NerdTV: Breaking Bad – 5.09 Blood Money/5.10 Buried
A note. This is our first attempt at a weekly recap of a series, so while we can’t guarantee it will continue for other shows at least we gave it a go for what is, at least for my money, the best television programme of all time. The heaviest of spoilers follow.
“It was you! All this time, it was YOU!”
And so begins the final chapter of Breaking Bad, without a doubt one of the great landmarks in serialised television.
The last image we were teased with all those months ago, was of Hank, sitting on the John, having just been smacked in the chops with the truth. His arch nemesis, Heisenberg, is in fact, his brother in law Walter White.
I don’t think I’d be wrong in suggesting that most people assumed how these eight episodes would play out. Hank knows so he plays it cool for about six episodes with the final two exploding with the inevitable face off. So imagine the elation when that assumption is turned on it’s head and the confrontation happens in the first episode.
What struck me most about Blood Money was that, contrary to what I thought, Walt truly was ‘out’. Maybe I’m just so accustomed to Walt’s lies that I assumed his assertion to Skyler last season was just cold manipulation. But here we see him, doing his best Gus Fring impression, helping out at the car wash. Even Lydia’s offer to ‘make it worth his while’ isnt swaying him. We know it’s all crashing down around him but as far as he’s concerned he’s moving on with his life.
One person who will never be able to get on with his life, of course, is young Jesse Pinkman. Jesse has come back from some pretty heavy lulls before but here he is broken, and I suspect he will remain broken until the end. Drew Sharp had him over the edge but the loss of Mike tipped him . Aaron Paul is just amazing as Pinkman. His dead eyed stare as he explains his reasoning for suspecting Mike is no longer among them is just haunting. More than a few characters in Breaking Bad have sold their souls but Jesse is the one who knows it.
Dean Norris does the best work of his career in this episode. You sort of get the impression he was hired as a sort of dumb comic relief character, but the man seriously brings it here. He’s selling betrayal, heartache, shame and fear with his eyes. It’s a testament to the effortless and flawless continuity that this program has that something like Hank’s anxiety attacks can come back so naturally after he realises what’s happening. As the garage door closes in that final scene the sheer electricity coming off both Norris and Bryan Cranston is tangible.
My God that final scene. I couldn’t give you five other television scenes tenser than that. Everything in this miserable tale lead to Hank’s right hook and even in the face of being discovered Walter couldn’t help himself. He manipulated, he spoke of family and in the end, he threatened. Again the work Cranston is doing here is just inhumanly good. “Tread lightly”. Delivered almost as a plea, he might as well have said “Don’t make me kill you”. Coming from a man who arranged for the death of ten state witnesses in two minutes, it’s a pretty heavy warning.
Vince Gilligan has spoiled us twice this series by allowing each episode to open immediately after the previous one. After a stunningly dark cold open, showing us again how out of reality Jesse is, Buried sees the return of a long lost character, ‘Panicky Walt’. We’ve grown so accustomed to Heisenberg being in control that it’s refreshing seeing Walter running around trying out race a problem. As soon as he realises that Hank immediately called Skyler Walt makes for his home away from home, the office of one Saul Goodman.
A lot of people have been critical of Hank’s handling of this situation but his fumbling of it makes it all the more compelling. He’s trying to stay afloat in an impossible situation and he’s making mistakes. His first was allowing Walt to find out that he knew, the second was underestimating how deep into the affair Mrs White was. Hank’s making very human mistakes and I’m really, really worried they’re going to cost him.
While the men race around town, it was great to see Marie’s reaction and her confrontation with he sister. As badly as Walt deserved that punch, Skyler deserved that slap. It hadn’t actually occurred to me how closely Skyler was tied to Hank’s near death experience. Betsy Brandt has a pretty thankless job playing the largely hated Marie but she completely made that scene, reminding us of the human cost of Walter’s actions.
I bloody love Huell.
Too much happened in these two hours; Jesse’s Robin Hood act, Lydia dealing with a sub par product, so a more timely recap will be in order next week, but for now let’s speculate. Is Jesse Hank’s man? Watching Buried was probably the quickest hour of television I’ve seen so when the credits appeared as Hank entered the interrogation room me and Mrs. Beardman howled. How does this play? Has Hank missed his chance? Will the money ever been found? Where will Walt Jr come into this?
And who wrote Heisenberg on the damn wall?