Episode: ”Blood Money” (5.9)
Original Air Date: 8/11/13
Written by: Peter Gould
Directed by: Bryan Cranston
Line Synopsis: Hank tries to deal with his realization about Walt. Jesse tries to deal with the guilt of owning millions of dollars of blood money. Walt tries to deal with Lydia and Jesse breaking down around him.
Walt has clearly taken on the role of the New Gus in this episode. Although he’s no longer in the business, the demeanor is there. This is most obvious when Lydia shows up at the car wash. His behavior mirrors that of Gus with his and Walt’s interactions early on. Walt keeps up the guise of being a business man and doing what he’s doing while quietly and calmly telling Lydia his opinions on her requests or questions.
His quick rage and reckless behavior has now been replaced with this Gus-like, calm and analytical demeanor. At the end of the episode when Hank attacks him, an earlier season Walt might have snapped or threatened. But here, he just tells it like it is: even if he were Heisenberg and Hank arrested him, Walt would never seen the inside of a prison because he’ll probably be dead in 6 months from the cancer (which has returned).
Jesse has returned to a state of emotional breakdown, a similar state to where he was prior to befriending Mike. And this is almost entirely due to the fact Jesse has figured out Walt has killed Mike (it’s clear Jesse doesn’t believe Walt’s lie about Mike still being alive and not knowing where he was). But he’s also suffering from the guilt of everything that’s happened, especially the death of the boy from the train robbery, and he can’t accept what is essentially blood money, even though it’s millions of dollars. He is now so low that even the levity of his friends Skinny Pete and Badger can’t bring him out of his stupor. And when his plan to give the money away to Mike’s granddaughter and the family of the dead boy fails, he resorts to pulling a Robin Hood and tossing the money away to the needy. This act, though one of desperation, really pulls Jesse forward as another moral center of the show. He’s definitely a flawed character, but he has the biggest heart and biggest conscience of any character on the show, which could very well be his ultimate downfall.
Hank is having trouble dealing with his realization that Walt is Heisenberg. He even goes so far as to double and triple check with his resources and evidence. But unlike past manhunts Hank has gone on where he will stop at nothing to get his man, it’s clear that Hank does not want this to be true. He’s almost physically and emotionally crippled by this whole realization. But he’s still a man of the law and will stop at nothing until he’s utterly and completely tied Walt to Gus Fring and named him legally as Heisenberg (since the Whitman book would not be admissible evidence in a courtroom as it was obtained without a warrant). This last stretch of episodes seems like it will definitely be Hank’s journey to bring Walt to justice, though while it’s obvious something will happen because of the flashforwards, I’m not exactly sure to what means Hank will go.
The episode begins with another flashforward where Walt returns to his home, which is now completely abandoned and nearly in shambles. Boys are skateboarding in the empty pool in the backyard. “Heisenberg” is seen as graffiti on the inside walls. But the most important aspect of this segment is the fact he’s come back for the ricin poison. Who is he going to use it on? Or is he going to use it on anybody? (If he is, couldn’t he have made a new batch? He’s made it at least 2-3 times by this point on the show.)
The episode on the whole is a slow one, though it’s still engaging and carried almost entirely by Dean Norris. Everyone’s acting is top notch here, but Dean Norris (Hank) is phenomenal. From his panic attack in the car to the pained determination in his garage. But the moment that really made him shine was the moment at the end where he looks at Walt and says “I don’t know who you are.” It’s very quiet, very weak, and very pained. It’s a brilliant delivery.
That being said, one of my favorite moments in the entire episode is the one that seems to split people: the Star Trek conversation between Skinny Pete and Badger. Was it entirely relevant to what was going on? No. At best, it shows how far Jesse has fallen mentally and emotionally. He can’t even bring himself to tell them to shut up if he were annoyed by them. But the conversation itself is brilliantly hilarious and something you might hear in a Kevin Smith movie. I’m a pretty big fan of Skinny Pete and Badger, and they’re both victims of circumstance, as well, and I would be sad if anything happened to them (particularly Skinny Pete). But this entire conversation/scene I thought was amazing and one of the episode’s highlights.
Overall, I can’t wait to see where these last episodes take us. I’m intrigued by the flashforwards and to see both how it reaches this point and what Walt will do with the ricin. I’m also curious to see when Lydia finally has her breakdown and to what end. And finally, I can’t wait to see more of Dean Norris’ acting and how he’ll bring Hank and Walt to their ultimate showdown.