‘Breaking Bad’ recap: Seriously, Hank, tread lightly

Taylor Bigler Entertainment Editor
Font Size:

This post contains spoilers about the August 11 episode of “Breaking Bad.” If you continue reading, it is your own damn fault.

Nobody has a gun to their head, no one is about to die. There aren’t any dangerous Mexican cartel members looming around the corner. It’s just Walter White and his brother-in-law, Hank the DEA agent, alone in a garage — and it is perhaps the most tense scene in all five-and-a-half seasons of “Breaking Bad.”


The midseason premiere started right where episode eight left off: Hank knows that Walt is Heisenberg; Jesse is in a severe, weed-induced moral hangover; Skyler is still pretty pissed off and Saul still wears bad suits shirts.* 

Walt, however, seems like he is back to his old self. He is nicer to his family than he has been in months, he dorkily works the cash register at the car wash and proudly comes up with a better system to sell air fresheners. Walt’s cancer is back, but he doesn’t want anyone to know about it (until he can use it to his advantage). But just when Walt thinks he might be in the clear, Hank finally has his Heisenberg.

After Hank realizes that Walt is the man with the blue meth — the one who has been slipping through his fingers for over a year — he finally has it figured out and he’s going to nail that “son of a bitch,” or at least that’s what he thinks. (Who has crossed Heisenberg and gotten out alive?)

Back at the White household, in a scene that beautifully calls back the season three episode when Gus folds a towel to kneel on as he vomits the poison he just gave himself and the Mexican cartel, Walt does the same thing as he vomits from a different type of poison — chemo. With his face buried in the toilet bowl, he realizes his copy of “Leaves of Grass” is missing. Someone is onto him and Walt knows it.

It isn’t until he goes to visit poor, sweet Jesse that we see that this isn’t really the old Walt at all — he’s still Heisenberg. He is more cold and calculating perhaps more than ever before when he looks into the eyes of Jesse, someone who considers him a father figure (Walt even calls him “son”)  and straight up lies to him about killing Mike. (Remember the good ol’ days, when Walt was a bad liar?)

After realizing that there is a GPS tracker underneath his car, Walt drives to Hank’s house to confront him about it. The anger, frustration and fear are more palpable in this confrontation than any other “Breaking Bad” scene that involves meth or guns. Or both.

After Hank accuses Walt of being Heisenberg, he pulls the “I don’t know what you’re talking about” card and the “my cancer is back” card in the same breath. Hank says that he doesn’t know who Walt is, and he doesn’t.

Heisenberg replies, “If that’s true and you really don’t know who I am, perhaps your best course of action is to tread lightly.” No. Shit.

Seriously, Hank, if you know what is good for you, you WILL tread lightly. But this is “Breaking Bad” and no one is going to get the easy way out, especially not even the good guy.

The fact that Hank knows about Walt, and Walt knows that Hank knows so early in the season, mean literally anything can happen in these next seven episodes. You might as well stop trying to guess.

Other relevant episode nine moments:

Lydia wants Walt to cook more meth so that she can send it to the Czech Republic; Jesse is literally throwing his dirty money out the window in poor neighborhoods; Skyler is getting greedy* again and wants to open a second car wash. And finally: Marie was wearing yellow during the backyard cookout scene — what’s up with that? It can’t be good, that’s for sure.

To address some of your comments:
*An eagle-eyed friend who likes to taunt me when I am wrong pointed out that Saul did not wear a suit in this episode, but just a really bad shirt and tie. This has been updated.
*No, Walt never saw Gus kneel on the towel. But the writers did and that was in no way an accident.
*Some have noted in the comments that it is Walt, not Skyler pushing to open a second car wash. Perhaps “greedy” was a poor word choice. To clarify, Skyler is getting overconfident in Walt and seems like she is putting too much trust in him, and this choice to open a second car wash will not be a good one for either of them, one would imagine.

Follow Taylor on Twitter