Breaking Bad Recap, 5Bx9: “Blood Money”
This won't end well.
And the longest poop of Hank’s life finally ends. Well, at least, we’re presuming it’s ended, because first we have to deal with some loose ends before we jump into the rest of this season’s Breaking Bad. Gosh, I’m so excited and scared. I feel like Jessie Spano all hopped up on caffeine pills.
As with the beginning of Season 5, we’re starting in the flash-forward. First we get a series of close-up of what looks like a gritty skate park inhabited by a bunch of kids on boards… but then the camera starts to pan out and it’s a actually an empty pool. A very familiar looking empty pool. Oh boy, it’s the White house – and it looks like it’s been condemned for decades, even though we know it’s only been a months. Yeesh. This won’t end well.
52-year-old flash-foward Walter White steps out in the car we saw in the first flash-forward – you know, the one with the M60 in the trunk – and slowly breaks through the gate to get to his old house. In common Breaking Bad style, color is important to the scene, as everything from Walt’s clothing to the completely empty rooms are gritty and dark. You know, except for the word “HEISENBERG” sprayed across the living room paneling in bright, hazmat-suit yellow.
Walt makes his way past the grafitti and down the long corridor into the bedroom, pausing first to look at the kids in the pool, and then down at a hole in the kitchen that I first thought might have been the entrance to the crawlspace he used to hide his unlaundered money in. On second viewing, it seems as though it might be some damage done to the floor in an inevitable soon-to-come face-off scene. Ether way, it’s not what Walt’s here for – and he’s not here for the kids skating in the pool, either. He wants the little vial of ricin that’s taped to the inside of the bedroom wall socket.
With the ricin safely in his possession once again – which begs the question, where has he been that he didn’t get the chance to snag the ricin before this? Was he in jail? On the run? Who knows? – he makes his way back to the car. Except you know how the Whites live in a suburb? Walter did, and now he finds himself face to face with a petrified blond neighbor lady holding a comically large brown bag of groceries. “Hello, Carol,” he says grimly. She drops her groceries everywhere.
Carol, you’re my favorite.
When we come back from commercial, we’re treated to an agonizing close-up of the White’s bathroom door until it finally creaks open. Yep, Hank is done pooping. It’s official. He does not look pleased about this.
Still holding the book in his hand – and here I’m hoping he put the thing down for one second to wash his hands, but seeing how spooked he is, it’s possible he just sat right up without even flushing – he walks slowly down the corridor we just saw bare and decrepit not three minutes ago and stuffs the book into a backpack that’s conveniently sitting on the kitchen counter. He then looks out at Walt through the window, who’s happily playing with his baby daughter Holly. He continues to do this over the course of the episode and I want to punch him in the face every time. Stop using that baby as proof that you’re a good person, Walt! You’re not!
Speaking of Walt being a terrible person, Hank opens the door to the backyard and literally the first part of the conversation he hears is his wife Marie jokingly telling Walt, “You are the devil.” Greetings to Carol aside, this is also the first dialogue of the episode.
Hank, who has the worst poker face ever, complains of a sore stomach and says he’d like to leave. Walt can clearly tell something’s up and dangles his baby around Hank some more, pretending that he cares whether or not his brother-in-law feels okay, until they’re finally in the car and away from the Whites (and bonus, Carol actually waves from her house next door because she doesn’t yet know that Walt’s a terrible monster). Of course, they’re not out of the woods yet, because Hank is still so freaked out that he zones out at the wheel, crashed into someone’s mailbox and collapses in a panicked, breathy heap.
There’s a jarring cut to the interior of the Schrader house, where Hank is dismissively telling Marie that’s he’s fine while cutting the hospital tag off of his wrist. They definitely ruled out a heart attack, Marie infodumps in the background, so that’s good. Mostly likely it was a panic attack instead, but Hank waves away Marie’s concern and instead retreats to his secret bedroom Heisenberg police files to compare a sample of Gale’s handwriting from his meth lab journal to the words written in White’s copy of Leaves of Grass. Surprise! They’re exactly the same.
Next, an even more jarring cut to the carwash, where Walter and Skyler are both wearing crisp white/beige outfits and talking about incredibly mundane carwash stuff like what air freshener should go where, until Walter suddenly suggests that they buy another carwash. After all, they’re successful business owners now, and successful business owners expand – doing so wouldn’t just fall in line with their cover story, it would help them launder money faster. Is this how Walter has decided to allow his “empire business” machinations to manifest? Either way, Skyler seems intrigued.
