With the nature of social media constantly promoting and advertising TV shows and films nowadays, it’s easy for things to get overhyped. So many of this summer’s blockbusters let me down (I’m looking at you The Great Gatsby and Man of Steel) after my hopes had been raised so high by the promise of something special. Thankfully, Breaking Bad, a television show that has always been so cinematic in its scope and execution, was able to come back tonight with the first of its final eight episodes and not only match my expectations but surpass them.
Vince Gilligan, Bryan Cranston, and the entire Breaking Bad team produced a truly amazing 55 minutes of television tonight, and then, in those last few minutes, when the garage door shut behind Hank and Walt, the episode went from being simply amazing to flawless. Breaking Bad fans have been waiting almost a year, since Hank found out about Walt, for that confrontation to happen, and it would have been so easy to try and drag out the tension and suspicion between Walt and Hank for a few more weeks. Fortunately, the Breaking Bad writers decided to go for it and let Walt’s ego, yet again, force Hank’s hand, as it literally went flying straight into Walt’s arrogant face. This scene was everything I had hoped for and more, and it ended the episode in tense, exciting fashion.
However, before I continue discussing the end of “Blood Money,” I think I should go back to the episode’s beginning, as we were treated to a continuation of last season premiere’s flash-forward. Now, instead of sitting at a diner and buying a machine gun, Walter White breaks into his now abandoned house, which is covered with graffiti, as we see “HEISENBERG” spray painted in yellow on the living room walls, and skateboarders flock to the empty pool in the back. Walter looks around at the empty mess of his old house and finally finds what he’s looking for: ricin. Then, as he walks outside, Walt’s old neighbor sees him and is so startled that she drops her bag of groceries. “Hello, Carol,” he says to her, the only words spoken throughout the entire sequence. Breaking Bad has always done great flash-forward openings, but this one, which not only show us Walt as a desperate man but also as also as a publicly known and feared criminal, provides enough information to both intrigue but not outright spoil viewers. We know that there is a lot of ground to cover between the Walt that is threatening Hank in the garage to this new Walt, a person who no longer wears his Heisenberg title as a badge of honor but as a scar of his past mistakes, and I trust the Breaking Bad writers to make every installment between now and then as thrilling and gripping as this episode was.
And until we get to see more of Walt at his most destroyed and desperate state, Breaking Bad will continue to engage us with its stellar writing, gorgeous cinematography, and terrific performances. Even though Walt threatens Hank to “tread lightly” in tonight’s final moments, I think Breaking Bad is going to be anything but “light” during these final eight episodes, and I couldn’t be more excited to see what happens.
- I didn’t mention Jesse above because there was just so much to talk about from tonight’s episode, but, as usual, Aaron Paul was fantastic. His scene with Bryan Cranston, as he just sat there silently listening to Walt’s lies about Mike being alive, acting like he believed him even though he didn’t, was great, and I especially loved Jesse’s strained and subtle reaction to Walt calling him “son.” Also, Paul did an amazing job at showing how torn apart Jesse has become by all the innocent blood that he and Walt have spilt, taking all the money he has earned and tossing it out to random houses as he drives by, trying to detach himself from the corrupt and evil hooks of the drug business.
- Awesome directing tonight from Bryan Cranston. Breaking Bad has always been a very visual show, and in all the episodes that he has directed, Cranston has shown a key eye for the little details (like the Schraderbrau sign in Hank’s garage as he is going through his case files) that make this world feel even more complete and vivid.
- Badger and Skinny Pete’s Star Trek conversation was the comedic highlight of tonight, providing a nice break from the dark intensity of this episode. The pair’s excitement about Badger’s screenplay and their disbelief that Jesse could be so disinterested in it made me laugh out loud.
- I’m so happy that Breaking Bad didn’t cheat its viewers and showed us Hank’s immediate reaction to discovering the truth about Walt. Watching Hank essentially stumble out of the bathroom into this whole new world was so exciting to watch, and the camerawork and the sound mixing really added to the sequence, making viewers feel as dazed and disoriented as Hank did.
- We now officially know that Walt’s cancer is back, and that Walt says he probably has about six months left to live. However, the flash-forward is taking place about nine months after his and Hank’s conversation, so while Walt may still be verge of death, the cancer has not taken hold of him as quickly has he thought it would. Do you think the disease will be the eventual cause of Walt’s death or will it be a much more violent demise? Or do you think Walt somehow makes it out of Breaking Bad alive?
- Lastly, why do you think Walt came back for the ricin? If he already has the big gun that we saw him get in last season’s premiere, is he using it as a secret backup plan of some sort for whomever he is up against?
What did everyone think of Breaking Bad‘s return tonight?