Season Premiere: Breaking Bad – “Blood Money” (Season 5, Episode 9)

Breaking Bad, my favorite show on the airwaves, returns for it’s final half-season. The wait has been bittersweet: I want to see how the most beloved meth dealer on television ends his story, but do I want to see the series end? Of course I do. I have to know. Let’s talk about the first half of this season, briefly. Beware: Spoilers lie ahead.

Last season we saw Walt build his own empire out of tented houses and threats. We suffered stupefying suspense during the train job. We were shocked and horrified to see (who would have been) Jesse’s replacement gun down a child — a bastion of innocence in the desert of corruption that Walt has led his crew. We’ve suffered Jesse’s crushing guilt with him, for he was unable to save the child, but only able to effect more death in the world. We watched, in pure awe, as Hank pieced together the puzzle surrounding Heisenberg. Then, we held our collective breath for an entire year as we waited obediently for the trademark close up to mark the beginning of the end. And now we are shown cement and, soon after, skateboards.

What we witness is the inevitable urban fate of an abandoned, suburban home. The unsupervised, forgotten shelter becomes a place for teenagers to congregate: partake in drugs, sex and the pseudo-artistic scrawl of graffiti. Also, skateboarding. The empty pool makes for the perfect impromptu skate park. This domicile is the empty shell of White residence — the graffiti unwittingly remarks on this fact; it reads ‘Heisenberg.’ As if the dismal looking house isn’t enough to beg the question ‘What dystopia am I looking at,’ we see a grizzled Walter White step out of a car and into the house. Walter’s visit is to retrieve the Ricin he had hidden in his wall. The natural question to ask is why does he need Ricin? To answer that question, we are introduced to the present.

Hank is just now getting out of the bathroom, putting us right back where we left off a year ago — in the middle of the “holy crap” moment (pun intended). Hank knows Walt’s secret, but he doesn’t quite know what to do with it.

Jesse’s guilt has only multiplied since we last saw him. He regards his share of the earnings as blood money and is desperate to part with it. He tries to donate it to the people who are suffering the most from his actions, but Walt can’t let that happen: the money would be traced back to him. Jesse fears the worst has happened to Mike, and he’s correct — Mike has been killed. Walt, the one who killed Mike and hid the body, allays Jesse’s worries with lies. Jesse still can’t stand the money, though, and develops his own paper route — he ain’t chucking newspapers at door steps, but stacks of Benjamins.

Walt has bigger problems, though, as Hank has placed a GPS tracker on his car. Walt confronts Hank. The resolution of the scene astounded me. I was on the edge of my seat — no, I was standing. Excitement and surprise were perfectly married throughout the scene. And then it was over.

Considering the magnitude of the proverbial cat that was let out of the bag, the episode had far less action than I expected. Hank and Walt played it cool till the very last minute. I noted Walt’s dialog: some of it was reminiscent of Gus’s own business days, but much of what Walt said was a lie.

I am excited for the next installment, and I’ll see you next week for Breaking Bad.

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