Breaking Bad Recap: The Whitman Hits the Fan

Breaking Bad Season 5 RecapWhen Breaking Bad left us before the midseason break, the question wasn’t whether Walt would realize that brother-in-law/DEA officer Hank was onto him, but when that would happen. And then, the logical follow-up: Would TVLine reimburse me for my season-long Valium prescription? Because I would certainly need it if the back half of the season were as teeth-grittingly tense as the first half.

But the AMC drama’s midseason premiere surprised me by wasting no time and dealing with its biggest dangling plot point straightaway – not to mention letting us in on whether or not Walt’s cancer is back. Questions answered, plot forwarded… so why am I not whooping “Yeah, bitch!” in my best Jesse voice? Probably because I am so very afraid for (in no particular order): the aforementioned Mr. Pinkman, Hank, Skyler, Saul, Flynn (or whatever he’s calling himself these days), little Holly, Skinny Pete, Marie, Kaylee Ehrmantraut, Lydia, Lydia’s kid, skittish neighbor Carol, the guys who dry off the cars at A1, the people of Albuquerque and Marie’s purple shag rug.

Hold me, TVLine Nation, as we address the beginning of the end in “Blood Money.”

RELATED | Breaking Bad’s 8 Most Bitchin’ and Bold Twists

I DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU, BUT I’M FEELIN’ 52 | Like the first episode of this season, this week’s installment begins in the future, on or near Walt’s 52nd birthday. He drives the junky sedan he got from that guy at that place down his street and parks it in front of his house, which has certainly seen better days. The property is abandoned, covered in graffiti, generally unkempt and surrounded by a locked chain-link fence. Walt grabs a tire iron and shimmies through a gap in the perimeter, then enters his former home. It’s empty, save for two things: a huge yellow “HEISENBERG” spray-painted on an inside wall and the vial of ricin he retrieves from its hiding place in the master bedroom wall socket. (Nice distorted reflection shot in the messed-up mirror, production team.) There are kids skateboarding in the dried-up in-ground pool out back; he leaves them alone. The only person who seems to notice Walt’s existence is his neighbor, Carol, who drops her bag of groceries in shock/fear when he says hello.

And then, just like that, we’re back in the bathroom with Hank, who is having a really hard time trying to wrap his mind around the connections he’s just made. He exits the loo and stuffs Leaves of Grass into a bag, then rejoins the group just as Marie is playfully telling Walt, “You are the devil!” (Nice.) Hank feigns illness but doesn’t have to do too much pretending; he seriously looks like he’s going to be sick at any moment. In the car on the way home, Marie natters on about nothing, and her voice fades to silence in the background. I know we’re supposed to think that this means Hank is fixated on his brand new suspicion, but he’s married to Marie, for God’s sake: For all we know, this could be his typical response to her inane prattle. As full realization hits him, he swerves and drives up onto a stranger’s lawn, gasping and blinking like a catfish flung up on the riverbank.

At home – and after an ER doc says he hasn’t had a heart attack – Hank pulls himself together. In his workshop, he compares the handwriting in Gale’s notebook to the inscription in Walt’s book and confirms what we already know: They’re an exact match.

HAVE AN A1 DAY | We next find Skyler and Walt running their business, dressed like they just stepped out of the pages of J. Crew. (All I’m saying is, there’s a lot of “oatmeal” knit going on there.) He’s like, “What do you think about moving the air freshener display, and hey, while we’re at it, why don’t we buy another car wash so we can more quickly launder my ill-gotten cash?” Though his tone is genial and an on-the-fence Skyler says she’ll consider it, we all know that they will buy another car wash – because that’s what Walt wants to do.

Just then, Lydia shows up to hiss that the quality of the meth she’s moving is at “68 percent and falling.” Walt doesn’t care. “I left a viable operation. The rest was up to you,” he says quietly. She nervously asks him to come back for a “tutorial,” because she’s in big trouble if she can’t produce the premium product for which he’s known. Walt? He could give a franch. And as he modulates his voice between the ultra-cheery, customer-service patter and Heisenberg’s menacing growl, we get to see both halves of his character in action simultaneously. It’s mesmerizing. As Lydia leaves, Walt tells his wife just enough to propel her toward the skittish brunette and warn her never to return.

