Breaking Bad season 5 episode 8 review: Gliding Over All

Review Paul Martinovic 4 Sep 2012 - 07:22

Paul bids a reluctant goodbye to Breaking Bad, which offers up this series' best episode yet as its mid-season finale...

This review contains spoilers.

5.8 Gliding Over All

99.1%. In meth purity terms, we’ve been reliably informed by Breaking Bad that this is a very impressive figure. They’ve certainly never seen anything like it in the Czech Republic, and those guys know their meth, apparently. 99.1% purity is nothing to be sniffed at (pun partially intended).  

That 0.9%, though. It has to bother Walt, doesn’t it? That, for all his chemical know-how, his attention to detail and ability to manipulate his surroundings through sheer force of will, there will always be that tiny aspect that he will never have control over. 100% purity is, ultimately, impossible.

It doesn’t stop him trying, though. His whole existence has become a battle against impurities and imperfections, using his book smarts and, by now, impressive street smarts to take the chaos that is his life and massage it into something approaching a solution, where all of the elements fall into place. We know by now Walt sees himself as a mastermind, be it chemical or criminal. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that search for perfection, the attempt to eradicate all trace of doubt or error on your way to a logical conclusion that you can hold up and say: Look. I was right.

For a while in Gliding Over All, easily the best episode of another superb season, it looks like Walt may have done the impossible, and actually pulled off that most elusive of things: the perfect crime. Not just that: the perfect criminal career. It looks as though he may even, in the closing scenes of the episode, be edging towards a path to redemption, after crossing yet another moral event horizon.

Was Walt’s orchestration of mass prison murder really morally worse than poisoning Brock? Was it worse than covering up the murder of Spider Dirt-Bike, or killing Gale, or even letting Jane die? Probably not - these were all relatively innocent parties compared to Mike’s men, who at the very least had an active role in the distribution of meth, and most likely were prolific killers and psychopaths themselves.

But the shocking montage of brutal killings was an indicator of another line Walt was strutting confidently over – while most of his other murders were characterised by a certain amount of intellectual flair, where he first outwitted his opponents before manoeuvring them into a position where he can pounce (Gus’ bombing, for example), Walt ventured into new territory with first Mike’s killing and now this, a two minute orgy of destruction was cold, brutal and despicable – adjectives which describe a headspace that by this point, Walt has become more than comfortable residing in.

All told, this was probably the most violent sequence in Breaking Bad history – high praise, seeing as the show has become famous for including at least one incredibly gruesome scene per season, and Vince Gilligan has previously said that they’re determined to keep raising the bar as they go along – but there was nothing operatic or blackly comedic about it, as has been the case with violence in previous episodes. This scene specifically wasn’t a grandiose, ‘taking care of business’ montage in the vein of Michael Corleone wrapping things up at his nephew’s baptism – it’s a bunch of street punks getting ruthlessly shivved before bleeding out into a drain. The true face of Walt’s gangster lifestyle.

Horrifying though it undoubtedly was, unfortunately Walt still wasn’t prepared to take his role in the carnage as a cue to leave. So what caused his late episode turn-around?

Chillingly, it’s hinted that it could just be boredom: Walt has no one left to vanquish. Gus is dead, Mike’s dead, Mike’s men are dead, Jesse is out for good. Hank has no leads left. There’s nothing left to play for.

Lydia managed to talk her way out of being killed once again by pulling a lucrative deal with the Czech Republic out of her, uh, barrel, meaning that we will have to wait even longer for everyone’s favourite character, Ricin Cigarette, to be put to good use (for it to go out without being responsible for anything less than the death of a major character would be a major disappointment at this stage).

A nice touch in this scene was Walt’s entrance in full Heisenberg garb, which asks the question: is Walt wearing the outfit as a disguise, or to be recognised, and therefore able to intimidate the growing number of people who are becoming familiar with the Heisenberg legend? More to the point: of his two personas, which one is now the disguise?

The bumbling degenerate gambler mask he likes to wear nearly slipped in Walt’s early scene with Hank, which played as a clever mirror of the encounters we’ve seen between them a number of times during this half-season – we’ve become used to seeing Hank embarrassed and uncomfortable at Walt’s teary, uninhibited, and (unbeknownst to Hank) utterly feigned emotional outpourings, but here we saw the roles neatly reversed, with a genuinely distraught Hank sadly relaying to an unsympathetic Walt a story about a old summer job he used to have tending to woods, a job he used to hate but now looks back on fondly due to the psychic toll that “chasing monsters” is inflicting on him.

