TVLine's Performer of the Week: Dean Norris

Dean Norris Breaking Bad Performer of the WeekA weekly feature in which we spotlight shining stars


THE SHOW | Breaking Bad

THE EPISODE | “Blood Money”

THE AIRDATE | Aug. 11, 2013

THE PERFORMANCE | Take a minute, Breaking Bad fans, and think back to the series’ pilot. Remember what an unapologetic blowhard Dean Norris’ Hank was? Flashing his gun at a family party, giving Walt a birthday toast that seemed more like a put-down, flipping the bird with abandon – you’re telling us this guy would be the one to unmask the mighty Heisenberg?

But that was before time, circumstance, physical injury and Norris’ immense talent made Hank into the wiser, more cautious man he is in the AMC drama’s current season. So when Walt shows up at Hank’s garage and the two men finally face the truth between them, Norris’ character is someone you truly want to see win.

“All along it was you!” Hank screams at Walt, Norris’ eyes full of an angry sadness. As Hank grits out a partial litany of Heisenberg’s heinous crimes, Norris gazes upon his character’s brother-in-law as though he’s never seen him before — because he hasn’t, not really. Norris plays Hank’s dazed realization with a very believable mix of “is this actually happening?” and “how did I miss this all along?,” manifested in the wary way he can’t take his eyes off co-star Bryan Cranston. It’s mesmerizing.

Forget Walt’s “tread lightly” threat at the end of the scene – our shivers start when Hank whispers, “I don’t know who you are. I don’t even know who I’m talking to.” Norris expertly broadcasts his character’s betrayal loud and clear: These men were good friends, and Hank can’t believe he’s been played by someone he loves. If the intensity of Norris’ portrayal is a portent of things to come… Walt, watch your back.

Press PLAY on the video below to watch the scene in question, then hit the comments: What performance knocked your socks off this week?

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. itberice says:

    Great pick! Dean Norris was fantastic in the last episode!

  2. DanielleZ says:

    Yep, I knew it and well deserved at that.

  3. Nick says:

    He also deserved it for the scene in Under the Dome when he tells Junior what really happened with his mother

  4. RD says:

    Alas,I think Hank’s a goner.

  5. Louie says:

    There’s no runner-up listed this week… That’s ok though, the runner-up was also in the video and either could have been the Player of the Week.

  6. Joey says:

    Great pick. Dean did great in last week’s episode. I hope he gets nominated for an Emmy for the final episodes next year.

  7. I don’t watch Breaking Bad, so I can’t say whether or not this is deserved, but based on my TV experience this week I have to give the Performer of the Week award to Dylan O’Brien from Teen Wolf. It’s true, each week he knocks it out of the park, but this week he had the chance to really wow us as life around him came crashing down. His wonderful comedic sparring with FBI Agent McCall was hilarious and telling (and a great way to introduce the new character). Then he could turn around and break your heart as his panic attack takes over with the realization that he’s lost his best friend and brother Scott, his dad, and his surrogate mom Melissa McCall. His pain was raw and magnetic. Even in the simpler moments, like the first time he saw Scott after Scott had run off with Duke, was well played with pain and joy but not ever done. Kudos to the whole cast for an outstanding episode, and this extra special praise to Mr. O’Brien who brought so much heart to this painful episode.

  8. Cheeky says:

    Well deserved. A pivotal moment we’ve all been waiting for since the show began was Hank’s confrontation with Walt, and he delivered big time!

  9. Last Sunday I never meant to say about Dean Norris being Emmy nominated next year for Breaking Bad and not Under the Dome and I was 100% wrong about that. I apologize about the things I meant and I’ll stay that way but until then he definitely deserves it.

  10. Ron says:

    This is the absolute correct pick. Dean killed it in this episode. This should be one of his Emmy episodes next awards season. If he isn’t at least nominated for an Emmy next year simply based on this episode alone (and whatever else is to come in the last 7 eps), then there is no justice.

  11. Anna says:

    Right on. Runners-up: Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul.

  12. Simon Jester says:

    Good pick… though honestly, I would have given it to him for the panic attack even before they got to the garage scene.

  13. R.O.B. says:

    Yes. Yes. Yes. I knew it from the moment Hank approached that patio table with a sick look on his face that Dean Norris was going to make performer of the week. What an awesome job. I have been imagining what a confrontation between Walter and a Hank with blinders ripped off would look like, and this was even better than I hoped. Every actor on this show is top notch.

    Kudos as well to the writers of Breaking Bad for continuing to do the unexpected, in this case having that confrontation occur at the beginning of this season (or if you want to be nitpicky about it, much sooner than we all expected) – for having a confrontation at all, for that matter. As opposed to having Hank sneak around gathering evidence while pretending to be Walt’s friend, which in reality, would be too emotionally difficult for normal people to pull off.

    If only these writers were allowed a few days in Dexter’s house, which doesn’t seem to realize that show is ending in 6 episodes, never mind who that character even is anymore.

    • Pat D. says:

      “If only these writers were allowed a few days in Dexter’s house, which doesn’t seem to realize that show is ending in 6 episodes, never mind who that character even is anymore.”

      Well, they kinda did the same thing last season when Deb finally found out at the end of ep1, and there was no further denial from Dexter. Sort of like the garage scene from BB.

    • Yeah, Dexter’s at the point now where no matter how they end it, I won’t particularly care, the only character I’m even a little interested in is Deb, but even with her, they made her act in an unbelievable way. When you compare the journeys of Jesse Pinkman and Debra Morgan dealing with the guilt of taking a human life, you realise what a poor shade Dexter’s writers are compared to BB’s.

      • Pat D. says:

        Well, maybe the writers/showrunners/executives they have NOW—but I’d put Dexter S1-S2 writing against BB any day of the week. The quality of Dexter has dropped off in later seasons, while BB has only gotten stronger, no argument there.

  14. Kristoffer says:

    Dean Norris is an amazing actor and i am hoping in the final 7 eps he has some more quality moments like the garage scene. I do think that Cranston deserves the emmy again though.

  15. Belle says:

    Dean is one of those iconic actors who brings SO much to the character he plays…kudos Mr. Norris you sir are an awesome presence in every scene you are in :)

  16. John says:

    Yes! Dean Norris was on fire this whole episode. The look on his face when driving away, the heartbreak of his realization, It was all masterfully played.