Strap on your gas masks. It’s time for Walter White to get to work again.
When “Breaking Bad” began, Walt was a chemistry teacher who just wanted to get his family squared away before terminal cancer ran its course. With a baby on the way and nothing to lose, he grabbed some vials and beakers, paired up with a reckless ex-student and changed the meth scene in New Mexico from a rickety RV.
Now Walt’s disease is in remission, but evil is blooming inside him. Crime hasn’t paid — the duffels of cash have kept him out of jail and the morgue, but that’s about it. He had to assassinate his boss and destroy his lab. Tweakers still can’t get enough of Walter White’s blue-tinted “glass,” and as the smoke from Season 4 settles, the players in Walt’s slapdash inner circle are dealing with the murder of kingpin Gus Fring in their own ways.
Here’s a recap and a look at how major players of this fifth season are dividing up the five stages of grief.R.I.P., Gustavo Fring
Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) had to go. The Southwest’s biggest meth distributor was going to end Walt sooner and Walt’s partner later, probably without arching an eyebrow. So when Walt took him out, certain people were understandably relieved. But here’s the thing about Fring: He had a string of fast-food chicken joints to use as a front and millions in cash to motivate talented newbies, not to mention the lab. Fring’s laundry business concealed a gleaming aluminum kitchen where Walt could perfect his Iron Chef routine under the watchful eye of Fring’s goons and cameras. Hey, where was that video feed going, anyway? Uh-oh.Denial
Walter White (Bryan Cranston)
Oh, Walter feels good these days. Since his bomb took out Fring, he’s feeling confident, but not satisfied. Walt’s lawyer, Saul (Bob Odenkirk), suggests that Walt’s recent run of luck might be a sign to call it quits, “a winning lottery ticket.”
Almost completely surrendered to his ruthless alter ego Heisenberg, Walt hisses, “What lottery did I win, exactly?” Walt’s in the hole financially, which is convenient, because his self-destructive need to be the smartest guy in the room applies to his new career, too. But when he declares he’s not at “an acceptable stopping point,” it’s hard to disagree. This crew has been through a lot to not even break even. And the market is wide open.
Walt sees all that. What he doesn’t see is how close the DEA is, how close his partner is to snapping, how his wife flinches from his touch. How he has failed in the past and can fail again.Anger
Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks)
Mike never liked Walt. And the droll, deadly cleanup man doesn’t appreciate being jobless. Fring’s former fixer has no boss but still has a list of fires to put out. The power vacuum has the organization in a panic, transforming him from the guy who ties up loose ends into a loose end himself. Even when he’s not ready to brain him, Mike considers Walt a ticking time bomb. As the Fring fallout pushes them together, Mike’s networking abilities and collection of silencers will come in handy. But overall, he’s a little upset with Walt right now.Bargaining
Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul)
Jesse is brokering deals everywhere just to stay afloat. Not only does he have to keep Mike from killing Walt, he has to persuade the men to work together to stay out of handcuffs. Guilt, self-hatred and addiction cloud his judgment. His trust in his old teacher, “Mr. White,” is built on lies: He doesn’t know Walt watched his girlfriend die without helping. He doesn’t know Walt poisoned a little boy to manipulate him. If he ever finds out just how much misery his partner has rained down on him, it will mean the end of Team Heisenberg.Depression
Hank Schrader (Dean Norris)
The DEA job gets to Hank, but he’s hanging in there. Walt’s brother-in-law has survived panic attacks, exploding turtles, paralyzing gunshot wounds, a car crash and a bout of ill-advised rock collecting. After all that, Hank was bound to get down in the dumps. He was so hard on his wife, Marie (Betsy Brandt), that her kleptomania flared up again.
But now Hank knows he was right to suspect Fring, and he’s got that bloodhound look in his eyes as he wades through the debris of Walt’s factory. He’s a blowhard, but you don’t want your name on Hank’s notepad.Acceptance
Skyler White (Anna Gunn)
It’s understandable that Walt’s wife sometimes needs a refresher course in her new normal. Skyler’s life has been a roller coaster for the past year, taking her from blissful ignorance to money laundering. Walt’s “Iam the danger” speech last season hit her hard. But his defiant “I won” after Fring’s killing knocked the wind out of her all over again. Skyler may have seen enough for a while, but she’s having trouble putting her blinders back on. She’s not married to Dr. Jekyll anymore. She’s Mrs. Hyde.