Blood Money (Breaking Bad)
|Breaking Bad episode|
|Episode no.||Season 5|
|Directed by||Bryan Cranston|
|Written by||Peter Gould|
|Featured music||"Wordmule" by Jim White|
"If I Didn't Love You" by
|Original air date||August 11, 2013|
|Running time||47 minutes|
"Blood Money" is the ninth episode of the fifth season of the American television drama series Breaking Bad, and the 55th overall episode of the series. Written by Peter Gould and directed by Bryan Cranston, it aired on AMC in the United States and Canada on August 11, 2013 as the mid-season premiere.
The episode received high critical acclaim, with critics praising the flashforward scene in the beginning, the ending scene and the performances from Bryan Cranston and Dean Norris. For his performance in the episode, Norris was called "Performer of the Week" by TVLine.
In a flashforward, a 52-year-old Walter White arrives at his abandoned and fenced off house, following the events of "Live Free or Die". Walt enters and sees "HEISENBERG" spray-painted on the living room wall. Observing the house's dilapidated state, which includes a group of teenagers using his emptied pool to skateboard, he retrieves the hidden vial of ricin from his bedroom. As he leaves he greets his former neighbor, Carol, who is shocked by his presence.
In the present, Hank Schrader reels from finding Gale Boetticher's handwritten dedication found in Walt's copy of Leaves of Grass, finally realizing that Walt, his brother-in-law, was Heisenberg all along. After excusing himself and his wife Marie from the party at Walt's house, Hank swerves his car off the road on the way home while suffering a panic attack. Hank feigns an illness to work from home and takes the opportunity to review case files on Heisenberg and Gus Fring. Hank links people, events, and circumstances, as well as matching the handwriting in the Leaves of Grass dedication with that of the bullet points from Gale's lab notebook, to confirm that Walt is Heisenberg.
Walt, who has left the meth business, discusses ways to launder his drug money faster with his wife Skyler, with expansion of their car wash business as an aim. Lydia shows up at the car wash looking distressed and pleads for Walt to return, as the quality of the meth since his retirement has fallen below acceptable standards, jeopardizing their deal. However, Walt dismisses her and Skyler warns her never to come back. It is later revealed that Walt's cancer has returned, but he keeps this from his family and undergoes chemotherapy again.
Meanwhile, Jesse Pinkman feels guilty over his role in Walt's meth business, and is particularly distraught over the deaths of Drew Sharp and (he assumes) Mike Ehrmantraut. He gives all the money he received from Walt to Saul Goodman and asks him to deliver it to Mike's granddaughter and Drew's family. Saul refuses, advising it would raise suspicions, and reports this to Walt. Walt visits Jesse to return his money and lies to him, telling him that Mike is probably still alive somewhere and doesn't need help taking care of his granddaughter. Jesse is still distressed and later gives a $10,000 bundle to a homeless man. He then drives through a neighborhood throwing more bundles of cash onto front lawns.
In his bathroom, Walt finds his copy of Leaves of Grass missing. Alarmed at the coincidental timing of Hank's apparent illness, his suspicions are deepened when he discovers a GPS tracker on his car. He shows up at Hank's garage to ask about the tracker. An enraged Hank punches Walt and accuses him of being Heisenberg, which Walt neither confirms nor denies. Walt tells Hank that he would have difficulty proving he is Heisenberg, and even if he did his cancer will probably kill him before he can be jailed. Hank demands Walt leave his children in Hank’s care before he will consider Walt's argument, but is refused. Hank utters that he does not know him anymore, to which Walt replies, "If that's true, if you don't know who I am, then maybe your best course would be to tread lightly."
The episode is dedicated to Kevin Cordasco, a sixteen-year-old fan of Breaking Bad who had met several members of the series' cast and crew; Cordasco died earlier in 2013 from neuroblastoma. This was the fourth dedication in the history of the series.
The term "blood money" is a double entendre: it means money obtained at the cost of another's life as well as money paid to the family of a person who has been killed, usually by the killer or the killer's clan.
References to other media
In the opening flashforward scene, Walt is seen by his former neighbor Carol, who drops a bag of oranges (which spill and roll across the ground) in fear. Some critics interpret this as a reference to The Godfather, in which oranges represent death. For example, in one scene of The Godfather, after Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) is shot, he drops a bag of oranges, which subsequently roll across the ground.
References to past episodes
"Blood Money" contains several other continuity references to past episodes. Hank's montage, in which he investigates the revelation that Walt is Heisenberg, sees him looking through old case files and pictures. These reference Gus Fring, Gale Boetticher and his notebook ("Bullet Points"), Dennis Markowski, Jesse's car in Seasons 1 and 2, the bullet-ridden car from his shoot-out with Tuco Salamanca ("Grilled"), Hector Salamanca, Mike Ehrmantraut, Duane Chow ("Full Measure"/"Madrigal"), Ron Forenall, Tyrus Kitt, Gonzo and No-Doze's corpses ("Grilled"), the gas mask Walt took from the school he worked at, Walt and Jesse stealing a barrel of methylamine ("A No-Rough-Stuff-Type Deal"), the burned lab ("Live Free or Die"), and finally, the Heisenberg drawing ("No Más"). When Hank confronts Walt about his identity, he mentions Walt's purposefully crashing the car on their way to Fring's laundromat ("Crawl Space"), killing the imprisoned members of Fring's drug empire ("Gliding Over All"), calling him about Marie to distract him from Jesse and the RV ("Sunset"), and bombing a nursing home ("Face Off").
Walt also acts like Gus in some scenes. His conversation with Lydia at the car wash references Walt and Gus' earlier conversations at Los Pollos Hermanos, with Walt's role being reversed. In another scene, Walt goes to the bathroom to vomit, turning the sink on to mask the noise and laying a towel down on the floor to kneel on, just as Gus had done in "Salud". Hank's neighbor's son's remote controlled car ("Seven Thirty-Seven") also makes an appearance. The GPS tracker Hank places under Walt's car is the same one he planted on Gus' car in the fourth season. When Jesse opens a pack of cigarettes in front of Huell, Huell seems to remember the ricin-filled cigarette he stole from Jesse in "End Times".
The episode originally aired on August 11, 2013, in the United States and Canada on AMC. It aired the next day in the United Kingdom on the web streaming service Netflix. According to the Nielsen ratings system, "Blood Money" was watched in the United States by an estimated 5.92 million viewers, the most in series history at the time.
Seth Amitin of IGN called the episode a satisfying preparation and set-up for the endgame of the series. Amitin also praised the confrontation at the end between Walt and Hank and the tense dialogue that fueled it. "Blood Money was an amalgamation of a bunch of little things to love."
Mark Berman of The Washington Post said the episode paid off plot points set up in previous episodes while simultaneously laying groundwork for future episodes. Berman was also surprised at how much ground was covered in Hank's plotline in just one episode.
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