out of the trunk, kicks in the front door and manically starts pouring gasoline all over the house, grunting in rage as he does it. Will the White residence burn? Did Jesse think anyone was home – does he want anyone to be? Will Walt be able to talk Jesse off a ledge one more time? Jesse was a few minutes away from a new life, but that kind of escape was never really an option for him. It wasn’t fear of the law or mortal danger that was driving Jesse’s behavior, but his guilt. And you can’t move away from your conscience. I would love to see Jesse’s basic sense of decency rise up and smack Walt in the face. It’s long overdue.