Breaking Bad: Gliding Over All


"How much is enough? How big does this pile have to be?"

What a fascinating "midseason" finale. Not jaw-dropping, Gus Fring terrific, but still -- we've been waiting for that final moment for a long, long time.

The reason for having Hank as a character in this show is the constant fear (or hope, by this point) that he would eventually realize that his nemesis was right under his nose. And he just did. Walt's arrogance in keeping that trophy, Gale's inscribed copy of Leaves of Grass, was what finally gave him away. And I loved that Hank realized his own brother-in-law was Heisenberg while sitting on the toilet. It was so Breaking Bad. But I wanted to see the next scene, damn it. And now we have to wait nearly a year? How lame is that?

The rest of the episode went from horrifying and shocking, to sort of quiet, to sort to stunning. The simultaneous jail executions, especially the overkill multiple stabbings, were gruesome and oddly sad, and the jaunty music was pretty much perfect ("Start All Over Again"). And since I'm talking about use of music, "Crystal Blue Persuasion" during the time-passing montage? Best song for this show, EVER. Seriously.

I was expecting Skyler to do something desperate -- to kill herself, to try to kill Walt, to go to the cops. Instead, she managed to get her quiet life and her kids back simply by making Walt see the truth -- they did finally have enough money. That scene in the storage facility was quietly awesome. Just the image of that small, empty room, that huge, stunning stack of cash. Although I wonder if the real reason Walt stopped had to do with his visit to the hospital. I keep waiting for Walt's cancer to come back. Has it?

I absolutely knew Walt was going to kill Lydia after he got the names from her, so the tube of poison under the hat didn't surprise me. She was smart enough to figure out the same thing and realized how to stay alive -- by offering Walt a brand new market in the Czech Republic. But I was surprised at how they left the situation with Lydia and Todd unresolved at the end of the episode. (The woman with no conscience and the child-killer -- perfect new partners for Walt.) How did they take the news that Walt was quitting?

All through this episode, I had no idea what Walt was feeling or thinking. The episode opened with Walt sitting in the Vamonos office staring at a fly. I wondered if he was actually upset about killing Mike, or was he just seeing Mike as that annoying fly that needed swatting (possibly with his especially created flyswatter)? Walt also spent other parts of this episode sitting quietly, staring at something. What was he thinking?

I was especially worried about what Walt was thinking about Jesse. Walt was careful that Jesse not see Mike's body in the trunk of the car. At the end, when Walt just happened to drop by Jesse's place to awkwardly reminisce about the fun old times in the RV -- I thought Walt was finally going to kill Jesse. (Apparently, so did Jesse -- he was ready. And he broke down and cried when it was over.) Walt still cared enough about Jesse to finally pay him that money. As much as I'd like Aaron Paul to be in the final episodes, part of me wants Jesse to stay out of it and go make something of his life, at last. I doubt it, though.

The title of this episode, "Gliding over all", is another Walt Whitman poem from Leaves of Grass.
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.

It's perfect, isn't it? And it also evokes that painting of the man rowing away from his family that we saw again in this episode. It was in Walt's hospital room a couple of seasons ago, and he spent a lot of time staring at it. Again, what was Walt thinking?

Bits:

-- In this week's dirty water imagery, we got lots of shots of liquid and water dripping. And another Walt naked in the shower scene with an odd camera angle. Actually, there were lots of fascinating camera angles in this episode, like the world was off-kilter.

-- I hated the fact that Mike ended up in one of those barrels. Hated it.

-- In the hospital bathroom, the paper towel holder that Walt smashed is still dented.

-- Dan noticed that the interior of the White house has gotten darker and darker this season.

-- The color theme for this episode was, appropriately, meth blue and blood red. It was everywhere, particularly during the prison murders and when Walt and Skyler went to the storage facility.

And pieces:

-- Three months passed. Holly was walking, and Marie was finally ready to let the kids go home. Don't worry, Marie. I have a feeling you're going to get them back.

-- Marie was taking prenatal vitamins for her hair? That seemed weird.

-- I liked the aerial shot of all those Vamonos tents springing up all over the suburbs. It reminded me of the first few seasons of Weeds.

-- The huge, square pile of money in the storage facility was very like a critical scene in The Shield. And the coordinated kills were much like a famous sequence in The Godfather.

