As usual, last night's return of Breaking Bad brought much comfort and joy to everyone not named Walter White and/or Jesse Pinkman. But the experience of watching the season premiere was accompanied by more than a little sadness amongst those of us at home, seeing as how after the next eight episodes, we'll be bidding farewell to Walt, Jesse, Skyler, Hank and Saul (well… maybe not Saul) for good. Depressing though that thought may be, we're going to try and stay on the bright side by spending the next eight episodes picking our eight favorite things about each episode. To kick things off, here's our "8 for 8" for "Blood Money."
8. Clean Up in Aisle Driveway
The entire cold open, with Walt returning to the humble White abode -- which had been transformed from an unassuming one-story family home into a dilapidated crime scene with Walt's nom-de-meth "Heisenberg" spray-painted on the wall -- was as haunting as anything in The Conjuring, but the button to the sequence is what put it on another level. On his way out of the house carrying the vial he had retrieved from behind an electrical outlet, Walt came face-to-face with one of his former neighbors, Carol, who took one look at the bedraggled, bearded fugitive (we're assuming) and dropped the bag of groceries she was clutching with a death grip that might even have choked the Man of Steel. Couldn't Walt at least have offered to pick up those oranges for her?
7. Whose Prophetic Line Is It Anyway? (Part 1)
We're sure it was no accident that the first full sentence that Hank heard after returning to the backyard patio from his momentous trip to the bathroom was Marie telling Walt, "You're the devil." Obviously, she wasn't referring to his criminal activities or taste in poetry -- the very thing that had just turned Hank's head (and not, as he claimed, his stomach) -- but we half expected to see Hank's vision zeroing in on two little horns protruding from his brother-in-law's bald skull.
6. Skylar Goes on the Offensive
Although the White marriage is still not exactly on the firmest of grounds, it was nice to see Skyler rise to her husband's defense last night, kicking a desperate Lydia to the curb after Walt had already politely (but firmly) turned down her request to provide a "Meth Making 101" tutorial to the chuckleheads he had left in charge of his operation. Frankly, after Skyler's sternly-worded "Get the eff outta here" message, we'd be more scared about hearing her knock on the door than Walt's.
5. Hank's Back Pages
In what basically amounted to Breaking Bad's version of one of those Time Life "Greatest Hits" collections they used to hawk in the dead zone of post-midnight television, Hank dug deep into his archives to assemble the dots connecting Walt to Heisenberg. So many familiar faces and passed before our eyes during this expertly constructed montage: Hector, Mike, Gus, various vehicles and that hand-drawn picture of the Southwest's newest meth king. It was like a Netflix binge-watching of the first four and a half seasons in roughly one minute.
4. Hey, It Sounds Better than Into Darkness
Just when we were thinking that "Blood Money" was heavy on tension and light on laughs, along comes Badger's synopsis of his unproduced Star Trek screenplay (following Skinny Pete's own fall-on-the-floor funny analysis of the "science" behind transporter technology), which involved a pie-eating contest between Kirk, Spock and, for some reason, Chekov. (We would have put Sulu in the mix, but then again Chekov never gets anything interesting to do, so yeah… let's give this one to the Russian.) It was the best sci-fi franchise related pitch we heard since Patton Oswalt's extended Star Wars filibuster and sounds like the obvious plot for the first post-J.J. Star Trek flick. After all, the use of transporter technology to win a pie-eating contest makes more sense than Khan's blood suddenly having death-defying properties.
3. Whose Prophetic Line Is It Anyway? (Part 2)
In a rare moment of absolute clarity, Jesse sees through the lies that Walt is piling on top of his addled head about Mike. As his ex-boss ends an especially long spiel of B.S. with the words "It's not true, it's just not," Jesse looks over at Mr. White and realizes that's the only honest thing this lying scumbag may have ever told him.
2. Secret Santa
Unable to give his ill-gotten gains away through ordinary means (ordinary in this case meaning handing it over to Saul), Jesse literally throws his fortune away on people's doorsteps, with packets of 100 dolla dolla bills y'all landing where the morning paper usually goes… though Pinkman demonstrates better aim than most newspaper delivery guys we know. We smell a career change!
1. Face/Off 2: Walt vs. Hank
The average showrunner would probably wait a bit before gifting audiences with the showdown they've spent a year waiting for. But then, Vince Gilligan isn't your average showrunner. Instead of teasing the coming Hank/Walt conflagration for several episodes, Gilligan sticks it right at the end of the freakin' premiere. And boy, is it everything we could have hoped for and more, from the initial forced-pleasantries, to Walt making the conscious decision to turn around and confront Hank, to Hank closing the garage door and punching Walt in the face to Walt's final warning: "If you don't know who I am, then maybe your best course would be to tread lightly." It's not quite, "Well, I've gotta go. I've got a government job to abuse, and a lonely wife to fuck," but it'll do.
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