Breaking Bad: Blood Money   Rewatch 
January 23, 2015 9:21 AM - Season 5, Episode 9 - Subscribe

As Walt and Jesse adjust to life out of the business, Hank grapples with a troubling lead.

" I gotta say, I don't like the way you're looking at me right now."

Andy Greenwald, Grantland:
Let’s go straight to the end, to that incredible, heart-punching scene in which Hank’s driveway functions as the dark version of one of Superman’s phone booths: mild-mannered Walter White enters but it’s evil Heisenberg who stays. When it was over and it was just two bald, furious men staring daggers alongside a dusty workbench, I know I wasn’t the only one watching who felt as if his stomach had just been transported into the inky, blueberry-filled blackness of space.
Tim Goodman, The Hollywood Reporter:
We are at the point in evaluating the brilliance of Breaking Bad where sometimes the simplicity of actually watching it -- the visceral thrill we get from it -- gets forgotten in the analysis. So let's go here for a second: That last scene, that last sentence, was the kind of cinematic television moment that pays off enormously. It was deliriously fun. It was goose-bump inducing, let's-do-this!, pumped-up-kicks kind of hysteria that was like a shot of adrenaline directly into the heart.
Vince Gilligan, interviewed at Vulture:
We didn’t initially have the idea to have Walt figure out that Hank was on to him so quickly. We thought we might string that out for a few episodes. But when we got to the end of the episode, we thought to ourselves, We always want to end every episode of Breaking Bad, particularly the final eight, with a big development, a big finish. What better than Walt being on to Hank, who is on to Walt? It became apparent to us that, you know, we only got eight of these things left. We wanted to move like a bat outta hell and let the chips fall where they may.
Spencer Kornhaber, in a roundtable at The Atlantic:
This no longer feels like a show about Walter White. [...] This is now a show about Hank Schrader, apparently aged, as you say, about a decade by the realization of who his brother-in-law is and what has to be done. It’s about Jesse Pinkman, struggling for his soul. It’s about Skyler White, aching for normalcy.

Walter’s still in the picture, but I, at least, have lost all rooting interest in him. It's a relief. “I don’t even know who I’m talking to,” Hank says in the episode’s oh-shit-it’s-actually-happening climax, but the audience feels the opposite: By this point, we know exactly who Walter White is, and he’s insufferable. That scene of him cajoling Jesse—calling him “son,” flipping through a catalog of hollow arguments and outright lies to keep his former partner quiet—discomfited as much as any of the show’s bloody confrontations ever have. This is a man so deep into double talk he barely offers the pretense of caring whether what he says is actually true: “Jesse, I need you to believe this.”
Vince Gilligan, interviewed at HuffPo:
A lot of fans I interact with, a lot of folks I talk to, really think he's a good guy. And I'm not saying they're wrong, but I am saying that that surprises me every time I hear it, because by design we've taken our good guy and had him, through sheer force of will, become a criminal and go down the road to hell that is paved with good intentions. I'm pretty sure his intentions themselves are not even good anymore. He's a villain now. And he's hopefully a very interesting villain, one that continues to engage us and interest us, but for my money, I'd cross the street to avoid this guy.
Laura Hudson, WIRED:
For viewers—and many of the show’s primary characters, like Skyler and Jesse–Walt’s transformation has been possible, or at least palatable, specifically because it has so gradual. Walt has always tempted us to rationalize, to make ourselves complicit in his crimes with our willingness to excuse them. But while we walked down the garden path towards Heisenberg one tiny dose of evil at a time, Hank was forced to drink all of it in at once, as though the last five seasons of the show were instantly downloaded to his brain in one shocking, electric moment by a single epigraph that was as terrible as it was obvious.
"If you don't know who I am, maybe your best course of action is to tread lightly."

Badger's Star Trek script: analyzed, animated, fact-checked, fact-checked again. Vince Gilligan, in HuffPo's review of the episode:
Two, three years back in the writers' room when we were stuck, I remember saying, 'Hey, I've got this great idea for a "Star Trek" episode.' So I've never pitched it to anyone at Paramount, but I pitched it to the guys in the writers' room and they all seemed to dig it. So we finally found a place to put it on the show.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle (6 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
That final scene was so, so electric. I was worried for Hank, particularly the audacity with which Heisenberg treated him once his mask fell off. I really loved the series of shocks that follow this, as the Schraders and Whites face off and it's clear something calamitous is right around the bend.