Walt clearly finds Hank’s inability to deal with a bit of the old ultra-violence pretty pathetic – you can see the scorn etched on his face, as well hear the discernible sarcasm in his voice when he dryly intones “I used to love to go camping” by way of barely-there consolation.

So one of Walt’s biggest headaches now sits before him a beaten man. Another box ticked for Team Walt. What’s left? Walt told Jesse recently that he’s “in the empire business”, but by the end of this episode this has be viewed as yet another of Walt’s lies: the empire is clearly growing, as the expansion overseas and that wonderful shot of Vamanos Pest tents steadily taking over Albuquerque neighborhoods demonstrates (special mention should go to the directing and editing of this episode, which was superb across the board even by the show’s lofty standards), but this doesn’t make him happy. The drudgery of the meth cooking is getting to him, and, crucially, the only people he has left in his organization are compliant yes-men: the cowardly Saul, and the blank-faced, obedient Todd. There’s no one to butt heads with any more. It’s boring, frankly.

That Walt misses the feral scrapping for survival that characterized the early days is clear when he comes to visit Jesse at his home, and gets all nostalgic for the days of broken-down RVs and having to cook by with musty school equipment. This is as close to sentimentality as Walt gets now, but there’s a brilliant edge added to the scene as Walt’s reminiscing is interpreted by Jesse as a form of farewell before he sees Jesse ends up the same way as the other eleven loose ends.

Aaron Paul is great in this scene, as he always is, but this section and the episode as a whole is yet another astonishing acting showcase from Bryan Cranston. Gliding Over All features a more contemplative Walt than we’ve seen in recent episodes, and the amount that Cranston is able to convey about Walter’s mindset with the smallest of eye movements or gestures is just remarkable. Has there ever been another television actor more utterly in tune with the material and a character than Cranston is with Breaking Bad and Walter White?

Walt finds himself ready to quit, then: the combination of the meth trade turning into just another job, and the significant fact that he has now earned too much money than he is capable of laundering, means he is ready to pack it in. It could all be smoke and mirrors for Skyler’s benefit, of course, but there’s something about him that suggests he may actually be finally being genuine.

Skyler seems to buy it too – so desperate in her pessimism a few weeks ago that she was attempting to passive smoke Walt to death, she now realises that there may be actually be an out for the family, one that she might delicately be able to move the unstable Walt towards. And as Walt and Skyler lock eyes over a few blissful seconds of overlapping familial small talk, it’s a real, tangible possibility for them.

But those minor imperfections and impurities that cloud and complicate our lives aren’t going to be denied that easily. Firstly, there’s a very literal impurity to be dealt with – Walter’s cancer. Once again, we’re denied the opportunity to actually learn what his diagnosis is, but there’s definitely something ominous in the way he ruefully greets the sight of a towel dispenser he furiously dented after previously learning his cancer was in remission – not to mention his reflective, almost generous attitude to Jesse and Skyler, to people he’s spent a great deal of time emotionally abusing for the past few weeks, in the scenes that follow. His health is the one aspect of his life that Walt can’t control, and it’s hinted that in this respect the fight may have finally gone out of him.

But here’s the thing – you don’t choose when you get to fight. Gliding Over All has a heavy sense of foreboding right from its opening shot - we know that Walter’s not just going to be able to quit, and not just because of that tantalizing flash-forward in Live Free or Die. There’s a wealth of insect symbolism throughout the episode, the likes of which we’ve seen many times in the past, most notably with Walt’s battle with a persistent fly in the underground lab, and of course most recently the spider in the jar in Dead Freight.

Gliding Over All is full of the little buggers: there’s Walt’s quiet contemplation of a fly in his office in the opening scene; there’s the cockroach spying on the Vamanos Pest operation, and there’s Skyler’s declaration that she has to stop by the enormous pile of money in the garage every once in a while to stop it getting infested with silverfish.

In Breaking Bad these insects have come to represent the same thing – an unforeseen intrusion into otherwise carefully assembled plans; a minor infestation, or impurity, which ruins the whole. But who would prove to be, come episode’s end, the metaphorical fly in the ointment of Walt’s carefully-laid retirement plans?

Or, using a slightly brusquer but no less appropriate metaphor: who would provide the turd in the punchbowl? Well, it wasn’t a punchbowl exactly, but how appropriate that Hank should be literally shitting himself when the truth he has been running away from for the past year should finally dawn on him, and we got the reaction shot that we’ve been waiting for since episode one (it didn’t disappoint – a brilliant piece of facial acting from Dean Norris).

