‘Breaking Bad’: Tread Lightly Because Heisenberg’s Back

After what had to be the longest bathroom trip in history, Breaking Bad finally returned on Sunday following an 11-month break. Like many viewers expected, Vince Gilligan and company delivered. The season five second-half premiere was tense from start to finish – it was hard to remember to breathe. But who would have expected anything else?

“Blood Money” began with a handful of twenty-somethings skateboarding in an empty pool. It became clear that they were in the backyard of the White residence once one caught air and went just beyond the lip of the pool. Sure enough, we got a view of the front of the house, now fenced in and dilapidated. Future Walt pulls up in his now-familiar Volvo and enters the abandoned home, now featuring the word “Heisenberg” spray-painted in large letters across a wall. Walt retrieves his hidden stash of ricin and leaves the house, only to be seen by his visibly shaken neighbor Carol, who promptly drops her bag of groceries once she realizes who she’s looking at. She’s terrified. Leave it to Walt to think he’d be able to slip into his condemned home unseen. His invincibility complex never ceases to amaze. The amount of time that’s passed from where “Gliding Over All” ended to where this episode began is unclear, but one thing is certain: shit went down, and it was bad.

The next scene picks up right where Breaking Bad left off last September. Hank realizes that the his nemesis has been right in front of him this whole time. You could almost see him connecting every single dot that had eluded him up until this point. He feigns illness and he and Marie leave with Walt’s copy of Leaves of Grass in tow. While driving, Hank suffers what we can assume is a panic attack, hearkening back to season two following the shootout with Tuco. He crashes the car, almost predictably, and he and Marie head home after a short hospital visit. Hank immediately takes out the Gale Boetticher file and gets to work. Co-workers bring the rest of the evidence to his home the next day, and he now knows for sure that his brother-in-law is Heisenberg.

Walt, though, is oblivious. Viewers get a glimpse into a typical day at the car wash for him and Skyler. Both are clothed in beige; Walt is back to his frumpy dad clothes, a stark contrast to the dark colors he wore as Heisenberg. You can almost taste the normalcy. Almost on cue, a familiar face pulls up: Lydia. She greets Walt at the cash register and begs him to take his talents back to the meth business because the current cook (Todd) is underperforming. He refuses and keeps any non-car-related comments brief – very similar in demeanor to Gus at Pollos.

While Walt is enjoying a life that seems to have finally returned to normal, Jesse is stuck in a rut like we’ve never seen him. He leaves mid-conversation with his two duffel bags of $5 million while Badger and Skinny Pete discuss Star Trek theories. He goes to Saul, hoping to pass along the “blood money” to Kaylee Ehrmantraut and the family of Drew Sharpe, the boy Todd shot after the train heist. Saul, of course, calls Walt, who goes to Jesse’s house and gives another of his preachy speeches. In typical Walt fashion, he tries so hard to appear earnest and open and honest, especially when Jesse accuses him of murdering Mike. At this point, it’s almost painful watching Walt try to lie and talk his way out of situations like this one. It’s getting harder and harder to root for someone who inspires Liz Lemon-caliber eyerolls every time he opens his mouth.

Jesse’s spiral continues. In his next appearance, he’s sleeping in his car when a homeless man asks him for money. Jessie hands the homeless man a stack of bills from his bag and, soon after, travels into a seedy neighborhood and tosses bundles of cash out the window like he’s delivering the morning paper.

While vomiting after a chemo treatment, Walt exhibits another Gus mannerism. He lays a towel down in front of the toilet to kneel on, exactly like Gus did in “Salud.” It’s in that moment that Walt starts to think something might be up. His copy of Leaves of Grass is gone. He realizes his vulnerability when he’s at his most vulnerable. He’s practically screaming internally while asking Skylar if she’s seen the book. He walks outside in his robe and discovers a GPS tracker on his car, identical to the one the DEA placed on Gus’ car.

The next day, he heads to the Schrader home, where Hank continues to put the pieces together in his garage. They have a normal conversation and, just as Walt starts to leave, he turns back around and asks Hank about the tracker. Surprisingly, Hank closes the garage door and punches Walt in the face, sparking the confrontation that we waited nearly a year to see. I honestly didn’t think it would come so soon, but after the way it played out, I’m glad it did. Dean Norris plays Hank’s rage perfectly, recounting several of Walt’s worst moments, such  crashing the car to ensure Hank didn’t enter the laundromat and lying to Hank about Marie being in the hospital. At first, Walt denied any involvement and even played the cancer card, but Hank either doesn’t believe him or doesn’t care. A shred of Heisenberg returns, though, as he warns Hank to “tread lightly” in the last line of the episode, a line that will join the ranks of “I am the danger” and “You’re goddamn right.” How Walt (and Hank, for that matter) proceeds from this point on is uncertain, but it’s pretty clear that it will be a fun, panic-inducing ride.

About Sam Sciarrotta

Hi there! I'm Sam. I like baseball, Bruce Springsteen, tomato pie, and most other things. I'm looking at you, but I'm thinking about Breaking Bad. 2012 college graduate and budding journalist.

Posted on August 12, 2013, in AMC, Cable, Drama, Primetime and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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