THE PERFORMER | Dean Norris
THE SHOW | Breaking Bad
THE EPISODE | “Blood Money”
THE AIRDATE | Aug. 11, 2013
THE PERFORMANCE | Take a minute, Breaking Bad fans, and think back to the series’ pilot. Remember what an unapologetic blowhard Dean Norris’ Hank was? Flashing his gun at a family party, giving Walt a birthday toast that seemed more like a put-down, flipping the bird with abandon – you’re telling us this guy would be the one to unmask the mighty Heisenberg?
But that was before time, circumstance, physical injury and Norris’ immense talent made Hank into the wiser, more cautious man he is in the AMC drama’s current season. So when Walt shows up at Hank’s garage and the two men finally face the truth between them, Norris’ character is someone you truly want to see win.
“All along it was you!” Hank screams at Walt, Norris’ eyes full of an angry sadness. As Hank grits out a partial litany of Heisenberg’s heinous crimes, Norris gazes upon his character’s brother-in-law as though he’s never seen him before — because he hasn’t, not really. Norris plays Hank’s dazed realization with a very believable mix of “is this actually happening?” and “how did I miss this all along?,” manifested in the wary way he can’t take his eyes off co-star Bryan Cranston. It’s mesmerizing.
Forget Walt’s “tread lightly” threat at the end of the scene – our shivers start when Hank whispers, “I don’t know who you are. I don’t even know who I’m talking to.” Norris expertly broadcasts his character’s betrayal loud and clear: These men were good friends, and Hank can’t believe he’s been played by someone he loves. If the intensity of Norris’ portrayal is a portent of things to come… Walt, watch your back.