It provided one of the all time great Breaking Bad moments, one that can stand alongside Gus’s face-off, Hank’s battle with the cousins, Jane’s death, and “Run!” in the pantheon of things that made your heart leap out of your chest. This is why Breaking Bad is such incredible drama – it has an exquisite sense of rhythm and timing, with the episode as a whole being perfectly paced and leading to a final sequence that is expertly calibrated to elicit the maximum amount of emotion from the viewer. There are dozens of red herrings that something spectacular is going to happen – Holly being pushed by Walt Jr. around the pool looked particularly ominous, as did Jesse opening a parting gift from Walt a few scenes earlier – so it was a great swerve by the writers to have Hank simply amble into the bathroom and accidentally make the biggest discovery of his personal and professional life while sat on the throne. Only Vince Gilligan knows if he included the earlier discussion of Walt Whitman between Hank and Walt with the intention of returning to it as a flashback, but it doesn’t matter: it worked brilliantly. What better line to end the season with than with Walt’s weary: “You got me.”

That said, at first it seemed a little convenient and unlikely that Walt would keep such an incriminating piece of evidence as the book from Gale in his bathroom, but actually it makes perfect sense – it was foreshadowed heavily last week, and indeed most of this season, that Walt is someone who now finds it impossible to see the wood for the trees. He’s unplayable when it comes to outlandish cat-and-mouse games, but the combination of his arrogance, recklessness, and occupation with the finer details means he is now beginning to overlook things that would normally appear to be hugely obvious.

It’s this attitude that has led to him becoming even more dangerous – it’s what led to the death of Mike last week – and it’s what led to his downfall here. Walt in this half-season has effectively been like a decorated university professor giving a confident, high-level talk on the finer points of intricacies of analytical chemistry, while stood at the podium with his flies wide open.

Oh Walt. You were so nearly there. 99.1% there, I’d say, but now Hank has found out – after Walt all but placed the answers in his lap - all that success is immaterial. The 0.9%, the fly in the ointment, the spider in the jar, the (yes) turd in the bathroom look like they are ready to finally come for him, and this half-season of Walter’s triumphant reign as a crime lord looks set to now be followed by eight episodes of an almighty reckoning. Which isn’t to say Hank is going to wipe himself, wash his hands, walk out of the bathroom and slap some cuffs on Walt – he’s too intertwined and compromised by Walt’s criminal lifestyle to do that just yet, and his next course of action will require a great deal of thought.

But the trauma Hank has suffered as a direct result of Walt’s actions won’t be something he will be able to justify, or explain, or come to terms with in the way that Walt himself has become a master at. No, an explosive confrontation between the two is now inevitable. Perhaps an even more pressing question is how Walt will react to this, without doubt the greatest conflict to arise between his family life and his Heisenberg persona to date. Hank is now no longer an abstract enemy for Walt, but a very real and dangerous one.

We’ll have to wait an agonizingly long eight months to know for sure what Walt’s rejoinder to Hank will be, and it’ll give us plenty to chew on in the coming months and, no doubt, in the comments below. For now though, perhaps there’s a little clue to how Walt will react in this line from Squeeze’s Up The Junction, a typically wry and apropos soundtrack choice for the final scene: “I’d beg for some forgiveness/But begging’s not my business”.

 Read Paul's review of last week's episode, Say My Name, here.

Follow Paul Martinovic on Twitter, or for more babble, check out his blog here.

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I am so sad the "half-season" is over that I keep reading reviews of the episode, as if to keep reliving it and seeing it from every angle. But as usual, your review hits the nails on their heads best for me. I've been looking forward to this review all day and you didn't disappoint.

Why this episode was fantastic is simple. we WERE hank during his moment of realisation, We was in his mind, knowing what he was thinking, because we have seen it all, We all knew this moment was coming, and even though we did, it was still intense. SUPERB ACTING

fantastic review. so rare that a final season is so strong with no filler at all.

very well written review. I also thought it was a bit convenient to find that book in the bathroom. This show does have some slightly implausible moments but hey, I can still give it an easy 99.1%. Its gonna be a long wait till next year....

Great review, but I'd like to point out that Hank is actually portrayed by American actor Dean Norris rather than English rugby coach Dean Ryan.

Dean Norris was excellent... not entirely sure where "Dean Ryan" fit in. Incredible show with a hopefully just as consistent ending.

Excellent review; you picked up on all the things I did - Holly being pushed around the pool for instance? A relatively minor thing, but definitely added to the sense of foreboding.

Great review but come on Spiders are arachnids not insects! ;-)

I get the impression "You must enable the PECL memcached or memcache extension to use memcache.inc."

