‘Breaking Bad’ Season 5.2 Premiere Review

Published 11 months ago by , Updated August 12th, 2013 at 7:20 am,

Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad Blood Money Breaking Bad Season 5.2 Premiere Review

We have finally reached that moment where our endless discussion of TV can turn to how a series finale is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, being granted the luxury of an honest-to-goodness finale denotes some level of success – which, in the case of Breaking Bad, has amounted to three consecutive Best Actor Emmys for Bryan Cranston and two wins for his co-star Aaron Paul – and a insatiable desire from the audience to see how it all plays out. On the other hand, there is the whole “how the heck is this going to play out?” thing that series creator Vince Gilligan and his auteur theory-rejecting staff of writers have to work with their collective backs against, while attempting to serve the story, their desires and, most gracefully, the desires and impression of the audience.

Let’s be honest – completing any story is a difficult task, but Gilligan and his crew have maintained a narrative focus that would dictate the level of complexity required to pull off the strategic and artful dismount of one of the most culturally significant shows in the last 10 years. To its great credit – and likely much to the relief of the creative types orchestrating whatever will be the final moments of Walter White Breaking Bad has had a laser beam-like trajectory, tracking the journey of a lifelong almost-was from meteoric rise all the way to his precipitous plunge into the hellish pit of his own making. In that sense, the series has only the ending of a single story – which began practically without ceremony over five years ago – to worry about.

And the beginning of that ending, ‘Blood Money,’ is a foretaste at what Walter’s endeavors have wrought. The episode begins similarly to last year’s ‘Live Free or Die,’ which saw a scrawny-looking, scruffy Walter handing out exorbitant tips to waitresses as a birthday boy named Mr. Lambert, all the while waiting for a car with a machine gun in the trunk that would make Pike Bishop tip his hat in quiet admiration. This time, however, Walter’s digging a bit deeper into the Albuquerque that has apparently been left behind, visiting the now-abandoned and condemned White household and other remnants of his past while the audience is left questioning the circumstances of his future.

Bob Odenkirk in Breaking Bad Blood Money Breaking Bad Season 5.2 Premiere Review

These glimpses into what lies ahead are clearly all part of a meticulously calculated two-pronged storyline that effectively doubles the stakes of these final eight episodes. But more poignantly, this dark machine gun and ricin-filled future of the man called Heisenberg affords him (or anyone else, potentially) zero opportunity to enjoy the blood-soaked fruits of his wicked labors.

To that end, it has been almost a year since Breaking Bad was even on the air. When we last saw Walter in ‘Gliding Over All,’ the sounds of Tommy James and the Shondells’ airy and eerily appropriate ‘Crystal Blue Persuasion’ were still being filtered through our brains as a means to better comprehend the dual montages that saw Walter orchestrate a horrifically brilliant mass-shiving – one that was only slightly less formal and detailed than his amassing a pile of cash so large it begged the question: “How much is enough?” This, in turn, inspired Walt to hang up the pork-pie hat, pack away any thoughts of superlabs or deceitfully fogged houses and hand over five million dollars to Jesse, the student-cum-meth-lab-sous-chef he’d discarded faster than his own morality.

Aaron Paul in Breaking Bad Blood Money Breaking Bad Season 5.2 Premiere Review

This has effectively moved the baseline of the final episodes away from the idea of empire building (and all the activities involved in such lofty and illegal endeavors), and pointed it directly toward the notion of consequence for all involved. Make no mistake, everyone is in line for a comeuppance: Hank for his inability to see what was right in front of him the entire time; Skyler for her shaky participation; Walt Jr. for demanding he be called Flynn; and, of course, Walt for, well, pretty much everything. That leaves Aaron Paul’s increasingly remorseful Jesse Pinkman once more in the position of being Breaking Bad‘s unlikely moral center, as demonstrated by his random pre-dawn distribution of greenbacks like some altruistic version of a paperboy.

But ‘Blood Money’ doesn’t just imply the stakes of the season will be high; it delivers on them in an excruciatingly tense confrontation between brothers-in-law that rapidly escalates from a punch being thrown to cancers being acknowledged, and finally the issuing of a thinly veiled threat that strikes fear while pointing out the shortcomings of a particular investigator.

“If you don’t know who I am, then maybe your best course would be to tread lightly.” It would seem Breaking Bad has no intention of taking Walt’s advice, if the show’s writers plan to cap off critical, longed-for moments like this in such spectacular fashion.

