Breaking Bad: Blood Money

Walt: "There is nothing left for us to do except to try to live ordinary, decent lives."

What a shocker. I'm still picking my jaw up off the floor. If this is just episode one, what will the series finale be like?

That final scene between Walt and Hank was exceptional, one of the best scenes they've ever done -- and that's saying a lot for a show like Breaking Bad. The focus throughout the scene was Hank's eyes, and Dean Norris managed to convey his fury, hurt and confusion, his feelings of betrayal, all of the complex emotions that a man like Hank would feel in a bizarre situation like this. Gold acting stars, absolutely.

When the garage door went down, I thought, OMG, Walt is going to kill Hank. But no. It was manipulation time. While Hank was melting down, Walt methodically went from A to B to C (and Bryan Cranston did his usual amazing job). First, innocence. What is this tracker doing on my car? Why on earth would you be investigating me? And then Walt tried to evoke pity and the friendship he has always had with his brother-in-law, as in hey, Hank, I'm a dying man. Your problem will be going away soon, so what's the point in coming after me? And finally, Heisenberg emerged. You'd better tread lightly with a drug lord and mass murderer like me, Hank. Shudder.

When Hank took Leaves of Grass out of Walt's house, I was completely freaked because I knew Walt would eventually notice it was gone. And when Hank had a panic attack and wrecked his car, I thought for a moment that the shock of what he'd learned was so great that it would kill him. So I was happy that Hank made it to the end of the episode. Please let Hank live to the end of series? I really, really, really, really want him to get Walt in the end.

Jesse put two and two together, and figured out that Walt wouldn't have taken out Mike's guys in jail without taking out Mike first. I want Jesse to live, too, but obviously, the guilt has gotten to him. He was outright suicidal and cared nothing for that five million dollars -- it was literally a burden to him that he couldn't unload on anyone but a bunch of strangers who will be very surprised to find what's in their yards tomorrow morning. I wonder if, now that Jesse has unburdened himself of the money, will he decide to turn himself in, and take Walt down with him? I don't see the series ending that way, but I suppose it could. (Note that Walt and Jesse had a heavy life and death conversation in Jesse's house with the bags of money and a lot of lies jammed between them.)

I'm going to talk about the opening scene for a bit, because it was also pretty amazing. It began with a shot of white cement, and then skateboards, and then we realized that boys were skating in the empty, dry pool at the White house, which was abandoned and fenced off. Future Walt broke into his own house (again) and saw the word "Heisenberg" spray-painted on the filthy walls. Boys on wheels and dirty water are both recurring bits of symbolism in this series. The pool being dry and the house abandoned was even creepier than the in media res plane crash shots a couple of seasons ago. The final shot in the house showed Walt with no eyes.

I knew almost immediately that future Walt had to be going for the ricin. Who's it for, Walt? Hank and Jesse had better be careful. Does ricin go bad? (If it did, and it wasn't poison any more, would that mean it "went good"?)

Bits:

-- As Hank was trying to absorb what he'd just realized while sitting on the john, Marie told Walt, "You are the devil."

-- Walt and Skyler wore beige and white. It feels to me like, duh, they're back to being a couple again, and back to being the ordinary old Whites again. Jess Lynde, one of our Doux Reviews writers, just sent me this: a piece on Slate about the colors the characters wear on Breaking Bad, and what it means in relation to their characters.

-- Walt hasn't told his family about the new bout of chemo; he had the water running so they wouldn't hear him vomiting. As I said, dirty water is a continuing theme on this show, almost certainly signifying pollution and evil.

-- There was a roach on Jesse's coffee table, and we're talking the scuttling kind, not the kind you smoke. It was like the anti-Vamonos Pest. And Jesse was shot through the glass, which is, of course, what they call meth.

-- Jesse reached the decision to throw away all that money while sitting in the parking lot of the Dog House. They've shown Jesse at the Dog House before, during low periods of his life.

-- Liked the "Hello, Carol," both times.

-- Badger's story about the pie eating contest on Star Trek (Spock versus Chekov) was a perfect little gem of a scene. As Badger and Skinny Pete were talking, Jesse sat with his back to a TV screen filled with blue and green confusion, probably much like his thoughts, and of course, evoking the famous blue meth and the money.

-- Skinny Pete's theory about how the transporter on Star Trek works has occurred to me more than once (that it kills you and reassembles another person that looks and acts like you but isn't you). The idea totally creeps me out. But listening to Skinny Pete talk about it made me laugh. Hey, I can assign symbolism to anything. Walt has become a completely different person and lost his soul during the course of the series, hasn't he?

And pieces:

-- With his drug empire wound down, Walt is now into running the car wash. Skyler is being very protective of what she has, understandably, to the point of running Lydia off.

-- Lydia's new business overseas isn't going well because whoever succeeded Walt (Todd, a.k.a. Ricky Hitler, perhaps?) is delivering a product that is only 68% pure. This can't be good for Walt's retirement.

-- I loved revisiting the entire series in bits and pieces in Hank's files. We even revisited the video of the pom pom caper. And I loved that they had the kid with the remote control car again outside of Hank's house. The first time, Marie ran over the car. I wonder if this time, the kid saved Hank's life? Because Walt wouldn't kill Hank with a witness within earshot. He's too smart for that.

Quotes:

Walt: "Have an A1 day."

Hank: "I swear to Christ I will put you under the jail."

Walt: "Hank, my cancer is back."
Hank: "Rot, you son of a bitch."

(I'd quote the Badger/Skinny Pete discussion about the Star Trek pie eating contest, but it would be much too long. :)

Outstanding. Four out of four empty swimming pools,

Billie

11 comments:

Mark said...