I hope you get paid for these reviews, because they're bloody good.

nah, youre being paranoid

these reviews have been pure gold. Its the only one I am interested in. Great show

The last 5 minutes mad this episode great, the rest of it was all very forgettable, Breaking Bad... you sneaky bitch.

There are several things about "Breaking Bad" that bother me right now: (1) the show is ending arbitrarily; there is an understanable impulse to avoid "jumping the shark," but the killings of Gus Fring and Mike indicate to me that the train is on a rigid, thoughtless schedue that must be kept, even though there are many other stories to be told; (2) Saul Goodman is a major neglected resource; (3) some way must be found to bring Jesse back into the picture; the new, responsible Jesse is a bore; is he really SHOCKED that the drug business involves occasional killings? (4) Walter White seems unnesassarily confused and indecisive; since when does he really CARE about the feelings of Skyler, a woman who said that she was counting the days until his cancer came back; (5) I would think that a quick, dangerous affair with Lydia was called for, not because either wants love, but because they are both gigantic egos seeking momentary self-affirmation. What is Walt going to tell Hank about the book and inscription -- that Gayle came to him as a young, struggling chemist at the high school and asked for help with a chmistry problem. Why didn't Walt mention this during the investigation of Gayle's death? Because he was embarassed to learn that someone he helped with a pH problem turned out to be a drug manufacturer. Will that slow Hank down even if it doesn't completely fool him? Can't Walt bargain with Hank on the basis that Hank doesn't want it known that Walt paid thousands for Hank's rehab? And that money came from meth? What is Hank's defense -- that he did not know it was "meth money" because he thought it was just profits from ILLEGAL gambling? What if Marie never told him that Walt was paying, and he thought it was insurance money? Can he say that and lay all the blame on Marie? Will the DEA think that until now he has been protecting Heisenberg's identity?

I love your Breaking Bad reviews! you speculate over how the little vial of risin will be used, I wonder if perhaps Walt could end up using it on himself? He strikes me as a character unwilling to let either the authorities, or illness ever win over him.

I'm really going to miss your reviews of this show, Paul, perhaps almost as much as I'll miss Breaking Bad itself. I know we've had words before, but you are seriously one hell of a review writer.

The book just showing up in the bathroom the way it did was perhaps a little implausible/unlikely, but personally I liked how it emphasises Walt's arrogance - I think he genuinely considers himself to be unstoppable by anything short of a force of nature or act of God at this point.

That was my first thought, too. But would the current Walt ever do something as humble as kill himself? He'd probably prefer jail; at least it acknowledges his skills.
It'll be used, though. Ohhhh how I wait to see how it is used!

Of course Walt leaving the book in the guest WC is totally implausable...but, isn't it obvious that Walt wanted that book to be found by Hank? He was out..and that was his way to finalise that decision.

Nah, I still say Walt leaving the book lying around is Breaking Bad's most "as if" moment.

Once BB is all done, I would love to see these reviews released as an ebook.

The only TV show I care about, I just can't believe there is going to be 8 months of waiting. Arggh!

This was an excellent review, the best I've read of this episode. And this line:

"Walt in this half-season has effectively been like a decorated university professor giving a confident, high-level talk on the finer points of intricacies of analytical chemistry, while stood at the podium with his flies wide open."

is superb!

My thoughts:

1) The story is about Walt, nothing more or less. They've stuck to it and I like that about this show.
2) Saul Goodman had his time in the sun. I will hazard he will be prominent in the other half of this season though!
3) Jesse has always been a sensitive soul, not a psychopath. His opening up to Jane made that very clear. Don't forget about the torn feelings for his family, his worry for Brock were other signs or if that didn't hint, him shooting Gale through the head quickly stripped away the tough gangsta veneer.
4) Err, the entire show has been about Walt trying to leave a financial legacy for the well being of his family. Heated words said in the lowpoint of a relationship are not necessarily final - time can heal all wounds. This episode finally saw Walt come to the remembrance of why he entered this world.
5) An affair between these two would have been a terrible plot device. Walt is too smart to mix business with pleasure and his history with Gretchen would have been an early life lesson.

I'm surprised so many people expect these characters to be one-dimensional. Who the hell in real life is?

Outstanding review! Comprehensively sums up all of the major points and subtle intrinsic points that make this show the best by a country mile - well done! I second the other reviewers point - I too hope you're getting paid handsomely for your efforts. Roll on next summer :-)

I think that against all probability, Walt knocks-up a girl from Clapham.

*applauds*

When Hank replaces the ricin in this episode, he fails to check if the lamp is working once he has replaced the socket like he did in the previous episode. I thought that was an excellent piece of foreshadowing for what was to come in the final scene. The details are slipping through his fingers.

