Television: ‘Breaking Bad’: ‘Confessions’ Marks Jesse as Scapegoat



In biblical times, being sorry for your sins wasn’t enough. A more conclusive way of making that point was metaphorically loading up the head of a goat – the scapegoat or patsy – with the entire village’s package of wrongdoings and sending the creature out to Belize – uh, the desert – never to be seen again. Ah, conscience clear.

For last night’s episode of “Breaking Bad,” Vince Gilligan and his team made the confessional theme even more epic by adding some Saturnine Old-Testament rules-and-regulations flavoring.

Some admissions were just blabby retellings, such as Todd’s phoner with Walt (Bryan Cranston), and then a braggart chat with relatives about the railway heist. Others were formal announcements, such as Hank’s (Dean Norris) telling Jesse (Aaron Paul), during the latter’s questioning, that he knew Walt was Heisenberg.

The biggest spill – a narrative game-changer – was from Walt, given to Hank and Marie (Betsy Brandt) as a DVD. In it, Walt stunningly implicates Hank as Walt’s probable murderer and also as the meth ringleader for whom Walt was forced to perform criminal acts.

However, in an episode overflowing with disclosures, there’s another confessional variation, involving Walt and Jesse, bound to get lost in the shuffle.

Saul has bailed out Jesse, and these two, along with Walt, meet in the desert. After Walt makes sure Jesse hasn’t confessed any information which might incriminate Walt, he suggests to Jesse that a new start for this young man – in a new locale with a new identity – might be just the salve to put things right. In a highly charged confrontation with his former mentor, Jesse tells Walt to stop “working” him and just ask him to leave, fully aware that, if he doesn’t disappear, Walt might kill him, just as he did Mike.

And, just like that, after what amounts to a Judas-hug from Walt, Jesse has become the scapegoat, there in the desert, for Walt’s sins. It’s the closest thing to an admission of guilt from Walt, in the biblical sense, that he’s revealed to anyone other than Skyler (Anna Gunn). And just as the biblical goat had no choice, neither does Jesse whose preferred itinerary – an alterative to burning in hell, perhaps – is the cooler-climed Alaska.

Of course, just as Jesse waits for his “ride” to geographic liberation, standing by the highway in front of a back-drop of concrete structures that look like tombstones, he makes the connection that Saul’s henchman Huell was the one who stole Jesse’s ricin cigarette, and that Jesse had not carelessly misplaced it. He cancels his scapegoat mission and, instead, heads back to Saul’s office where he elicits the episode’s last confession – from Saul – about the ricin theft.

Earlier in the episode, Hank had angrily accused Walt of thinking he’s simply going to walk away from all this. However, Walt, whose mind-set has become increasingly Old Testament in its eye-for-an-eye way of preserving himself and family from legal retribution, really does see walking away as an option, through the scapegoat intervention, in which self-delusion rules.

“Confessions” is a turning point for Jesse. As the high-school chemistry flunky, he was always Walt’s whipping boy, a role fulfilled here, in more epic terms, by the scapegoat. The goat is associated with Saturn-ruled Capricorn. In the Old Testament, the scapegoat is referred to as azazel. And who was the biblical figure who placed lots on the heads of the two goats, one to be sacrificed and the other to leave? It was Aaron.

Can’t make this stuff up. Somewhere Vince Gilligan is winking.

Astrology Television Rating: ♄ (Saturn)

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