_____

Breaking Bad continues next Sunday with ‘Buried’ @9pm on AMC.

TAGS: breaking bad

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  1. god i wish i had cable

    • Great episode. So intense. The confrontation between Walt and Hank had me on the edge of my seat. I can’t wait to see where the writers go with this.

      • Ugh – that scene was so intense. I feel so bad for Hank. He is more concerned about the kids than Walter is and they aren’t even his kids! Walt has pretty much beaten down everyone in his path and drained their happiness and hope.

    • It’s free on AMC streaming right now…

    • You have the internet. That’s even better than cable.

  2. Great first episode back. Just awesome.

  3. Fantastic episode. Last five minutes is television gold, you rarely see scenes as intense as that. Makes me excited knowing they’ve already got Hank finding out done.

    My one problem.. Walt’s cancer. His cancer being back ensures his death, one way or another. I think it was dumb on the writers part to bring it back. Now its just a matter of WHO kills Walt? Which is lame. It was better having NO CLUE what Walt’s fate was.

    • Not so sure. Remember Walt said 6 months, but he was at that diner celebrating his birthday alone. So was that before or after the 6 months? We’ll find out!

      • I really hope he was lying about the cancer. Either way.. the beginning and the end of that episode make me very excited!

        • He was getting treatments during the episode so I don’t think he’s lying.

      • I think he was lying. I mean why would he take the ricin with him if he knew he was dying soon? I’m really pullin for a Scarface type showdown at the end of all this.

        • We saw him getting treatment and taking medicine, the cancer is back.

        • Yeah, the director even said that they pitched it as Scarface. And when his son was watching Scarface, Walt said something about “everyone dies”.

          • The question is: Was that brilliant foreshadowing? Or just something to distract us? Breaking Bad has done both, so we’ll have to wait and see!

            • I actually think the Star Trek story may be some sort of metaphor as to what will happen in this show. I’m too lazy to break it down, but I think it was a brilliant way to tell people how it will end without really telling them.

              • If I remember correctly, they were discussing how there have been clones throughout the entire Star Trek series. At first, I thought it was just another random conversation between those two. Then, I re-watched the car wash scene and I saw the scene where Walt was throwing up in the bathroom. It may just be me, but I though it was all very reminiscent Gus. The way he acted towards Lydia, even the facial expressions and tone, were very similar to the manner that Gus interacted with Walt. Now, the vomiting scene may just be me digging too deep. I do, however, remember Gus laid the towel at his knees in the same manner as Walt when Gus was in Mexico. I think it could be foreshadowing of Walt’s fate, that someone close to him will see him as a threat and take him out. Of course, I could be wrong.

                • Yep, and they will tell us that they told us the entire ending when it is all said and done.

      • We already did find out… In S5′s first episode, we saw him attaining the car and the one-man-army machine-gun; in this episode, he has the car, he has the gun. This is clearly after that fact, after his birthday. His cancer is back, but he clearly survives for longer than he thinks.

        Up until this point we’ve been watching a transition. At this moment in time, we are looking at the product of a being that has just clawed his way out of the cocoon. Hell, he even told the truth (once) in this episode. He actually told Skylar who Lydia was (in some capacity) and that he was being coerced into coming back into the business. I don’t think we’ll see much more of the paranoid, making-a-list-and-checking-it-twice Walt we’ve seen up until now. Jesse is a large exception; he will forever and always screw that poor boy over; despite the fact that it was as obvious to Jesse as it was to the viewers that Walt lied about Mike’s disappearance. That said, I think we will see yet another transition one last time before he dies, one last push over the edge that will solidify him as a true successor and even more heinous evil to Gus. Also, I loved the channeling of his former ‘teacher’ whilst in the car wash speaking to Lydia. Clear nod to the half-face.

        He’s going to be a man of action and getting s*** done one-and-for-all before he clocks out.

        • +1

    • I disagree, I think we all knew already the cancer was back from “Gliding all over” no reason to try and build up suspense with a fact already known.

    • I would suggest taking a look at his house again before passing judgement. It takes more than just 1 year for a house to fall into such disrepair (especially missing shingles which takes literally years)

      I’m thinking the poison retrieval was at some point more distant than just a year and Walt has beaten the cancer…again (full head of hair means he is done with treatment unless he is just waiting to die)

      • if it was more than a year, and not his birthday, he would have changed his birth date on his false ID as well as needlessly celebrated it with the breaking of the bacon.

