[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers from Sunday's episode of Breaking Bad. Read at your own risk.]
For many viewers, there is one major question hanging over the final episodes of Breaking Bad
: Will Jesse (Aaron Paul
) ever learn of the many awful things Walt (Bryan Cranston
) has done to him over the past five seasons? And if so, how will Jesse react?
After Sunday's episode, we don't really have to wonder anymore.
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Among Mr. White's many secret sins against his former meth-cooking partner, three stand out as particularly egregious. Most recently, Walt killed Mike (Jonathan Banks
), the duo's other partner and a father figure to Jesse, after a falling out about how to run the business. Before that, Walt poisoned Brock, the young son of Jesse's girlfriend, as part of a convoluted plot to turn Jesse against their boss Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito
), whom Walt framed for the poisoning. But perhaps Walt's most heinous betrayal of Jesse came first: In Season 2, Walt stood idly by as Jesse's girlfriend, Jane (Krysten Ritter
), choked on her own vomit following a heroin overdose.
In truth, Jesse's already had his suspicions about Mike's death, and as a result spent the first two episodes of the final eight trapped in an almost catatonic state of depression and fear. (He ended the premiere episode tearfully throwing stacks of "blood money" out of his car.) On Sunday's episode, however, Jesse is shaken from his stupor when, during an interrogation about his Robin Hood paperboy routine, Walt's DEA agent brother-in-law Hank (Dean Norris
) reveals to Jesse that he knows Walt is Heisenberg.
Although Jesse refuses to rat on Walt to Hank, the man who nearly beat him to death a couple seasons ago, the chance meeting brings out a "complete lack of chill" in Walt and Jesse's attorney Saul (Bob Odenkirk
), who sets up a meeting between the former partners in the desert. Although Jesse assures Walt that Hank doesn't know enough to arrest them, Walt tries to convince Jesse of all the wonderful things he could do if he used one of Saul's guys to create a new identity for himself and disappear from Albuquerque forever. "What's left for you here anyway?" Walt asks. "A whole lifetime ahead of you with a chance to hit the reset button. In a few years this might all feel like nothing more than a bad dream."
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But Jesse's no longer buying what Walt's selling. "Would you just for once stop working me?" Jesse says. "You're acting like me leaving town is all about me and turning over a new leaf, but it's really about you. You need me gone. ... Just tell me you don't give a sh-- about me, and it's either this or you'll kill me the same way you killed Mike."
Despite Jesse's emotional breakdown (and perhaps thanks to the most awkward hug of all time between the two men), Jesse agrees to split town. Saul makes the arrangements, but he doesn't want to let Jesse leave the office with his pocket full of pot. Saul eventually caves, and his security guard Huell (Lavell Crawford
) takes Jesse to the drop-off point. But when a nervous Jesse goes to light up, he realizes his pot has been stolen off his person. He then rather conveniently looks at his cigarettes and suddenly pieces together the extremely intricate details of Walt's plot to poison Brock.
Jesse storms back into Saul's office, bloodies Saul's nose and holds everyone at gunpoint until Saul confirms that Walt asked Saul to steal the ricin cigarette from Jesse months before. Although Walt didn't in fact give Brock the ricin, this detail proves that Walt was the mastermind behind Brock's mysterious lily of the valley poisoning, which once again Walt used to "work" Jesse to his advantage. Reeling from the revelation, Jesse steals Saul's car and rushes in a fury to Walt's house, where he kicks down the door and begins dousing the (seemingly empty) house in gasoline as the episode cuts to black.
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Jesse is clearly "fired" up, but we doubt he will actually get the chance to set the house aflame. (Remember, in the flash-forward, the house was vandalized, but it didn't seem to have been torched.) Plus: Saul alerts Walt, who, we assume, after retrieving his frozen gun from the car wash soda machine (!), will come home to find Jesse there. But flames or no flames, the confrontation between these two men will certainly burn hotter than ever before.
The question remains: Is this the rift that tears the men apart forever? Does Jesse even need to learn the truth about Jane's death to hate Walt forever? (If Jesse is ready to burn Walt's house down over Brock, then it seems Jesse would instantly blow Walt away if he knew Walt watched Jane die.) Personally, we'd like to see Jesse learn the whole truth, but at this point, Jesse seems plenty catalyzed without even learning of Walt's coup de grace.
Other observations about the episode:
• "Confessions" is an appropriate title for the episode, thanks to the other huge plot twist featured in this hour. After trying one last time to convince Hank and Marie (Betsy Brandt) to give up their investigation into Heisenberg, Walt and Skyler (Anna Gunn) film Walt's "confession." Walt again spins a web of lies: He admits to cooking meth, but he says he did so out of necessity (he needed money for his family after the cancer diagnosis) and fear (Walt claims Hank is the ruthless and violent Heisenberg.) The cherry on top? Walt weaves the truth about paying Hank's medical bills — a fact Hank knew nothing about — into his fiction, which pretty much ensures Hank can't tell the DEA about Walt just yet. For now, the threat of Hank seems to be neutralized, which smartly allows the show to pivot to the burgeoning Jesse blowup.
• How cute is it that Todd (Jesse Plemons) calls to tell Walt about the massacre of Declan's crew in the desert? Is that a sign that Walt isn'ttruly out of Lydia's operation as he has said? Or is Todd just trying to stay close to his idol? In either case, the fact that Todd & Co. seem to be bringing the blue meth operation back to New Mexico can't bode well for Walt.
What did you think of the episode? Has Jesse snapped? Do you think Walt has check-mated Hank? Anyone want some table-side guacamole? Share your thoughts below.
Breaking Bad airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.