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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

BREAKING BAD Pure "Money"

Article first published as BREAKING BAD Pure "Money" on TheTVKing.

AMC's Breaking Bad kicks off its final eight hours with "Blood Money." After a glimpse at a bleak future where Walter White's (Bryan Cranston) secret is out and his home is abandoned and defiled, the action picks up right where the previous episode (which aired last summer) left off: Hank (Dean Norris) finally suspects Walt of being Heisenberg, Jesse (Aaron Paul) wrestles with guilt, and Walt lies and threatens anew.

I feel like the only way for Walt's story to end is in death. Walt has become an extremely bad dude, as evidenced with many of his words and deeds in "Blood Money." This is a kingpin who is no longer trustworthy for anyone, and he must be brought down. The question is, who will end Walter White's life?

My money is on Walter White. We see him with an M-16 and poison in the opening of the installment. With his cancer back, something he is neglecting to tell anyone, Walt doesn't have long to live, anyway. Perhaps he wants to go out on his own terms, either peacefully by consumption of tainted food or liquid, or violently in a showdown.

The argument against this theory is that Walt is a survivor. He wants people to know who he is, and he isn't content to allow himself to be caught. These feelings could waver in the face of his mortality, but Walt's conversation with Hank, in which he brags to Hank that no jury will send a dying man to prison, shows that Walt is not ready to give up yet. Backed into a corner, this could change.

Or Hank might get Walt. Hank is loathe to publicly accuse and investigate family until he's sure Walt is Heisenberg, staying home from work and checking on things off-book. However, when Walt and Hank have their confrontation, we see how angry Hank is, and Hank punches Walt, making it clear he won't help Walt get away with anything. Hank will work vehemently in these final episodes to bring Walt down.

I hope Jesse doesn't have to hurt Walt. Jesse is having enough trouble dealing with his own behavior, handing out cash he sees as "Blood Money," rather than keeping his earnings from making meth. Jesse is reckless, intent on punishing himself for what he thinks he deserves if no one else will. Yet, we know Jesse is a good guy at heart and we want to see him get better, not descend further. Having to kill Walt could permanently destroy Jesse.

A nice surprise might be if Skyler (Anna Gunn) has to pull the trigger. She's back in Walt's life, sharing his bed, and running the car wash business together. However, she is not a pushover, and would not hesitate to protect her family, and would be able to sleep at night afterwards. She will be furious when she learns Walt is hiding his cancer from her again. Perhaps it's time for her to show ever more backbone and be the ultimate hero.

One thing is certain, Lydia (Laura Fraser) doesn't have the guts to do it. She may be desperate, seeking Walt's help at work, even as Walt tells her to stay away, but that won't be enough to bring down Breaking Bad's protagonist. She is weak and scared and that counts against her.

"Blood Money," besides giving us much to ponder, is a wonderful hour, finely crafted. From Marie's (Betsy Brandt) joking comment that Walt is the devil, to Walt's two 'hello's to his neighbor, to Badger (Matt Jones) and Skinny Pete's (Charles Baker) Star Trek conversation, there are layers and metaphors and memorable moments. There are also beautiful, dramatic, character-driven scenes between Hank and Walt and between Walt and Jesse. This indicates the show will maintain its quality til the end, and that is definitely something to look forward to.

Breaking Bad airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.

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