Walt’s transformation has been possible, or at least palatable, specifically because it has so gradual.

This is an interesting point - I watched the entire series (more or less spoiler-free except for knowing who would die before the end) for the first time after it fininshed airing, so I was able to whip through it all over the course of a few months. To me it seemed hugely apparent that Walt was designed to be The Problem from very early on, but I hadn't thought how different the experience of watching it as it aired, over multiple years, would be. The sympathy that familiarity would generate, it's a hell of a narcotic.
posted by psoas at 10:14 AM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

Tiny details that bugged me: Skyler tells each car wash customer, "Have an A1 day." But the name of the car wash is "A1A." And why are the greeting cards behind the register? People would need to browse them while waiting for their car, but they're in an area where customers can't go. Are these things done deliberately, to emphasize that the car wash business isn't quite real? (But Bogdan had the cards there too, and he would have been hoping to actually make a bit of money selling them.) This show has trained me to expect every detail to be consequential and consistent, and it's hard to dismiss these things as meaningless. But maybe they are.

I love Hank's eyes in the garage confrontation. They seem to reflect back all the evil that is Heisenberg, mixed with the blood of Hank's rage and betrayal. How did they do that -- mercury eyedrops?
posted by Corvid at 11:44 AM on January 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

That is a wonderful scene at the end, tense and chilling.

I wonder if Walt thought Hank might have had a fairly good case against him, or if he wasn't sure, or if he knew that Hank had basically nothing on him but found the surveillance such an affront to his ego that he couldn't let it go. It just seems like if Walt knew that Hank didn't have a case, and if he truly believed that he was out of the business for good, then the best thing to do might have been to leave the bug on his car and feign ignorance. Hank would have come around periodically to get the bug to download the data, but all he'd see would be travel which isn't suspiciously clean like Gus's but which also wouldn't help him build his case.

But the main driver of the plot throughout the show has been Walt's flawed personality and his bad decisions, so the confrontation seems inevitable even if Walt did know that Hank didn't have a case, and even if he does like to imagine that he's always coolly calculating and smarter than everyone around him.
posted by johnofjack at 6:44 PM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Walt finds the bug, and confronts Hank about it, after he's paid a visit to Jesse; so the time for "leave it on and feign ignorance" has already passed.

Nice costuming in this one: Walt and Skyler are back in pre-Heisenberg beige, Hank's wearing a blood-red-danger shirt, and in the final shot of the garage showdown Walt and Hank are framed face-to-face as White Spy vs. Black Spy.

There's some subtle writing in Walt's lines, too. The juxtaposition of "I need you to believe this." immediately followed by "It's not true." when he's talking to Jesse. The deliberate present tense in his statement to Hank "I am a dying man who runs a car wash... right hand to God that is all I am."
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:32 PM on January 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

I hadn't thought how different the experience of watching it as it aired, over multiple years, would be

This has been the exact opposite of my experience. Those I know who watched the show as it aired instead of binge-watching the series seemed to be disgusted by Walt. Everyone I know who watched the whole thing in a couple of months was definitely much more pro-Walt than than the live-watchers.

For me, watching it live, having to wait a week (or years!) between episodes gave me time to fully comprehend and examine what was really going on. I think binge-watching would have been alot more "Yeah Walt!" and alot less noticing the destruction he is causing around him.
posted by LizBoBiz at 5:48 AM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

It feels to me like the horror plays more strongly in a live watch (or at least a slower-paced rewatch): you get the time between episodes to contemplate the growing dread and the creepy-crawlies. Binging plays up the caper/comedy aspects more strongly. The consequences play out more immediately, but they're also more immediately undercut by the comic scenes.

Also, I think the writers were very good at closing episodes with strong "holy crap WHAT?" and "ugh, Walt is creeeeeepy" moments. This season: the scary "I forgive you" hug; the creepy "what we do, we do for family" pawing; the sickening twist at the end of Dead Freight. It feels to me like these were very carefully built to set the viewer's mood during the long wait for the next episode; their impact is lessened by transitioning immediately into it.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:58 AM on January 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

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