|Breaking Bad fan art by Alexander Iccarino|
So Hank knows. Now he's got to prove it, and now I get to play around with what may happen between Hank's toilet-seat-revelation and the cold open to "Live Free or Die" (5.01). As he leaves a $100 tip for his free breakfast at Denny's we see the 52 year-old Walt with a New Hampshire driver's licence and apparently a whole new identity to go with it. If he really has left Duke City and started a new life, it's likely that Hank's investigation drove him to it. Why he's come back and bought an M60, is still a complete and utter mystery, but let's stick with how Hank may start to crack the Heisenberg case.
The obvious place to start is Jesse. All the way back in Season 1 Jesse's name started coming up in connection with Walt (as his pot dealer, no less!), and it was while chasing down Jesse during his search for the missing Walt that Hank had his deadly encounter with Tuco Salamanca in "Grilled" (2.02). Further, who can forget Hank's cornering of Jesse (and unknowingly, Walt) in the RV at Old Joe's junkyard in "Sunset" (3.06)? And Hank knows all too well where Jesse lives. Of course, Hank himself can't easily approach Jesse, not officially, not after putting him into the hospital in "One Minute" (3.07). On the flip side, Hank's now the ASAC in charge of the Albuquerque DEA office, so he's got the juice to get a deep investigation going - assuming he can justify the expense to his superiors. Unknown to Hank, of course, is that Jesse and Walt are out of the business. Even extended stake-outs are unlikely to reveal any illegal activity at this point.
Assuming Walt can stay out. He new distribution partner, Declan, doesn't seem like the type to walk away from the kind of money he's been making with Walt over the past few months, and Lydia is not exactly the most trustworthy partner either. Still, I think Hank will start with Jesse, but I also think Hank will very quickly come to Skyler. Her and Walt's gambling story has got to be looking pretty thin, and of everyone involved, Skyler is the least prepared to notice and evade surveillance. And Hank even knows about Ted. My best guess as to what happens is that Skyler, in order to protect and keep her kids, claims ignorance of the source of Walt's money, claims to have believed the gambling story, and makes Walt take the fall all by himself. Which, after all, he should be more than willing to do if he really has been doing all of this for his family! So Walt goes on the lam with the help of Saul's vacuum cleaner repair guy, and Skyler, with the car wash and who knows what else likely seized by the feds, but helped by Hank and Marie, who's she's managed to convince of her ignorance, lives small with Jr. and Holly. On the other hand, if Hank manages to make Ted crack, or follows Skyler to her secret storage unit, she's in the crapper too.
I suppose Walt and the rest of the family could be in Witness Protection in New Hampshire, but who does he really have to roll on? Jesse, Declan, and Lydia are far smaller fish than Walt himself, after all. No, Walt's in hiding under a new identity when we see him in "Live Free or Die." So what brings him back? Maybe someone is trying to force him to go back into business, likely by threatening his kids, and Walt has returned for a grand, Tony Montoya-esque, finale. It's problematic, though. For one, it makes Walt, ultimately, a good guy, and he's gone too far for that kind of redemption. I think it's more likely that something has pricked Walt's pride and ego, but I can't even hazard a guess. I don't want to count Jesse out either. After all, Walt has killed the love of his life, poisoned Brock, and has generally made the last two plus years of Jesse's life a waking nightmare. Something in me wants Jesse to find out about Jane and Brock and all the rest, and for him to be the reason Walt is back in ABQ with a machine-gun.
I do have one end of series prediction that I still feel confident about: Walter Jr. and Holly wind up living with and being adopted by Hank and Marie, because Walt and Skyler have destroyed the White family, and are either dead, on the run, or in jail. Everything else is way up in the air. Ultimately, we'll have to wait until next year to see what the hell is going on, but if there's one thing I've learned from watching Breaking Bad for five years is that you can never, ever, count on this show to do the expected.
So that's it for this week's Meth Monday. Tune in next Monday for more ramblings, predictions, fan-art, and who-knows-what. In the meantime, be sure to check out my partner K. Dale Koontz's "Walter White Wednesday" post over at Unfettered Brilliance, and check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and even Google+ for all the random BrBa stuff that comes across my screen, as well as a pile of other semi-useful information. See you around!