We begin at the ending, with a jaw-dropping cold open that underlines just how far the Whites will fall from grace this season. Walt shuffles into his home. Graffiti is on the walls. Punk kids are skateboarding in his empty pool. I actually feel a little violated, like it’s my house, too. Stupid punk kids. Anyway, Walt retrieves the vial of Chekov’s ricin he made way back in season four. It’s still hidden behind that outlet. Sure, Walt could’ve just made more but he understands the dramatic necessity of using this particular vial. The big question: what does Walt need with both an unsubtle weapon of mass destruction and a very subtle weapon of minimal destruction? We shall see.
Back in the present day, Hank stumble out of the bathroom, almost certainly having failed to accomplish his task he set out to complete when he walked in there. He immediately claims to have stomach problems, and he and Marie drive off. A panic attack on the road nearly leads to an accident and I’m momentarily afraid the show will sideline Hank for a few episodes as a stalling tactic. But no, This ain’t Dexter. We’re going full speed ahead.
Then we get to see how The Whites are doing. Ironically, and against all odds, a little meth dealing, infidelity and murder has only served to strengthen the bond between man and wife. Walt natters on about product placement of their car air fresheners, and Skyler, despite the fact that she clearly doesn’t even give one tenth of one percent of a fuck, bites her tongue and agrees with Walt. Lydia arrives just then, begging Walt to come back to work and Walt says no. Lydia says the situation with the bad meth (that presumably Todd is making) is dire and she will be “put in a box”. This does not have the desired effect on Walt, and he dismisses her. Skyler comes up just then and asks who that was. Walt does not hesitate to tell her the truth, and Skyler in full Mama bear mode, tells Lydia to scram and never come back. See? Honesty. Partnership. Listening to one another. This marriage is finally working, guys! Right then and there I realize it’s still in me to feel sorry for Walt, to root for him to some degree. Why can’t he just live out his days building a car wash empire with a loving family? Why is life so darn unfair to Walter White?
The show’s only problem—and it’s a minor and hopefully correctable one—at this point is Jesse. Mainly, how does he fit into the storyline at this point? The obvious answer is once he finds out about Brock, he’ll go after Walt in a big way. But will he? Tonight we learn that he already knows about Mike. Walt entreats Jesse to believe that there’s no way he could have possibly killed Mike, because he doesn’t want to have to kill Jesse. And Jesse picks up on that and pretends to believe Walt. So where does that leave us? Is he actually going to be angrier about the Brock thing than about Mike? Brock isn’t even dead. He’s perfectly fine, in fact. So what will finally get Jesse off that couch? I don’t know, but I hope it happens soon. Not that I mind listening to Badger and Skinny Pete dissect Star Trek. I just need more.
The final scene is a killer. Hank has looked over all the evidence again and realizes that Walt’s guilty without a doubt. But now what? Can he prove it? Walt comes by for an impromptu visit. Hank’s poker face is terrible and Walt knows he knows. He goes to leave and then busts out his best Columbo. “Oh, one more thing. You’re gonna laugh…” before revealing the GPS device he found hidden under his car. Hank shuts the garage door, and then punches him square in the face. They have it out. Hank is snarling and furious. Walt is calm and serene. Walt lays it on him: he’s dying again. The cancer has come back. He’ll never see the inside of a jail cell and there’s no reason to destroy both their families. Hank gives Walt an out: have Skyler bring the kids here and we’ll talk. But Walt—incredibly–won’t fucking take it. “That’s not going to happen”. I think if Skyler learns about this offer she’ll have a different opinion. Just leave town, Walt! Go away and die alone and let your family survive! Wasn’t it about them in the first place? Wasn’t it all for them?
Not really, no. Clearly. Walt has one more thing to say to Hank after Hank realizes he doesn’t know Walt at all.
“If that’s true, if you don’t know who I am, maybe your best course of action is to tread lightly”.
“Oh, and uh…do you mind opening the garage door? I need to make a dramatic exit.”