BREAKING BAD Recap: “Blood Money”

     August 11, 2013


Is there a word for what Breaking Bad fans feel at the close of an episode?  It’s involves a mixture of excitement, fear, heartbreak, adrenaline and anxiety in one explosive emotional cocktail.  “Glass case of emotion” might be a good place to start.  We have begun the final countdown to the end of the show, and with only a handful of episodes to go before that finale, “Blood Money” wasted no time in getting right to the point.  For those who had forgotten a few of the key moments from last year’s final two episodes, I’ll explain some of the background of what a few of the scenes were meant to evoke or harken back to below.  Hit the jump for more.

breaking-bad-season-5-part-2-posterEvery moment of Breaking Bad matters.  It’s one of the things that sets the show apart from others who fans feel have gone past their prime.  They may still be entertaining, but they have divergent plots that don’t matter to the overall story, or forgettable one-off episodes starring a famous actor friend of the showrunner.  It’s incredible to think that Breaking Bad is only finishing up its fifth season with so much that’s happened (and how far we come — or sunk — along with Walt and Jesse), especially given how truncated its initial season was.

This was really brought home, literally, in the cold open.  Breaking Bad has always encouraged its viewers to have an obsession with a mystery each season, so in addition to the character changes, we are meant to fester on those cryptic clues (the pink teddy bear being perhaps the most vivid).  Last year, seeing Walt alone and with hair at a Denny’s for his 52nd birthday was interesting and shocking in its own way, but nothing like what we saw in “Blood Money,” which was reminiscent of the shots of the White’s home after the plane crash and the advent of that teddy bear.

What was so affecting about that moment was how strongly viewers might feel towards that house.  Breaking Bad is one of the few shows where houses feel like homes.  The White’s abode has been so central to so much that has happened with Walt.  It’s a place of refuge as well as a place that grounds Walt, but also one that he uses to hide his immense lies (sometimes literally within the walls).  To see it as a boarded up and forgotten ramshackle was heartbreaking because that, more than anything, really signifies the end.

breaking-bad-season-5-episode-8-dean-norrisBut it does not lie still.  In addition to skateboarders out back, a homeless-looking Walt broke in to reclaim that infamous ricin cigarette, the harbinger of his final decent into evil (and his most masterful manipulation of Jesse to date).  The Heisenberg graffiti also proved that unlike the plane crash, the state the house is in this time is because Walt has been totally exposed.  It’s something fans have been anticipating since Hank put the pieces together last year in those final moments — W.W. really did mean Walter White — but it too felt like the end.

It’s a testament to Breaking Bad‘s taught storytelling that “Blood Money” did not drag out the confrontation between Hank and Walt into the series’ final scene.  The anticipation when Hank began to have his meltdown (and panic attack) of realization, coupled with the clues Walt himself picked up on to understand that Hank knew, was almost unbearable.  But then it was strangely anti-climactic, because as much as this has mattered for every moment since the show began, the actual conversation was not as explosive as one might have predicted (though it is just the beginning of a long road for the two).  Walt confronting Hank over the tracker was surprising, but Hank closing the garage door was the “oh shit!” moment.  Ultimately though (or as far as we saw in “Blood Money”), Walt took advantage of Hank’s disbelief at the fact that Walt was and is Heisenberg.  Walt threw everything at the wall: he first denied his wrongdoings, then owned up to them by pleading, and then threatening Hank in away that left Hank barely any time to react as the episode closed.  Walt, in “Blood Money” was still in control.  But how he falls and ends up where he does (in what we’ve been shown) is as big of a mystery as the show has ever had.

breaking-bad-aaron-paul-bryan-cranston-the-decisionEpisode Rating: A

Musings and Miscellanea:

– Obviously, there are 10000 other things to discuss.  Let’s start with Jesse.  Goddamn Aaron Paul, why do you rip my heart out like that?  Three key moments: 1) him trying to offload the money through Saul to Mike’s grandaughter Kaylee and the parents of Drew Sharp, who they killed in the desert. 2) his conversation with Walt about the money, where Walt tells Jesse for the millionth time to trust him as he lies to Jesse’s face.  Jesse’s look to the side and tearful (and fearful) gaze shows he’s wise to Walt’s machinations.  Surely his next thought must be: “so what else was a lie?” 3) Flinging the money out of his car to do anything to cleanse himself of it and his past.  Jesse is on his own Road to Damascus.

