Tread Lightly With Blood Money: Breaking Bad Episode 509 Recap
It’s the beginning of the end of Breaking Bad and I feel like we’re watching Walter White slowly walk the plank to his doom. The first of the final 8 episodes was last night and it was brilliant. Vince Gilligan and the writers of the show have us all guessing, knowing damb well they’re going to prove our theories wrong and right in the best of ways. Let’s get into the episode through the major moments.
Hello Carol – In the flash forward, Walt shows up at the house he used to share with his family, with a head full of hair and a beard. And he looked like he hadn’t showered in a month of Mondays. The word “HEISENBERG” is graffiti’ed on the inside, the place is abandoned, but the pool was now a useful skate ramp. He’s there to get the ricin he once hid in one of the outlets and when he leaves, he sees his neighbor. He says “Hello Carol” and the lady drops her groceries in shock.
So it seems that Walt’s identity as Heisenberg was public knowledge. And the fact that he faced his old neighbor, who was spooked, and made no efforts to hide means he’s not really scared of being seen. He gives no dambs, so I wonder how he got to that point. How can everyone know he’s Heisenberg, yet he’s not really hiding? BUT he’s still carrying a shotgun so he’s still in danger, right?
AND who is he gonna kill with that ricin? So many questions!
Hank’s horror – When we’re placed back in the present, and we see Hank reeling from the discovery that Heisenberg has been hiding in plain sight this whole time, we wonder what he’s going to do. He has a panic attack and crashes into his neighbor’s yard first. He confirms his strong suspicions by matching the handwriting in the “Leaves of Grass” book with the notebook they confiscated from the murdered Gayle’s house.
But Hank can’t blow the whistle on Walt, and that’s probably part of the reason for his panic. Because implicating Walter as Heisenberg implicates him. As a field agent for the DEA, Hank’s lack of foresight is laughable and would ruin his career. Also, the money that Walt made selling the best crystal meth ever is what paid for his physical therapy after he was shot. He’s USED drug money so snitching would not be in his best interest. Now THAT is being caught between a rock and a hard place.
Lydia’s unWelcome – Lydia, Walt’s former business associate shows up to the car wash that the Whites are using to launder the money that Walt has made. She shows up under the guise of getting her car washed, but it was really to appeal to him to keep running the ring. Especially since the European thing he set up was falling apart. He shuts her down and Skyler figures out who she is and tells her to never return.
What’s interesting to note is that Walt’s rejection of Lydia is very similar to Gus’ rejection of him the first time he went to Los Pollos Hermanos. Does this foreshadow that she’ll be the person who brings him down? Hmmmm… *strokes chin*
Also, Skyler picking up that Lydia is part of Walt’s business shows how smart she is. She doesn’t get enough props for being the ultimate ride-or-die chick. Folks find her annoying but you’d lose your mind a bit too if you found our your husband’s the biggest druglord in New Mexico. She ain’t e’em go crazy. The chick found a solution and came up with a solution (the car wash money laundering business). Let her cook (no pun intended)!
Jesse’s pain – The first time we see Jesse, he’s at home looking like he wants to be anywhere but in his own body. Because unlike Walter, he still has a soul and his conscience is eating him alive. He shows up at Saul’s office and is so desperate to “fix” the unfixable that he opts to smoke a blunt in the waiting room so he could be attended to quicker.
Poor Jesse tries to get Saul to give $2.5 million each to Mike’s granddaughter and to the family of Drew, the kid they killed. But like Saul said, “you’re two miracles away from sainthood.”
I’ve always loved Jesse because he’s really a good guy who was caught in a bad web and in the grasp of a bad guy. And he’s suffering so much because of it. Of ALL characters on this show, he’s the one that I’m rooting for and hoping he’s standing in the end.
