Unveiling the Moment Hank Discovers Walter Is Heisenberg

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A lifelike replica of Bryan Cranston

Few relationships in the world of fiction captivate audiences quite like the dynamic between brothers-in-law Hank Schrader and Walter White. Over the course of their lives, they shared countless experiences as family members. However, their relationship takes a dramatic turn when White turns to cooking methamphetamine to provide for his family and fund his cancer treatment.

This once close-knit duo soon finds themselves playing a perilous cat-and-mouse game, with Hank as the determined police officer and Walter as the elusive drug lord. But when does the momentous reveal occur? When does Hank finally discover that Walter is the enigmatic Heisenberg?

Discovering the Truth: Hank’s Awakening

Vintage old books on wooden deck table and grunge background

In the eighth episode of the fifth season, aptly titled “The Book of Walt,” the pivotal moment arrives. During the final scene, Hank Schrader stumbles upon a signed copy of “Leaves of Grass.” Inscribed within are the words: “To my other favorite W.W. It’s an honor working with you. Fondly, G.B.”

Previously, in season three, Walter White and Jesse Pinkman orchestrated the murder of Gale Boetticher, a chemist they worked alongside. Some fans argue that leaving the book where it could be discovered by others was a thoughtless move by White. However, others suggest that only Hank would recognize the significance of the inscription.

Despite White’s intelligence and cunning, his arrogance blinds him from considering that his brother-in-law might decipher the true relationship between him and Boetticher. White likely assumed that the book would hold no interest for Hank, who rarely ventured beyond reading magazines.

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Yet, all of Walter White’s efforts to shield his family from his secret identity come crashing down when Hank, during a bathroom break, unravels the lies. After raiding Gale Boetticher’s belongings and finding a notebook referring to White as “W.W.,” Hank presents it to White, joking that the initials stand for Walter White.

Little did Hank know that his jest held an unsettling truth; he had unknowingly been surrounded by the elusive Heisenberg all along.

Hank’s Evidence: Building a Case Against Walter

Man in chemical protection clothes and toned mask in a factory against the background of an industrial workshop looking into the frame.

Hank possesses ample evidence that could send Walter White to prison for his role as a meth manufacturer and distributor. While some might argue that much of the evidence is circumstantial, it is still compelling enough to warrant an arrest.

Hank’s pursuit of Heisenberg begins with his investigation into Krazy-8 and his cousin, Emilio Koyama. Through this investigation, Hank uncovers that Krazy-8 had been a DEA informant, betraying his competitors and luring their clientele at the right price.

Further digging reveals that Jesse Pinkman, known as “Captain Cook” at the time, worked with Walter White. While searching Krazy-8’s vehicle, Hank finds a gas mask pilfered from the high school chemistry class that Walter taught. Subsequently, a search of the chemistry classroom’s storage closet uncovers missing equipment such as beakers.

During this investigation, Hank jokingly suggests that suspicion is falling on Walter as the equipment thief. In a surprising turn, Hank arrests the janitor after discovering a small amount of marijuana in his car.

Hank’s efforts also lead him to Tuco Salamanca, where he finds someone willing to betray Heisenberg and sell Blue Sky to an undercover officer. Walter White, in collaboration with Saul Goodman, orchestrates a plan involving James Edward Kilkelly to take the fall.

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However, Hank’s most compelling pieces of evidence are the signed copy of “Leaves of Grass” and Gale Boetticher’s notebook. Although not direct, circumstantial evidence can be convincing enough to sway a jury.

Unfortunately, before he can bring Walter to justice, Hank’s life is tragically cut short.

The Fate of Hank Schrader: A Season-One Twist

Blank gravestone with other graves and trees in background. Old stone.

Indeed, Hank Schrader’s fate hung in the balance during the first season of Breaking Bad. According to creator Vince Gilligan, Hank was originally slated to die in one of the final two episodes of the first season. However, due to the 2008 writers’ strike, production nearly ground to a halt.

As a result, the first season concluded with seven episodes instead of the planned nine, and various plot points were altered. Gilligan believed that the show needed all the drama it could muster to captivate its viewers.

Unbeknownst to the production team, this change led to an even more dramatic narrative by keeping Hank alive. Throughout the series, Hank remains a constant presence, casting a long shadow over his drug-lord brother-in-law.

Hank’s journey ultimately extends until the thirteenth episode of the fifth season, titled “To’hajiilee.” After Jesse Pinkman betrays Walter White to Hank and his partner, the two set up an elaborate plan to apprehend him.

