When Breaking Bad returned for the second half of its final season back in August, everyone seemed to have a pretty good idea of how the Walt-Hank story line would unfold. Still reeling from that bathroom-reading revelation in the midseason finale that Walt (Bryan Cranston) was actually the crystal meth kingpin that he’d been tracking, Hank (Dean Norris) would methodically plot to take down his brother-in-law over the next few episodes before some sort of showdown occurred toward the end of the season.
Everyone was wrong.
Instead, in the season 5.2 premiere, Hank wound up confronting (and cold-cocking) Walt in a scene bristling with tension and dread — one of the signature moments of the final season, which gave us Walt’s chilling advice to Hank to “tread lightly.” Make no mistake, this plot development took the actors by surprise as well. “My assumption was that they were going to play with that for awhile,” Cranston told EW earlier this year. “Then in the very first episode, we find out that each other knows and it’s like ‘Oh my god.’ The tension is ratcheted up right from the get-go, and then he doesn’t let go of it.’”
It’s an all-time favorite Bad moment for Norris, who recalled the process of shooting that scene with Cranston thusly: “We went through a phase where we’re a lot more violent, the first time we did it in rehearsal. And I’m glad we did because we needed to get that out. A lot of that stayed in there in the background, even in the final way that we did it. But as we rehearsed it, we found a different groove. What came to me more as we worked on it was that it was hurt and betrayal, as opposed to anger. I mean, anger was there and rage was there. But it’s the betrayal of your brother. Because in our show, Hank doesn’t have any other family. He has no kids. All he has is Marie. [Walt] is my brother, even though he’s not my blood brother. And I started realizing that betrayal in a way that was the thing that hurt most. ” He adds with a laugh: “Other than him being a psychopathic criminal.”
A camera crew that was chronicling the show’s behind-the-scenes action filmed the filming of this moment, which you can preview below. It’s part of the two-plus-hour documentary about the making of the final eight episodes that appears on Breaking Bad: The Complete Series (Nov. 26, Blu-ray). Take a deep breath, click on the video and, you know, proceed cautiously.