Episode Review: Breaking Bad, "Confessions"

  • Publish Date: August 26, 2013
  • Comments: ↓ 4 user comments

Updated 9:12am

Breaking Bad, Episode 511: "Confessions"
Original airdate: August 25, 2013 on AMC

Rate this episode:

Breaking Bad's final episodes:
509. Blood Money
510. Buried
> 511. Confessions
512. Rabid Dog airs September 1
513. To'hajiilee airs September 8
514. Ozymandias airs September 15
515. Granite State airs September 22
516. Felina airs September 29

Spoiler warning: Quotes below may contain spoilers about this episode (though not future episodes).

Written by Gennifer Hutchison and directed by the show's usual cinematographer, Michael Slovis, the third episode of the final eight brought Jesse back into the story in a big way, though not before Walt outplayed Hank with a fake confession that echoed one in the very first episode of the series.

What did critics think? Below are quotes from reviews and recaps of this week's episode. Note that if a publication provides a grade or score for the individual episode, it is included below (converted to our 0-100 scale).

Great Extremely positive reviews

91 "No part of Breaking Bad is more fun than the moment when our hands fly to cover our mouths because we cannot believe what we just witnessed. Watching Breaking Bad is fun because Breaking Bad is audacious."

— Donna Bowman / A.V. Club

"The episode was just incredible all around and if we had Jesse spill his guts like I thought he might to open the episode then we would have been robbed of all of this."

— Zac Oldenburg / Cinema Blend

100 "If your heart wasn't racing when Jesse was standing on that roadside, you haven't been paying attention."

—Allison Keene / Collider

"Before this run of the eight final episodes, Gilligan promised that they would be turbocharged and so far they have lived up to that promise. The pace, the tension, the dire twists all seem to have been amped up in comparison to the show's typical pace, which can be methodical at times."

— Chuck Barney / Contra Costa Times

100 "[The Walt/Jesse scene] was incredible and chilling, and it wasn't even the best thing 'Confessions' had to offer."

—Nick Harley / Den of Deek

"This final sprint of Breaking Bad is like nothing I've ever seen. It's TV as a crescendo, as a magnet, as a wave. These episodes aren't ending so much as they're gasping for breath."

— Andy Greenwald / Grantland

"Once upon a time, this was a series that moved much slower than we thought it would, and was all the more powerful for it; now, it's going far quicker than we might have thought, without losing the methodical structure that makes each emotional moment land as heavily as this one does."

— Alan Sepinwall / HitFix

"What a tour de force those [Jesse Pinkman] scenes were, particularly from Slovis and Paul."

— Maureen Ryan / Huffington Post

100 "It was well-written, beautifully told, and just an awesome piece of TV."

— Seth Amitin / IGN

"Each week we're consistently thwarted by any expectations of where the writers of "Breaking Bad" will take the show, but the key twist of 'Confessions' is a true jaw dropper."

— Kevin Jagernauth / The Playlist

"This week, as always, Aaron Paul conveyed all those points on Jesse's emotional pendulum with a mix of brokenness and anger that was palpable, heartbreaking and ultimately really scary."

— Jen Chaney / Salon

90 "An instalment that had me back where I'm used to being in Breaking Bad, on the edge of my seat, with no idea of how many chess moves Gilligan is ahead of me."

— Chris Harvey / The Telegraph

"Jesse's revelation and its aftermath were so stunning and well-designed that they managed to overshadow what could fairly be called the greatest false confession in television history."

— Eric Dodds / Time

"Another week, another stellar episode."

— Luke Gelineau / TV Equals

100 "Breaking Bad is clearly in a league of its own as these final episodes tick away with some of the most intense, captivating and downright fantastic moments on television."

— Sean McKenna / TV Fanatic

"We may well have seen Aaron Paul's Emmy submission for next year."

— Rick Porter / Zap2it

Positive Positive reviews

"I felt the nudge of the writers' room a bit more than usual. But Aaron Paul's performance is so engrossingly sympathetic, so committed, that he pulls it off."

— Kevin McFarland / Boing Boing

"[Confessions] seemed like a particularly vivid illustration of what makes Breaking Bad so great—and, at the same time, what may ultimately prevent it from ranking among the Greatest Ever. ... For every five wonderful moments in which plot follows character, there's one irksome moment in which character follows plot. Where someone does something that doesn't seem as real as the rest of the show just to keep the story ripping along. Where you can see and hear the narrative gears turning."

— Andrew Romano / The Daily Beast

"Here's hoping the rush to the finish won't cut corners regarding all that we've learned so far. We like to think we know the characters too well to buy any gimmicky behaviors at this point."

— Joanne Ostrow / Denver Post

"I continue to appreciate the way the Breaking Bad writers construct small scenes."

— Tim Goodman / The Hollywood Reporter

"It's the first episode of the season to feel slightly scattered in places because it needs to service so many different story lines, and its cliffhanger is largely pointless, since we know Jesse won't burn down the White home. (It's still standing in the flash-forwards.) But 'Confessions' unquestionably works and that's because of the two characters and the actors portraying them who have always sat at the show's center."

— Todd VanDerWerff / Los Angeles Times

"The episode derived its tension from keeping us in the audience on both sides of the line simultaneously: We knew the truth, so we recognized the half-truths and the lies, and we could not help but empathize with the people being lied to."

— Sean T. Collins / Rolling Stone

"'Confessions' wasn't the constant barrage of mortar fire the first two hours of the final season gave us, playing it tame and rather unspectacular for the first 40 minutes of its 47-minute run. But those last minutes? Hoo-boy."

— Tim Surette / TV.com

"Walter's confession was one of the great monologues in the history of TV."

— Matt Zoller Seitz / Vulture

Mixed Mixed/neutral reviews


Poor Negative reviews


What do you think?

What did you think of last night's episode of Breaking Bad? Let us know in the comments section below.

Comments (4)

  • AmbivalentLife  

    Thanks, genesiskel. It's like half the fanbase wasn't paying attention during Season 4.

  • genesiskel  

    You're missing some brain cells. It's Jesse, btw. And ricin. And he went ballistic because he knows Walt manipulated him by stealing the cigarette and poisoned Brock with the twig and berries.

  • thedefensediva  

    The fatal flaw with this brilliant episode is that Walter didn't poison Brock with Reisen. He used lily off the valley and Jessie knew that!! Yes, that is how he got Jessie to help him kill Gus but that wouldn't be enough to make him go ballistic. Am I missing something?

  • LamontRaymond  

    I'd give the episode about a 7.5 or 8, simply because the final sequence, with Jesse putting together in his head the cigarettes, figuring out that they might have been lifted from him a few seasons ago, was just a bit too much. That's all it took? A little forced. And the whole cigarette saga with Brock getting Jesse to finally go after Gus by suggesting Gus tried to poison Brock was the weakest in the series. Who gives a crap about Brock? The central focus should be letting Krysten Ritter's character die. MUCH more central and memorable. Otherwise, great episode.

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