Does Gretchen's maiden name begin with a "B"?

I thought the use of the Squeeze song was A great choice, while we all waited for something dramatic to happen around the pool the song was giving us some clues to what possibly is to come. Reminded me of the way David Chase use to use songs to fore shadow events in The Sopranos.

My first thought was that somehow or another he unknowingly is subjected to the poison. I don't think that will happen precisely because it was the first thing many of us seem to think. Breaking Bad hasn't been about obvious tells this has been an intense game with many unforeseen events.

Someone is going to get it though, I just don't think it will be Walt. Maybe, someone close to him? Someone who, after they are gone, will cause Walt to suddenly realize how he brought all of this upon them, and in recognizing this turn human once again and feel all of the sadness and regret he simply shrugged off bury him.

Who knows though, it's in the air. :3 Fun to speculate though.

Maybe (just maybe) he is more far gone then we can imagine and he could end up using it on Hank?

The book being left there is not so implausible if in fact it was from Gretchen rather than Gale. I think this will be the explanation Walt will try and give hank in the next episode...

Excellent review... but I want to know what the hell is up with this half season BS. Seriously, what does AMC gain by making us wait 8 months to see the final 8 episodes? I like anticipation almost as much as the show, but 8 months! Whoever made this decision needs a good smack upside the head.

Stellar review/analysis as always, Paul. I would like to add that although the showdown between Hank and Walt is inevitable, I believe that there will also be a showdown between Walt and Jesse. I think it may play out as such --- Walt will eventually become wracked with remorse and guilt and eventually confess his wrongs to Jesse, letting Jane choke to death on her own vomit and poisoning Brock, etc. Then Jesse will see what a true monster Walt had become; and he will kill Walt, not in a blind rage with a gun like he attempted before when he suspected Walt of poisoning Brock, but in a way that may be a more quiet and seething rage, a rage that may bring Jesse to finally use their old buddy Ricin on Walt. Maybe Walt would want Jesse to take him out, like Col. Kurtz in "Apocalypse Now. " Of course death by Ricin wouldnt be a quick death (if we're to believe Walt in earlier episodes in earlier seasons...in small dose it could take a day or so), but it would be a death that would occur sometime in the final showdown with Hank. Maybe Walt kills Hank, then Walt dies... only for us, the viewer, to realize Jesse poisoned Walt. Then Jesse, Walt's spiritual son and successor, inherits Walt's "empire" and evolves into a hardened and calculating criminal kingpin like Walt. Then Jesse will have met Walt's expectations of Jesse reaching his full potential in applying himself. This speculation is probably wrong, as 99.1% of speculations are in regards to BB; but it's still fun to speculate and continuously be proven wrong by the sudden twists and turns within the incredibly awesome entertainment of Breaking Bad. Man, I can't wait for the next 8 episodes!!!!

Forgettable? The way those 8 snitches were offed in prison was CRAYZEEEE son!!! THAT was anything BUT forgettable!!!

Amazing review of a brilliant TV show and episode. You clearly have your finger on the pulse with this show.

Another good review, but I didn't like this episode as much as everyone else. It was a complete rush job in order to fit everything in. I would say it is the only episode of Breaking Bad I haven't loved (or even liked).
If you don't agree, think about it in light of this quick summary - (1) Walt disposes of Mikes Body after staring at fly - tells Jesse Mike's gone (2) Walt nearly poisons Lydia but Lydia saves herself by expanding his business to Czech Republic (3) Skyler shows Walt big pile of cash (4) Walt tells skyler he's out (5) Walt pays Jesse his money and reminisces about the good old days (6) Walt meets Todds uncle (7) a bunch of guys are killed in prison (8) Hank tells Walt he's sick of chasing monsters (9) Walt's cancer comes back? (10) Walt and Skyler share a moment with the family around the pool (11) Hank finds out Walt is Heisenberg.
I am really disappointed that after 5 1/2 seasons of tantalising drama and tension, all this stuff was glossed over in a single episode. This episode should have been about 10 episodes! This season 5, while it has had its moments, has been the weakest overall for the same reason. But episode 8 takes the cake.
Talk about glossed over - Where were the distributors when the Heisenberg empire was expanding into the Czech Republic? Why didn't Jesse ask where Mike had gone? Why the sudden change of heart for Walt? All those guys killed in prison within 2 minutes - really? I mean... really? The sad thing about this is that it is not like Vince Gilligan has run out of ideas - he only has 16 episodes to work with. He would have been better off cutting his losses and simplifying the story line because in my view, this has taken the shine off what is a brilliant show.

