Okay, so the title of Breaking Bad S5E9 is apparently “Blood Money” but, come on, I know you’re with me when I say that the real title for this fucker should be “Tread Lightly.” A lot of fantastic shit was set up in this premiere but it all came down to the fucking beautifully handled confrontation(directed by star Bryan Cranston) between Hank and Walt, where Walt suggests, ever so menacingly, that if Hank truly doesn’t know who he’s talking to anymore that it’s probably best if dude fucking, you know, treads lightly – cut to credits. So rad, so badass. But let’s get into what all took place before that epic moment first.
The cold open gave us some more of the flash forward from the premiere of the season proper last year, with Walt pulling up to his house in his sweet old Caddy, the house now condemned and the pool being used by skate punks like it’s Venice Beach thirty years ago. Walt goes to the wall socket and retrieves the ricin we saw him place there, making for a curious arsenal he’s collecting. He’s got the big ass gun from Jim Beaver and now some poison, so what’s he fighting? A bunch of dudes who need mowing down or one guy he can kill on the sly? Both? Does he not even know and is just taking some precautions? Mysteries on top of mysteries, dear readers, leaving the Nerd undoubtedly tantalized. (Oh, and he also has a hilarious interaction with his neighbor Carol.)
From there the episode picks up right after Hank discovered the copy of Leaves of Grass Gale inscribed to Walt with Hank losing his shit on the way home from the party with Marie. The book leads to Hank taking time off from the office and having all the Heisenberg shit sent to his garage, bringing him back into full-on geode mode from season four, closing himself off from everyone and drowning himself in work. Gomey’s worried about him but Hank tells the boy’s to assure him doesn’t need another granny, fuck you very much, and now that Hank’s the boss he can apparently pull shit like this without anybody hassling him too much.
We then see Walt doing a bang-up job focusing his efforts on the car wash, coming up with clever business strategies and insisting to Skyler that they should expand. After all, it’s gonna take forever to launder all those millions, why not cut down forever by a hair by having a few more locations to launder out of? It’s a sound enough idea but ultimately unnecessary and probably a little risky, bringing more eyes on their presently modest business when more eyes don’t need to be there. If the Whites just live like upper-middle class folks for the rest of their lives they should be more than comfortable and more than happy but Walt’s pride will only allow that low-key level for so long. After all, dude was top of the criminal underworld game without anyone giving him credit – why not let him make the business section of the Albuquerque paper for once?
We also see him do some puking and sit through more chemo treatments, letting us know that he’s back in the woods cancer-wise now, sorry to say, though of course no one in the family knows about this development yet. Well, now one guy in the family knows but we’ll get to him in a little bit. Lydia also swings by the car wash to beg Walt to come back and straighten shit up on the production end, the quality of the product having dropped considerably, but he seems pretty dead set in keeping on the straight and narrow, even tells Skyler what the situation is for once.
Jesse is still reeling from guilt, unable to do much beyond hang out with Skinny Pete and Badger (can’t wait to see what the internet does with Badger’s amazing Star Trek spec idea), and has yet to touch the five mil Walt finally gave him a month back. He goes to see Saul about giving half of it to the dead kid’s family and the other half to Mike’s granddaughter but Saul goes to Walt before doing something so stupid. After all, money to the dead kid folks will only raise more questions and Mike’s granddaughter’s finances have to be being monitored closely right now.
Walt goes to chill out Jesse (love the framing of them on the couch with the hockey bags and Jesse’s bongs – money and drugs – separating the two of them in the shot) and learns that Jesse has correctly figured out that Walt killed Mike, otherwise there’s no way Walt would gone through with killing all his guys (interesting that Saul doesn’t seem to have figured this out yet though). Naturally, Walt lies right to Jesse’s face, assuring him that he did no such thing. Desperate to do something to alleviate his self-hatred, Jesse plays hund0-stack paperboy on a shady street in Albuquerque, not to mention giving a wad to a homeless guy who can clearly see his fucking face and car make!
But the big event of the episode happens after Walt pukes his guts out in the bathroom during dinner and discovers the Walt Whitman book missing, the thought nagging at him until he thinks to look under the wheel well of his car, finding a tracker much like the one Hank enlisted him to plant on Gus’ car back in season four. He goes to Hank’s digs and at first plays it cool, just checking up on him, acting like he’s just worried since he’s been “sick” ever since their party. But then he begrudgingly busts out the tracking device and the garage door ever-so-awesomely closes, leading to a big, beautiful, long-time-coming blow out.
Hank is determined to bury Walt, fuck him and all his betrayals, family be damned, but then Walt tells him that he has maybe six months left with his cancer returning, that he will never see the trial, much less a jail cell. Because Walt is reasonably sure that Hank has been keeping the situation close to the vest, he also busts out the big guns, letting Hank know that if he can’t plead to his sense of decency towards a dying man, maybe he should remember that dude is not dealing with little-old Walt the chem teacher but FUCKING HEISENBERG, here, the man who took out fucking Gus Fring with bomb on an old gangster’s wheelchair and eluded capture brilliantly over the last year right under his brother-in-law the DEA agent’s nose.
So “Blood Money” doesn’t answer a lot of our questions that we had after last year’s finale. We still aren’t any closer to knowing the circumstances behind Walt’s leaving Albuquerque nor his violence-minded return, though we do sorta know that cancer doesn’t necessarily get him within six months (he’s got a fair amount of hair in those flash forwards, too). We also don’t have any idea how Hank is going to go forward with taking down his brother-in-law or if Walt’s gonna have to do the same to Hank. Basically, we don’t know shit and the Nerd, for one, is fucking excited as all hell to see where we end up. I’m also over-joyed to be back writing these recaps and having you all join me in the speculatin’ and hypothesizin’, broke badasses, so let’s hear what you all gleaned now, eh?