THR Story: ‘Breaking Bad’ Deconstruction: Ep. 9: ‘Blood Money’
It’s Hank vs. Walt — unless it’s not. A brilliant beginning gets everyone riled up, but let’s be careful about guessing how it ends.
Because we’re only at the beginning of the end.
We are at the point in evaluating the brilliance of Breaking Bad where sometimes the simplicity of actually watching it — the visceral thrill we get from it — gets forgotten in the analysis. So let’s go here for a second: That last scene, that last sentence, was the kind of cinematic television moment that pays off enormously. It was deliriously fun. It was goose-bump inducing, let’s-do-this!, pumped-up-kicks kind of hysteria that was like a shot of adrenaline directly into the heart.
That moment offset a number of bigger issues, of course. Chief among them is Jesse’s unrelenting guilt about the aforementioned blood money. He’s in a spiral. All the hell that the former fun-loving, completely clueless Cap’N Cook didn’t know was coming has now left him nearly comatose. He’s killed a man, he’s witnessed the murder of a child (and the near death of another). He’s had friends die. He’s had the love of his recovering life (gone wrong) die. Jesse has, in short, suffered all the soul-crushing, life-sucking depression that Walt seems to dance over. And as we watch Jesse’s complete inability to deal with the riches that have come his way, as we watch him and know that he’d give anything to wish it all away, it’s clear that series creator Vince Gilligan is using him as the anti-Walt.
You know Walt. He’s the man who broke bad for a defensible but ill-advised reason — to leave something to his family — after cancer looked to be cutting his squandered, unlucky life short. Who is that Walt? He’s the one who was Mr. Chips and is now beyond Scarface, the man who can rationalize anything at this point — an empire created at all costs and a desire to retire, finally, and live the good life.
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