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Breaking Bad Review: Blood Money

Breaking Bad returned Sunday night with “Blood Money,” kicking things off with a continuation of the flash-forward we saw in the premiere of season 5A, only this one shows a much more dismal future. Walt returns to his destroyed and abandoned family home, where the name “Heisenberg,” once a point of pride, taunts him as he walks in his front door. In the midst of his rundown bedroom, he bleakly stares at himself in the distorted mirror after retrieving the vial of ricin that he stashed in the outlet plate.

HankBack in real time, Hank’s search for bathroom reading material ends in quite possibly one of the worst revelations of his life. Now, why would Walt leave this copy of Leaves of Grass with Gale Boetticher’s dedication at the beginning of the book in his bathroom out in the open? We have seen him before briefly glance at the book and smile. This always struck me as more of a point of pride; Gale was Walt’s intellectual equal and that superlab seemed mighty small for two actual chemists, when Walt allowed himself to get over the initial giddiness of sharing this potential kinship with his coworker. Back in “Say My Name” Walt asks Declan to say his name out loud after boasting that he knows who he is because “I’m the man who killed Gus Fring.” Since Walt can’t openly declare he killed Gale Boetticher (also, because no one really knew him like they did Gus) the obvious placement of the book may just be another moment of Walt displaying his “trophy” and otherwise showing his insane hubris by doing it under Hank’s nose.

But I digress. Hank cannot be bear to be in the White home any longer and finds Marie and books it. Unfortunately for Walt, Hank does have a very active conscience – remember back in the midseason finale ”Gliding All Over” where a disheartened Hank spilled his guts to Walt when all of Jessewitnesses were killed in the prison? There, Hank is not only sad over losing his case, but rather disillusioned with the horrible world he is surrounded by daily – very unlike Walt’s reaction to, well, a lot. Hank’s pesty conscience brings on an overwhelming panic attack, resulting in him crashing his car. Tony Soprano anyone? If Breaking Bad were any other show, we’d sort of want to see law enforcement fail if it meant our underdog would win, but here it is kind of difficult to not be empathetic with Hank.

Poor Jesse. Walt pays him a visit to drive home that he “needs” him to believe he didn’t kill Mike, to which Jesse unconvincingly acquiesces. Walt’s desperate pleas reminded me of the Walt v. Jesse confrontation about Brock, also in Jesse’s living room. This is a huge turning point that maybe Walt doesn’t have as much of a hold on Jesse as he used to.

The final scene was incredible and I was pleasantly surprised that they chose to show this so early on. During their confrontation, Hank reminds him (and us) of what he has done, including literally driving into traffic, to keep him at bay. So, what will Hank’s next move be? His retort back to Walt, “like you give a shit about family,” is the complete opposite of everything Walt has used as his justification up until this point.

WaltSide notes:

Walt seems to be embodying Gus quite a bit. When Lydia comes to the car wash, Walt’s reaction very closely mirrors how Gus first received and deflected Walt at Los Pollos Hermanos. Also, before Walt got sick in the bathroom, he laid down a towel at the foot of bowl, similar to Gus in Mexico during the “Salud” episode.

Judging by the serious lack of purple, I’m guessing Marie doesn’t go into the garage too often.

Season 5, Episode 9: “Blood Money” (originally aired August 11, 2013)

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Images courtesy of AMC

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