Breaking Bad “Gliding Over All” Review

“Taggin’ trees is a lot better than chasin’ monsters.” -Hank Schrader

This is it, everybody! I can’t believe these eight episodes are over already! What do we even call this? The mid-season finale? The summer finale? I’ve never heard of a TV series splitting a season into two halves that will air an entire year apart, so this whole thing is so new to me!

Well, whatever you call it, Breaking Bad concluded the first half of season five tonight with “Gliding Over All”. As soon as I saw the very first scene of this season two months ago on “Live Free or Die”, I was wondering if that would be the point where the season split. I wondered if these eight episodes would show us how Walter White got to that point in his career, on the run and buying M80s from the back of a car. So, did we get to that point? Let’s find out!

We start out the final episode with a fly. Yep, the same kind of pesky little fly that haunted Walt and Jesse for an entire episode back in season 3’s “Fly” was buzzing around Vamonos Pests while Walt was waiting for Todd to show up. I’m still not entirely sold on Todd as a character, but I love Jesse Plemons enough from his work on Friday Night Lights to be excited for how his character develops in the second half of season five. Anyway, Todd and Walt dispose of Mike’s car and body, and it was truly saddening to me to see such a great character in Mike Ehrmantraut shoved into the trunk of a car. Hats off to Jonathan Banks for coming back to do one last episode where all he does is lie in the trunk of a car for a few seconds of screen time. What a pro!

Speaking of Mike, we see that one of his guys Dennis is ready to sell Fring down the river already. Mike’s body isn’t even cold yet, and Dennis is already looking for a get out of jail free card. Unfortunately, what he would be getting was much, much worse.

Now I’ve seen a lot of disturbing television. I’m a big fan of Dexter, The Walking Dead, The Wire, and quite a few other shows that are known to get violent and disturbing from time to time. I honestly can not remember any other scene in television history that was as gruesome and disturbing as those prison death scenes. Walt decides he wants to meet Todd’s uncle, and wants to hire him to get rid of all of the men on Lydia’s list, and all within 2 minutes. This seemed like an impossible feat, but it was somehow accomplished through a truly difficult to watch series of stabbings, strangulations, and (in poor Dennis’ case) getting burned alive. Prison shankings are already one of the most disturbing ways to die, and they did not hold back in conveying just how violent and bloody these can be.

On the less bloody front, Walt met with Lydia originally just to get the names from her, but she proposed instead that she help him distribute his meth to the Czech Republic. I was a little surprised at first that Walt said yes, firstly because he seems so territorial and proud of the empire he’s built in the ABQ area, and secondly because he immediately agreed to her getting a 30% cut! That doesn’t sound like Walter at all!

But Walt does agree to the deal, so we then see that Todd and Walt get right to work busily cooking enough meth to give to Declan for distribution in Phoenix and give to Lydia for distribution in the Czech Republic! I was surprised that he was able to get his meth out to both markets, as you’d think with a two man crew and no superlab he would be somewhat limited, but Walter White is in the empire business, isn’t he?

We’ve seen tons of pulse pounding dramatic scenes with Walt and Jesse getting in arguments. We’ve seen them pull guns on each other, scream, and even beat each other to a bloody pulp. That’s what made their final scene together so odd. They were just…chatting. I don’t think we’ve ever seen these two just shooting the breeze, and for some reason it was just as nerve racking as the scenes where they’re pointing a gun at each other. It was wonderful to see at the end of the scene that Jesse had run to fetch a gun before answering the door, knowing full well just how dangerous Walt can be.

That takes us right to the final scene. I was already feeling so bad for Hank this episode, what with his investigation being completely destroyed after the string of prison killings, but man was he able to get some retribution or what?

Walt comes home to his wife and tells her two simple words: “I’m out”. You know what? I honestly believed him, too. I think seeing tens, possibly hundreds of millions of dollars in cash really got through to Walter. Back in season two he told himself he only needed $737,000 before he could quit, and now he had that in just a couple handfuls from this giant pallet. He bought off his long-time partner and friend when he dumped a couple duffels full of money on Jesse’s doorstep, and I genuinely believed that he was ready to hang up his lab suit and retire. He could live comfortably with his wife and children, whom he still clearly loved, and nobody would ever be the wiser.

But we just knew that couldn’t be the case, right? In a moment that Breaking Bad fans have been looking forward to 54 episodes, Hank found out about Walt! It finally happened! Not through catching him red-handed making his trademark blue meth, or by interrogating a witness or doing stellar police work. Nope, Hank found out about him because he wanted something to read while on the crapper. Walt can be as careful as he wants to be, but leaving one of Gale’s gifts on the toilet was something he probably never could have foreseen being the thing to bring him down. Now, granted Hank doesn’t know everything about Walt, including that he’s the one who killed Fring and is indirectly responsible for Hank being in a wheelchair these past few seasons, but he definitely knows that he cooked meth with Gale Boetticher. That’s all he needs to know.

I screamed at the top of my lungs when the screen went dark after that. Dean Norris really delivered on a moment that us fans have been waiting to see for years, and I honestly don’t know how I’m going to wait another 10 months to see what happens next! A huge shout out to Vince Gilligan and the rest of the writers at Breaking Bad. You’ve done it again, guys. Truly the best TV show on right now, and depending on how this all plays out next year, definitely a contender for greatest television series of all time.

See you all in 10 months!

Random Thoughts:

– Is there something about Laura Fraser’s voice that bugs anyone? She sounds like she has a lisp or something, or maybe she’s just not nailing her American accent. I don’t know, but in the restaurant scene it was a little annoying.

– I love the little details on this show. When Walt was screwing the outlet fixture back into the wall, I couldn’t help but notice a little bandage on his wrist where he burnt himself when freeing his arm from Mike’s handcuffs. They didn’t need to show that bandage, with Walt wearing long sleeves all the time, but it’s the little details that count on this great show.

– With the Emmys just a few weeks away, has anybody heard how they’re going to handle Breaking Bad come next year’s Emmy season? Are they eligible for this year and next? Or do they have to skip next year because their season isn’t complete?

– They really haven’t replaced the paper towel dispenser since Walt punched it? It’s been almost a year!