Are we about to be given additional proof that oranges are never a good sign?
Late in last night’s second half of season 5 premeire episode of Breaking Bad, there is an exchange between brothers-in-law Hank and Walt in which Hank, fresh off finally figuring out the true identity of Heisenberg, tells Walt that he doesn’t even know who Walt is any more. Walt’s response is simple and direct: “Then maybe your best course is to tread lightly” (the stand off between Walt and Hank made me think about the Friends episode where Phoebe and Rachel are playing a game of chicken with Monica and Chandler, trying to get them to admit they are sleeping together, and you have the classic lines including, “they don’t know that we know they know we know”).
We learned much in this 1 hour of television. Much about Walt, and his future. Much about Hank and his reaction to learning his Heisenberg monster was quite literally right under his nose the entire time (much as Gus Fring was under the nose of ASAC Merkert). We again saw the impact of the last year and few months on Jesse Pinkman’s psyche. But let’s go back to the beginning (in this case, the future).
For the premeire of season 5, we saw got a glimpse of Walt in the future, presumably on his 52nd birthday, alone in a Denny’s, full head of hair and a beautiful beard, coughing and taking meds, and buying an automatic machine gun off Jim Beaver. We finally got another look at future Walt after Denny’s and the guns, and his behavior, at least for me, was sort of strange. Why is Walt so casually returning to the White house? I understand that he wants to retrieve his ricin (for what purpose, who knows?), but his actions in doing so were so casual. He just drives and parks in front of the driveway, and walks right in, presumably without a care in the world. When he exits, he even hilariously says hello to his neighbor, who is obviously mortified of Walt and drops her groceries, namely, her oranges (if you don’t know the history of oranges and their meaning in film and TV, I suggest you Google it now).
The mental state of Jesse is another fascinating part of this hour. Walt does his best to convince Jesse that all is well in the world, especially now that he is out too (Walt says that he’s been out for about a month, combine that with the 3 month montage of meth making in “Gliding Over All,” we are about 4 months passed his 51st birthday, and 8 months from the events of the teaser). But Jesse isn’t buying what he’s selling, particularly Walt’s attempts to convince him that Mike is alive and well (we always talk about how great of a liar Walter White is, but surely no one expects Jesse to believe the stories with the performance of Walt in that scene?), to the point that Jesse has to get rid of this money, and if Walt and Saul won’t let him give it away to Mike’s grandaughter and Todd’s murder victim’s family, he’s going to drive to the ghetto of ABQ and play Robin Hood.
Gilligan and Co. could have let many of these things linger on for weeks and weeks, but that’s not the way they operate this tale. Gilligan has his story, a limited amount of time to finish it, and wastes no time getting right to it. So much is answered here, but many questions remain. What happened to cause the White house to be in the state we see it in the teaser? Where are Skyler and the kids? How close is Walt to death? Where is Jesse? And most importantly, how does it all end? Hopefully it ends with the coming to life of Badger’s Star Trek script (his heavy inclusion of Chekhov must have meaning, as much as Gilligan and those who discuss and dissect this show talk about Chekhov’s TV tropes).
Breaking Bad is a show looking into the very nature of humanity, of good and evil and our notions of morality. When we met all of these people roughly 16 months ago in their lives, Walter White was a normal, if not weak and boring, family man, father and husband. Jesse Pinkman was a petty criminal and addict. Over the course of the months we’ve seen in these people’s lives, we’ve seen what becomes of them, and just how quickly pride and ego can turn a man who has been stepped on his entire life into a man so dark, dangerous and deceptive that his own brother-in-law can hope for a cancer striken death.
Walt is out on an island, with his own brother-in-law hunting him down and his former partner disillusioned with him (Jesse has a strong hatred for Walt and still doesn’t even know about so much, including Jane’s death and Brock’s poisoning). Walt’s world is going to continue closing in on him, and we are all going to be the beneficiaries of it. These last days are so conflicting. While I can’t wait to see these last 7 episodes, we have to try to savor every second of this all time great television series.