“If you don’t know who I am, maybe your best course of action is to tread lightly,” says Walt to Hank. Cut to black. Now that is how you end your premiere episode. Nobody thought these two would face off so soon. Considering that only seven episodes remain, I’m glad they did. The struggle between Walt and Hank is what’s left to sort out, and there’s no sense wasting any time. “It was you. All along, it was you,” says Hank. What happens next? Hold that thought.
Another stellar opening, continuing the flashforward from “Live Free or Die,” with Walt driving his new car, the one with an M60 machine gun in the trunk, to his ravaged, fenced-off house. A bunch of kids use his empty pool as their own little skatepark (once again, our friend the pool finds itself in a starring role). Inside, the house is empty and trashed. In huge yellow letters HEISENBERG is painted on one wall. Something very bad and very public went down here. Walt’s there for a reason: to retrieve the ricin capsule from behind the outlet faceplace. He pockets it. So we know no one’s going to die from it very soon. But they will. I’m still convinced Walt’s going to take himself.
He sees his neighbor outside, frozen with fear. “Hello, Carol,” says Walt blandly.
Back to the present, a long shot of the closed bathroom door in the White house. We know who’s in there. Poor Hank. All this time, Heisenberg was right in front of him. He gets out of there fast, claiming an upset stomach, and taking the Whitman book with him. After that he skips out on work for a week, and goes through boxes of files on the Fring case, barely able to believe what he’s seeing. It’s Walt, no doubt about it.
Walt works at the carwash with Skyler, both of them dressed in the creamy white clothing of innocence. Nothing to see here! Walt’s got ideas for–you guessed it–expansion! If there’s one thing Walt knows, it’s how to expand one’s business. Soon he’ll be putting hits out on rival carwash owners. Lydia drops by, mentions that whoever’s cooking the meth is doing a piss-poor job. It’s only 67% pure. She wants Walt back for a week to get things up to speed. He says no. Better yet, he acts like she’s a customer, as though he were Gus working the counter at Pollos.
And he is Gus! After undergoing chemo (he’s undergoing chemo again?), Walt vomits in the bathroom. He places a folded towel on the floor before the toilet to kneel on, just as Gus did in when puking up the poison in “Salud”. Not only that, but towards the end of the episode, when Walt realizes his Whitman book is missing and that Hank’s been mysteriously sick for a week, he checks his car and finds it bugged with the very same GPS tracker Hank used on Gus. Is Walt going to be blown up at the end?
Jesse is cracking up. He tries to get Saul to give away all of his money, half to Mike’s granddaughter, half to the parents of the kid Todd shot. Saul calls Walt, who collects the money and returns it to Jesse. They talk about Mike. Jesse knows Walt killed him. He must have, after having all of Mike’s nine guys killed. Walt lies flat out. “I didn’t kill Mike. You have to believe that.” Walt is now creating reality by fiat. Jesse appears not to believe a damn thing. It’s possible he’s finally catching on the depth of Walt’s evil.
Jesse gives a bundle of cash to a homeless man, then drives through a poor neighborhood tossing bundles of money into every yard he passes. He’s falling apart. Walt tells him that the past is past, it’s done. But it’s eating Jesse alive.
The confrontation between Walt and Hank is beautiful to behold. I didn’t see it coming. Walt, having found the tracker on his car, visits Hank in his garage. Hank barely conceals what he knows. Walt turns to leave, then thinks otherwise, and shows Hank the tracker. Hank shuts the automatic garage door. And punches Walt in the face. Then they have a nice little chat. Hank can barely understand what’s happened and who Walt is. His anger is almost blinding.
Walt tells Hank his cancer has returned. It seems he’s told no one else. He only thinks he has six months to live. Or so he tells Hank. He runs a car wash now. What’s the point in pursuing him? And finally, when Hank says he doesn’t even know who Walt is anymore, Walt suggests he tread lightly.
Good advice from this insane, lying murderer. Will Hank heed it? I’m guessing no. I’m guessing Hank’s going to sink his teeth in, one way or another, and never let go. Until Walt makes him let go.
Expectations for Breaking Bad couldn’t have been higher for this premiere. Does it deliver? Hell yes. The story moves along in high gear, but feels just as smartly deliberate as ever.
What happens now? What can Hank do? Does he have any real evidence? Is his next step to visit Jesse? Will Walt beat him to it? I don’t think Jesse’s very happy with Walt, nor with his own past. Is he going to feel like confessing to lighten his psychological load? The matter is going to be public eventually. How soon?
In any case, Walt’s got a purpose now. He’s got an adversary. He’s going to step up to save himself and his family. I’m guessing that for once he fails spectacularly.
Is it next Sunday yet?
Previous in this series:
- Season 1, Episodes 1-3
- Season 1, Episodes 4 & 5
- Season 1, Episodes 6 & 7
- Season 2, Episodes 1 & 2
- Season 2, Episodes 3-5
- Season 2, Episodes 6 & 7
- Season 2, Episodes 8-10
- Season 2, Episodes 11-13
- Season 3, Episodes 1-4
- Season 3, Episodes 5-7
- Season 3, Episodes 8-10
- Season 3, Episodes 11-13
- Season 4, Episodes 1-4
- Season 4, Episodes 5-7
- Season 4, Episodes 8-10
- Season 4, Episodes 11-13
- Season 5, Episodes 1-3
- Season 5, Episodes 4-6
- Season 5, Episodes 7 & 8