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BREAKING BAD, “Gliding Over All” Midseason Finale Recap

Breaking Bad creates suspense like no other show. And it gives the audience a sense of dread even in the most peaceful of moments because we’ve been here before and we know how it all ends. Walt is out, so he claims. Everything seems fine, but of course it’s not.

When we see the party in Walt’s backyard with the whole family conversing over nothing important at all, I had trouble breathing because I was so worried about what was going to happen next. With the explosive finales in years past (literally, in most cases), anything was liable to happen in those final minutes.

But the show pulled a bit of a curveball on us. Rather than giving us the dreadful, horrifying cliffhanger that many were prepared for, it went for one a little less dramatic but all the more impactful. Leaves of Grass was shown on screen earlier this season, and it appeared again early in this episode before Hank picked it up while he was on the can. On the inside cover he sees the W.W. note that Gale left for Walt, a note similar to one Hank was investigating in the beginning of Season 4. Was the W.W. Walter White, Hank joked back then. Walt put his hands up in the air mockingly, “you got me.” Only now, Hank really does have him.

What makes this final episode so great is that, despite Walt continuing to do terrible things (he did order the murder of nine men, after all), he finally starts to come down from that arrogant kingly mountain he was perched atop all season. Walt was shown alone a lot in this episode — at home, at work, by the pool. He got what he wanted. He made his millions, enough to last him 10 lifetimes, but he lost his best friend, his wife, and his children because of it. To an extent, he’s realized his mistakes and wants to amend for as many of them as possible by (kind of) reconciling with Jesse and getting out of the game to get his family back. He better cash out just in time.

But the beauty of it is that Walt won’t ride off into the sunset. Maybe his soul has acknowledged his misgivings and he is no longer the ruthless killer kingpin. But he’s gone too far to outrun his part at this point. He will pay for his mistakes. The only thing that remains to be seen is who else will go down with him?

Other Thoughts

– With Walt out of the game, how will Hank get the scent back? I don’t know, man. Stop asking me.

– The flashback in the final scene was used to good effect, but it wasn’t exactly necessary for people who have been watching the show. BB can sometimes take a lesson from Creative Writing 101: trust your audience.

– Dean Norris’ facial expression of putting all the pieces together was great. He often gets cast aside in a cast full of amazing actors, but he always brings his A game to Hank.

–  Two montages! Great music selections for both.
– Walt, err, Heisenberg was ready to kill Lydia with the ricin before she proved herself useful with the Czech Republic plan. To whatever means necessary.
– Todd’s neo-nazi uncle and his boys orchestrated a perfectly-timed murder spree over three different prisons. How did this happen? I have no idea. Do I care? Not at all. Though some of the deaths were comically brutal.
– Skyler can’t launder the money anymore, needs to take out a storage unit for it all. She couldn’t even count it all. How much do you think was in that pile? $500 million?
– The show used the montages to skip ahead three months time, which will help when it comes to getting to Walt’s 52nd birthday next season.
– Not a lot of Jesse, though we do get two great scenes with him and Mr. White. I think everyone anticipated that Walt was going to leave him his $5 million, so I don’t really get why they built up the suspense of Jesse opening the duffle bag. Jesse comes inside and is relieved (or scared? couldn’t really tell) and tosses his gun away. Luckily, he didn’t have to shoot Mr. White.
– Lots of callbacks to previous episodes in this one as Walt reflects on how much his life has changed since his cancer diagnosis in the pilot episode — the opening shot of him obsessively tracking a fly in the room, the painting he makes note of in the motel room is the same one from his hospital room a few seasons back, the MRI screen and Walt walking past the paper towel dispenser he wailed on, and of course the reminiscing of the RV aka the Crystal Ship.
– The episode title, fittingly, is the name of a Walt Whitman poem:
“Gliding o’er all, through all,
Through Nature, Time, and Space,
As a ship on the waters advancing,
The voyage of the soul—not life alone,
Death, many deaths I’ll sing.” 

Find Nick DeLorenzo directly on Twitter @nick_delorenzo and remember to follow @ScreenInvasion!


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The Author

Nicholas DeLorenzo

Nicholas DeLorenzo

television writer/social assassin