Blood Money 

(Obviously, this post contains spoilers.)

At the end of the last first half of the season, we are left with Hank discovering a copy of Leaves of Grass, a gift to Walt, signed by Gale Boetticher while using Walter and Skyler’s bathroom. While he doesn’t say anything, the look on his face shows that it’s the most important crap Hank has ever taken.

Fast forward to tonight. Tonight, S05E09 of Breaking Bad aired.

And boy, it sure was something…

The episode starts with a bearded, grungy Walt slipping past the security fence that encloses the shell of what used to be his family’s home. Kids are skateboarding in the empty pool out back, and HEISENBERG is spray painted all over the inside of the house. He makes his way to the nursery, retrieves the ricin packet that’s he’s had stashed for some time, and slips out, shocking his next door neighbor.

After the introduction credits, it becomes clear that the scene in the dilapidated home is another flash-forward. In real time, Hank’s still on the toilet. After stealing the book, he and a non-purple-wearing Marie slip out.

Over the course of the episode, Hank has boxes upon boxes delivered to his house. Unlike the last time he wore out the local delivery guys, he’s having case notes shipped over, not boxes of minerals. While Hank clearly still has some issues going on, he’s not retreating. He’s still sinking back in to the dark places he’s been in seasons past, but as he dives into the boxes, the reality that HEISENBERG IS WALT gives him the fuel he needs to keep his shit together.

On the other side of town, Jesse is having yet another breakdown. I love Aaron Paul’s portrayal of Pinkman, and I love that Jessie actually has a heart, but the character’s never-ending pity party is getting old.

(Granted, I’ve never killed a man. Or seen a kid get shot. Or seen a dude’s head explode under an ATM. Or cooked meth. Or smoked meth. So, maybe Jesse’s continual state of anguish is acceptable after all.)

Jesse takes the $5 million Walt gave him to Saul’s office. He’s no dummy, and he’s sure Mike is dead. He tells Saul to give half to the parents of the motorcycle kid and the other half to Kaylee Ehrmantraut. When he asks Walt if Myke is alive, Walt lies. The last we saw of Jessie tonight, he was throwing bundles of cash into front yards as if were delivering newspapers.

Mrs. White is back, too. She runs a scared and frustrated Lydia out of the car wash. While she’s warming back up to her husband, he’s keeping the fact that he is back in the chemo chair to himself.

I’m sure she’ll be just fine when she discovers that the cancer’s back.

Speaking of Lydia, it seems that she’s still entangled in selling meth overseas, and is upset with Walt that the purity of her product is slipping. The show never reveals exactly what’s going on, but my guess is that Todd is cooking in Walt’s absence.

Honestly, I wasn’t positive we’d see the Hank/Walt showdown tonight.

I was wrong.

Considering Vince Gilligan’s only got eight hours to work with, it makes sense he’d plant his right foot on the gas right out of the gate.

After discovering Leaves of Grass is missing from the back of the toilet — as he’s puking his guts up — Walt begins to realize Hank’s stomach bug might be something more. He finds a GPS tracker under the fender of his car, and goes to visit Hank the next day.

As he pulls up, Hank’s in the garage working. He covers up what’s he’s doing, but Walt’s not there by accident. After dancing around the topic for a moment, Walt shows his cards.

It’s like the one we used when you and I were tracking Gus Fring, isn’t it?

Walt might be the one who knocks, but Hank’s the one who shuts the garage door. Suddenly, there’s no car wash, no Czech Republic, no Jesse, no law, no Gomie. It’s Hank and Walt, face to face.

For a moment, Walt plays naive, accusing Hank of destroying the family.

“I don’t give a shit about family,” he says. Hank then begins to list Walt’s crimes: causing a car accident to avoid the laundry, murdering Gale, blowing up a nursing home.

Walt doesn’t deny it. Instead, he reveals to his brother-in-law that he’s dying. The cancer’s back.

“I’ll put you under the jail,” Hank spits. “There won’t be anyone to prosecute,” Walt says. “I’ll be dead in six months.”

The scene ends as Hank confesses he has no idea who stands before him, even as Walt swears he’s just a dying man with a car wash.

Perhaps it’s best Hank treads lightly, Walt suggests.

I’ve long thought that Breaking Bad has — all along — been about Hank. This episode sure is, at least. We see him make the discovery of a lifetime, freak out, crash a car, sort though evidence, attack Walt in a similar way he did Jessie a few seasons back, and then stand toe-to-toe with him. Walt’s in most of the scenes … but not really. He’s just part of Hank’s storyline, and just part of Jessie’s. We don’t see him at home much, and he doesn’t talk to Saul except over the phone.

It’s like he’s already disappearing.

Whatever we’re building to here is big. We know from flash-forwards that Walt’s been on the run. We can easily assume that the government — or someone equally as scary — has seized his house. We know that people know Walter White’s really Heisenberg.

But how do we get to an empty, gutted house from two grown men staring at each other in a garage? Beats me, but I can’t wait to find out.