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Monday, August 26, 2013

Breaking Bad Season 5, Episode 11: Immune to Good Advice

Posted By on Mon, Aug 26, 2013 at 10:45 AM

Skyler and Walt regret not getting the table-side guacamole. - PHOTO COURTESY OF AMC.
  • Photo courtesy of AMC.
  • Skyler and Walt regret not getting the table-side guacamole.

If the writers of Breaking Bad were aiming to set a chilling tone with "Confessions," there's really no better way than opening up with Todd. Todd, with his aw-shucks mercenary schtick, leaves Walt an exceedingly polite voicemail in which he refers slaughtering Declan as a "change in management." I think Todd sincerely believes this. Instead of trying to mentally abuse Jesse into believing his lies, Walt should just let Todd fill that role. Sometimes it's okay to go for the easy lay, Walt.

When Todd tells his neo-Nazi mentors about the methylamine train heist, it's like he's waxing nostalgic about scoring a winning touchdown. "We totally pulled it off! And then I shot a child." The Nazis dig it and ask him if he's ready for the next step. How can their actions possibly get any worse? Because this series loves foreboding, we see the men using the restroom, one combing his moustache while the other casually wipes blood off of his Southwestern Nazi boots before neatly flushing the bloody paper down the toilet. These men have a nonchalance that's downright frightening, perhaps even frightening enough to be the ones who eventually send Heisenberg running. While Walt has mastered the art of manipulation, sometimes that just ain't enough when you're up against some batshit white supremacists.

The chilling theme runs throughout "Confessions" as we see Walt at his most calculating. He delivers the most expert guilt trip in parenting history on Walter, Jr.; he sits through a Mexican Applebee's dinner with Hank and Marie and somehow manages to talk about his crimes without actually incriminating himself; and then of course, there's the confessional DVD. It's a classic: the Oscar-worthy crocodile tears, the seamless threading of Hank's life into Heisenberg's empire, and the $177,000 of drug money that Hank unwittingly received because Marie just wanted him to be able to walk again. It's nice to see that lung cancer hasn't dampened Walt's creative spirit.

Hank and Marie may just now be realizing the extent of Walt's puppeteering, but Jesse is quite aware. Their desert confrontation has been a long time coming and Walt's faux-paternal routine is incredibly transparent, as he's one step away from putting a Werther's Original in Jesse's palm and chucking him under the chin. Jesse's request that Walt, for once, not "work him" is bold. He's now a different kind of liability to Walt. No longer the fuck-up that buys Funyuns and drains the RV battery, Jesse now has the ability to help take Walt down. That power scares him, as demonstrated by how terrified he is when Walt goes in for a hug. He sobs and holds his arms stiffly at his sides; he knows he can't even refuse this embrace.

Perhaps this is why he agrees to get a new identity from Saul's connect. As he prepares to start his new life with a duffle bag full of cash, a Hello Kitty burner phone and a sack of weed that Saul can't get him to ditch, Saul tells him: "Some people are immune to good advice." And yes, Jesse Pinkman may be immune to good advice and sensible decision-making in general. But as Walt's humanity disintegrated over the seasons, one has been building in Jesse and perhaps he's now ready to make the ultimate bad decision by taking Walt on. After his ricin cigarette epiphany, Jesse goes to the White residence with a jug of gasoline and has begun furiously dousing the house that was built on various shades of brown decor and, of course, lies. Some good advice, Jesse: Start with the plaid curtains.

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Sylvie Kim


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