After what felt like forever, Breaking Bad finally, finally came back. What a treat! And based on its teasing reveals, it gives viewers an opportunity to bust out some theories about where the show's final episodes are heading. Who will live? Who will die? And how much ricin does one guy need? In the wake of last night's season premiere, a few new theories have presented themselves. [This post contains info about "Blood Money" but only speculation (and not actual spoilers) about future episodes.]
Theory 1: Walt faked his own death.
In the flash-forward opening segment, we see Walt return to his destroyed home. (Destroyed by whom? Someone not savvy enough to strip outlet covers. Surely the DEA would know to do that, no?) Someone has spray-painted Heisenberg on the wall, indicating that Walt's secret identity is not so secret in the future; this makes it hard to picture him as a free man, wandering the nation eating at Denny's and buying machine guns that come with instruction manuals. Walt's tried to escape before, with the help of the vacuum repair man, and maybe this time he really went for it, convincingly faking his own death so he doesn't have to look over his shoulder the rest of his life. When neighbor Carol drops her bag of oranges, it's not just from fear of her neighbor the murderer — maybe she's seeing someone she thought was dead. No one will believe her, so Walt has nothing to fear.
Theory 2: Skyler is going to break bad, too,
Color is big on Breaking Bad, and usually Skyler's costumes are blue. (Just picture her walking into the pool with her flowy blue skirt billowing around her.) But in the scene at the car wash, Skyler's wearing beiges and neutrals, as is Walt. They talk, seemingly amicably, about expanding their business — their money-laundering business, that is. Moments later, Skyler realizes something is fishy about Lydia getting a rental car washed, and marches over to the Madrigal exec and intimidates her. In just a few shots, then, we've seen Skyler reassociate herself with Walt, visually and financially, and then channel his dark side by being tuned into what's amiss and feeling totally empowered to tower over and glare at an unwanted person. She's poised to learn what Walt has learned, which is that power and pride become endlessly desirable, and, not unlike meth, once you have a little, you want a lot. All the time. She'll launder blood money. She'll scare off drug associates. Maybe she'll be the one who knocks.
Theory 3: Walt is about to get back in the meth game.
When he gets to the Schraders', Walt sort of marvels that Hank's employees have brought him box after box of files. "The perks of being the boss, huh?" he says. You can practically see the outline of the words he doesn't say: I was the boss once, too. Walt is hugely — maniacally — proud of his meth-cooking skills, and when Lydia showed up at the car wash and presented him with the opportunity both to remind everyone of his prowess and to re-teach Todd (or whomever) his techniques, maybe Walt thought for a moment he could blow her off. But he can't. He's too deep in. And consider this possibility: That phone call Walt answered at chemotherapy? Perhaps it only looked like it was coming from Saul.
We see Saul call someone, but that's not the call we see Walt answer. (Saul and Walt obviously speak at some point, but maybe we didn't actually see it.) We never hear both sides of the conversation together, and Walt's demeanor does not match Saul's. "Calm down," Walt says on the phone. Saul seems a little stressed out, sure, but not so much so that he needs to be told to calm down. What if the call Walt answered was from Lydia — someone who perpetually does need to calm down? He says no to her at the car wash, but by then the seed is planted. When she calls, he begrudgingly agrees to some deal on the phone — just dipping his toe back in, just "handling" something. But then as he and Hank have it out in the garage, Walt realizes he doesn't want to give up Heisenberg. The perks of being the boss and all.
Theory 4: Jesse is going to kill himself.
Jesse's been on and off suicide watch since pretty early in the series, and we've seen him sit on the floor and sob many times, just as he was catatonic this week. Let's pair that with another recurring symbol that popped up last night: bugs. Last night a totally demoralized, puffy-eyed Jesse watched a massive cockroach skitter across his coffee table. (Thereby rejecting Hank's life theory that everyone kills roaches. "I mean, you don’t think about it, you stomp them down," he said in season two's "Breakage.") It's a call-back to season two's "Peekaboo," where Jesse spots a beetle on the sidewalk and gingerly picks it up and gazes at. By "Blood Money," he's totally disengaged. In "Peekaboo," Jesse spent time at a squalid junkie den, where he tried to rescue a neglected kid from its filthy circumstances. This week, he's completely haunted by the boy's death he couldn't and didn't prevent. He's not present; he's not observant; he's barely alive as it is. His life is meaningless to him, and in between "Peekaboo" and now, he's had some practice killing some actual bugs. There was the fly in the meth lab, and lest we forget, Jesse and Walt hid among exterminators so they could set up mobile cook-houses. The next time Jesse sees a bug, he is gonna smash it. P.S. He's the bug.