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Breaking Bad Review: “Blood Money”

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With the entire television world watching in anticipation, somehow Breaking Bad‘s season five (part two!) premiere just kept delivering and delivering and delivering. “Blood Money,” put simply, is the pinnacle of why Breaking Bad is as excellent as it is.

Though we’re technically in the middle of season five, “Blood Money” functions as a season premiere just as well as season two’s “No Mas” and season four’s “Box Cutter.” But the usual question that hinders some premieres, “where are the characters now in the story?” isn’t necessarily one the show is focused on answering because the writers are very much aware of who their audience is and just how great of a cliffhanger they left us off on. “Blood Money” instead kicks off right after another ominous and amazing flashforward, with Hank leaving the bathroom.

It’s stunning how Breaking Bad can literally create a tension-filled scene with the camera on a bathroom door. Hank emerges from the depths of his eureka moment, completely shattered and confused, only to have an anxiety attack on the drive home. He’s a man of his work first, as we know, so to find out that his brother-in-law has been Heisenberg right under his nose is not only hurtful to his pride, but to his intelligence. Also the fact that his newfound knowledge is absolutely dangerous to his entire family.

Hank continues his investigation in his garage while Jesse, who is ridden with guilt over the blood money Walter gave him, does his best to get rid of it. He ends up in Saul’s office ready to give away his money to both Mike’s granddaughter Kaylee and the parents of the kid Todd shot back in “Dead Freight.” Jesse’s guilt and total unhappiness with how things are done around him isn’t a secret at this point in the series. Even lingering on the shot of him gazing at a cockroach reminds us that Jesse wouldn’t even kill a bug back in season two, and now where is he? What has he witnessed since then? What has he been apart of?

“Blood Money” doesn’t make many strides towards Jesse’s storyline for the season, and if it did then good God would it have been a packed premiere, but it offers enough story to branch off of later down the line. The episode is more in-love with Walter versus Hank, which is a confrontation that no one saw coming at the end of the hour.

That’s the main brilliant aspect of “Blood Money,” it’s willingness to push the plot at an extraordinary pace while not seeming so. Usually whenever a TV drama is racing to the finish line because the writers know they have to wrap up soon, the plot aspects and storylines feel convoluted and rushed, but not “Blood Money.” Peter Gould’s script takes its time setting up the fantastic flashforward cold open, Jesse’s guilt, Skyler and Walt’s car wash visitor, and most of all Walt and Hank’s discussion in the garage.

Once Walt finds a GPS bug hidden underneath his car, he takes a trip to Hank’s house the following day and almost immediately starts asking questions once the usual chit-chat is over. Dean Norris’ acting while Walt tells Hank about the GPS bug shows so many different emotions like fear, determination, shock, and anger. The anger side takes point when Hank closes the garage door to punch Walt in private, putting him up against the door and saying “It was you! All along, it was you!”

Just like Walt always does, he completely denies everything and starts rationing out the logic to Hank. “If this happens, then this will happen, and that’s IF what you’re saying is true, of course. Or if you could get anyone to believe it’s true” he typically goes about. Hank’s too stunned that Walt isn’t fessing up, even when Walt reveals that his cancer is back (another twist in an episode filled with ‘em). Hank says he’s not even sure who Walt is anymore, or who he’s even talking to. Walt, with his ever-growing confidence, tells Hank to “tread lightly” around him then, letting him know that he has no idea who he’s dealing with now.

Grade: 4.5/5 stars

Loose Ends:

  • For those who don’t already know, I write these reviews and more over at my website Based on Nothing. If you somehow like my writing enough to want more of it, head on over there to read other things!
  • Really loved Lydia’s visit to the car wash in an attempt to get Walt back into making meth. I also loved Skyler telling her to stay out of her (territory) car wash.
  • Does Jesse know that Walt killed Mike? Unlikely but it sure seems like he knows Mike is dead and Walt knows it. I feel like Jesse knows when Walt is lying or not now.
  • So, that flashforward huh? The White house is shackled up and being used as an unofficial skate park, and Walt comes back to grab the ricin he had left hidden. What will he use that ricin for? is a question we should be asking. Maybe Walt will have a change of heart after looking into the mirror and seeing a broken man.
  • I always enjoy seeing Huell.
  • Walt’s subtle Gus Fring-like moves were very nice: his customer service behavior at the car wash, the towel for his knees in the bathroom.
  • Man, I was really intrigued by Badger’s Star Trek story! He was just about to get to the good part!
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