Thank you as always!

Three observations:

1.) It was Hank who closed the garage door, not Walt. It was Walt's pride and impulse-driven short temper that made him turn around and walk back in with the GPS in hand. Then Hank closed the garage door.

2.) I thought the Lydia/Walt scenes in the car wash were a complete reverse homage to the early Gus Fring - Los Pollos Hermanos scenes. Except this time Lydia was Walt, and Walt was Gus. I was ready for Walt to say, "DO IT! Now that will be $14.99."

3.) Saw this theory on another site. Right or wrong, people are so darn clever sometimes:

Badger goes off and starts talking about his script for Star Trek. Says they are in the neutral territory, everything is going well. (This is before when Gus was around)


Badger says they get so bored they make a Pie eating contest (after Gus' death). At first he starts using some random flavored pie, but Skinny Pete makes him change it supposedly for sake of continuity. Badger conveniently names it "Blueberry pies"(blue meth).


This is where it gets interesting. Badger says they're eating them as fast as the replicator can spit them out and that people keep falling out of the contest, all the way down to three guys, Kirk (Mike), Spock (Walt), and Chekov (Jesse). Kirk goes out first (Mike's death).


So it is down to two, Spock (Walter) and Chekov (Jesse). Badger says Spock is controlling, can even control over his digestive system. (I am paraphrasing here a bit). Chekov (Jesse) is just taking all the pies and putting them down.


What Spock (Walt) doesn't know, is that Chekov (Jesse) is working with Scotty (Hank) to teleport all the blueberry pies (blue meth) out to space and it is like frozen. (This leads me to believe that Hank and Jesse will work together to set up Walt).


At one point or another Uhura (Skyler) shows up, messes with Scotty (Hank, potentially with family issues? or what?), and this is why causes Scotty (Hank) to explode Chekov's (Jesse) stomach (Jesse gets shot in the stomach? Hank shoots Jesse by accident? Or spill his guts meaning confess everything?) because there was an issue with the teleporting of the pie into space (issues with Jesse/Hank teaming up).

Billie Doux said...

Mark, thanks for sharing that. Obviously, like me, they can assign symbolism to everything. :)

Jess Lynde said...

Cool! I'm glad you put the link to that Slate piece in your review. It's such a great way to look at how the character colors shift over time, and I hope everyone checks it out. Loved the overly beige and white Whites at the car wash. Do they think they are pure now? Is Skyler over the guilt or just trying to look innocent?

So much good stuff in this premiere, and that final scene was simply stellar. I didn't expect to get that confrontation this early, but it certainly made me even more excited to see the next 7 episodes unfold.

I hope we get to see Skyler react to the news that the cancer is back. She seems to be on board with continuing to live high-ish on the hog with their ill-gotten gains, but I wonder if she's still wishing slow and painful death on Walt. She told him all she could do was wait for the cancer to come back. Is it any wonder he's none to eager to tell her it has? He's probably afraid that if he tells her, he'll see relief or happiness in her eyes.

Oh, Jesse. That shot of him under the coffee table looked so much like he was laid out in a glass coffin. He seems to be slowly circling the drain at this point. I wonder if throwing away the blood money will free him up enough to let some of the guilt go. Maybe "lightening his burden" just a bit will cause him to turn on Walt. It seems like it's either that or suicide at this point. Because I can't see him just wandering off and trying to live a "decent" life, without resolving things more permanently on the Walt front. I hope the analysis that Mark proposes doesn't turn out to be right! I know it is probably a futile hope (especially given the coffin imagery), but I really hope Jesse survives the series.

I so loved that Star Trek episode pitch. At first, I thought it was completely bizarre that the show was spending so much time on it, but then I got really caught up in the story, and I found myself reacting in delight like Skinny Pete. :)

Almost time to test some Breaking Bad myths with the Mythbusters! Fun!

Katherine said...

Mark, I think you just broke my brain.

Mark Greig said...

Please, will someone give Jeese Pinkman a frakking hug and get him the hell out of New Mexico.

Mark said...

I also wanted to add, that I appreciate? am amazed by? the fact we didn't get a slow burn to Hank/Walt. They didn't stretch it out. We got almost the same whirlwind Hank got. They just threw the hammer down!

@Katherine- Sorry for breaking your brain. :(

Suzanne said...

I am so glad to have BB back and your wonderful reviews as well.

It was an incredible episode. I especially liked the scenes with Hank culminating in the final scene with Hank and Walt's confrontation. Dean Norris was amazing. I was shocked when he closed the garage and worried that Walt would kill him. I hadn't picked up on the witness angle some of you noticed. This is going to be an amazing ending to this series.

As for Jesse, I hope his story has a twist (hopefully positive) because I am getting a little tired of seeing him in his drug addict state even though I know it is realistic. I would like to see him work with Hank to being Walt down. I am not sure that is this shows style, though.

Katherine said...

Mark, it's ok, it turns out I don't use it all that much anyway. ;-)

Billie Doux said...

Dean Norris (Hank) got "performer of the week" from TV Line. Well deserved.

http://tvline.com/2013/08/16/dean-norris-breaking-bad-confrontation-scene-hank-schrader/

Anne said...

Just to lighten the mood a little, it's amazing how Skinny Pete has worn the exact same hat since the first time we met him on the show. Now that's continuity!

bada8771 said...

Hank: "I don't know who you are... I don't even know who I'm talking to"

Walt: "If that's true... If you don't know who I am... Then...maybe your best course would be to tread lightly.

You need to add that line of dialogue to the quotes section