– So what is Walt going to use the ricin for?

– The scene when Lydia confronts Walt was interesting in that it reflected, in some ways, when Walt tried to engage Gus at Los Pollos Hermanos.  But here, Walt was the professional one, not wavering from his “clean” persona, whereas Lydia was the hysteric who needed answers.  Also, Skyler acted as Walt’s “Mike” (in the Gus analogy), handling Lydia as the enforcer.

bob-odenkirk-breaking-bad– “Barn door open!” – Saul’s masseuse. Saul’s advice to Jesse about the reasons why he shouldn’t give the money to the Sharps and Kaylee was actually fairly sound.

– Hank reassembling the file on Heisenberg was a great reminder of the significant deaths on the show, as was his recital of the litany of sins Walt had committed: “You drove me into traffic to get me away from that laundromat, you called me to say Marie was in the hospital to distract me from the fact you killed ten witnesses to protect your sorry ass.  You blew up a nursing home.”  Walt really is the worst.

– “You are the devil!” – a prescient Marie to Walt.

– Walt’s cancer is back, which most of us guessed last year.  But he is very much alive, though raggedy looking, in the flash-forwards, so his deathly prognosis to Hank (to give him a reason to hold off) may not hold up.

breaking-bad-gliding-all-over-bryan-cranston– Moment when I really lost my shit: Hank closes the garage door.

– Last year, Walt really seemed sincere about leaving the game.  But he waited too long and pushed his luck too far.  Here’s a great article about the moral logic of Breaking Bad (and how it is Old Testament).

– Marie Purple Count: 6 — purse, jacket, wall, candles, shirt, travel coffee mug

– Badger and Skinny Pete are so great.  I like how they have such powerful recall abilities about complex information regarding the various incarnations of Star Trek.  They are not stupid.  They just make stupid choices.  Their conversation in this episode was one of their best.

Around The Web
  • FincherFan

    Great recap! However, you should probably wait until the episode fully airs, and then post it! Also, the Marie purple count was hilarious!

    • erma652

      just as Jack implied I can’t believe that any body can make $8802 in 4 weeks on the internet. did you read this webpage w­w­w.K­E­P­2.c­o­m

      • Gorgon Lazardda Numther

        Your mother sucks cocks in hell.

      • Kyle

        Amen Gorgon

      • OH my Gawd

        Holy shit…how did you know his name is Jack. NSA is that you?

    • Clay

      People who care about not getting spoilers shouldn’t read a recap. Problem solved. If someone can’t meet this basic test of will power, oh well…..

      • no willpower

        Must resist urge to read recap before I watch episode….FUCK IT

      • FincherFan

        Jeez, man. I was just saying! Wouldn’t the writers and/or network take offense to having their work spoiled before the majority of people had a chance to see it?

      • Clay

        No offense given or taken. Just my opinion. Movies operate the same way. Critics get the chance to see movies a couple days before the public does, or months ahead depending on whether or not a festival is involved, and they post their reviews before wide release. It’s not about having your work spoiled, the question is whether people can not read anything before they see something they’re highly invested in. You’ve got to have the power to resist temptation man!

      • 80sRobot

        Self control. Exactly. I have not caught up on recent episodes of other shows, so I avoid reading recent news about the shows reported on sites and my Facebook. People need to exert self control and quit expecting bloggers to police them — that’s the NSA’s job! :)

  • Dmula

    “If you don’t know who I am then tread softly”

    • Allison Keene

      I lost my shit at basically everything said in that conversation, and have had Hank’s look of disbelief on my face ever since. I LOVE that they went there.

      • tylerp.

        Allison, your the shit.

    • Jason Herr König


  • John

    Nice recap, and a good episode. I guess we’ve probably seen the last of the meth cooking montages though, I sure am going to miss those. :(

    • Allison Keene

      those really were beautiful. but never say never!

  • junierizzle

    Heartbreaking is a great word for this episode. The look on Hank’ s face when he said “I don’t even know who you are” or I don’t know who I’m talking to” can’t recall exactly was indeed heartbreaking.

    • Allison Keene

      just like Jesse’s face when he knew Walt was lying to him (again). the FEELS!

