No One Left to Root For

Episode review of “Confessions”, episode 11 of season 5 of Breaking Bad

There will of course be spoilers ahead.

As we get closer and closer to the finale of Breaking Bad, the world of the show is getting smaller and smaller. Once upon a time, Walt was concerned with creating an empire. Now all he can do is manipulate the people that are left in his immediate vicinity. Walt is circling around the inevitable time when all that’s left around him is himself.

While last week’s episode was filled to the brim with scenes of two people talking in private, in “Confessions” we see Walt and Skylar meet with Hank and Marie for the first time as a group since the big information bomb was dropped last week. The meeting place, a family restaurant, gives the scene an appropriate setting. Hank is menacing; Walt puts on his concerned school teacher voice. Basically, what was said in private last episode (that Hank wants to get Walt, that Skylar insists on keeping her kids and that Walt won’t admit guilt) is said publicly in this scene. No one is flipping sides or backing down. Moreover, this “family scene” shows us that the big picture does not matter anymore. Drugs, death, law. Nothing compares to family betrayal.

Smaller and smaller. The scene that follows narrows the world even further. In the scene the episode was named after, Hank and Marie view a DVD that contains Walt’s confession. In this beautifully simple scene, we watch Hank and Marie’s increasing disgust and regret as they watch a tape that could ruin them. The confession describes in detail how Hank used Walt to create a meth empire. It’s a fine bit of performance from Walt. Enough that perhaps with the right audience, the story could be believable. Enough that Hank and Marie know they are screwed. With this confession, Skylar and Marie are cut out of the proceedings. It is just down to Hank and Walt and a battle of wills.

The problems I have with the last three episodes are all related to the flash forward scene of Walt, healthy, returning to his empty house. So much of the tension in these episodes relies on us knowing that Walt is going to be just fine. No one else is, but Walt is still out there, kicking ass and taking names. Yes, at the end of “Confessions” Jesse goes to burn down the White house, but we know he can’t accomplish this. The house still stands. The only mystery that remains is how Walt survives, and honestly, I’m getting a little tired of that one. I haven’t been rooting for Walt since Season 4, so knowing that he survives at least another couple months doesn’t do it for me.

And so the world gets smaller. Hank chooses to keep the law out of his investigation. Walt and Skylar effectively cut out their brother and sister. Walt tries to cut out Jesse. I can only assume that Skylar is next. Pretty soon it will just be Walt and his machine gun.

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