Episode Title: "Gliding Over All"
Writer: Moira Walley-Beckett
Director: Michelle MacLaren
Previously on "Breaking Bad":
Walter White (Bryan Cranston) sits alone in the Vamonos Pest office, seemingly numb after he killed Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks). "Ricky Hitler" aka Todd (Jesse Plemons) tells Walt that Mike's car has been disposed of and he doesn't question Walt when they prepare to remove Mike's body from the trunk of his car. However, they are momentarily startled by the arrival of Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). Todd closes the trunk to hide Mike's body before Walt dismisses him so he can speak with Jesse. After Walt lets Jesse believe that Mike escaped, he asks Walt what they will do about the ten men who could bring the DEA to their door.
Walt coldly reminds Jesse that he is out and he no longer has a say in the business, before closing the garage door in his face. In jail, Dennis (Mike Batayeh) — one of the ten men — tries to cut a deal with Hank Schrader (Dean Norris), but Hank balks at his terms and says that he can get a better deal with any of the remaining men now willing to talk. Later, Walt assumes his favorite Heisenberg hat and shades as he meets with Lydia (Laura Fraser) to get the names of the ten men. Lydia admits that she is fearful for her safety once she gives up the information.
To prove her potential worth, Lydia pitches Walt on selling his blue sky meth in the Czech Republic using her resources at Madrigal to minimize their exposure. Walt agrees to her idea and she responds by writing down the names of the ten men and shaking Walt's hand. After she leaves, we see that Walt had the ricin vial so he could poison her. Once back home, Walt hides the risin once again. He then calls Todd and requests a meeting with his uncle "with prison connections," whom he mentioned two episodes back. Todd's uncle Jack (Michael Bowen) apparently has neo nazi ties as he and his crew debate the logistics of killing every man on the list in under two minutes… in multiple prisons, no less.
When Jack says that it can't be done, Walt challenges him by insisting that it can be… and tells him to "figure it out." Some time later, Walt looks out his window as he starts following the seconds on his watch. Over the next two minutes, Mike's lawyer, Dan Wachsberger (Chris Freihofer) and eight other men are brutally killed while Dennis is burned alive in his protective cell. Walt then fields a call from Jack, who tells him that the murders were successfully carried out. At the DEA's office, Hank is in the middle of PR photo shoot when Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada) gives him the news about the murders.
Crestfallen, Hank returns to his home and finds Walt playing with his infant daughter, Holly. Hank offers Walt a drink and he warily recalls an old job he had as being preferable to chasing monsters as a DEA agent. Time passes quickly as Todd moves more completely into Jesse's former role. The meth cooks go smoothly, as do Lydia's attempts to break into the Czech Republic market with the blue sky meth. And the cash keeps rolling in, as Walt's wife, Skyler (Anna Gunn) reluctantly launders his money as usual. Months later, Skyler visits her son, Walter Jr. (RJ Mitte) and her daughter, Holly at the Schrader home. In private, Skyler's sister, Marie Schrader (Betsy Brandt) suggests that Skyler finally take her children back into her home as a way to heal her family.
Seemingly unsure of her next move, Skyler returns home and finds Walt contemplating his thoughts in the backyard. She brings Walt to a rented storage unit and reveals that she has kept a very large pile of cash there which is far beyond her ability to launder or the family's ability to spend in almost any lifetime. Walt is astonished and asks how much money there is, but Skyler can't even begin to count it. Skyler says that she wants her kids back, so she asks Walt how high the pile has to be before he will stop… but Walt has no answer for her. Later, Walt undergoes a CAT Scan to see if his cancer has recurred.
Walt doesn't immediately learn the results of the test, but he does notice the towel dispenser that he punched months earlier when he learned his cancer was in remission. At his home, Jesse dozes off and accidentally drops his burning cigarette on the couch. After putting out the cigarette, he is surprised to find Walt knocking on his door and he races into another room before answering the door. Walt enters and says that he tried to call, but Jesse has dumped all of his burner phones. Jesse says that he still won't return to the business and Walt accepts this before they share memories about their time cooking in the RV.