      • junierizzle


      • Kyle

        How did Jesse know Walt was lying?

      • 80sRobot

        Dude — Pinkman just *knew*.

      • Yo

        lol Jesse knows what Walt is capable of and he pretty much knows Walt’s thought process into covering his own ass. But man, Arron Paul’s performance was top notch.

    • 80sRobot

      It was also telling that Hank seemed to suggest he may be willing to let Walt’s crimes slide or delay things because of Walt’s (supposedly) impending death, so long as he got to discuss this with Tyler, presumably to confirm Walt’s deteriorating health.

  • John

    Who else loved it when Walt putting the towel down to vomit? Just like Gus when he killed Eladio.

    • junierizzle

      He was also like Gus when Lydia came to visit him at the car wash. It was very reminiscent of when Walt used to go visit Gus at Pollos Hermanos. Both playing the part and saying things under their breath.

  • Prasanna Rajan

    So my prediction is Jesse rats out Walter to Hank. Walt goes in hiding with his family and comes back to kill Jesse. Prove me wrong Vince Gilligan.

    • junierizzle

      Too easy for this show.

      • 80sRobot

        How about: Walt is setting things up to fake his own death. Hence, this could be why his neighbor Carol freaked when she saw him in the opening scene: she thought he was dead.

        But yeah… I imagine this prediction is too easy and “soapy” for Gilligan.

      • Nerdgasm

        She could have had also been surprised cause obviously Walt has been discovered as hiesenburg. So to see him again…would have been surprising or seen as a threat.

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  • Redjester

    Holy sh*t what an episode. Best. Show. On. Television.

  • Kyle

    How did Jesse know Walt was lying about Mike?

    • Desiree

      Because Walt is Walt.

  • Daniel O’Reilly

    Such a great episode, and further proof of what a smart writers room Vince Gilligan has led for the past several years. My only fear is they’ve gone too far too fast, but judging by the cold open, there’s still a long way to go yet.

    • Simon

      I agree. I’m sincerely not sold on how fast everything went. It feels un-realistic to me I’m sad to say.

      • Mattie Dubbs

        So a cancer stricken former Chem teacher turned Meth dealer, beating drug dealers, the Mexican cartel, and the DEA in the span of 2 years isn’t un-realistic to you?

      • TrekBeatTK

        It wasn’t EVEN 2 years! The entire first five seasons spans just over one year (which has several inconsistencies, but I’m not gonna be that guy right now)!

  • Christian Leroux

    For those who are wondering how Jesse knows Walt is lying, it’s because cracks are starting to form everywhere. He’s been exposed to Heisenberg and Walt, and knows what he’s willing to do. I think at this point it would be incredibly stupid to believe him.

    • Daniel O’Reilly

      He’s been lied to so many times over the course of the show, it’s about time he wised up.

  • Christian Leroux

    I absolutely loved this episode. Not many shows have the balls to put all the cards on the table like that. I loved how the chit-chat between Walt and Hank was almost a parody of what we usually get, which is a long and dragged out “they both know” narrative, but when Heisenberg turns around, that’s when the real fun starts. My bets right now: the DEA connect the cash Jesse throws around to the hobo, and he in turn leads them to find Jesse, who spills the beans. I think it would be an awesome twist if Jesse were to die before the flashforward narrative, but something tells me that the ricin is for him.

  • erasmus654

    You KNOW shit is about to hit the fan when Saul starts giving out good advice.

    • Dion Abbott

      LMAO funny cause it’s true.

  • LEM

    I’m amazed at how great of an actor Dean Norris is.This guy was one of the members of Al Bundys’ No Ma’am and could have easily been dismissed as a random character actor but this show has really shown how impressive he can be.

    • yea

      Yeah, he totally brought his A game for this show and love every moment his on screen.

    • GrimReaper07

      I adore the way the says “I hope you rot you son of a bitch”. Amazing episode. I know Cranston already directed some episodes, but this one beat them all.

    • GrimReaper07

      I adore the way the says “I hope you rot you son of a bitch”. Amazing episode. I know Cranston already directed some episodes, but this one beat them all.