And then Lydia shows up. Ugh, god, Lydia. I want to find her fascinating, but I sort of can’t stand her defining character flaw – how her insufferable attention to inconsequential detail makes her stand out so horribly. For example, in her paranoia she wears a giant pair of sunglasses and brings a black rental car to the car wash to talk to Walt, and immediately Skyler knows something is up because who the heck washes a rental car? But first Lydia gets inside to beg Walt to come back to the business – apparently her crystal’s only at 68% quality and falling because she’s got dumbass Todd for a cook. However, Walt has learned from the Gustavo Fring school of pretending you’re having a completely different very professional conversation that’s not about meth at all, and barely lets her get a word in edgewise while going through the motions of charging her for a wash.
As we previously established, Skyler knows that there’s something off about Lydia and asks Walt about it. Surprisingly, he admits the truth: she’s a former “colleague” who wanted him back and wasn’t happy when he refused. That’s not good enough for Skyler, though, who marches right up to Lydia and demands that she never comes back or there’ll be hell to pay. Listen, I know that Skyler is a divisive character and not many people like her, but I’ll take her over Lydia any day of the week. Skyler, you are all that is good in the world.
Ain’t nobody fucks with Skyler White.
Oh boy, another commercial! This time we come back to Hank’s house – he’s getting a bunch of files delivered to his home so he can work some more on the Heisenberg case. The song in the background of this montage is “Wordmule” by Jim White. I’m going to believe that the artist’s name is totally not a coincidence.
Meanwhile in the world of Jesse Pinkman, poor dude is moping around on his couch listening to Skinny Pete and Badger talk about Star Trek, specifically about the transport beam killing cells in one location and creating them in another – so that “Every time Kirk went into the transport, he was killing himself.” The first words of this scene, by the way are “Dude, you are tripping – I’m not dead!” from Badger. Well, we can imagine who Jesse’s probably got on the brain right now.
Screw Will Graham — won’t somebody please help Jesse Pinkman?
Badger then gets into his Star Trek spec script idea, in which (and can I commend Badger briefly for knowing the proper definition of a parsec? Good job, nerd) Chekov trying to use the transport beam to cheat at a pie eating contest. Note that Jesse walks away from the scene first while Badger is describing how Kirk pukes the pie up everywhere, and then enters it again as he’s describing Chekov having his guts accidentally beamed away into space. There’s no way that wasn’t intentional given the amount of inner turmoil Jesse’s clearly feeling.
Cut to Jesse in Saul Goodman’s law office waiting to be seen – and yeah, that’s totally a Muzak version of “Glory Hallelujah” playing in the waiting room because of course it is. In typical Pinkman fashion, he decides to cut his wait time by lighting up a joint in full view of everyone. Surprisingly, this works.
Saul, who by the way is wearing the brightest most hideous shade of money-green for a shirt, appears surprised to see Jesse without Walt, and also for some reason calls him “Woody Harrelson alive in person” as a joke. Wasn’t quite sure I got that other than Woody Harrelson is also a sad-looking white man with a whole bunch of money, but okay, Saul, whatever. Jesse dumps two bags full of 2.5 million each and says he wants one to go to Kaylee Ehrmantraut, and the other to go to the family of Drew Sharp – AKA that kid Todd shot. Todd.
Saul’s confused, and wants to know why Jesse would give all his money to a family whose missing kid he has nothing to do with – though we’re sure he’s figured it out halfway through saying that – and Kaylee, whose grandfather can look out for her as well. Wait, does Saul not know that Mike is dead, either? Boy, he’s really out of the loop now, huh. Either way, the feds would immediately scoop up the money given to Kaylee, and even if all the cash were to change hands without a hitch, “You’re still gonna be two miracles short of sainthood.” Jesse angrily tells Saul to do it and Saul forgoes any objections – “I live to serve!” – until the second Jesse leaves, and then he immediately calls Walt. Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as “Better call Saul,” but it’s effective, and Walt tells Saul that he’ll go and talk to Jesse. But then we pan out, and it’s clear that Walt’s got an IV drip in him – uh oh. Guess who’s back.
If you guessed cancer, you win!
Another commercial. We come back to Jesse lying under his glass table while a cockroach skitters above him. There’s a knock at the door that’s presumably coming from, you know, the one who knocks — and we’re right! It’s Walt with the $5 million in tow, demanding an explanation. “It’s like you said, it’s a lot of money,” Jesse says. “I was trying to win an argument,” Walt replies, and it’s probably the only truthful thing he says during this whole exchange. “This is your money! Come on, you’ve earned it.”
Walt then suggests that Jesse stops “focusing on the darkness behind you,” which is easy for him to say wearing all white to Jesse’s black. After all, he’s been out for a month and hasn’t looked back, so they should be able to live “ordinary, decent lives.” Jesse pipes up that Kaylee should have someone looking after her. Walt says that’s Mike’s job. But Jesse doesn’t believe that Mike’s in a position to handle that job anymore. “I don’t think he’s coming back,” Jesse says. “You doin’ what you did, offing Mike’s guys — if he was out there, you’d have to look over your shoulder for the rest of your life and that’s not how you do things, so… I think he’s dead and I think you know that.”