As Walt leaves, he reveals that he left something for Jesse on the porch. Once he takes the duffel bags inside, Jesse finds that they are full of money. Stunned, Jesse takes out his gun and slides it away from him, revealing that he feared Walt was there to kill him. At his home, Walt tells Skyler that he is out… twice, just to prove his sincerity. And while they don't reconcile, Skyler's reaction seems happy and hopeful. Some time later, the reunited White family share a lunch with Hank and Marie in the backyard. Hank excuses himself to use the bathroom. As he sits down on the toilet, Hank reaches for some reading material and finds a copy of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass.
Hank reads the inscription: "To my other favorite W.W. It’s an honor working with you. Fondly, G.B.” and he suddenly recalls the murdered Gale Boetticher, whose notebook contained a message "To W.W. My Star, My Perfect Silence." Hank recalls showing the notebook to Walt in the wake of Gale's death and Walt jokingly agreeing that he was the "WW" referred to in the message. In the present, an expression of shock crosses Hank's face as he realizes that his brother-in-law is the mysterious underworld figure known as Heisenberg… and all of the inconsistencies of Walt's life suddenly make sense.
In many ways, "Gliding Over All" felt like the happiest ending that "Breaking Bad" will ever achieve. Walt and Jesse are both out of the drug business with more money than they ever dreamed of and Walt at least has a flicker of hope for the future of his family and his relationship with Skyler. The one fly in the ointment came in the closing seconds as Hank realized the truth. This is something we've been waiting for since the very beginning of "Breaking Bad" and it turned out to be the perfect cliffhanger to carry us into the final run of episodes next year.
Obviously, this illusion of a happy ending for Walt isn't going to last now that Hank is on to him. Even if Walt refrained from his criminal activities, he still has far too much money to ever fully explain or justify if Hank and the DEA were to examine his finances. That big pile of cash in the storage unit could also prove problematic… and even implicate Skyler for aiding Walt in his crimes. The broader question is if Walt is truly capable of walking away from the drug business. Walt sublimated his identity into his Heisenberg persona so deeply that "Walter White: family man" doesn't seem to really exist anymore. Walt's reaction to Mike's murder and the large pile of cash was simply numb, as opposed to a recognizable emotion.
The one emotional bond that has any meaning left for Walt is apparently his partnership with Jesse. Walt actually goes out of his way to do right by his former partner by giving him the money that he had originally cheated him out of months earlier. But both Jesse and Lydia had legitimate reasons to fear Walt's murderous streak. Seeing Mike in the trunk of Walt's car was chilling and it reminded me of something another TV critic once said "There's a barrel for everyone on 'Breaking Bad.'" Todd's casual non-reaction to Mike's body was also pretty telling. How many people has this guy killed besides the kid at the train heist?
Walt may also be a victim of his own success. After having a taste of selling the blue sky meth for Walt, do you think that the drug lord, Declan (Louis Ferreira) will simply let him walk away? Walt once said that his survival as Gus' meth cook was assured as long as he was the only able to keep the large output of blue sky meth on schedule. What happens when the supply finally runs out? Also, "Uncle Jack" and the neo Nazis may eventually represent a new threat to Walt. They've seen him now and Todd also knows who Walt really is. That could be a really big problem.
However, Walt's biggest problem heading into the final eight episodes is still Hank. And it's also a test of Walt's feelings for his brother-in-law. Walt went to some extreme lengths to save Hank's life when he got too close to Gus Fring. But when it's Walt's life and freedom that are on the line, how will he react? Would he kill Hank to protect himself? Another thing to keep in mind is that Hank is a fantastic detective. With very little to go on, Hank was able to deduce Gus' connection the drug trade and his guesses about Mike and Lydia's involvement with the business were eerily on target. Hank also has an advantage in that Walt doesn't know that his secret is out… and he no longer has a bug in Hank's office.
Oddly enough, I believe that more time passed in "Gliding Over All" than in any other episode of the series. Theoretically, the events in the current season are now only 8 months or so away from the grim flash forward at the beginning of season 5, with Walt on the run under an assumed name. The good times never last on this show. And if Hank isn't the one to bring down Walt, someone else will.
The direction of "Gliding Over All" was striking, particularly in the jail sequences and the montage that carried the episode several months into the future. The script was very tight as well and there wasn't a wasted moment throughout. The entire first half of the fifth season has been excellent, and "Breaking Bad" shows no signs of letting up.