MovieChat Forums > Breaking Bad (2008) Discussion > S05E11 -- The Moronic but Hailed as Bril...

S05E11 -- The Moronic but Hailed as Brilliant "Confessions" Video

I remember when this first came out. All of the midwits were in open-mouthed awe at how Walter White had stitched together a "plausible" alter-reality where Hank would be viewed as the actual kingpin.

No. In the real world, allegations must be supported by evidence. Allegations from an admitted meth-maker against a decorated DEA agent matter even less. Any type of career law enforcement officer would immediately turn the disc in as evidence. It's Exhibit A in their defense: "Why would I turn in this blackmail video?" Any career defense attorney would be cringing.

All of the reality-challenged claims would crumble. "I need help paying medical bills despite being the kingpin?" The ride-along was authorized by my then-boss. Time, dates, money. This would not have "worked" even for a little while.


I think it might work, at least enough for the story purposes of Breaking Bad, for a couple of reasons.

First, because Walt and Hank are so close, it becomes more plausible. The close family ties might make a jury raise eyebrows. It doesn't need to be true for a jury to convict or acquit.

Second, because Hank had some erratic behaviour leading up to the tape. He flipped out a few times and that might be suspicious, or again, able to be leveraged into suspicion by a quick-witted attorney.

Third, because it doesn't necessarily need to stick the landing to turn Hank's life into Hell for a couple of years. Even if Hank was ironclad, 100% certain that it wouldn't, ultimately, put him in jail or cost him his job, he would know darn well that it might gum up his operation and career for a year or two. The personal stress would be enough to give him pause, let alone the fact that he was already suffering from anxiety attacks. But on top of this, a delay of a year or two is all Walt needs. Then he dies. Walt's on borrowed time and Hank knows it. He can't afford delays, and he doesn't want to deal with the anguish and stress that the tape would cause.

Fourth, because Hank (and Marie) would see that tape and would have that cold fear drop into their bowels. They don't *know* the tape won't work (juries, etc.) and Walt and Skyler need Hank and Marie to panic and back off. Even if your gun isn't loaded, pulling it out can make the other guy feel like talking instead of shooting. The tactic employed - the tape - might not have been able to ultimately convict Hank and/or exonerate Walt, but in terms of changing the power dynamic enough to get Walt off the ropes, it is believably an excellent tool.


1) I don't see how it gets to a jury. Criminal charges against Hank will not hold up. When parsimonious explanations unravel the lies, concerned parties will find themselves at crossroad. People like Skylar would most likely come clean for a reduced punishment.

2) This means almost nothing. "Erratic" behavior matters inasmuch as it leads to building a case. It comes into play at the level of law enforcement rather than prosecutor and figures into "reasonable suspicion." Ultimately, a trial requires evidence. Off the top of my head: Reasonable suspicion --> Probable cause --> Arrest --> Trial --> Conviction.

3) Yes, I agree this will cause some immediate pain, but coming forward is not only the right thing to do, it's in his own self-interest. He does not know what will happen with Walt and how he'll be implicated down the road. He could expect a shadow would be cast over him regardless of what he does.

4) Hank's a career law enforcement officer. He knows how cases are made.


1) Hank and Marie would be thinking about how prosecutors could/would spin it and what the jury would see.

2) If it means something at the level of law enforcement, then you must know that it would be enough to get Hank in the crossfires of Internal Affairs, which would at the very least gum up Hank's investigation. Do you think that, with suspicion on Hank, plus "Heisenberg" turning out to be his brother-in-law, that the DEA will leave Hank on the case? No. Hank wants this collar. He's steaming mad and he's wanted Heisenberg personally for some time. Compound this by the fact that he's now feeling ultimately betrayed by Walt, and he wouldn't want that tape getting out.

3) Coming forward being the best option doesn't mean that a character will go for it. Hank's character matters as much as cold logic. Are you a Community fan? There's one where Abed crafts a "horror" story about perfectly logical characters who don't make dumb, horror movie mistakes. The thing is, though, "real" people do make these mistakes, so Hank not being able to think clearly on this, or taking an action that is not optimised doesn't necessarily mean the show was "wrong" for having a character make a misstep.

4) He does know how cases are made, and Walt's got a major smoking gun with the fact that Hank's bills were paid by drug money. The fact that we know Hank didn't know would be muddled, at best, and between that and other odd activities Hank got up to (he "happened" to find and kill Tuco, as just one example that does actually get questioned in the show) would put IA (or the DEA equivalent - I'm not sure here) up his butt so far and so fast that he'd think he was a Muppet.

Walt doesn't have zero evidence, there is some evidence. Also, while Hank might know or guess this, or he might not, we know that Walt could probably fabricate a whole bunch more evidence to brand Hank with.

At the bottom line, I think Hank being totally blindsided by this clouded his judgement and his reaction is well within his character.


Re: A Trial
Again, there's no reason to believe it would ever get to that stage. It's incredible how far bullshit goes with the public versus a court of law. Cf. Trump's election claims. It's amazing how laypeople think White's playing some kind of 4-D chess. Does his jizz taste like Kool-Aid?

Re: Internal Affairs
Internal investigations almost always go the way of the LEO. For the cop, they're a hassle -- sometimes more than a hassle -- but almost never result in criminal prosecution. Perhaps it's a misperception on my part, but it seems like cops get off scot-free even when the grievance has some legitimacy.

"Compound [Hank wanting his "collar"] by the fact that he's now feeling ultimately betrayed by Walt, and he wouldn't want that tape getting out."

This combines truth and falsehood. Hank gets pulled off the case without the recording because Walt's his brother-in-law. And that gets to the central thesis of this thread: The false allegations on the recording are meaningless to Hank.

Re: Character Motivation
I agree that characters do not have to act rationally. They do not have to realize the truth; they have to be true to themselves. But, again, the point is that Hank's a sharp, veteran agent, which is why analogies to an unloaded gun bluff ring false. If we're being true to his character, he'd look at this recording differently than the average Breaking Bad fan. He can -- and should -- be enraged at Walt, but he should not for one second believe that anyone in law enforcement will take Walt's allegations seriously.

Re: Smoking Gun
Hank's pursuing his brother-in-law. That's a problem. Just to clarify my original claim: One can try to explain Hank's behavior for a myriad of reasons, but the recording is not a game-changer; at best, it's a nothing-burger. And that's not how it's perceived by viewers.


I think you're forgetting the jury will not see these people anywhere near the way that we know them.

It would be interesting in a few years to ask AI to break the series at this point and using its best understanding of human nature to add an alternate ending to the series.


I'm not really interested in what a computer puts together. I'm not even really that interested in reading human fanfic scripts. Breaking Bad is one of the best shows of all time.

I'm down with speculating on these message boards with fellow fans, but what a robot writes out? Nah. Pass.


Well reasoned. That's how TV drama works. That was relatively worthy of suspension of disbelief compared to 99% of most comparable genres.

Probably anyone who would do that and turn on their family would not have pursued the character arc of trying to redeem himself - if not for the audience. ;-)


Fair enough. I thought it was stupid when it aired, but I was more upset with the overwhelmingly positive response. The closest thing I saw to a criticism was an attorney who said he enjoyed the episode, but would be cringing if Walt were his client and sent the recording.


It would have been enough to severely crumble his career because there were elements of truth in it (Hank punching him, Hank taking him on a ride along, paying for Hank’s medical bills with drug money). It definitely would have hurt Hank and by that time Walt would have been dead.


it was a great scene