        It may take more than a year for a house to fall in to disrepair, but that house has been messed with. Who knows what it’s seen in addition to the graffiti and being boarded up.

        he let out a shallow cough when he entered the house. Could mean he still has the cancer, and likely does.

    • Agree. I wish they didn’t make his cancer return. Much better having him killed off by another character with the thought that he could have lived if he hadn’t screwed so many people/ However – the writers might have something up their sleeves.

  4. What might brWalt Jr’s comeuppance for demanding to be called Flynn?

    • He will become crippled.

  5. I can’t believe they already confronted each other! This series looks to be going out with a huge action-packed bang the rest of these 7 episodes.

  6. I was screaming at the tv because I thought the episode was going to end as the garage door went down.

  7. My guess:
    Hank realizes turning Walt in ruins his life and his families lifes and joines Walt’s side. Lydia’s “moving parts” eventually come for Walt and Jessie. Hank and Jessie are murdered but Walt gets Marie, Skylar & kids out of town/ country with most of the money with help of Saul.
    Walt id dying anyway, so he comes back and takes the M60 to Madrigal to get some revenge. Walt takes the ricin before he goes in and dies on the ground next to the guys eho killed Hank and Jessie.

    • ricin takes three days to work, it kills you slowly, it just seems like the flu… remember

  8. When you’re in as deep as Walt is there’s no getting out unless you’re alone. For Lydia to be using someone who’s making meth that’s so inferior in quality to Walt’s is just amateur. Or maybe Todd didn’t really apply himself as much as Walt said.

    It’s going to be tragic when this series ends.

    • But when it ends, Walking Dead starts up the next Sunday, I think. So at least we still have quality TV. But yeah, it sucks that half the shows I loved last year, don’t exist (or soon won’t) this year.

  9. Spoiler ALERT!!!!! Walter will conviniently fake his own death using his genius…The question remains where does it leave his family and how is he going to pull it off. Being that he revisited his own home signify that the cops are not after him, The neighbor also looked at Walter like she just seen a ghost…OPEN AND SHUT CASE WATSON :)

    • It doesn’t look like she saw a ghost, more like- A Wanted Man.

  10. when the garage door went down ohh shits going down!! wow what an amazing ep

  11. Also on the first season he explains the chemical makeup of the body and questions the missing percentile.

  12. Hank didn’t wipe.

    • He was scared shitless.

      • Ha!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Ha ha, what a thing to notice. :D

  13. Did anyone else notice the Gus mirrored scenes? The toilet puking with the towel under the knees and the way he disguised his conversation with Lydia at his business? FREAKING GENIUS!

    • +1

      Indeed. That was utter brilliance from the episode’s director: Brian Cranston

      • Also, when Walt was at the till in the car wash. Very Gus playing manager in the fast food restaurant.

        • Yeah and we know what happened to Gus….

  14. they hinted at his cancer returning in episode 8, when he punched the object in the rest room. that played into his decision to walk from ” empire ” building.

    as for
    :acknowledging Walt’s cancer
    :the hank duel
    :Jesse’s rapid descent
    :Lydia’s desperation

    touching on all this at this point and in a hard hitting manner, this is setting up to be a disturbing and intense finish.

  15. Ahem, Dexter…… You have had 6 episodes that couldn’t equal this opening seconds. Step up your game, you have 6 episodes left….. just saying.

  16. It did feel a little “Right. Let’s get this all out of the way before the money sequence’ in my opinion. But good God. What a money sequence. How beautiful it is that we get a piece about the top five moments only to then have those last three lines, three lines that could easily insert themselves into the all time moments of this show. The flip Cranston did when his kids were mentioned and the look on Hank’s face…

    My favourite shot was at the beginning. The plane in the sky. Looked like a comet falling to earth. Cue Heisenberg driving into shot from the right.

    Tread lightly, indeed.

  17. the final 10min between hank and walt was bloody tense. i thought walt would go ape on hank and kill him.. f*** me was i surprised at his dirtiness.

    walt just keeps getting worse and worse… the endings gonna be awesome :D

  18. “This has effectively moved the baseline of the final episodes away from the idea of empire building (and all the activities involved in such lofty and illegal endeavors), and pointed it directly toward the notion of consequence for all involved.”

    Wordy. Try this: “So the show is no longer about lofty and illegal empire-building. It’s now directly about the consequences.” However, the show all along has been about the dire consequences of WAlt’s decisions.

    The rest of the piece is similarly distended.

  19. Good article except for the Flynn comment. While I think that it’s stupid for Walt Jr. to want to be called Flynn, that doesn’t warrant a punishment for him.

