Ep. 12 (spoilers):

I'd probably have to concede to those who are deeming this a somewhat weak episode, building on and worsening the contrivances that accelerated the action last episode. Some reviews complain of Hank's 'nick of time' arrival to stop Jesse. While hardly representative of the show at its best, that didn't particularly bother me, in the sense that one way or another, Hank is surely still keeping a close eye on both Goodman and Walt. And the re-introduction of Gomez into the fold this episode would seem to imply he may have never pulled his guys off Goodman to begin with; I think this is the idea, anyway.

On the surface of things, the bigger problem I had was swallowing the way the meeting with Walt unfolds, and Jesse kind of doofily mistaking a surly looking bystander for an assassin. It's hard for me to see any narrative benefit in making the further escalation of this end-game war between Walt and Jesse the result of a simple, kind of stupid misunderstanding. This situation is similar to Gus avoiding the car bomb in Season 4; I suppose the writers wanted to make this more Jesse's "version" of that. Where Gus's finely honed instincts of self-preservation and intelligent processing of the info gleaned from Jesse in the hospital saved him from Walt's assassination attempt in that instance, Jesse would be saved by his own doofishness and dumb luck. Then again, while it's not decisively established, my sense was that Walt did *not* have any real assassins or any plan to kill Jesse in place for this meeting -- but that now, because of Jesse's misreading of the situation and subsequent threats, Walt feels he must. Quite frankly, I feel a little cheated -- I would much rather have seen that conversation between Walt and Jesse unfold. And Jesse being wired could've just made it that much more interesting.

The complex relationship between these two characters has been so central to the show, I feel a little let down watching it forced down this road. Walt's blind spot of actual human compassion for Jesse is touched on in this episode, but not really explored -- it is noted, and dispensed with on the basis of a dumb misunderstanding, so we can move into the end-game of everyone gunning for each other. And while there's 4 episodes to go, it seems to me it deserved better than that.

As a general principle, I think I appreciate this episode's reminder that Hank has never been all that sympathetic himself, is driven largely by a need for revenge, and that Jesse is now just a pawn on his side of the chess-board. This article about last week's episode touches a little on some of the underlying themes in the Walt v. Hank dynamic. E.g.:

"Confessions" returns to the theme of the dangerous fragility of crushed American masculinity, which has always been Breaking Bad's grandest concern. Walt (Bryan Cranston) and Hank (Dean Norris) are both struggling working-class men who've recently experienced unexpected surges of great power with Walt's advent of the "Heisenberg" master criminal, but the latest episode in the series appears to pave the way for a circular narrative structure that will return the men to their stifling humble origins while potentially destroying everything and everyone else in their wake.

But while Jesse's manipulation and abuse by both sides should heighten audience sympathy for him, BB missteps in this episode -- he now seems as much a pawn of a struggling writers' room as of Walt or Hank.

Another complaint I saw was Skyler's "Lady MacBeth" moment -- she is now advocating the murder of the one person other than his immediate family that Walt truly wants to protect. (Incidentally, Anna Gunn posted an op-ed about the vitriol directed at her character -- and by proxy, her -- on the internet). She doesn't share Walt's blind spot on Jesse or Walt's history with him: he is simply another meth-business related threat to their family, and that threat needs to be removed. Jesse is nothing but a disposable junkie fuck-up problem to anyone *other* than Walt at this point -- this episode makes it clear that Hank, Skyler, and Saul are perfectly okay with Jesse dying. Walt is the only one who isn't. Heisenberg has protected Walt's family, and Jesse is Heisenberg's true family.

That is interesting and dramatically critical to Breaking Bad, so again, it's kind of a shame to see it being handled clumsily here. It may redeem itself in the remaining episodes, but more likely it will all just race into everyone trying to bring everyone down -- there's only 4 episodes left, after all. That's fun on its own merits and I'm sure I'll remain entertained through the end, but some of the twists and turns being taken feel a little cheap.