I completely disagree... that 8th episode all happened in a span of 3 months. Consider that from season 1 to season 5, episode 5, was 1 full year, and a helluva year it was where a shitload things occurred. Most people's lives are never that interesting in one lifetime let alone 1 year! But sometimes life rolls along with few incidents. Most lives are mundane, and how those 3 months are portrayed in episode 8 are enough...why would they stretch it out longer for trivial mundane drama's sake? It just showed how things moved along for Walt, how far along he's come. Episode 8 was sort of an interlude, and if the next 8 episodes are going to represent the next 9 months up to Walt's 52nd birthday, then that is going to be one crazy 9 month's in Walt's life. It's a great setup and I am so on board!

And Jesse did ask if Mike got out.... Walt told him he's gone...Mike wouldnt tell Walt where he's going, he was just going to go. After that Jesse and Walt dont talk until Walt pays him a visit with a gift after 3 moths time. It's a given Jesse is scared of Walt, thus the gun he had on him for protection, because he knew what happened to those guys in prison. You think he's going to press Walt about Mike after that???

That underpins my point. Season 1 to season 5 ep 5 is 1 year. Ep 8 is 3 months!
A lot went on in those 3 months - things which were far from mundane but glossed over. He went from being wannabe to exposed king pin in 45 minutes.
Believe me - I don't like canning this show - but for me, this episode was very superficial by Breaking Bad standards.

Good summary.That could be Episode 9 in a nutshell!

Yes but Lydia had the Czech connection all lined up. She's in the importing/exporting business and she said she had all the distributors, all professionals according to Lydia, in Czech Republic all ready to go. Why would we need to see that part of it? It would be boring. And all Walt was doing was cooking, cooking, and more cooking....thats the mundane that I meant. Not a whole lot went on but cooking by Walt and shipping/distributing by Lydia and her connections, and quick montages along the backdrop of the song "Crystal-Blue Persuasion" was all that was needed to drive the point home. Obviously alot is going to happen in the next 8 episodes, so why bog it down with boring B.S. when it could be neatly expedited by skipping the mundane. How do you know things werent mundane in those 3 months? You seem to think that alot of drama unfolded that we werent made privy to, and I just dont see it.

Thanks.. I also think there will be a showdown between Jesse and Todd...or at least I would love to see that happen...I would love to see Todd served a nice cold dish of comeuppance by Jesse! Or maybe Jesse uses Ricin on Todd. I'd be satisfied with that!

Why the sudden change of heart? Honestly, did you not watch the scene where Walt gets checked for cancer again? Now why, do you think, was that put in there? And did you not see him almost break into tears after he tells Skyler he's out?

Ok, so a meth kingpin bothering with whether the product is 99.1 or 99.6 or whatever, isn't superficial? A meth kingpin insisting on not cutting the product? Come on, are none of you guys watching the show criminals?
The major shift in this show was back when Saul was introduced. That's when they let the realism go, and with introducing Gus they burnt all the bridges. Who cares though, it's still the best thriller ever made, be it movies or TV

Im suprised there wasnt mention about the way season 5 started The whole season I was waiting for Walt to get discovered,first I thought it would be via the bug in Hanks office but no it was Gabes book! Walts gonna to NH!

His attention to detail is also shown when he forgets to shut the door at the storage unit, Skyler had to ask him. Soooo now we have a hint as to why he is Mr. Lambert at Deny's in the future! I figured he'd be running from the DEA. It's neat how the seasons last episode leads into the first

Good review.
I think though, that it was a lazy choice on the writers part to make Gale´s book the centre piece to Walts downfall, seeing as how the only evidence were the initials W.W, of which Hank (in his mind) had already cleared Walt of any guilt. I was expecting a more intricate twist, rather than Hank randomly deciding to reconsider W.W as Walter White...

Remembering the first episode we had a flash forward to his 52nd birthday (as we have had similar flash forwards in previous series) where he now has a new identity.
Does he turn state witness, but against who? Jesse maybe,
or does he use the Ricin on Hank and take up Sauls offer of a new ydentity and flee, whatever it is, I have 8 months of mundane programmes to watch before I know.

i agree the prison murder scenes were the most violent ever, i thought that as i watched them, not that i mind.

I recall thinking and making the comment after watching Hazard Pay when Walt picks up Whitmans leaves and grass when he was moving back into the house, that i was intrigued about the significance of that book. I really enjoyed that this ending up being the clue that tipped off Hank. Clearly Walt never realised Gale had written the personal message inside. ah well.

I really liked the way the episode slowly lulled us into that false sense of security, but I must say I picked that Hank was going to find out ad that would be the cliffhanger- I just didn't know what would trigger it- great work Mr Gilligan and co!!! fantastic!!!