TO BOLDLY GO | Jesse is hanging out with Skinny Pete and Badger, but he’s not getting one-tenth the enjoyment I am out of their stoned debate about Star Trek transporter theory. For the record, Pete is pretty anti. “Why do you think McCoy never liked to beam nowhere? Because he’s a doctor, bitch! Look it up: It’s science.” (Ha! Side note: That is my favorite line in the scene… until Badger says “I ever tell you about my Star Trek script? Yeah, I gotta write it down, is all.”) As the guys go on about an interstellar pie-eating contest (“Spock has total Vulcan control over his digestion!”), Jesse leaves with the duffel bags of money Walt gave him in the previous episode.

He winds up at Saul’s, where he instructs the crooked lawyer to give half of the $5 million to Mike’s granddaughter Kaylee and the other half to the parents of the boy Todd shot by the railroad tracks. Saul infers that Mike is no longer with us but, calling the giveaway “a bridge too far,” counsels Jesse not to part with his cash. Jesse doesn’t care what Saul thinks. Once he leaves, Saul knows what he has to do: Better call Walt!

I WANT TO BELIEVE | When Heisenberg answers his phone, we see that he’s hooked up to an IV full of chemotherapy drugs: Yep, the cancer is back – but, as we later learn, no one knows yet. Post-treatment, he brings the bags back to Jesse and calls his plan to give it away “nonsensical.” Jesse won’t look at his former mentor, who takes an avuncular tack. “Son, you need to stop focusing on the darkness behind you. The past is the past,” Walt advises. When he asks why Jesse wanted the money to go to Kaylee, it’s clear that the younger man is holding back tears. (Dear Aaron Paul: You are killing both it and me in this scene. Good job.) “She needs someone looking after her,” he monotones, having put together that Walt wouldn’t have killed Mike’s crew without taking care of its boss first. “I think he’s dead, and I think you know that.”

Walt denies all, spinning a story that ends with “Jesse, I need you to believe this. It’s not true. It’s just not.” Jesse, I need you to make Walt believe that you believe him, because I heart you. Pinkman totally doesn’t buy his old boss’ story, but he acts like he does, and I’m sure Walt cockily thinks he’s gotten everything back under control. But that’s probably not the case, seeing as how Jesse later drives around a neighborhood, lobbing bundles of bills out his driver-side window like they were the early edition and possibly having a nervous breakdown in the process.

I KNOW YOU KNOW | When the chemo kicks in, Walt hotfoots it away from the dinner table and surreptitiously pukes in the bathroom. (Props to him, because I can’t toss my cookies without everyone in a four-block radius becoming aware.)  As he’s praying to the porcelain god, he looks up and notices that the Walt Whitman poetry book is missing. He couples that with Hank’s odd behavior at dinner and the tracking device Walt finds on his muscle car’s undercarriage, and it’s not long before Walt arrives at Hank’s place and catches him re-examining all of the evidence from the Heisenberg case. They’re both completely busted.

Hank plays it cool just as long as it takes to lower the door of the garage, where he’s set up the re-investigation. Then he punches his brother-in-law and cries, “It was you!” Game ON, Breaking Bad! The men grapple. “I swear to Christ,” Hank vows, “I will put you under the jail.”

The whole time, Walt plays like he doesn’t know what Hank is talking about – and then he drops the C-bomb. “My cancer is back,” he offers. “Good. Rot, you son of a bitch,” Hank whispers, adding that he doesn’t even know who Walt is and that, once Skyler and the kids are safe with him and Marie, he’s willing to talk. That’s when it gets really, really, Valium-would-be-nice-now scary.

“If you don’t know who I am, then maybe your best course would be to tread lightly,” Walt says, Bryan Cranston somehow managing to be frightening even as his eyes pool with tears.

Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Pat D. says:

    Wowee wow wow—-that last scene between Dean and Bryan—intense.

    Although, I still think its rather funny that “Heisenberg” keeps hurling threats after getting his ass whooped, ROFL.

  2. ajintexas says:

    That last scene was insane.

  3. Dean Norris should get Emmy nominated next year for Breaking Bad not Under the Dome.

  4. Pat D. says:

    Best part of the episode—besides the ending, of course, was Jesse’s expression whilst being forced to listen to the “Star Trek Pie Contest” episode narration and the theory of “Xerox Kirks”.

  5. nucleon says:

    My heart stopped Walt said to Hank: “Then maybe your next course should be to tread lightly.”

  6. Laura Aliaga says:

    Oh.My.Heisenberg. They aren’t messing around, getting down to business right off the bat with the Hank/Walt showdown. Well worth the wait!