“I don’t know that,” Walt lies in the exact way that a liar does. He did not kill Mike and he does not know what happened to him and how dare you even try to suggest that, Jesse Pinkman? Walt demands that Jesse believe him and sits there insistently until Jesse reluctantly agrees that Mike is out there somewhere. You can see it in his eyes that he totally doesn’t, though. And then we get this amazing shot:
Walter in white and Jesse in black and two grey bags of money in between them. Christ, Gilligan, if this whole television thing stops working out then you could totally be a painter.
We cut to the White house where there’s talk of Junior’s college plans or whatever, when suddenly Walt excuses himself to go fight cancer in the bathroom. He takes a bunch of pills — these pills, according to the Breaking Bad site — and horfs up his dinner into the toilet where oh my god he can see the book isn’t there OH NO!
So of course Walt kicks into overdrive and starts searching for the book everywhere that night, and while he’s talking about it to Skyler, a thought comes to him: “…what’s wrong with Hank?” Apparently he hasn’t come into work all week, Skyler tells him. Some kind of stomach bug. Well shit. You in danger, Walt. Though he doesn’t quite figure out just how much danger he’s in until he goes outside and checks all his cars and finds a GPS tracker. AAAAAAAAH. THINGS ARE HAPPENING.
(My brother pointed out that this probably means Hank knows that Walt went to Jesse’s house. Guys, something bad is going to happen to Jesse and I am not going to be able to handle myself nooooo…)
Somewhere around town the same night, Jesse is sitting in his car having sad feelings when a homeless guy comes up to him and asks him for change. Change? Ha! You just hit the jackpot, friend! Jesse — who has clearly been crying all day, by the way — hands the man a giant wad of cash and then proceeds to throw them out his window into everyones’ lawns like some kind of weirdo billionaire paperboy.
Look, more metaphors of how in trouble Jesse is! Sweet Jesus this show.
Finally we come back to the Schrader house, where Hank is talking things over with some of his coworkers who are naturally all worried about how much of a shut-in he’s become — when he sees Walter pull up in the driveway. He furiously begins to hide away all the files he’s looking at while Walter shoots the shit with Marie. In other news, I love how the tables have turned for these two guys — Walt is now the one charismatically but intrusively checking up on Hank, who’s got something to hide.
Walt finally walks up to Hank, asking him how he’s feeling. “Been better,” Hank says. Walter keeps needling, saying that when a bug lasts for more than three days you should really get it checked. Hank is literally the worst at lying, trying to keep up appearances while refusing to look Walter in the eye as he tells him he should probably head home and to let him know if there’s anything he can do. Except then Walt stops.
“You know,” Walt says. Oh no. “You’re going to laugh, but I have to ask you… about this.” And he produces the tracker. Oh no. It looks just like the tracker they used on Gus Fring’s car, he says, and he found it on his car. “You wouldn’t happen to know anything about this, wouldja?”
And here’s the difference between Walt and Hank is a crisis. Where Walt would probably offer some kind of clever lie or workaround to explain why there’s a tracker in the car — heck, maybe he’d even just deny it right out — Hank instead wordlessly closes the garage door behind Walt and then does this:
HE PUNCHES WALTER WHITE IN HIS GODDAMN FACE and sends him FLYING. The noise I made while watching this was comically inhuman.
“All along it was YOU, you son of a bitch.” Hank hisses as he holds Walt up against the wall. “You drove into traffic to keep me from that laundry. That call I got telling me Marie was in the hospital — that wasn’t Pinkman. You had my cell number. You killed ten witnesses to save your sorry ass. You bombed a nursing home. Heisenberg. Heisenberg! You lying two-faced sack of shit.”
“I don’t know where this is coming from.” Walt says, LIKE A LYING TWO FACED SACK OF SHIT. And he makes some pleas about family and wild acusations until finally he’s got one card left: “Hank, my cancer is back.”
“Rot in it, you son of a bitch,” Hank replies.
“I’m sorry you feel that way,” Walt says. But since he’s probably going to die anyway in six months, in six months Hank won’t have someone to prosecute, so even if he found enough evidence to convict Walt, “You and I both know I would never see the inside of a jail cell[…] What’s the point?”
Hank demands that Skyler brings the kids back to live with Hank and Marie again, “and then we’ll talk.” Walt rejects this idea, and for the first time in this whole scene, Hank looks legitimately scared. “I don’t know you. I don’t even know who I’m talking to,” he says.
“If that’s true,” Walt replies, veeeery deliberately. “If you don’t know who I am, then maybe your best course would be to tread lightly.”
We get one last look of abject horror on Hank’s face before the scene cuts to black and the credits roll:
Holy shit. I got chills all over again just typing that out. Next week’s going to be insane.