With a neo-Nazi group present to protect White, Hank reads him his rights and prepares to load him into his vehicle. However, tragedy strikes as Hank is shot in the leg and witnesses the brutal death of his longtime partner.

As Hank crawls desperately through the dust, he locks eyes with his executioner, Jack Welker, before being fatally shot once more.

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The Toll of Trauma: Does Hank Suffer from PTSD?

PTSD Post Traumatic Stress written on the puzzle.

Dean Norris, the actor who portrays Hank Schrader, reveals that the Breaking Bad writers aimed to explore the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among law enforcement officers through his character. Norris takes pride in shedding light on this aspect of law enforcement and was determined for Hank to be more than just comic relief.

In an interview with Vulture, Norris discusses how PTSD affects Hank’s behavior. Despite his typically jolly demeanor, Hank becomes increasingly irritable and aggressive as the series progresses. The constant risks associated with his job and the mounting familial troubles expose Hank to escalating levels of stress.

On top of the dangers he faces as a DEA officer, Hank must confront challenges within his home life. His wife’s kleptomania, his brother-in-law’s terminal cancer, and the struggles of his sister-in-law and nephew add to his mounting stress.

Losing the identity tied to his career takes a toll on Hank, especially when he must surrender his gun after assaulting Jesse Pinkman. For a man like Hank Schrader, who derives so much of his self-worth from being a good cop, acknowledging his own fallibility becomes an unbearable burden.

Amidst all this turmoil, Hank endures a brutal attack by notorious gang members, leaving him hospitalized. The excruciating pain of his gunshot wounds plunges Hank into a journey of relearning how to walk and function independently.

Considering the traumas Hank experiences during his time as a DEA officer, it is apparent that he has encountered more than enough situations to develop post-traumatic stress disorder.

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Hank’s Career Takes a Blow: Suspension in Season 3

Resignation. Letter of resignation and cardboard box on the desk

In the seventh episode of the third season, aptly named “One Minute,” Hank Schrader finds himself suspended from his role as a Drug Enforcement Administration officer. This suspension comes in the wake of his violent assault on Jesse Pinkman, which lands Pinkman in the hospital.

Pinkman had manipulated Hank into believing that Hank’s wife, Marie Schrader, was in danger, diverting his attention from Walter White. When Hank discovers that Pinkman was behind the ruse, he confronts him at his home, unleashing a furious assault that leaves Jesse unconscious and bloodied.

Realizing the extent of his actions, Hank immediately calls for an ambulance for Jesse and clarifies the situation truthfully. Subsequently, Walter White and Saul Goodman meet with Jesse to discuss his options. Goodman, excited at the prospect of exploiting police brutality charges, believes he can absolve Jesse. Meanwhile, Jesse is determined to ruin Hank’s life.

In the midst of these threats, Walter White remains confident that Jesse will eventually return to him. While giving statements and evidence at the DEA office, Hank’s boss attempts to persuade him to fraudulently alter his testimony for the agency’s benefit. However, Hank refuses to compromise his principles and instead surrenders his gun as a sign of accepting his suspension.

Sadly, Hank’s loss of his badge is soon followed by an attack from the Salamanca cousins.

Hank’s Presence in “Better Call Saul”

Cast of "Better Call Saul", "Breaking Bad" at AMC

Indeed, Hank Schrader makes an appearance in “Better Call Saul” when Saul Goodman takes on Krazy-8 as a client. Goodman enlists Hank and his partner, Steve Gomez, to negotiate a deal with DEA agents, allowing Krazy-8 to act as an informant.

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Unbeknownst to Hank, this collaboration sets in motion the events that lead to his seemingly unsuspecting brother-in-law becoming a prime target for his agency.

When Dean Norris, the actor portraying Hank, learned that Vince Gilligan wanted to reintroduce his character in “Better Call Saul,” he aimed to ensure Hank had a genuine purpose in the story rather than being mere fan service. Norris believed that the prequel series would offer fans a deeper understanding of Hank’s character before the traumatic experiences he endured.

“Better Call Saul” allows viewers to witness Hank Schrader and Steve Gomez prior to their lives being constantly under threat. The characters can showcase their humorous and amiable sides once again. Norris describes his return to the set as a homecoming, with the most exciting aspect being able to work alongside Steven Michael Quezada, who portrays Steve Gomez. Quezada and Norris had maintained their friendship after filming “Breaking Bad,” making the chemistry between their characters effortless to capture.

For fans, Hank’s presence in “Better Call Saul” provides a deeper connection to his character and sheds light on his life before the events of “Breaking Bad.”

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