  7. TV Gord says:

    I’ll comment tomorrow. That was too intense! I have to change out of my Walter White Underoos and go to bed.

  8. Monica says:

    Wow! What an episode. I can’t even begin to think about the awesome acting jobs of Cranston, Paul, and Norris-they are unbelievable! I was tense the entire episode (except of course for Skinny Pete and Badger talking Star Trek-hilarious). I, as usual, am just speechless after this episode.

  9. lisa says:

    Absolutely perfect way to begin the end

  10. I wonder if he’ll knock four times before he kills Hank…

  11. Ray says:

    And when Walt “tossed his cookies” he put a towel down like Gus in the episode Salud. Meaning?

    • Observer says:

      Walt even took off his glasses just like Gus did. Perhaps it shows that Walt is striving to be the same meticulous control freak that Gus was, a man who planned for the tiniest details, and perhaps this is how Walt views himself (delusionally). But, of course, Walt is definitely not as organized or disciplined as Gus. He is much more impulsive and emotional than Gus and is more likely to speak without consideration. Gus would never have left Gale’s dedicated copy of Leaves of Grass where Hank could find it.

    • Bmass87 says:

      I noticed that, too. It’s eerie to see how Walt is channelling Gus– even the scene with Lydia and Walt at the car wash counter mirrors the scene where Walt tried to warn Gus about the GPS tracker in Los Pollos Hermanos. I absolutely adore how the show continues to reference itself in subtle ways like that.

    • Yuri says:

      I think Walt adopts a habit from the people he killed. There are a couple more examples but one that came to mind is that he started cutting the crusts off his sandwiches after killing crazy eight.

    • I thought that too, except when would Walt have known/seen Gus do that. He wasn’t on the trip with Gus/Mike/Jesse when we saw Gus throw up. But yea – definitely had a flashback to Gus doing the same thing.

  12. Joey says:

    The new episode was good and intense at the end. I’n worried about Jesse.

  13. Chablis says:

    Please keep on recapping Newsroom.

  14. ajintexas says:

    I think they nailed it on Talking Dad. When Jesse Pinkman becomes the moral compass you know you have gone off the rails. I hate to think Walt will kill him, but it’s a distinct possibility.

    • ajintexas says:

      Talking Bad that is. I don’t think Hank put the GPS on Walt’s car either but I assume that’s obvious to most people at this point. Hank clearly looked surprised by that.

    • Ari says:

      I think you aren’t giving Jesse enough credit. He’s always been fairly moral for a drug dealer.

    • Diablo says:

      Walt doesn’t want to kill Jesse. That’s why he “has to believe him”. Otherwise….
      Also, I don’t see Hank getting too fired up over turning Walt in. Hank has been the recipient of some of those fat stacks yo! himself. Walt/Skylar been paying for his rehab with blood money. Makes Hank at LEAST vulnerable to investigation. He’s already been disciplined once for going off the rails. He can’t afford to be wrong and he knows it, even if he knows he’s right.

  15. Philip Fulgencio says:

    Dean Norris better get “Performer Of The Week” after this episode!!!

  16. Observer says:

    It’s clear that Walt’s leaving Gale’s dedicated copy of Leaves of Grass in the guest bathroom isn’t simply an accident on Walt’s part. At some basic level, Walt wants Hank to know that his seemingly milquetoast ineffectual brother is Heisenberg, the master criminal that has successfully eluded Hank and the entire DEA for the past 18 months, and has vanquished and killed off all of his dangerous rivals — Tico, Gale, the cartel, Gus, Mike and all of Mike’s men. It’s Walt’s pride that, as ever, is his Achilles heel. I don’t think Walt wants to get caught; he simply is tired of not being acknowledged the great drug kingpin who has outwitted and terrorized everyone else to this point. Plus, even though Walt has “retired” from cooking meth, he’s become addicted to the thrill of going mano a mano against all those who want to bring him down and he now needs to up the game by going up against his tough guy brother-in-law who has always treated Walt like a 90-lb naïve weakling.

    (It’s the same reason that Walt last season refused to let Hank believe that Gale was talented enough to be Heisenberg, even though that would have been the safest course for Walt because it would have closed the case. Instead, Walt’s comments to Hank resulted in Hank keeping his investigation open.)

    • Lisa G says:

      It’s not the guest bathroom, it’s the master bath. We’ve never seen the hall bath (in fact Walt peed in the kitchen sink rather than use it, so you gotta wonder what Junior does in there….) I remember thinking it was really weird that Hank took it upon himself to use the master.

