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In a way, it seems so contrived that Walt would become involved with meth with a DEA agent as a brother-in-law except of course that was how he found out about Jesse.

But the big question in my mind is, did Walt benefit because Hank would never suspect his own BIL or would being so close to him make it much riskier for Walt to operate, in fact so risky that that Walt would have in reality got caught very early in the process?

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  • This seems like a pretty vague "how believable is this?" question. Would a real brother-in-law DEA agent have realised sooner? I dunno, are all real DEA agent brothers-in-law as good at each other at noticing stuff? Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 15:04

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Walt was in greater danger by being Hank's brother-in-law.

Walt's personal history is what would make the authorities never suspect him. He is a mild mannered high school teacher with no criminal record--the police would have no reason to suspect him of anything or keep an eye on him. He would have no meaningful contact with police or the DEA and therefore less chance of them noticing anything about him... except Hank is his brother-in-law and has frequent contact with him. Every encounter with Hank and his friends is a chance for them to notice something awry with Walt, and is thus dangerous. Sooner or later, Hank would be likely to spot something that would tip him off. In fact, there were several close calls, and eventually he did spot something that tipped him off as to who Walt really was. If Walt had the same exact background with the exception of a DEA in-law, he would have been very hard to catch.

This isn't to say Walt didn't benefit at all from knowing Hank. His connection to Hank enabled him to bug Hank's phone and get the inside scoop on the DEA. So there was a benefit, just not the kind of benefit you're asking about in reducing risk.

Note also that Walt's connection to Hank put him in another kind of danger--criminal associates of Walt would not take kindly to knowing they were dealing with the relative of a DEA agent. This is a problem Walt had to deal with several times.

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    And of course, in the end, Hank being Walt's brother-in-law was very specifically what caused him to get him caught. Commented Sep 12, 2022 at 15:05
  • There is also the fact that when Hank found out, he didn't immediately report it to the DEA because he was afraid of the personal consequences of not spotting his own brother-in-law was a criminal. Had Hank done that, Walt wouldn't have been able to bug out and evade arrest. Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 5:48
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    He did not immediately report it because he had no evidence. His intention was to report it, regardless of the inevitable career consequences, after he had more than just some extremely vague inscription in a poetry book. Reporting it right away would have just led to the DEA writing it off as a wounded agent going stir crazy while he was in recovery.
    – ruffdove
    Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 15:24
  • @ruffdove, no. He specifically wanted to bring Walt down before he told anyone. He had two witnesses (Jesse mostly, but also Huell) and a full confession. He wanted to be the person who made the arrest, so he could salvage some of his reputation, even if it did cost him his career. If he hadn't gone lone wolf he might have lost his job, but he wouldn't have lost his life. Commented Sep 15, 2022 at 17:19

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