Spoiler Alert: Do not read if you haven’t seen Breaking Bad Season 5, Ep. 11 – “Confessions”.
"Would you just, for once, stop working me?" - Jesse
Last year, when the Jesse James comparisons were flying fast, I pointed out that the legend of Jesse James didn’t end that well, especially for Jesse James. In fact, he was killed by his friend and accomplice who was working in tandem with the local law enforcement. Now, I’m not sold on the idea as Walter White as a neo-Jesse James (I find it a tad insulting to Jesse James), but the fact that Breaking Bad is a neo-western has never been disputed and a classic ending seems only fitting.
Walter’s own friend and accomplice, Jesse, began “Confessions” in the perfect position to exact a Robert Fordian revenge against his former mentor. But, he didn’t take it. Despite the episode’s title and Jesse’s complete lack of regard for his own well-being, he didn’t rise to the bait. He may be disillusioned when it comes to Walt, but he still hates Hank.
I’m assuming he regrets that now.
In a last ditch effort to save himself Walt tried to manipulate Jesse once more. It was quintessential Mr. White and yet, the scene caused me to think about a different AMC anti-hero: Don Draper. (Spoiler Alerts for anyone who hasn’t seen the first and second season of Mad Men and really, if you haven’t, shame on you. Get on that.) In the second season of Mad Men, when Don visits Peggy in the hospital following her surprise baby and subsequent breakdown, he tells her “It’ll shock you how much this didn’t happen.” That’s essentially the same advice Walt gave Jesse, “in a few years this might all feel like nothing more than a bad dream”. But Jesse, unlike Walt or Don or Peggy isn’t able to compartmentalize his demons and start a new life. He’s living in a world of anti-heroes, but he is merely mortal.
He is controlled by his emotions and as much as Walt can try to bolster his resolve, those emotions will continue to guide his actions. This is what has made Jesse the heart of Breaking Bad for the last few seasons what has always made him so dangerous to Walt. Just like Jesse can’t understand Walt’s measured, calculated responses Walt can’t understand Jesse’s emotional ones. They’ve been mismatched partners from the beginning and this fallout was inevitable.
Also inevitable was Jesse discovering Walt’s hand in poisoning Brock. There were too many people who knew his involvement and too many chances for someone to mess up and reveal the truth. And mess up they did when Saul had Huell lift Jesse’s weed before sending him out on his new life, thus triggering Jesse to put two and two together and get Walt is an evil mastermind.
But this isn’t the Wild West anymore and law enforcement won’t commission an assassination. So which Robert Ford Revenge Path will Jesse take? Will he team up with DEA to take Heisenberg down or will he kill his former friend and accomplice knowing it’s the only way to stop him? Considering the episode ended with Jesse attempting to burn down the White residence I’ll assume the latter, though that doesn’t necessarily rule out the former.
But even if Jesse’s revenge plans fail, there’s a growing line of people ready to take up the banner. Marie was still intent on getting the kids out of the house, which led to a family meeting. No matter what the White’s offered, the Schrader’s weren’t buying it. Marie even suggested that Walt just kill himself and speed up the inevitable (hmm, reminds me of another theory). So Walt played his last hand.
And make no mistake, that taped “confession” was a last hand. As brilliant as it was to plant the seed of Hank as Heisenberg, it had the distinct markings of a man with nowhere else to turn. You don’t resort to taking everyone down with you unless there are no other options to be had.
And as if all that wasn’t enough, Creepy Todd is attempting to reach Walt and (I’m assuming) pull him back into the ring. People are coming for him at every side and Walt is running out of options.
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