      • Britta Unfiltered says:

        I remember rewatching an episode a week or so ago where Walt and Skylar told Saul’s bodyguard to use the master bath when he interrupted their meeting at the house because he had to pee so bad. I don’t think I’d picked up before on the fact that they never use the hall bath. What is going on with that?

  17. dude says:

    Blown away by the ep so good. 7 left of a great show

  18. Regina Mills says:

    I think Jesse will commit suicide. Poor dude has nothing to live for anymore.

    Dean Norris better win an Emmy next year.

    • ZigZagZoey says:

      NOOOOOO! But I’m scared of him doing that too. Especially if the people in that neighborhood start killing each other over the money he threw.

  19. kim says:

    I hate to see this series end! I was hooked from the first episode…I’ll need a 12 step program once its gone.

  20. n8ball78 says:

    The end is coming and while I’m excited to see where it goes from here I don’t want it to end. Never has a show made me care about the characters the way breaking bad has done. Love how they blend in the comedy with the intense drama.

    Really pissed the cancer is back cause I really want walt to live. I know it’s most likely gonna be alone but I still want him to win in the end. Looking like jesse and hank are both dead.

  21. Mary says:

    O. M. G.

  22. Justin Burnell says:

    Reblogged this on thehiltonburnellfiles and commented:
    The last scene of the episode was very intense and amazing.

  23. cas says:

    It was a great episode. I can’t believe they dove right into the Hank drama. I can’t believe how much Walt has changed since the beginning. The only problem I have is I never really liked Hank in the first place, so I find it hard to relate to him or want the good guys to win. I feel like they made his character such an ass at times but slowly last night I started to feel for him. Jesse is hands down my favorite and I can only hope he survives. I don’t know why such a great popular show is only on for 5 seasons as I think Mad Men is on like their 7th.

    • Pat D. says:

      I disagree, I’ve always liked Hank—I was rooting for him when the hitmen came to try and take him out—he survived that with a bit of tough-guy badassery. He’s kinda oblivious (for an agent) to not have realized who was behind the new intense meth for so long, though.

    • Tony says:

      Hank was always bordering on the cusp of good guy/over the top ass. For me anyways. Not that I was cheering for Walt to win. But Hanks’ overconfidence and bullish attitude made it easy to not root for him entirely.

      However, Walt’s further decent into the criminal world, his growing bravado, and complete lack of care for his family (maybe sans his children), I found myself rooting for Hank last night.

  24. Dexter says:

    AAAAAH. That episode was beyond insanely good.

  25. Admiral Crunch says:

    When Walt reached into his pocket at the end before he turned around to confront Hank with the tracker, for a second I thought he might be about to kill him. Remember, at this point, Hank hasn’t told anyone – Walt;s friendly chat wtih the coworkers revealed that they have no idea what Hank is doing.

    I’m waiting to see what brilliant plan Walt has for getting himself out of this pickle, since he’s too smart to give up the chance to kill Hank right now unless he has such a plan. (Or would he rather go to jail than kill his brother in law? I never got that vibe, though certainly he’d rather be friends with Hank than kill him.)

    What’s Walt’s plan?
    – Hank doesn’t seem like the type to accept a bribe, even a large one
    – He could offer up the “distribution guy” (who wanted the 1000 gallons of methlyamine) to Hank but Hank is really more interested in Walt
    – Hank is unlikey to respond to threats against himself, though he might be worried about Marie. (Has Walt sunken far enough to threaten Marie’s life?)

    • Pat D. says:

      Honestly, I dont think Walt gives a damn about anybody anymore—killing Hank outright would have just made his situation more complicated, especially since the two coworkers of Hank saw him go into the garage at that point. He’s so far gone at this point, that I could see Walt offing Hank and Jesse in an instant if it turned out to be the best option for him.

      Dead bodies piling up is never a good way to keep your cover, and I think thats the only reason why Walt hasn’t killed Hank, Jesse, Skylar, Saul and anybody else who could tie him to the business.

      Either that, or he sees no point in offing all these people when he’s doomed in 6 months anyways (if he’s even telling the truth about that, I’m not so sure—even with the Chemo scenes).

      • Admiral Crunch says:

        You’re right, the coworkers would want to ask Walk questions, but to them and Gomey, he’s just a loving brother-in-law and it wouldn’t make sense for him to do anything to Hank. If Hank is found dead in the garage and the boxes are gone, suspicion is on the “cartel”. Walt would mainly have to explain where he was at the time and why the “cartel” didn’t kill him as well – if he was there.