Walt’s pep talk and lie – Walt shows up at Jesse’s house carrying the two duffle bags he picked up from Saul. His only reason for being there is to convince Jesse to let “the past is the past.” NOT WHEN YOU’VE KILLED SO MANY PEOPLE, HEISENBERG! He tells him he’s quit the business, as if he had a job at Wendy’s. Sir, you got mad enemies, yo! Jesse insinuates that Mike was dead because Walt killed him, and Walt denies it with the straightest face. YOU LYING SUMMABITCH!!!
Jesse and Walt are diametrically opposites and this showed just how much. While Walt is walking around with this odd air of invincibility because he thinks he’s really beat everyone, Jesse is being eaten alive from the inside with guilt. Walt is soul-less, and he’s truly without remorse for all the havoc he’s wreaked. This is why he gotta fall. Also, his arrogance and the fact that he thinks Jesse is stupid will help/hurt.
Cancer’s Back – Walt excuses himself while at dinner with his family and throws up in the toilet. His cancer’s back, and it’s obvious that he told no one. He also realizes that his “Leaves of Grass” book is gone. Skyler denies taking it, so Walt goes outside, which leads him to discovering that there’s a tracker under his car. UH OH.
This scene was interesting because it also called back to the time when Gus threw up in the toilet when he poisoned himself to kill the Mexican cartel.
Walt is not as invincible as he thinks, and he thinks cancer will take him out before any human can. But the fact that it is in that moment that he also discovers that the book missing is worth noting.
Jesse’s Robin Hood – Jesse can’t even stand to go home. Dude is sleeping in his car when a homeless man knocks on his window and asks him for some coins. Instead, Jesse hands him a stack of cash from his full duffel bag. The man accepts it and doesn’t e’em know what to do. Jesse drives off and starts throwing stacks of cash out his window like some weird Robin Hood.
He just needs to get rid of the money by all means. But sadly, it won’t purge his soul from the guilt that is wrecking him. Pinkman is in tears because he knows this too. AAWWWWWW!!!
Tread Lightly – Walt drops by Hank’s placed unannounced and finds him in the garage. He makes some small talk, turns to leave but changes his mind and asks him about the tracking device he found in his car. A shaken and enraged Hank closes the garage door so the two men face off. Hank punches Walt, sending him flying.
“It was you. All along it was you. YOU SON OF A BITCH!”
Walt replies by telling him that his cancer is back. “I’m a dying man who owns a car wash.” Yes, NOW he is but before, he was the leader of a destructive drug ring. Hank is taken aback by the man in front of him and says he doesn’t even know who he’s talking to. His brother-in-law replies with “If you don’t know who I am, maybe your best course is to tread lightly.”
WELL DAMB!!! That’s some bad ass shit! You don’t go toe for toe with Heisenberg and expect not to be sonned. That’s where Hank was wrong. He closed that garage door and swung on Heisenberg without a plan and from pure rage. Nope. Hank didn’t play this smart at all. When you’re going up against a man like Heisenberg, approach it like a game of chess. You gotta come up with 5 plans and 17 scenarios. So although he landed that punch, he lost the battle because Heisenberg doesn’t punch folks back. He ruins their lives and finishes them.
Watch your back, Hank.
The showdown we all knew that Hank and Walt are going to have happened way before we expected. Except, this wasn’t THE ONE. Hank and Walt are like Harry Potter and Voldemort. “Neither can live while the other survives.” One of them is going to take the other out. But then again, because we expect it, maybe not. Either way:
It was an AMAZING episode. In the beginning, I was breathing in short spurts because I was so nervous about what was going to happen. And the slow camera shots built so much suspense that I was expecting something to jump up on my screen. Plus, the fact that the first words of the episode were not uttered until four minutes in. It’s part of the genius of Breaking Bad. It takes its time but it doesn’t waste it.
The countdown to the end continues.
If nothing else, Breaking Bad teaches you how to shut folks down. Next time Sallie Mae calls about your bill, tell them to “Tread lightly.”
What did y’all think about the flash forward? Spill your theories and let’s discuss.
P.S. Bryan Cranston directed this episode. Dope, right?