WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
Where last week's episode continued to deal with the fallout from Hank's toilet epiphany, Confessions finds our players allowing their greatest fears to sink in as they hesitate in making their next moves. Hank, Marie, Jess, Skyler and Walt all see what may lie ahead and are consumed by terror.
The only one who seemingly doesn't understand that fear is Todd, who is on a high from his confrontation with Declan and is now boasting about last season's tragic (albeit successful) train heist with no mention of the late Drew Sharp, only self-aggrandisement. Jesse, on the other hand, can only think about Drew, Brock, Jane, Spooge and all the other lives lost in service of the great Heisenberg as he sits in the interrogation room.
Hank senses how badly Walt has ruined Jesse and sees his opportunity to turn an enemy into a friend, but the hate between them is just too big for Jesse to overcome. Both these men are under Walt's boot and having the life crushed out of them. Jesse knows this only too well and is on the absolute brink, while Hank has figured out the details in the abstract but is yet to witness a moment when Walter discovers a new unfathomable low. That will change, and soon, but until then Hank is stood on his relative high ground and looking to an unresponsive Jesse to join him.
It's Aaron Paul's turn to step up and he puts in some of his finest work in this week. Paul will likely never top Jesse's raging hospital monologue from season three, but here he delivers a master class with less showy material. His voice is so husky and worn; his eyes are a chemical shade of red and his face looks bloated out of shape by what he has seen. And it has only been a year, as Hank reminds us: "My own brother-in-law, lying to me for over a year. Help me out here, Jesse, and we'll put him away. I know you want that. I think you wanna talk." "Not to you."
After Saul dispels any notion of talk, they go to meet Walt in the desert for "a debrief" as season one Jesse may have referred to it. Walt is imperious and sounds every inch the kingpin, talking of a "clean slate" for Jesse convincingly, but also with a pang of terrifying, threatening euphemism. Jesse looks unwell, sickened by the formerly futile high school chemistry teacher. He can't stomach the slick arrogance or Walt's eroding morality anymore.
"Will you just for once stop working me? Stop jerking me around … Drop the whole concerned dad thing and tell me the truth." His words are cracked and slurred as he begs, plain begs, Walt for a shred of honesty. Cranston's Walt barely reacts, sensing the abject disdain his protégé holds for him, but knowing that the boy is so crushed by what he has seen he offers him a hug. The bond these two actors share and the relationship they have fostered both on and off screen is reinforced in that embrace. They are both father-son and master-slave and Jesse cannot break their connection without something major to spur him on.
Meanwhile, in the episode's other two lengthy standout scenes, Cranston's Walt is forced elaborate upon his advice to Hank in the premiere - apparently "tread lightly" wasn't enough to get him off his back, so he and a very Carmela Soprano-esque Skyler go to dinner with Hank and Marie.
All the air is sucked out of the scene as the family exchange tense looks, while a hapless waiter tries to get them to order some guacamole. For the most part, they listen to Walt recant his whole "Why tear this family apart?" spiel but both have their turn to voice their anger. Marie goes as far as imploring Walt to kill himself, and he, in turn, sees there is no convincing his in-laws. Nothing could prepare them for what comes next.
They play a DVD Walt made in which he confesses to being the chemist in <em>Hank's</em> meth operation: Both Walt and Bryan Cranston give terrifically convincing performances. It's shocking to hear the amount of detail he has put into crafting this alibi, from his ride-along in the pilot, up to the death of Gus Fring, Walt lays all of Heisenberg's misdeeds at the feet of Hank Schrader. Hank's eyes look as if they are carved into his rocky brow, which is ever-furrowing with the fury and shock. It is only now that Hank sees why Jesse would throw millions away. Yes, that's what everyone's been talking about on Twitter.
Jesse himself is in Saul's office looking relieved at the thought of a new life in Alaska. As he waits on the pavement for Saul's connection to whisk him away, a small part of puzzle clicks into place. He realises Huwell lifted the ricin cigarette off him and that Walt poisoned Brock. He now knows just one of the awful things Walt has done to him to save himself, and hell hath no fury like Jesse Pinkman awakened and alive for the first time in God knows how long. He beats Saul before dousing Walt's house in gasoline at the episode's end.
Word gets back to Walt, and the panic has set in by the time he rolls up to the car-wash to retrieve his gun; the general shiftiness that imbues his conversation with a vacant Skyler paint him as a man in crisis. In an instant, the tables have turned once more with yet another revelation. For now, Jesse is in control, as Aaron Paul gives Cranston a run for his money when he becomes The One Who Kicks Doors Down.
Words: George Morahan