-- I liked Hank's scene at the house after the murders. He was talking about his college job tagging trees, and how much easier it was than what he was currently doing. "Tagging trees is a lot better than chasing monsters." But when you think about it, choosing which trees got taken out of the forest is similar to his current job of removing the bad trees from society, isn't it?

Except for the fact that they're leaving us mid-season for the next ten months, this was an excellent episode. Four out of four prenatal vitamins,

Billie

11 comments:

Amy Ennis said...

I was so afraid that Mike's head was in that bag, and I think Jesse was scared to open it as well. Fantastic episode. I thought having the fly buzzing around when Todd walked in was also a symbol for how much of a problem Todd is going to become. I have finally come up with the perfect ending for Walter White. Dexter Morgan needs to kill him. Wouldn't that be perfect?

Billie Doux said...

Dexter Morgan needs to kill him. Wouldn't that be perfect? Amy, that's perfect. If only Walt were operating in Miami. :)

Ryan said...

are you going to do a rewatch during the off season? I'm pretty amazed at the reused lines, habits (things Walt picks up from people he kills), or visuals. like the season 2 opening and the season 4 ending.

Billie Doux said...

I just did a massive re-watch of the entire series because I wrote the entire run of reviews in 2012. So probably not. Although I'll certainly rewatch these last eight.

Yes, the imagery and continuity on this show is pretty amazing, I agree.

Banastal said...

I can't wait for Walt to get caught by Hank... but I am sure it won't be as I want. I so want Jesse to be out of the whole deal and be on a good life path - probably won't happen either. We just have to wait now.

Henrik Bennetter said...

My wife said that she saw Walt washing blood off his hands after the exam, that the water in the basin/sink/whatever ran red with blood. I didn't see it - did anyone else?
If so, that would mean Walts cancer is back - and that he's not telling.
But, like I said, did anyone else see it?
Also, like I said in my comment to the previous episode, now that Walt finally sees what a monster he's become and decides to get out - NOW he will be caught, or at least found out. Switcheroo.

Mik said...

I've been catching up on the show in the last few months and finally finished the most recent episode in the last couple of weeks.

May I say what a delight it is to come on here to check if this site is reviewing the show, only to find that not only are you, but specifically you yourself are Billie.

Havent followed one of the reviews that YOU are reviewing since the end of Lost (and considering I started with Buffy, it was a good few years). I wish I hadnt just tuned in for the last half of a season as I could've been following these episodes with you for years.

Ah well.

Billie Doux said...

Thanks so much, Mik! But actually, I just started writing the reviews after the end of season four. I kept wanting to review Breaking Bad, but there were too many other shows to do.

Mik said...

Ah thats cool, I'm only half a season late to the party then.

Jess Lynde said...

So I re-watched this episode the other day in preparation for tonight's premiere. I didn't comment back after it originally aired, because I wasn't quite sure how to process it. It felt strange to spend that hour with Walt ascendent (even though the "Crystal Blue Persuasion" montage was awesome), and getting back to that comfortable family vibe at the end felt so very wrong to me. Even with that final revelatory moment that hopefully signals the beginning of Walt's downfall, I was so thrown by the happy scene around the pool that I didn't know how to take the episode as a whole.

Re-watching it, the moments that really stood out the most for me were three key character-focused scenes. The first was that wonderful sequence with Hank coming home utterly defeated and talking about how tagging trees was better than chasing monsters. Next was Marie trying to convince Skyler to bring the kids home, and her looking absolutely terrified by the prospect and on the edge of a breakdown. And the final one was Jesse sinking to the floor and crying in relief after Walt left, kicking away the gun he thought he might have needed to defend himself. Each of those scenes played out slowly, with a quiet, mounting tension, perfectly capturing the horror of what Walt has done to those around him and really allowing us to feel it. And these moments are no doubt why it bothered me so greatly to see him comfortable and chummy with Hank and Skyler at the end.

Walt does not get to win. I want Skyler, Hank, and Jesse to win --- whatever that means for them --- and I can't wait for Walt to be the one that tumbles to the Earth after flying too close to the sun. I'm hopeful that's where we're headed.

Anne said...

Just looked up Laura Fraser (Lydia) on IMDB and was very interested to see that she is Scottish. I'm British myself and I had no idea that she is not American. Also very interesting to see that she was originally going to play Brody's wife in Homeland, but the part was given to someone else.