TV Recap: Breaking Bad, ‘Blood Money’

Logan J. Fowler and Luke Kalamar’s weekly Breaking Bad review series begins.

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Plot: Hank Schrader (Dean Norris) has accidentally stumbled upon his worst nightmare. He has found possible evidence that his brother-in-law Walter White (Bryan Cranston) is actually the drug kingpin named Heisenberg. Discovering this he immediately sets out to find the absolute truth. Meanwhile, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) is in turmoil over the blood money from Walt and does whatever he can to get rid of it all.

Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC
Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

This is it folks, the final eight episodes of one of the craziest shows to ever exist on television. The promotion for these episodes has been off the charts highly emphasizing how mind blowing the homestretch will be. Breaking Bad has been a roller coaster ride of insanity since day one back in 2008 and we have seen a simple chemistry teacher go to the darkest depths of the human psyche. He has run over criminals, blown up many people, and has even poisoned a child, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Despite all of this, Hank discovering Walt’s identity in “Gliding Over All” was one of the biggest moments of the entire series. Even the most casual viewer knows that this sets into motion an unprecedented series of events. With such a perfect set up, we were poised to get this final stretch started on the best foot possible. Did we get that? Oh Hell yes.

“Blood Money” starts off in a similar manner as “Live Free or Die” where we get a vision of the future with an unkempt Walt boasting a full head of hair. This means that the introductory sequence of this episode takes place immediately after Walt receives that M60 machine gun outside of a Denny’s. This time we see Walt pull up to his house which has since been completely abandoned save for a few skateboarders using the drained pool as a skating bowl. The house is covered in graffiti with a giant “Heisenberg” sprawled across the wall of the living room. We have no idea what exactly happened at the former White residence, but it’s pretty easy to assume it’s connected to present day events. Even more questions are raised with this little tease of what the future holds, but that’s really the point honestly. It’s there to get the viewer thinking and excited. To put it simply, it accomplishes this beautifully. The almost completely silent intro was the perfect touch, and Walt saying hello to his shocked neighbor was an awesome way to let the title card roll.

Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels/AMC
Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels/AMC

The rest of the episode primarily focused on three characters: Hank, Walt, and Jesse. Everything we see is an aftermath from the eight prior episodes that aired last year. Hank’s story was easily the most exciting part of the night with us immediately seeing his reaction to finding Walt’s book with Gale Boetticher’s (David Costabile) signature. Long story short, Hank doesn’t take the revelation very well. He even has a mild heart attack as him and Marie (Betsy Brant) are leaving the White residence. In classic Hank form, his immediate reaction is to investigate without any inhibitions. Little attention is actually paid to his investigation with the exception of a brief montage, but I guess the real important part is that he finds the crude drawing of Heisenberg’s face and is able to connect it to how Walt looks. That leads to one jaw dropping encounter at the end, which I will cover later.

Jesse’s story didn’t exactly get the blood flowing but the emotional weight of it all is powerful. Jesse has had to experience some pretty horrible shit since he started working with Walt, but unlike Walt he doesn’t take it very well. The brutal murder of Drew Sharp (Samuel Webb) back in “Dead Freight” is no exception. “Blood Money” saw Jesse try to obtain some sort of redemption for the horrors he has let happen by getting rid of the money Walt gave him for their work. His plan was to give half to Drew’s parents and the other half to Kaylee Ehrmantraut (Kaija Roze Bales). Jesse doesn’t exactly know about Mike’s (Jonathan Banks) fate, but he believes that Kaylee still needs assistance. Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) doesn’t approve of the plan and he brings Walt in. Walt tries to convince Jesse to keep the money, but in the end fails as Jesse decides to throw the money around an impoverished neighborhood. Like I said, not exactly edge of your seat action, but the sheer turmoil Jesse feels expertly conveyed by the immense acting skills of Aaron Paul more than makes up for it.

Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC
Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

As for Walt, he was sort of smack dab in the middle of it all. Lydia Rodarte-Quayle (Laura Fraser) appeared at Walt’s car wash in an attempt to get him to cook again, but Walt refuses in order to keep his promise to Skyler (Anna Gunn). Skyler tells her to never come back again, but we definitely haven’t seen the last of Lydia. Shortly after, we see Walt receiving chemo again, proving that his cancer has resurfaced. Considering how this is the beginning of the final episodes I’m not exactly surprised his cancer is back, a lot of people predicted this in fact, but it definitely succeeds in giving a finality to the series. We don’t even know if future Walt is cancer free either so this whole addition is one big question mark.

The whole paradigm of the show completely changes once Walt discovers his book is missing though. It doesn’t take him long before he realizes that Hank might actually have the book and his suspicions are proven when he finds a tracking device under his car. This is when the final moments of “Blood Money” come into play and holy shit are they intense. Walt does his best to casually talk to Hank about the whole matter, but Hank is too blind with rage over his discovery to really listen. You could feel the tension in that garage rise to a boiling point knowing what both men know about each other. This results in Hank punching Walt square in the face and Walt doing his best to save himself. Walt, with almost no other course of action, gives Hank a thinly veiled threat that he must tread lightly in his investigation. The beginning of the end really is here folks.

Breaking Bad is regarded as one of the greatest dramas on television and you don’t need to look further than “Blood Money” for proof of that claim. The entire episode was filled with anger, sadness, confusion, and personal turmoil with such palpability that you can cut it with a knife. We have only just started and Hank has already come to blows with Walt and Jesse himself is almost at the end of his personal rope. There really is no turning back now. How everything will turn out is completely up in the air but I’m sure we can all agree it’ll be one epic finale. “Blood Money” was an amazing episode that kicks off Breaking Bad’s conclusion beautifully without taking any breathers. Strap yourself in because this is going to be one crazy ride.

Rating: 9.5/10