‘Breaking Bad’ Premiere Recap: Hank Punches Walt, Knows He’s Heisenberg; Walt's Cancer Is Back
Breaking Bad began with a flash-forward on Sunday night, much like it did with its first season five premiere. In this one, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) pays a visit to his old neighborhood where his abandoned house has been fenced off, his pool is now a skate park and his walls are defaced with “Heisenberg” graffiti. Coolly surveying the damage and the kids making use of the empty pool, Walt makes his way to an electrical socket. He unscrews the cover and removes a vial of ricin.
In the present, Hank (Dean Norris) exits the White’s bathroom after connecting the dots from the dedication in Walt’s copy of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. He looks like he’s about to pass out when he heads to the back patio to tell Marie (Betsy Brandt) he’s not feeling well and that they need to leave. On the way home, he suffers a panic attack and crashes the car. Once he’s swallowed the revelation, he gets his hands on Gale Boetticher’s (David Costabile) case file and confirms the handwriting in the book was the slain chemist’s. Rifling through boxes of evidence and crime scenes, he glances at pictures of Salamanca and Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito), watches the footage of Walt and Jessie (Aaron Paul) stealing the methylamine barrels and finally lingers over the sketch of Heisenberg – Walt decked out in his brimmed hat and dark shades.
Walt and Skyler (Anna Gunn), meanwhile, are pouring themselves into their car wash business, with Walt making suggestions for how to be more successful – aka launder the money he’s made with meth more speedily. Skyler seems happy to oblige and consider the possibility of opening another car wash. Of all people to come for a car wash, it’s Lydia (Laura Fraser) in a rental car. Apparently the meth they’re making in Walt’s absence isn’t up to par, so she wants him to get back in the game briefly to help her cooks. He dismisses her. After he fills in a suspicious Skyler, she follows Lydia and warns her not to ever return.
Jessie’s not handling the life of a rich ex-meth producer nearly as well as Walt is. While Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) and Badger (Matt Jones) have a spirited stoned Star Trek debate, he sits on the couch with his head clearly elsewhere until he snatches up his bags of cash and heads to Saul’s. He wants to give $2.5 million of his earnings to Kaylee, Mike’s (Jonathan Banks) granddaughter, and the other $2.5 million to the parents of a kid killed in the crossfire of their business. Saul (Bob Odenkirk) thinks the idea will get them all busted, so he calls Walt to talk some sense into him.
Walt, whose cancer has returned, is undergoing chemotherapy treatment when he gets the call from Saul. Afterwards, he heads over to Jessie’s to assume the role of a concerned parent looking out for his son’s best interest. Setting the bags of money down, he tells Jessie, “You need to stop focusing on the darkness behind you. The past is the past.” Jessie doesn’t want to hear it because he’s worked out that Walt must have gotten rid of Mike along with his crew, otherwise he’d be living in constant fear of retribution. Without flinching, Walt protests the accusations, lying with every breath. Later, Jessie gets rid of his cash by giving a few stacks to a homeless man and tossing the rest newsboy-style onto people’s lawns from the window of his car.
Back at his house, Walt’s chemo treatment from earlier lands him kneeling in front of the toilet to puke. While there, he notices that Leaves of Grass is missing. Considering Hank’s off behavior, he goes and checks his car for a tracking device, which he finds. Not one to waste any time, the following day Walt heads over to Hank’s and finds him in the garage pouring over his case. Instead of coming right out about the tracking device, Walt starts off the conversation with idle small talk and seemingly genuine concern for Hank’s health. But, just as he’s about to leave, he pivots back around and pulls out the device.
A composed Hank simply grabs the garage remote to close the door. Then he unloads on his brother-in-law with accusations and a fist to the face. Walt, even though he’s been bloodied, calmly feigns ignorance, appeals to Hank’s notion of family and reveals that his cancer is back. After Hank tries to set the terms – have Skyler and the kids come live with him – Walt morphs into Heisenberg. “If you don’t know who I am, then maybe your best course would be to tread lightly.”
Breaking Bad airs Sundays on AMC at 9/8c.
– Chelsea Regan
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