    • Pretty sure that wws meant as humor.

  20. Walt is the man even though he is sick, you don’t want to cross him. He can tell a lie with a straight face. Jesse knows that Walt killed Mike, but he knows he shouldn’t cross Walt. That was a powerful scene between Hank and Walt.

  21. Epic! watch your back now Hank, Walts a badass, he’s taken down a lot more scarier people than you.. Go Walt!

    • Hank took out Tuco and his two axe-wielding cousins. He can handle himself.

  22. Prediction: At the end of the show we’ll see Walt Jr. on a path to become a DEA agent. Clues have been left with Jr’s fascination with his uncle’s career; there was also that little vignette with Jr. talking about how much he liked a book about a DEA takedown that Hank gave him.

    I like this prediction that Walt will fake his own death. That may be what all these “I’m a dying man” statements are about. On the other hand, he may actually believe he’s a dying man. He could end up surviving — cancer can be unpredictable like that — and then decide to use peoples’ expectations for a getaway.

    Last night’s episode was great but if you watched the entire previous 5 seasons streaming, watching it with commercials is a whole, new almost intolerable experience. Almost makes me want to wait till it’s over and then buy the DVDs or something.

    • I felt the same exact way watching my first live episode of Breaking Bad. Haha.

    • —–> IMPORTANT <——-

      Breaking Bad IS up on UK Netflix (not sure about US). I was watching through all of them to catch up, and just as I finished S5 Ep8, S5 Ep9. Blood Money, popped up and is available to be watched.

      If you can't stand the commercials, you can watch without interruption on Netflix. If you are in the US and BB isn't on your netflix, if you download Spotflux, you should be able to view UK Netflix too, as this program lets me use US Netflix when enabled.

      Hope I helped/this works for those of you that despise adverts (when I am in America I literally can't get engaged in a program for adverts).

      Too prove this isn't an automated message, poo poo poo.

      • thanks!

  23. I already know were this season is headed its been in our face the whole time walt is gona die but walt jr. is gona take over his fathers legacy of being a drug king pin. the end and then walt jr. creats sword crunches and fights ninjas. the end

    • The world would explode from the awesomeness of that if it became a reality.

  24. Frank — Yes, which might confirm an interesting theory that I read, hinting that Walt will kill Skylar:

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/lukelewis/this-breaking-bad-theory-is-pretty-mindblowing

  25. Oh man, that was fantastic…
    I really think Walt’s lie to Jesse about Mike has opened the door IMO to Jesse turning on Walt and is probably the biggest mistake Walt will have made.
    Once Jesse can prove Walt killed Mike I can see him doing anything to ensure Walt goes down.
    The showdown with Walt and Hank was one of the most tension filled scenes yet. I would have thought we would have to wait a few episodes before it happened but nope, we got it in episode 1.
    A few other thoughts…
    1. I love the call back to Hank using the GPS on Walt’s car. It was simple but it’s one of those little things that Gilligan and the writers do so well.
    2. The scene with Skinny Pete and Badger was hilarious. If Jesse wants to get rid of that money so bad I think he should give some to them so they can get that Star Trek script done. :)

  26. I think it was interesting that Jessie was not only so tortured, but he also remarked how Walt takes care of loose ends and that’s how he knows that Mike is dead. I think in addition to being so destroyed, he was also scared in that scene because he knows that he is the pinnacle loose end, should Walt need to cover himself.

    • Jesse needs to die off already, the writers killed off anything interesting about this character a while ago.

      Walt ends up broke and on the run and will use the Ricin on Jesse because he is now a loose end willing to come clean to Hank and the DEA to clear his conscience.

      Agree with you 100%

      Sadly we will never see Walt use the M60.

  27. The last few words that Walt uttered were TV gold. He managed to remain cool and calm while at the same time oh so subtly threaten the **** out of Hank. Very devious Walt is!

    Gotta admit though I don’t quite get Jesse going ape **** and just dumping the money out into the street. I get the whole killing a kid thing was troubling him but I think this is just a step too far for believability imho.

    • Jesse dumped the money because it signified all the wrong doings in association with Walter. Thats why the episode is called “Blood Money”. Jesse is really remorseful and is trying to wipe his hands clean & redeem himself in addition to trying to distance himself as far away as possible from Walter and the things theyve done.

  28. I see everyone turning on Walt at this point. This is the beginning of the end for him.

  29. That was simply amazing!!

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