  • Nick

    Holy hell. How is it that Hank is so good, and so right about how evil Walt is, but somehow he’s the bad guy to me when he’s beating down Walt. Why do I feel like the right guy had a badass moment with “tread lightly”?????? This show is unreal. Clearly, there is no happy ending. I really hope they don’t do anything like Walt vs Jesse, and Jesse wins but has no idea the ricin will kick in a day or two later… It could work but I want Jesse alive, clean and clear when the show wraps. T minus 7 weeks till my head explodes

  • 80sRobot

    Another Musings and Miscellanea:

    - Both Walt and Skyler at the car wash are dressed in white. Their last name is White. And they are at a place where dirt is washed, or “cleansed,” off. I thought that the use of color symbolism in this scene was one of the most blatant ever done in this series.

  • Faiz

    Am i the only one who feels this will be the last time we’ll see Badger and Skinny? I mean, alive?

    Obviously things are gonna escalate wayy beyond this and i can’t see
    them running away with their lives. Their death will conclude their
    Jesse’s descent into derangement (If he’s not crazy already).

    Their conversation in this episode was so great. It’s a great note to
    end their presence on. They are not stupid guys, they just make stupid

  • -

    Was leaning toward an A- before that last scene. Holy shit. I’m not entirely sold on the wisdom of letting that happen this early on, but that was easily one of the 5 or 10 best scenes in the entire show.
    It’s also nice to have this show at its best after I found the other two best shows on TV (Mad Men and Game of Thrones) slightly underwhelming this year.

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  • seanmanband

    Nice review. But just to be clear, when Walt called Hank and said Marie was in the hospital (not Pinkman as Hank thought and in turned beat the shit of Jesse) it was when he was on the other side of the wall from Hank in the RV…this was not to distract him from the fact that he just killed ten people. Hank saying “You killed ten witnesses to save your sorry ass” was a separate things about the prison killings in last season’s finale…

  • enzofloc

    Does this show really deserve all the praise it’s getting?

    • Kevin

      Yes, yes it does.

    • Dion Abbott

      Dumb question of the day goes to…………….. Anyone who appreciates create film, acting, characters, story telling understands. Maybe you don’t.

  • Tom Jane

    Didn’t you take basic English writing classes in college? Or were you hired straight from your high school’s blog? Jesus.

    • Kevin

      There is nothing blatantly wrong with her writing and she gets her point and feelings across perfectly. You can’t ask for much more than that, unless you just want to hurt someone’s feelings for no reason.

  • thinker365

    Don’t forget when Walt uses a towel to cushion his knees as he prepares to vomit into the toilet, like when Gus regurgitates the poison in the episode where he poisons all those people in Mexico.

  • 80sRobot

    The sound of the remote control car that the kid is playing with outside Hank’s garage. The tires and motor of it grinding away in the background — this irritating, persistent noise underscores the building tension between Walt and Hank… and the sound doesn’t go away until Hank closes the garage. This series has ably demonstrated such genius filmmaking techniques throughout its course.

  • Guy Smiley

    “Badger and Skinny Pete are so great. I like how they have such powerful recall abilities about complex information regarding the various incarnations of Star Trek. They are not stupid. They just make stupid choices. Their conversation in this episode was one of their best.”

    Hilarious scene for sure, but their “recall abilities” aren’t all that powerful. Forgetting that Kirk’s Enterprise didn’t have replicators, this DS9 fan was kinda pissed that Skinny Pete declared “Tulaberries” and the Gamma Quadrant to be on Voyager. Both were DS9, although I supposed Voyager may have referenced tulaberries later on. DS9 had it first though.

    Seems about right though… In spite of being, arguably, the best Trek series of them all, DS9 rarely gets the love it deserves.

    Yes, I AM a big nerd. Thanks for asking.

    Anyhow, last night’s BB was amazing. Already one of my favorite episodes of the series. I can’t wait to see what mind-blowing awesomeness awaits.

    • Melwing

      Don’t worry, I noticed too ;)

  • calebrcrawford

    My prediction: Walt turns himself in by saying that Jesse was the mastermind, and then he goes into witness protection. He comes out of witness protection (when we see him at 52) to maybe kill Hank…I’m not totally sure here, but if Walt turned on Jesse that bad to escape the consequences of the actions he caused, he would be the worst of the worst, and Jesse would be the most tragic characters ever.

    • TheOneWhoSetsClocks

      And during that time, Jesse buys a dog, and by the end of the series, it dies :(