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Commentary: Walter White’s out in new ‘Breaking Bad’ season

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Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), left, and Walter White (Bryan Cranston) in AMC's 'Breaking Bad.' Credit: Courtesy of MCT

Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), left, and Walter White (Bryan Cranston) in AMC’s ‘Breaking Bad.’ Credit: Courtesy of MCT

Walt is out.

Or at least, he thought he was.

For the ex-high school chemistry teacher, cancer patient and astute family man, being out of the meth game could only be a dream come true. It seemed like things were finally smooth sailing for the secret criminal mastermind Walter White (Bryan Cranston). That is until AMC dropped a bomb with their midseason premiere of “Breaking Bad” Aug. 11.

For a hardcore “Breaking Bad” fan like myself, the episode was everything I could have asked for.

Hank Schrader (Dean Norris), Walt’s brother-in-law and Drug Enforcement Administration agent, has finally connected the dots. For four and a half seasons, the show has been a game of cat and mouse between Walt and Hank, with Walt always being one step ahead. Hank is overly persistent, hard-headed and, most importantly, though, patient.

Viewers have been watching idly as the two have family dinners together, swap stories and joke around. Hank has always been there for Walt, even baby-sitting his kids for a month, and Walt has helped Hank through rough times. We’ve all been waiting for one slip-up on Walt’s end to set Hank snapping at Walt’s heels, and lo and behold that slip-up finally came in the form of a toilet-side book.

The two confront each other one-on-one in arguably the most tense scene in the show’s history. No one yells, only one punch is thrown and each choose their words with exact precision.

Hank knows Walt’s secret, and he is coming after Walt. So much for being out of the game.

So, “Breaking Bad” fans, where does the show go from here? It is clear the characters are getting their ducks in a row, tying up loose ends and pulling out all the stops. It begs to question the reality of family continuity. On the surface, Walt and Hank seem like best friends, but their relationship is turned upside down in the blink of an eye.

The cryptic flash-forward introduction, a technique the show has used in the past, also probed my brain with questions. Set a year in the future, it depicts an entirely different Walt returning home to his abandoned house. It is quite clear that something bad had happened, with graffiti and trash everywhere, appliances gone and not a single family member in sight. “HEISENBERG” is spray-painted across a wall clear as day, an obvious hint that somehow Walt’s drug-producing alter ego was exposed, but how?

Being a show that is no stranger to surprises, anything could be hiding around the corner for Walt. So many questions are raised, with not a single clear ending in sight. Does Hank put aside all family loyalty, and pursue Walt full force? Does Walt’s family stand by his side despite the truth unveiled? What about Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), Walt’s former partner in crime? Will he put aside his drug addiction and come to his senses? Will Walt’s cancer spring back in stride, knocking everyone’s plans out of motion? What about Walt himself? He always seems to be one step ahead, and returning home to retrieve the ricin poison could prove to be his victory or downfall.

Audiences can kick back and watch this RV-filled drama drive off into the sunset, or maybe stutter and topple over before it gets there.

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