Some may complain that the back half of this season has begun with what amounts to two episodes of table-setting, and perhaps there’s something to that. But part of the show’s intrinsic fascination is in its attentiveness to detail, so we want to know exactly how Hank arrives at his conclusions, or what factors are going to lead Skylar to whatever tack she takes, or precisely what Walt is going to do with all of that money. And, bonus, dealing with that element prompts the welcome return of Bill Burr’s Kuby, along with Lavell Crawford’s Huell (who remarks, before his swan-dive onto the money pile, “I gotta do it, man”). Their brief but funny appearance is another reminder, after Badger’s Star Trek monologue last week, that the show has accumulated quite a deep bench of memorable supporting players in a relatively brief run. And one more reappeared by the end of the episode: good ol’ polite, hard-working, child-killing Todd, whose family connections help him take control of what’s left of the meth-cooking operation, with Lydia’s help. Where exactly this is going remains to be seen, but suffice it to say that if the conclusion of the show were solely about Hank and Walt, they wouldn’t be spending this kind of time on the business associates Walt left behind.
Which brings us to Jesse. Aaron Paul utters not one word of dialogue in the entire episode, and he’s only seen in two scenes—the first that prologue, with its striking image, shot from above, of Jesse spinning away on the playground merry-go-round. When he’s brought back in for questioning about his cash distribution (by the same jovial cops who thought they had him for poisoning Brock back in season four), he greets their inquiries with a total deadpan. But the arrival of Hank, right on the verge of unveiling Heisenberg’s identity (and presumably ending his career), is a giant fire-breathing monster of a moment, because Jesse is so off the rails by this point that their conversation could go in any number of directions.
And that, of course, is where this episode ends, because the world is a cruel place and a week is a very long time.