In the Garage: Recapping Breaking Bad "Blood Money" (Season 5, Episode 9)

Walt takes a look at the man in the mirror; Hank finishes his business in the bathroom; and Jesse makes it rain.

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Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

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Walt takes a look at the man in the mirror; Hank finishes his business in the bathroom; and Jesse makes it rain.

From the beginning, Breaking Bad has been about the warping of domestic spaces by the new danger of Walt's life and lies post-cancer diagnosis. This warping looks like keeping a rival meth dealer trapped in your basement with a U-lock and bringing him sandwiches with the crusts neatly removed. This warping looks like drug money in a pack of diapers, ricin behind your bedside outlet. You can only let enough nasty shit into your home before you sink deep down inside it, before that nasty shit becomes the foundation and you find your entire life has become a terrible, terrible mess you'll likely never emerge from.

Last night's episode "Blood Money" opened on the complete desecration of the White family's home. The pool, which has been the site of plenty of awfulness, is now a dried out destination for skaters. The disorienting first shot of the ninth episode of the fifth season showed the scratched bowl in close-up. The city of Albuquerque has fenced off the property, which looks beyond decrepit. "Heisenberg," written large inside the living room in yellow spraypaint, acts as a kind of credit for the sad state of things. Who else?

Walt removes the ricin from the bedroom and catches his reflection in the cracked mirror, just one of many reminders last night that Breaking Bad uses images to tell its story better (and more often) than 99 percent of TV shows. For a drama, it does jokes better, too, as evidenced by beardo Walt's encounter with his neighbor at the end of the opening. "Hello, Carol," he says to her as she tries to take the groceries from the trunk of her car without peeing her pants in fear. Her bag spills oranges. Real bad sign.

A slow zoom on the bathroom door in Walt and Skyler's bedroom takes things back to the present of "Gliding Over All" and Hank's revelation. The near-supercop knows his brother-in-law is the baddest man alive, and reacts accordingly. He hustles Marie from the cookout and then has a panic attack on the drive home. This gives him the perfect excuse to ditch work for the week and play detective in the garage. He's not brewing Schraderbrau; he's working on a mystery like Tom Petty.

Meanwhile, Walt is in country club sweater and slacks combinations, acting like he just runs a car wash now. Lydia shows up trying to pull him back in, as the puny Todd can only achieve 68 percent purity, but Walt knows only air fresheners. As if in reaction to criticism of Skyler's lack of agency, there's a scene where she gets to tell Lydia to never come back, but it feels like too little too late. Breaking Bad has never been a show about its women characters, and that's not going to change with eight episodes left.

Bro love, that's the thing. Walt and Jesse, like a married couple forever plagued by problems of honesty, continue to have the same arguments. Jesse figures something out and then Walt convinces him it isn't true. We've seen this before, which is perhaps why the scene in Jesse's pad didn't hit as hard as the rest of the episode. Jesse's put two and two together and found that it equals: Mike is dead. Walt tells him that's just not true. In his heart, Jesse has to know he's been lied to. He wouldn't make it rain on the poor homes of Alburqurque later if he didn't. Breaking Bad does fantastical images well, and the shot of Jesse lobbing racks from his driver's side window, letting them fall in front yards, in cactus plants, wherever, was a great one.

With only a few minutes to spare, the episode delivered on the promise of a Walt/Hank confrontation, a moment we've been waiting for since season five first went on hiatus. Putting on his best chummy dad face, Walt pays a visit to Hank's Fortress of Solitude, his garage. Never before has Dean Norris looked this way, so angry and desperate and crazed. His eyes, his stubble—this is a man on the verge. After Walt reveals the tracking device he discovered on his car, Hank brings down the garage door and does what he's no doubt been thinking about since he dropped trou at the White residence—he decks his brother-in-law.

Walt has a few cards in his deck left to play and so he plays them. If Hank goes through with an investigation, it'll destroy the family. Number of fucks Hank gives: zero. Walt would never have become this monster if he really valued the family. (This is really the whole of the series in a single question: Walt did all of this because of his family, initially, but if he's really lost himself so much that the moments of normalcy we see this episode aren't genuine, how can we care for him?)

Walt plays his next card: His cancer is back. He's going to die, so there's no point in going through with this. Number of fucks Hank gives: zero. 

Walt plays his final card, probably his favorite card: If Hank has really figured out who he is, then he ought to "tread lightly." And that's a threat.

Written by Ross Scarano (@RossScarano)

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