Picking up from last year’s midseason finale, Hank rises from the toilet with a newfound and panic-stricken realization that Walt is indeed the Heisenberg he’s been hunting all this time. After making an excuse, hightailing it with Marie and having a fairly significant panic attack on the ride home, Hank re-opens the investigation in his own garage, and the sheer scope of the entire Heisenberg operation is fairly staggering.
Meanwhile, Walt tries to persuade Skyler to agree to expand their car-wash empire in order to better launder their giant brick o’ cash. Of course, as anyone could have predicted, extricating himself from Madrigal’s lucrative Czech-centric meth operation is not proving to be the cleanest of breaks. Lydia Rodart-Quayle, reigning Miss America and Joe’s Favorite Human, shows up at the car wash to bitch to Walt about plummeting purity standards in the meth (possibly because Todd the kid-killing fuckup is the new cook? I’m guessing). She wants Walt to come back for a week’s tutorial, but he turns her down, and when he tells Skyler that the jittery woman getting her rental car washed is an old business associate, Skyler makes it even plainer: never come back.
Jesse, for like the third time in six season premieres, is in a bad way, reeling from his guilt over the death of the dirt bike kid and the (probable) death of Mike at (most likely) Walt’s hand. After trying to get Saul to disburse his share of the meth money to Kaylee Ehrmantraut and the parents of Dirtbike Boy, Saul calls up Walt, who shows up at Jesse’s house to try to talk him out of giving everything away. He also makes a remarkably convincing case that Mike is perfectly alive and on the run somewhere. Jesse says he believes him and agrees to keep the money, but his face tells a different story. Indeed, by episode’s end, Jesse is driving through the impoverished neighborhoods of Albuquerque, tossing stacks of cash onto lawns like they’re copies of the morning news.
Finally, Walt discovers a tracking device on his car and, the next day, pays Hank a visit. Hank can barely speak to Walt, he’s shaking so much with a combination of fear and rage. When Walt tries to Columbo his way into asking about the tracking device, Hank shuts the garage door and confronts his enemy. Walt doesn’t deny being Heisenberg, and he gets a punch in the face from Hank for his trouble. Walt’s non-defense defense is this: he’s dying. His cancer is back. Even if Hank could prove his accusations, Walt will be dead before he’d ever see the inside of a jail cell. Is Hank willing to destroy his family for that? And moreover, is Hank willing to mess with crouching-tiger Walt?
Oh, and in the bearded-Walt flash forward, his home is abandoned and boarded up, a virtual crime scene, infested with skateboarders. Walt breaks in and retrieves his secret vial of ricin. Can’t imagine how that ends well.
Previously: Four and a half seasons of the best drama on TV, pretty much.
As was largely expected, we open the final eight episodes the same way we opened episode 5.1, in a flash-forward sequence wherein Walt has hair on his head, a full beard and is wearing an army jacket, which may very well be Jesse’s army jacket, which according to this theory is very bad news. But let’s not dwell on the future just yet. So Walt has migrated from Denny’s -- where he bought that stash of automatic weapons -- to his home. We’re greeted by an ultra-close-up of skateboarders rolling around in what we soon discover is the Whites’ dried up and abandoned pool. The whole house is abandoned, boarded up and fenced in. Very likely a crime scene. Whatever happens between this episode and the flash-forward, clearly something terrible goes down at Walt’s house.
He sneaks past the fence and breaks into his own home, which is completely emptied out. Someone has spray-painted "Heisenberg" on the living room wall, so clearly that cat gets out of the bag as well. Walt makes his way to the bedroom, and it suddenly becomes clear what he’s doing here. (It doesn’t hurt that the previouslies remind us of Walt taping the ricin capsule behind the outlet plate last season.) So Walt unscrews the plate, retrieves Chekhov’s ricin and is on his way.
Outside, he returns to the car and the trunk filled with weapons where he returns the tire iron he used to break in. Behind him, out of focus, stands his neighbor, all mild-mannered and not-quite-"elderly" and scared shitless. Quite clearly, Walter White has become quite infamous to the greater Albuquerque area. Walt turns to face her and says, "Hello, Carol." She drops her grocery bag.
Now, back where we left things off last season, we see the camera pan steadily in on a closed door in the White bedroom. Inside is a bathroom. In that bathroom is a toilet. Atop that toilet sits Hank Schrader. And in Hank’s hands is a copy of Leaves of Grass with an inscription dedicated to "W.W." in the same handwriting as Gale Boedicher used. Hank has just, at long last, put all the pieces together. Walt -- mild-mannered, book-smart-but-not-street-smart Walt -- is the criminal mastermind Heisenberg. The great thing is that rather than finding himself fortified with righteous anger, Hank is scared out of his goddamn mind. His whole worldview has been flipped upside down. Everything he thought he knew about his brother-in-law was wrong. He’s found his white whale, and now it presents about eight million bigger problems for him.