Review: 'Breaking Bad' - 'Confessions': Master thespian
* Though Jesse makes it clear that Hank wasn't going to succeed even before Saul stepped in, the interrogation scene featured a Hank much more on his game than in the diner with Skyler last week. Hank was clearly getting through to him, but their mutual history was just too much to overcome.
* I didn't think Marie's anger at this situation could be displayed any stronger than her confrontation with Skyler last week. Then she strongly and repeatedly suggested that Walt just kill himself to spare the rest of them the heartbreak that's coming for all of them. I do not blame her for feeling that way, but hearing it stated that bluntly cut very, very deep.
* In the same episode where Jesse has the scales lifted from his eyes, we see that Todd is very much in the mode of wanting/needing Walt's approval, based on the voicemail message he leaves him shortly after the massacre of Declan's crew. The teaser has a real Tarantino movie feel to it (and Michael Bowen, who plays Uncle Jack, is a Tarantino regular), with Todd telling a mostly accurate — exaggerating his jump off the train, and omitting the rather large detail about Todd shooting Drew Sharp — account of the train heist, followed by Uncle Jack and Kenny bonding in the men's room over their disgust at what's happened to this great land of ours. They are a swell duo.
* Upon seeing that Walt has been keeping his revolver (which I last remember seeing when he dropped it on the Super Lab floor back in "Face Off") in the car wash's soda machine, I wondered if a gun and ammunition so cold they were frosted over would fire. Fortunately, there's a lengthy YouTube video demonstrating that various types of ammo and at least one pistol (albeit a semi-automatic) would fire even in that state.
* The hill full of stones Jesse is standing in front of (at the corner of Juan Tabo & Osuna, a little under a mile down the road from Gale's apartment at 6353 Juan Tabo) when he makes his discovery is the Bear Canyon Arroyo Spillway Dam, which looks very much like a row of tombstones. An appropriately eerie-looking setting for Jesse realizing just how badly he wants to hurt Mr. White.
* If "Better Call Saul" becomes a real thing — and based on the ratings so far this season, I suspect it will — can Saul and company enjoy frequent meals while being waited on by Trent? His interruptions to the tense White/Schrader family discussion were perfectly, hilariously timed.
* One other thing about the potential spin-off: as Jesse charged into Saul's office and took the gun out of his desk, I began wondering if perhaps all this talk has been a massive feint by Gilligan and company, and that Saul's not going to make it to the end. Then again, he could always pull a "Sledge Hammer" and make it a prequel...
* More comedy amid stress: we see Walt roar up to the car wash in a panic about Jesse, but by the time he comes through the door, he's pretending to be calm for Skyler. Excellent framing of the shot for the most humorous effect.
* I understand Jesse not wanting to say goodbye to his parents, but not even a quick call to his kid brother?
What did everybody else think?
UPDATE: I've gotten so many emails, tweets and comments below expressing confusion about how Jesse figured out about the cigarette swap that I decided to simply lay out the chronology as follows:
1)In "End Times," to get Jesse back on his side in the war against Gus, Walt arranges for Huell to steal the cigarette pack with the ricin cigarette out of Jesse's pocket and replace it with a different pack. Saul calls Jesse to his office on shaky reasons, and Huell pats him down in a way that gets Jesse's attention. Walt doesn't use the ricin to poison Brock, but rather a lily of the valley plant that will have a similar but less dangerous effect on the boy.
2)When Jesse hears that Brock has been poisoned, he realizes that the ricin cigarette is missing, then (correctly) puts two and two together that Huell stole it, on Walt's orders. He storms into Walt's house and threatens to kill him for poisoning Brock; Walt convinces Jesse that it was Gus, not him, who wanted to hurt the boy — specifically so Jesse would come to this conclusion and murder Walt for him — and that Tyrus must have lifted the cigarettes from Jesse's locker at the Super Lab. Jesse accepts that Mr. White would never hurt a child, whereas Gus has a history of hurting children, and lets go of the theory about Huell.
3)Doctors later figure out that Brock was poisoned by a lily of the valley, not ricin, making Jesse doubt Walt's theory about Gus manipulating Jesse into shooting Walt, and leaving him to wonder what really happened to the ricin cigarette. Walt stages a phony search of Jesse's house and plants a fake cigarette (containing salt, not ricin) inside Jesse's Roomba. None of this sits well with Jesse, but he once again believes Mr. White.
4)Over the course of season 5, starting around the murder of Drew Sharp, Jesse has begun to realize that he shouldn't believe anything Walt says. Walt claims to be broken up over Drew's death, then whistles while he works. Walt claims that Mike left town alive, when Jesse knows that Walt would've never taken out Mike's guys unless Mike was dead. Walt gives Jesse a whole song and dance about how leaving town will be good for Jesse, when Jesse knows that it will be even better for Walt.
5)Having been primed to disbelieve any word out of Walt's mouth, Jesse goes to Saul's office, lights up a joint and gets scolded by Saul, who knows his relocation expert won't pick up anyone who's high. Saul orders Huell to again pick Jesse's pocket to get rid of the marijuana.
6)At the pick-up spot, a nervous Jesse reaches for his pot, and can't find it. He frantically checks all his pockets, but all he finds is a cigarette pack. Staring at the cigarette pack, and realizing Huell dipped into his pocket without him noticing, Jesse realizes that his first suspicions about the ricin cigarette were correct, and that Mr. White was manipulating him into turning against Gus, endangering Brock's life in the process.
That the ricin wasn't actually used on Brock is beside the point. Jesse knew from the beginning that Huell had picked his pocket, and that he must have done it on Mr. White's orders. He has been thinking about this often in the months since it happened — far more often and more intensely than those of us watching the show have, and in a more compressed time period. When he realizes Huell picked his pocket, and stares at another crumpled cigarette pack, everything clicks into place about the events of "End Times" — including how convenient it was that this terrible thing happened to Brock, which turned Jesse back into Walt's ally, at the exact moment Walt needed an ally against Gus — and he goes on the warpath against Saul, Huell and that asshole Mr. White.
You may disagree with whether Jesse would have put all the pieces together like that, but that's what happened.
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org