“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.
For Walt, of course, his cancer’s return began this humbling, which culminated last week with the image of Skylar (Anna Gunn) cradling Walt like a child in their bathroom after he collapsed. Well, maybe. Walt appears to be growing confident again, particularly when his titular “confession” is revealed to be a brazen threat to frame Hank. Viewers can be forgiven for initially falling for Walt’s deception, as his steadying weariness over the course of this season, while always exploited for its maximum capacity to manipulate others, has also often appeared to be legitimate. Walt’s original suggestion to Skylar that he turn himself into the authorities, which he voiced while sprawled out on that bathroom floor, appeared to carry real notes of exhaustion that weren’t just physical, but mental, spiritual, and emotional. The Heisenberg monster appeared to be running out of guises to assume.