Breaking Bad: 5.09 - Blood Money
After finally breaking big in the last few years, becoming everyone's favourite TV show, Breaking Bad finally ends. Well, not yet, but this is the first of eight concluding episodes, after which we'll finally know the ultimate fate of all these characters. Except Saul who might be getting a spin-off.
When we left our heroes, drug kingpin Walter White's DEA brother-in-law Hank just stumbled upon some damning evidence against poor Walt. He'd never suspected Walt before, but now, just as the poor evil mastermind decided to retire, everything went wrong. Isn't that always the way? So, what's going to happen this week? Will they tackle the cliffhanger immediately or make us wait? Spoilers required to answer that, obviously.
Walt Just A Moment...Many shows would throw to "Some months later" after a reveal as big as that, and at first, Breaking Bad is no exception. We return to bearded, skinny, defeated-looking future-Walt in the opening sequence, as he haunts his deserted family home. These kind of future-seeing teasers can be dangerous for a show, defusing the tension, but it's handled here with the restraint you'd expect, giving a few terrifying details, but nothing to give away what might happen. "Basically," the writers are telling us, "we know what we're doing. Stay calm."
And then we're back to Hank emerging from the toilet, picking up right where we left off after a long, terrifying linger on the door. The slow part doesn't last long though, because soon Hank is obsessing over Walt, while our anti-hero himself tries to get back into his day-to-day life. He doesn't do well, of course, because that would be boring viewing. We get the obligatory Walt/Jesse scene, as Walt tells his young apprentice a few not-even-very-convincing lies about Mike, he's working in a car wash just like in the very first episode, and it all seems a bit middling. He wears a lot of beige. Retirement doesn't suit Walt at all.
So it's fortunate that he soon gets sucked face-first into the Hank subplot, faster than we might have suspected, as he realises the truth and has an amazingly tense confrontation with his poor brother-in-law. And thus the stage is set for a proper cat-and-mouse game. I kinda expected the story beats from this one episode to be spread over approximately half the remaining space, so this is all very exciting and fast-paced. The final season of Dexter could really learn something.
The Very Worst Of Breaking BadTo be honest, I have few complaints about the execution here, nor does anyone else seem to - this episode was a bit of a crowd pleaser. They hit pretty much all the cast, then wrapped it all up with the Walt/Hank scene at the end - it honestly couldn't go far wrong. It'll be more interesting to see how they handle subsquent weeks. The big question, really, is how it will all end. The number of possible fates set up for Walt is staggering: The cancer is back! Hank's after him! Jesse clearly knows about his lies! His former drug associates are angry about weak product! Honestly, I almost hope the final answer is none of them.
In the meantime, we get a few lovely scenes, including Jesse under the table, the slow zoom on the toilet door and the ridiculous Star Trek fanfiction scene with Jesse's friends. As I say, this was somewhat of a Breaking Bad greatest hits tour in the first episode, running through the main cast and getting the plot underway, and if you like the show, I imagine you'll like this. It's very good.
Next week: how will they map out the final descent? Only seven episodes of Breaking Bad left! That's as many as have already aired of the final Dexter season! Exciting.