So I guess W.W. doesn't stand for Willy Wonka after all, huh Hank? Breaking Bad is finally back with the second half of its 5th and final season which kicked off last night with "Blood Money". Going into the season it seems like the writers have set up the last batch of episodes as an epilogue, a true finish to the story that the first four and a half seasons set up. When we last saw Walter White he had vowed to abandon the meth business in order to make things right with his wife Skyler and get back to a normal life with their kids, just as Hank finally seemed to catch on to the fact that he'd been chasing after his brother-in-law all along.
Something else I quite liked about this episode came through first in the next scene, as we see Walt and Skyler at the carwash. The simplicity of the earlier seasons seemed to be very present in this episode, with no cartels to run from and no extended badass heist scenes. Don't get me wrong - I love the badass heist scenes, but there's something special about an episode that can focus almost entirely on character and forego all the eye-candy. Walt and Skyler are civil with each other here, almost normal, and they discuss the possibility of opening a second location to launder cash a bit quicker. Any semblance of a normal life is quickly shaken, though, as Lydia shows up at the car wash begging Walt to give her a 'tutorial' - her meth just isn't cutting it. He does his best to brush her off, but it's Skyler who catches on and scares Lydia away. "Get out of here, NOW. Don't ever come back here", she tells Lydia, stone-faced, giving her best Carmela Soprano. "Do you understand me? GO." And she's gone, though I doubt we've seen the last of Lydia. Walt watches on and I can't help thinking he's a bit little turned on. I like badass Skyler.
Back at home in the not-yet-destroyed White dining room, the whole family is having dinner. Walt excuses himself and we pretty much get confirmation of what we saw briefly earlier: the cancer is back. Walt is hiding it from his family, clearly, as he runs the water while he gets sick, and pulls his pills out from where they seem to be hidden under the sink. As he's on his knees, we get a shot showing the top of the toilet, sans Leaves of Grass, while Walt's head is in the bowl. But soon he notices too, and after searching high and low he begins to question Skyer over Hank's mystery illness (he had to cancel bowling! and hasn't been to work all week!). Well Walt catches on a lot faster than Hank does, and outside he discovers a tracker underneath his car, so the next day he's over at the Schrader house, not quite guns a'blazing but certainly not subtle either. After some brief back and forth, while Hank tries to scurry away evidence from the Heisenberg case that he's been going over, Walt reveals the tracker.
This is it. Hank closes the garage door. The men stare at each other so intensely you think the show could end right there and then bam, Hank punches Walt out. "It was YOU!" he screams as he continues to beat on his brother-in-law. It felt so damn good to see Hank have the upper hand for once and not be the blind guy getting strung along. Walt continues to play dumb though, and eventually reveals what we already know. "My Cancer is back." he says. "Good," Hank replies, "Rot you son of a bitch." Walt keeps up his act as Hank suggests he will talk only once Skyler and the kids are safe and out of Walt's house. "I don't even know who you are" Hank tells him. And so, Bryan Cranston transforms suddenly from broken down and pleading to vacant-eyed terrifying as only he can in this role: "If you don’t know who I am, then maybe your best course would be to tread lightly.”
So there we have it. Seven episodes left, and I've probably got more questions now than when last season ended. Most notably, who the heck do I root for here? Walt is our antihero no doubt, the true centre of the show, and our protagonist in a typical sense. But Hank is just trying to catch the bad guy. Does the fact that Walt's cancer is back change anything? Does he deserve to go out quietly and uncharged? What we saw last season proved without a doubt that Walt's drive to cook meth had gone far beyond his original justification of leaving his family with enough money to live comfortably, but Hank bringing him to justice now, as Walt said, would do little more than destroy his family at this point. So what do you think? Who are you rooting for, and where's all this headed? Will Hank out Walt, or someone else? I'm definitely up for discussion in the comments & I'll see you back here next week with a recap of 5x10 "Buried".
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