        That being said, Walt probably has something much more clever in mind.

  26. justjack says:

    Skyler will never forgive Walt if Walt kills her sister’s husband…

  27. John says:

    Dean Norris performer of the week and Emmy consideration please! Amazing episode all around, that last scene left me breathless.

  28. TV Gord says:

    I have to admit that I came here expecting to read a bunch of comments picking the episode to pieces. I’m very impressed by the level of discussion here! Very enjoyable!

  29. Doug says:

    The question is: Who is the ricin for? From the condition of the house and Walt, he’s obviously been outed as a criminal and is on the run. His family is gone. So, at this point, who could he possibly eliminate with the ricin to improve his situation?

    • MM says:

      I thought Walt had been publicly outted based on his neighbour Carol’s reaction, but has he? Just when you think the show is letting you know what’s going to happen, are they really?

      If he’s been on the news why didn’t the waitress or the other patrons at the Denny’s restaurant recognize him? Unless he made himself look totally different with the hair and beard? I don’t think the gun dealer would have agreed to meet him in a public place either if he was being pursued big time by the law. He’d have met him in a hotel room, like last time.

      Any why did Walt go into his old house during the day? He could have snuck in at night when no one was around.

  30. Raargh W says:

    The book by itself proves nothing. Walt can claim he bought it used somewhere. I’m wondering if there are security cams in Hank’s office that caught Walt planting the bug. Also wondering how long the tracker was on Walt’s car – did they track him to Saul and Jesse? Also wondering if Walt’s prints are on any evidence that has been collected or from places where Walt should never have been – from the lab, from Pinkman’s crib, from Saul’s office, etc. That would bust him big-time.

    • Pat D. says:

      I dont think the book was meant to be a strong piece of evidence—it merely was the prop that made Hank realize all along who Heisenberg was—note how he was digging through evidence and case records in his garage to get some stronger proof.

      • Raargh W says:

        Agreed; the garage scene makes me think that Walt is under the impression that Hank does not have proof … just wondering what Hank will try now. Walt has not been super-careful with prints.

        • tripoli says:

          Yeah, it seems like Hank is going to need some concrete evidence to back up what he’s now thinking. I too considered the idea that Walt could explain the book as simply something he purchased second hand. That he found the inscription fitting, as he has the same initials. There is no proof of where Walt got the book, so it’s just the tipping off point for Hank. He’s going to do a lot of digging to find something real to bring Walt down. He has to right? He’s been after Heisenberg for too long to just let it go because it’s Walt and he’s back in treatment for his cancer.

    • Mindy says:

      Walt’s fingerprints are definitely all over Jesse’s house. I’ve actually been paying attention to that ever since Gale was killed and Walt grilled Jesse over whether he left any fingerprints at Gale’s house. But, Walt takes no precautions at Jesse’s place.

      Though, I am not sure that is too much evidence against Walt. He’s already admitted to knowing Jesse and buying drugs off him.

      • Raargh W says:

        Walt has been handling bags of blue meth for a long, long time. His prints are on most of them. I’m re-watching and looking things he has handled without gloves.

        For the record: I think the Ricin is for Hank, he uses his $ to get his family out of the country to someplace safe, and everyone dies except Jesse. Walt will go out in a huge battle; no suicide for him.

  31. Mindy says:

    This episode was fantastic! Wow, that finale scene was intense and totally stunning! I cannot even believe Walt said that to Hank. Wow!

    I now have even higher hopes for this season. (Though, I, too, really don’t want Jesse to die.)

  32. Britta Unfiltered says:

    I gotta say, we moved along a bit faster than I expected it to. I’m curious about the time schedule. Where are we in terms of the time between Walter’s 51st and 52nd birthdays?

  33. Betsy says:

    I don’t know, but there are only 8 episodes in this last season so they’ve got a lot to do in a short time.

  34. ww fan says:

    Walter did what he thought he had to do for his family and self preservation at every decision point during this series. Jesse is an idiot that Walter used. Jesse did this for the money while Walt did this for his family. Now the writers are trying to turn Jesse into some sort of Martyr. I want Walt to die knowing he did what he had to do, but the writers and the young audience will call for Walt to be destroyed. I hope Walt ends with the knowing he did things he had to do to help his family. Screw the guys that got in Walt’s way and let Walt’s kids be set for life. Walt tries to get out, but something always presents itself as an obstacle to Walt achieving what he wants.