Well, here we go -- the final eight episodes of one of the greatest series on television.
As a few punks skate around in the pool, a bearded and not-bald Walt pulls up outside of his family's now fenced-off, vandalized home. He grabs a crowbar from his heavily armed trunk, slips through the chain links and opens his front door. He forgets to knock. Glancing at the run-down rooms, he sees Heisenberg scrawled across the wall in yellow. Someone does remember his name.
Pulling change from his pocket, Walt makes his way to his old bedroom, uses a coin to unscrew the electrical outlet, and retrieves what I thought was the ricin cigarette. Upon further review, however, seems to be something else. (UPDATE: After a third viewing, it's the ricin vial.)
When Walt leaves the house, he encounters his neighbor. "Hello, Carol," he says ominously. Carol just stares at him with a horrified look on her face. She drops the grocery bag she held in her hands. Oranges roll out onto the ground. And as we all know -- oranges signal death. But Carol's? Or Walt's?
Although we can safely assume this flash-forward takes place after Walt's 52nd birthday at the beginning of the fifth season, how much time has passed since remains to be seen. (We could compare hair-growth, but maybe on-the-run-meth-kingpins often take time out for grooming?) And why would Walt go back to Albuquerque? Clearly, people know who he is, and that he lived there. Why take the chance of being caught? Unless he wants to be.
The scene dissolves into the opening credits, and we're back where we left off. Hank in the master bathroom, absolutely stunned at his discovery that his brother-in-law is the elusive Heisenberg. Hank stumbles out onto the patio, where he hears Marie playfully telling Walt: "You are the devil." If she only knew.
Hank begs off the happy family reunion, dragging Marie with him. In a panic-attack state, Hanks ends up driving his car into a mailbox. When they're back home after a three-hour ER visit, Hank refuses Marie's attempts to get more medical care and heads straight for his garage. Pulling out Gale Boetticher's file, he compares the handwriting in Gale's journals to the handwriting in Walt's copy of Leaves of Grass. While I'm not sure if Hank's DEA training included handwriting analysis, it's clear to him -- as it already was to us -- Gale wrote the note in Walt's book.
Why did Walt keep that key piece of evidence in a place where anyone could find it? Is it his hubris? Does he like keeping tokens of his victims? Will we find out later that he has a vial of Jane's vomit stored in the freezer?
Meanwhile, Walt does his best impression of a guy who runs a car wash, discussing the placement of air-fresheners with his wife. (For the record, pine is their best-seller.) He impresses upon Skyler that their cover story is the most important thing. "What do successful car wash owners do? They buy more car washes," he tells her. Skyler, making the most of her predicament, acknowledges that she likes the location of another car wash. Reluctant power looks good on her.
NEXT: A familiar face returns