What if Hank Already Knows about Walt?

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“What if Hank Knows?”

Warning: this article contains spoilers.

In “Hazard Pay” (episode 503), Assistant Special Agent in Charge Merkert (Michael Shamus Wiles) talks to Hank and Gomey about how he never suspected that Gus Fring was a meth kingpin. Merkert is about to take a forced early retirement, and laments that he can’t believe that Fring was someone else completely, right in front of him.

That line seems to resonate particularly profoundly with Hank, who we know isn’t entirely convinced that Heisenberg is dead. We’re all expecting a Hank-Walt showdown at some point in season 5. Count me in that camp, but I can’t help but wonder: What if Hank has already connected the dots? What if he has already figured out that Walt is Heisenberg? Perhaps Hank is just collecting more evidence, looking to make his case air-tight against Mike, Jesse, and others involved in Fring’s operations.

The Evidence

Remember that Breaking Bad has taken place over the course of a single year and change. During that time, Walt has continued to walk between the raindrops, to some extent aided by Skyler. Well, he can’t count on her silence anymore. It’s looking less and less likely that she will keep spinning things and keeping up appearances. In fact, as we see in the preview from next week’s episode, Skyler may be on the verge of flat-out giving Walt up. And we know that Marie has a big mouth.

Regardless of Skyler’s actions (or inactions), Hank continues to zero in on Heisenberg. (It remains to be seen how or if Hank’s new job as ASAC takes him away from the day-to-day responsibilities of his cases). In “Dead Freight” (episode 505), Walt ostensibly breaks down over Skyler and the state of his marriage. As Walt cries, Hank predictably gets uncomfortable, shutting the blinds on two of the windows in his office and leaving to get Hank a cup of coffee. It appears as if Walt’s doing the manipulating, as he hurriedly plants bugs in his brother-in-law’s office. But remember that that third blind remained opened. What if Hank was actually watching Walt? What if he knew that Walt was listening to his calls?

Hank has more than once stumbled across would-be clues that would ostensibly implicate Walt. Case in point: Walt’s sloppy inventory of high school chemistry equipment. And let’s not forget Gale’s notebook with the “WW” inscription. In “Dead Freight”, Hank notices Walt’s extravagant new watch and even comments on it.

To be sure, we’ve underestimated Hank before. Even while confined to his bed, he’s able to make progress on the Heisenberg case. In “One Minute” (episode 307), even while shot by the Brothers Salamanca, Hank is able to pick up a shell, load his gun, and fire a single bullet into the head of his ax-bearing attacker.

What if Hank is playing Walt–not vice-versa?


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Phil Simon is a sought-after speaker and the author of four management books. His fourth, the award-winning The Age of the Platform, is his most ambitious yet. A recognized technology expert, he consults companies on how to optimize their use of technology. His contributions have been featured on NBC, CNBC, Inc. Magazine, BusinessWeek, The Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, Fast Company, The New York Times, ReadWriteWeb, and many other sites.


  1. katy says:

    what’s a Hank Walk?

  2. Susana says:

    Another correction: I think you meant the third blind was left open. And yes, viewers have likely all underestimated Hank.

    • admin says:

      @ Susana- thanks, never would have noticed that one. I think you’re right about Hank being underestimated.

      At the same time though he is acting kind of full of himself when he was talking to the baby about how he’s the boss.

      Hank & Walt both have a case of ego lately

  3. José says:

    Yes… I sure he now. After all the way he look at Walt.

  4. michelle says:

    I rewatched and didn’t see a third blind open? He closed two windows but the third in the back already had the blinds closed.

  5. michelle says:

    scratch my previous comment. I can see the blinds in the back are partially open.

  6. Jim says:

    Nah. I know Hank is incredibly perceptive, but I don’t think he suspects Walt just yet. He’s getting there – he noticed the new watch and the new car.

    I believe the showdown is going to happen between Jessie and Hank. Jessie just saw another kid killed. He can’t go on; he can’t stand kids getting hurt. And don’t forget the Lilly of the Valley plants at Walt’s.

  7. Jon says:

    I think when Hank starts to suspect Walt, we’ll see it. We’ve spent too much time with Hank for such a turn to take place off screen.

  8. Jason says:

    I see Hank letting Walt know that he knows and trying to give him a chance.

    I think that an important line was when Hank told Flynn that he rented “Heat.”

    Heat has perhaps one of the best dramatic scenes in crime drama history with Al Pacino and Robert De Niro sitting at a coffee shop. Al is the cop and he knows what the crook is doing. It’s just two guys on opposite sides communicating as human beings.

    Here’s the scene:

  9. Bower says:

    Walt and Skyler paid all of Hanks medical bills. We can’t forget that.

  10. Lisa Lane says:

    Interesting commentary. I hadn’t considered the possibility that Hank might already suspect Walt, but he is a top-notch detective who has been ahead of the game throughout the series. I can’t to see how it all plays out.

  11. matt says:

    what about when Hank rescued Walt in the desert when they were being held by Tuco?? season2 opener
    he was looking for Walt and instead found a drug hitman/dealer yielding an automatic rifle… coincidence?? Hank shot an dkilled him with Walt hiding in a ditch yards away.
    Walt snuck off but Jesse’s car was left behind… right??
    Walt claimed a fuge state when he turned up from being missing…this is huge!

    Hank looking for a disappeared Walt lead him into the middle of nowhere where he found a rampaging shooting drug dealer and shot him and was promoted for it! BUT he wasnt following a work lead yet looking for Walt – he also identified Walt and Jesses ties!!


    • Cratered says:

      Great analysis. All of this stuff sticks in Hank’s subconscious at worst – I was impressed by his finding and questioning why Gus Fring’s fingerprints were found at the scene of Gayle Bettinger’s murder. Hank is holding back, waiting for something, we will see.

  12. Mary says:

    I still think that when hank received the call that Marie was in the hospital when he was trying to get into the rv should have tipped him big time, the person who called knew hank well enough to know his personal cell phone number, would know Marie’s name and would call exactly when he was uncovering a meth lab.

  13. Cindy says:

    I think Hank in the end LOVES Walt too much for there to ever be a confrontation, ever!!

    • Bob says:

      This has to figure large in Hank’s decision over his course of action towards Walt, Cindy. I think you’re spot on.

  14. Nahom says:

    Here’s the thing with the watch and car theory…….as many of you’ve recalled skylar covered the bases with the money issue with a fake gambling problem even going as far as having Saul pay off a guy to say he’s seen walt gambling at his establishment…..what’s to stop them from assuming the extravagant gifts as walt gambling again?

  15. Lisa says:

    Lovely analysis, Phil!

  16. Bob says:

    I have re-watched the entire series twice in the last month, and something jumped out at me in the Season 4 finale when Walt and Jesse meet on the rooftop after Gus is dead and Brock is on the upswing from the Lily of the Valley berry poisoning. There’s a few seconds where Walt and Jesse are filmed from the level below the roof, and if you watch it and listen closely, you can hear some breathing. Someone spying on them? The second time I watched, it seemed even more pronounced to me. Someone else knows what went down (or else it was a huge gaffe with a cameraman huffing and puffing). I have no idea who. Hank? Maybe?

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