It’s been a long year since Breaking Bad‘s final season took a break, but it finally returned with a bang and one of its best-ever episodes.
Blood Money began in the same way as the first episode from this fifth season, with a flash-forward showing us a tease of how Walt‘s story is going to end, and it was done with typical flair.
Some flashy camerawork introduced us to skateboarders going up and down a series of what seemed like ramps, until we were pulled back to reveal that it was the White‘s now-empty swimming pool that was being used, with their house boarded up and vandalised.
As Walt arrived ‘home’, we got another couple of hints as to how things are going to turn out in the short-term, with his neighbour terrified of him (in sharp contrast to an identical scene from the present later on in the episode), while HEISENBERG has been spray-painted on the living room wall.
But of course, what we all want to see is what happens after Hank gets off the toilet, and this was done expertly, with the camera moving through the not-yet-run-down White house, building up the anticipation before a shaken DEA boss emerged. He crashed his car on the way home during a panic attack.
During our long sabbatical from the show, we’ve been waiting to see what he would do after finding Gale’s inscription in the book, and no-one could have been disappointed, with Dean Norris doing his best work to date in the role.
Quite often the resolution to cliffhangers can be teased out once the show resumes, but with the finishing line in sight, Breaking Bad isn’t wasting any time. So once Walt noticed his book was missing and found a tracker device on his car, we were all set for some serious conflict.
And that was done perfectly, with Norris and Bryan Cranston acting at so many different levels simultaneously in the stilted early part of their conversation before Walt revealed the tracker and everything got taken up a few notches.
Cranston’s work was all the more impressive for the fact that he also directed the episode, something that tends to happen in long-running TV shows, but rarely for such pivotal plot developments. That shows the faith that Vince Gilligan has in him and he didn’t let anyone down.
Elsewhere, there was a great Skyler-Lydia scene at the car wash, while Jesse’s taken another turn for the worse, wanting to get rid of his blood money and hanging around with his junkie mates listening to their unwritten Star Trek scripts.
As usual, there’s layers upon layers of potentially significant things going on here, from that Trek storyline to Walt putting a towel down before being sick (like Gus used to do, does Walt pick up traits from the people he kills?), and the internet has gone into a frenzy trying to work it all out.
But the only thing we can say for almost certain after this episode is that Breaking Bad is going to go out at the top of its game, because this was just brilliant from start to finish.