Breaking down ‘Breaking Bad’ season 5, episode 11: The confession within ‘Confessions’

A deeper look -Sunday night’s “Breaking Bad” was the best of the season by a mile; a brilliantly-paced, well-acted journey through the possible destruction of every important character on the show. You can claim that this season is about Walter White paying the piper for what he has done, but you may as well put the handcuffs on every single one of these characters. Even Hank, the model of all that is supposedly right, realized that there is no way that he can bring justice to Walter White without shining a light on his own failures as an officer.

This is what made today’s focus on “Confessions” all the more powerful: The confession from Walt that was hardly a confession at all. It was a confession of a lie, beautifully written by Gennifer Hutchison as one of the best monologues in the show’s history. Director Michael Slovis lingered on this scene, allowing us to see the full length of what Walt was saying that every move he made, Hank made first. He was the puppet controlled by a powerful man in the DEA who had the perfect resources to commit so many crimes, and then frame it on another man.

This was almost the way a series recap should work, completely interwoven into the story. It was almost like we sat here and watched the last five season with such attention, but then Walt speaks of past events like Gus Fring and the money with such conviction that it almost makes you want to believe it even though you know it’s not true. It’s an insanity-inducing speech, whether it be from just confusion or rage. Putting us as close to Hank’s point of view as possible here was a rather brilliant brushstroke on the part of producers. By the time that Walt finishes, Hank realizes in one second that he’s done. If he turns him in, he is lost; if he just lets him die, justice is not served. There is no real way to heal his soul and care for his family … let alone Walt’s own two children.

A few other things to pay attention to:

1. Marie is not wearing purple in this scene; instead, it’s black, a perfect ensemble for watching her life slowly go up in flames. She is present for her own funeral.

2. The painting on Hank’s wall as aptly appropriate for what feels at times like an Old West sort of showdown between these two characters.

3. This tape was clearly shot in a bedroom. What did Skyler think about this idea? This is just a subtle reminder of how completely out of control she is in this situation, and how unwilling that she is to be proactive in changing it. The only confession she has made through the past two episodes is of complete and utter helplessness.

We would also be remiss in this article to not shine some light on the brilliant meme that has come out of this Hank / Marie scene. Having the two react with shocked expressions to other events, including old footage of Aaron Paul on “The Price is Right,” is priceless. (Next to Dean Norris “spoiling” the ending, it’s the strongest “Breaking Bad” viral video of the week.)

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Photo: AMC

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