Martin Deer reviews the latest episode of Breaking Bad (spoilers within)…
Since the mid-season finale of season 5 ended several months ago with the most almighty of cliffhangers, with Walter White’s brother-in-law discovering the Walt Whitman book with recently deceased former chemist, Gale Boetticher’s love letter to WW in it and the penny dropping on just who Heisenberg really is, the Breaking Bad community has been on tenterhooks. Could the season premier live up to this mind blowing moment? The answer is yes, it could.
The opening scene, just as with the season 5 premiere, forwards to a time in the future where Walt is, it appears, on the run. What is revealed to us here is that Heisenberg is known to the world that Walt’s double life will be exposed at some point to come in the show. This episode was directed by Bryan Cranston and very effectively so. Returning to the family home, now a caged off, empty squalor, much like Walt’s life itself, the imagery used and the direction of the camera is used wonderfully. As it is throughout the entire episode.
When we cut back to present time and get right back to the family BBQ and see how Hank would react; Hank’s expressions, played brilliantly by Dean Norris, showcase just how much of an impact Walt’s actions have on his whole family. Hank’s life will never be the same again, and he knows if his suspicious are true, then he will be destroying a family he cares for deeply.
We learn later in the episode, in present time, that Walt’s lung cancer has returned: the scene in which Walt looks terrifyingly up to his chemo IV was a real moment of reflection for the audience, and for a second made you feel for this character again. Whilst providing another way Walt can bite the dust by the end of the series, his cancer returning also explains exactly why Walt suddenly decided he no longer wanted to be the head honcho of the meth business last time we saw. Unfortunately for Skyler it had nothing to do with her and everything to do with his cancer. Simultaneously you felt empathy for the man suffering from cancer, but also your loathing of him grew knowing it was purely for his own reasons, not for the benefit of his family.
Undoubtedly the most beloved character on the show is Jesse Pinkman, who has been spectacularly portrayed by Aaron Paul. Over the course of the show Jesse’s remorse has been clear, and his humanity, however frail, has shone through. The guilt Jesse feels at the actions he has had to take have weighed heavily on him, and the stress continues to do so. A personal hope for the show is that Jesse does not kill Walt – I hope that Vince Gilligan does not do that to Jesse. Unfortunately having finally wised up to Walt’s act and realised he has killed Mike, it seems Jesse could eventually learn everything about what Walt has done, and could kill him. But I hope not.
With just eight episodes to go Gilligan isn’t holding back with where he takes the show, and we didn’t have to wait too long for Hank to confront Walt about the truth, knowing full when that Walt is Heisenberg. The tension in that final scene in Hank’s garage was palpable. Really incredible writing, with these two strong characters with great conviction lock horns. Walt knows he has the upper hand; Hank could arrest him, but the events of Hank’s life mean he could be just as culpable, having turned down the job in Mexico, been unable to solve the Heisenberg case despite working on it extensively, Hank could very easily be suspected of being partners with Walt. There is so much at stake. And it was great to see the weakened Walt turn in to Heisenberg and enlighten his brother in law, delivering the intimidating line, “tread lightly”.
An incredible start to the new and final season, there’s literally no way of guessing how things will end up. So many questions, not enough solid history to to go on to take a guess. Truly unpredictable. Welcome back Breaking Bad.