Still this episode doesn't beat, for me, dead freight- quite simply the best episode ever in my book.

Still many pieces of the puzzle.thanks to all for this show.

And thanks Paul for your stellar reviews of the greatest show ever

maybe Jesse will become an electrician and Mrs White will call him over to do some wiring and he will find it behind the power plughole and that will make him realise Walt poisoned Brock

that's right, and he threw it down on the bedside table without a care- he didn't realise what was written inside- gee i loved that flashback- 'you got me' - it worked perfectly

no need for secrets when killing todd- which is the purpose of the ricin- a secret murder - hopefully jesse makes him choke on that tarantula

There's only one, massive issue with that explanation: her name is Gretchen Schwartz, ie. G.S., rather than G.B. as it stated in the book. The fact that he has this book in his house, stating that he worked with Gale, is not sufficient evidence to convict Walter of orchestrating a massive drug empire, however. No, with the resources and money Walt has accumulated, he could quite easily pay someone plausibile with those initials to testify or provide an alibi that they sent it to Walt. No, this is a minor bump for Heisenberg, however the implications of how close it is to home may resonate with Walter White, because ultimately he started out in the meth game trying to provide for his family when he inevitably succumbs to cancer, and the potential risk of losing all his money to the DEA might be a MASSIVE wake up call for Walt that it's time to snap out of his huge Heisenberg ego trip.

Gus is a very, very realistic character. You asked if any of us watching are criminals - well, I can't claim to be a criminal, but I have spent the larger part of my career observing and in the company of criminals at the highest echelons of power, and trust me, people like Fring do exist. Saul, whilst a parody of himself, is believable to an extent ("We don't need a criminal lawyer. We need a CRIMINAL lawyer"), but most importantly provides some MUCH needed humour amidst the bleak, violent and thoroughly dark landscape of Breaking Bad.

Hey I don't mind watching characters like Fring or Saul, I watch Breaking Bad te be entertained, not educated, so creative license is allright by me. But not for a second do I believe characters like Fring exist. Ruthless, calculating, intelligent and even highly educated drug lords, yeah, any day, but as for the two points i mentioned, never.

Is it possible that Walt left the book there on purpose? As if to say "come and catch me if you can !"

a very well written review....excellent!

hank had a mini stroke in the elevator at one point, im wondering if this will make a convenient entry into episodes to come, providing some relief for walt to crunch out an alternative plan, its possible he could use his money to found an untouchable fortress in mexico? considering his empire is now international, perhaps politics, influence and open warfare are game enough to entice a 6th 7th 8th season, all the while keeping other family members in the dark about their private war?

why does this have to be the final season seriously, keep it going yo, am i right? right?

Just to speculate on season 6 (I refuse to call it season 5).
Hank won't turn Walt in. It will make Hank look like an idiot or even worse, like he has been protecting him. He will lose face and feel compromised about the implications for the family. Also - Walt will put a guilt trip on him (warning him about the murderous twins, paying for his treatment). I wonder if it may prompt Hank to retire - he was talking whimsically about his old job before he became a cop and doesn't take to his new responsibilities with much gusto.

Season 5 has downplayed Saul as a loose end. Saul might be feeling very insecure given he has been physically threatened by Walt and he has seen Mike's guys get knocked off. The last straw may be if he finds out walt killed Mike. He might turn Walt in, in return for immunity from prosecution and witness protection. This will force Hanks hand and the final showdown will begin.

Also - Walt cannot simply walk away from the meth business. He has new business associates who have been sitting in the background and profiting from his 99.1% purity product. I doubt they are going to let Walt just walk away. I'm guessing the big gun in episode 1 was for them.
To speculate on Walt's invitable death, here are some possible scenarios:
(1) Todd will kill Walt once he has perfected the recipe to assume the empire - least likely scenario but this is not beyond the realms of possibility.
(2) Skyler kills Walt if she gets a sense that the kids are threatened.
(3) Jessie kills Walt with the ricin - most likely scenario - I think learning that Walt let his ex girlfriend choke on her own vomit (I dont buy into this talk of Walt killing her as som have previously suggested) and Walt poisoning Brock and shooting Mike may trigger him off.
(4) Hank killing Walt to protect Skyler, to rid the streets of a monster, or simply plain revenge for being double-crossed.

