Breaking Bad – “Blood Money”

Breaking Bad - "Blood Money" [S05E09]

From left: Dean Norris, Bryan Cranston

Rating: A-

Although it’s a series chock-full of highly memorable moments, Breaking Bad has never really been one to jump right out of the gate with story, instead letting the tension slowly build over the course of its seasons. But when Walt pauses in the driveway and that garage door comes rolling down, we know – that with only 8 episodes left – Vince Gilligan and company have clearly decided to forgo that route.

From the beginning Breaking Bad has never stopped reminding us that Walter White is, above all else, unrelenting in his pride. It’s been his greatest motivator throughout the series, and his inability to control that hubris will also be his downfall. Walter didn’t need to keep a trophy from Gail, he didn’t need to antagonize and kill Mike. he didn’t need to keep making meth long after he had any reason left to do. And he didn’t need to walk back into that garage and stir up the hornets nest with Hank. But over these last 5 seasons, that’s exactly what we’d expect from the man that we’ve come to know, revere, loathe, and fear. Walter isn’t stupid – there’s no way he could have gotten to where he is if he were – but he is dangerously impulsive when he feels threatened – and there’s also no way he would have gotten to where he is if he weren’t.

And that’s another aspect that I’ve really appreciated about Breaking Bad over the years: the show does not let the stupidity of its characters dictate the plot (except for a few very rare moments). Hank isn’t lauded for being such a great agent because he can bust heads, but because he actually is a damn good agent whose hard work and attention to detail pay off. (As a sidenote, Hank’s growth from comic relief to an essential character in the story has been a delight to watch, and it’s due in no small part to Dean Norris’s stellar performances. The lung-crushing panic that Hank was suffering as he pieced together the truth about Walt was superb.) And I’m glad that Walt’s own discovery about Hank came so early in this half-season, with Walt so quickly understanding Hank’s suspicious behavior.

But what I couldn’t possibly have expected was for the confrontation to occur in the first episode back; I was certain that this gripping game of cat and mouse would’ve been drawn out for at least 1 or 2 more episodes. If “Blood Money” is any indication, the pacing for these final episodes is going to be insane.

And I suppose it’ll have to be if we’re to find out how Walt ends up in the situation he finds himself in the first 4 minutes of the episode. As we see him walking through his old house (that most likely was raided by the Feds?) only to get ahold of that ricin that Breaking Bad keeps bringing back up (I’m going to be incredibly disappointed if one of the biggest Chekhov’s guns in the history of television ends up shooting blanks, but I have faith that Gilligan and company aren’t just messing with us). That opening scene alone could have had us asking questions for weeks, if it weren’t for the possibilities that the final scene also opened up.

Yes, I haven’t forgotten that there was also a middle to “Blood Money,” one that may have been less eventful than its bookends but still important nonetheless. We once again see a dejected Jesse (as in early season 4 after he killed Gail) who struggles to deal with the events earlier this season, who tries to find an outlet for his grief by giving away the money that he feels he so undeservedly received, all while being forced to listen to an inane conversation about a Star Trek themed pie-eating contest. We also get mentions of the tattered remains of Walt’s once great empire, now reduced to a 68% pure mess (with Todd now at the helm?) and a glimpse of a tired Saul who now probably regrets getting into business with Walt.

But ultimately, when an episode ends the way “Blood Money” did, it’s impossible not to focus on that final scene. I’d like to make predictions as to how this season is going to play out, but when I’m sucker-punched by a scene like that I’m perfectly happy to stop thinking about how the pieces will fall and instead just go along for the thrill-ride that these next 7 episode are sure to be.

Additional Thoughts:

  • Just when we think Walt is becoming a better person, we see him revert back to his detestable ways as he lies through his teeth to Jesse about Mike’s fate. But credit to Jesse for finally being done with Walt’s crap and not buying a single bit of Walt’s story.
  • Skylar laying down the law to Lydia was a sight to behold.
  • I wonder if there are going to be any repercussions to Jesse tossing away all that money, especially when his prints are all over them.
  • For all you trivia buffs: Bryan Cranston directed this episode.
  • “If you don’t know who I am, then maybe your best course would be to tread lightly.”

Posted on August 12, 2013, in Recaps/Reviews and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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