Ok slagan - you're right. How silly of me.
Expanding from the local meth trade into a foreign market by leveraging off an international distribution network by infiltrating a multinational logistics corporate group is boring and mundane.
You're right. 5 minutes is more than sufficient. I must have just got carried away. I'm sure US & Czech customs is very lax - not much strategy necessary to get all those crates of meth past them.

next to watching these episodes, reading your comments are a must for me

how he knows it was lilly of the valley not Risen that poisened him he thinks the kid did it by accident

I'm betting that Walt did not overlook the book in the bathroom. He is far to fastidious and detial oriented to not see something that obvious. I think it was left out on the toilet on purpose, but to what ends I'm not sure. It could be that he is making peace with everyone he truly cares about (Jesse, Skylar) because the cancer is back and it's terminal, and feels that he owes Hank this.

Great review! Breaking Bad has now surpassed The Wire as my favourite all time tv show. Hank's face at the end of episode 8 sent shivers down my spine.

all good things must come to an end :) better end on a high (ha) than drag it out and jump the shark. like so many tv shows do.

agree. I really like saul. Breaking Bad is pretty dark and you need some humour to break it up.

BTW does anyone else find the Lydia character exceptionally annoying?

He does not need to know it was Lilly of the valley.
He knows Walter pretended he had no idea where it was and blamed it on Fring. So he knew walter had taken it.
Then he could assume that walter also poisoned Brock with a different poison just to make Jesse help kill Fring.

Where did Hank originally read the message that Gale wrote? Was it in the same book? If so why does Walt have it now? Surely it would be with the police as evidence from the murder scene. Or was it also written in his lab notes. A bit strange that he has the exact same dedication in his lab notes that he wrote in the book he gave to Walt. Not criticising. Absolutely loved every minute of the show but a bit confused by this little detail. Explanations welcome.

I agree re the book. As mentioned in the Buyout review (all these BB reviews are excellent) Walt has a legacy he wants to be remembered for. If he gets away with it no one will ever know, so he either has a reason for leaving the book on display, or it's a subconscious thing.

The only reason why this Lydia character might seem annoying to you is because of the uncertainty she/herself is living in , Gustavo's death and the new characters she now has to directly deal with, she went from sitting in an office receiving reports to being exposed to all that is changing around her and being the thorough due diligent local/international distribution expert she is portrayed to be, frankly she is out of her comfort zone and her expose with Mike and his stubbornness to not let his loyal men meet their demise is an anomaly she wasn't ready to accept in a way she really does share the same grandeur ego Walter emits when it comes to setting out a plan and executing it , Personally I adore this Lydia character , i like how she works under pressure ,she has good survival instincts, her brain calculates steps ahead of time , for example she knew that the only way to not end up being one of the loose ends that needed tying up is by using whatever leverage she had (knowledge).

Walter and Lydia Complement each other , Mike and Jesse are the same way in respects to each other, viewed as ( Risk Factors) in the Mindset of Precise Calculative Interpreters such as Lydia and Walter. A character like Lydia entering the center stage is exactly why BB such a fluid, suspense ridden TV show.

Too Bad Lydia is going to die as are other main characters of season 5 , Next 8 episodes is going to be a crafted art of butchery by VG , the way things are moving its just about time for things to get as ugly as they can get.

NO ESCAPES THE CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR ACTIONS ON BREAKING BAD !!!!

Well it's definitely partly her uncertainty. Her uncertainty translates into this schizophrenic edginess which is so frustrating to watch! I have no sympathy for her character because of this.

my fav character was Mike, he's dead, so idk why am i going to watch the incoming episodes =(

'so desperate in her pessimism a few weeks ago that she was attempting to passive smoke Walt to death'

lmaaaaaaao very well done.

Sounds very plausible, but if he does truly care about Jesse/Skylar he wouldn't throw them under the bus by tipping off hank, but if he is heartless as he increasingly appears he might well do it for his own legacy....

This is the first time I've ever bothered to comment on anything like this but felt compelled to.

Firstly your reviews, writing style and attention to detail are fantastic. Do you review other stuff because I'd love to read anything you write.

I'm over in the UK and started season 1 on Netflix a few weeks ago. Since then, I've been ploughing through the episodes and I'm bang up to date.

Breaking Bad is, without doubt, the best TV series I've ever watched and your reviews are great. Thank you

Hank read the original message in Gale's lab notes. In Gale's lab notes he meant Walt Whitman. Gale gave Walter White the Walt Whitman book with the dedication to the 'other' W.W.

Wow, what an excellent review. I've enjoyed reading all your reviews for Season 5. You're a damn fine writer.

Mentioning the playing of 'Up The Junction' near the end is yet another reason why these reviews are absolutely first class :D An episode isn't over until I've read these!

I'd like to say how much I have enjoyed your reviews. I just saw this episode tonight so I've finally caught up with the U.S.
Roll on August!

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