AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 5, Episode 8: “Gliding Over All”
Directed by Michelle MacLaren
Written by Moira Walley-Beckett
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Say My Name” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Blood Money” – click here
Mike (Jonathan Banks) is dead, long live the Mike!
At meth HQ, Todd (Jesse Plemons) arrives to find Walt (Bryan Cranston) sitting in the dark, staring at a fly. He’s helped get rid of Mike’s car. Of course Walt couldn’t use Jesse (Aaron Paul). Might’ve been the last straw for the younger cook. Plus, Walt feels he can trust the child killer— the guy’s a psychopath underneath a calm exterior. The two of them are ready to dispose of the corpse when they’re interrupted by Pinkman, who wants to know if Mike got away safely. Walt treats his previous partner like a real asshole, as if trying to burn every last bridge purposefully.
ASAC Hank Schrader (Dean Norris) is working on the guys who were working under Fring. He’s got several options. Dan’s in custody, and they’ve got Dennis, the dude who ran the industrial laundromat. No shortage of possible rats. Looks bad for those choosing to remain in the meth industry.
Speaking of the industry, Lydia (Laura Fraser) meets Walt in a public place to talk about the list. She keeps the list of “nine names” in her head— smart move. She wants to stay alive. She knows Mike’s been put down, considering Walt’s even there to get the list at all. She offers to expand Heisenberg’s empire from North America to the rest of the Western world and beyond. Some “overseas sales” of the blue stuff would make him a billionaire. Although he has reservations, he loves the smell of cash. She’s playing to his weaknesses. One benefit is, by selling more overseas it puts distance between him and his product. More risks equal more gains. And so a tentative deal’s struck. We do see that ole Heisenberg brought along poison, in case he decided Lydia needed to die.
Walt’s taking other meetings. He wants to meet with Todd’s uncle, a neo-Nazi piece of shit named Jack (Michael Bowen) who’s got himself a crew of shitty white dudes to commit crimes. HUGE new low for Mr. White, to be involved with racist maniacs. He’s planning to use their jailhouse connections to execute a major hit on all the men from the list. They’ve got to hit guys “in three separate jails all within two minutes.” Jack gets the job done, as all the people connected to Heisenberg and Fring are eliminated brutally one by one— some are stabbed mercilessly, another guy’s lit on fire.
This all means terrible news for Hank’s case. He’s broken, once more, by things outside of his control, and – like before – it has to do with Walt. It leaves the usually chest thumping Schrader vulnerable, in a sense back where he started after he got shot. One of the great tragedies of Breaking Bad is watching Hank’s life be ruined by the man he so often confides in, his own brother-in-law. Because, let’s face it, Walt didn’t take long to become one of those monsters Hank talks about with him over a drink. Such cruel irony.
Soundtrack note: “Crystal Blue Persuasion” from 1969 by Tommy James & the Shondells plays during the montage of cooking meth and money laundering. Choice tune, perfectly fitting for this series.
“Tagging trees is a lot better than chasing monsters”
At home, Skyler (Anna Gunn) asks her husband to go for a drive. They head to a storage locker. She’s piled bundles upon bundles of thick cash there. She stopped counting ages ago. She couldn’t figure out where else to keep it. Now she wants to have her life back. “How much is enough?” she asks him. Walt can’t answer that. He doesn’t even know himself. That’d require a level of self-awareness a highly intelligent man such as himself STILL doesn’t have, despite the fact he’s smart as shit.
The next day Walt goes to Jesse’s place. They reminisce about cooking in the old RV. Them good ole days! Nostalgia’s a cheap form of conversation. They remember it like the memories are worth something. Sad to see their only connection’s meth. When Walt goes he leaves behind the bags of money owed to Jesse, and Pinkman almost expects something terrifying to be inside when he opens them.
Walt goes home to tell Skyler he’s gotten out of the business. He wants to move forward with a normal life again. Maybe somehow they can get back to some kind of real relationship. Sure, that’s what Walt tells himself. Later on the Whites and the Schraders are hanging out by the pool. (Soundtrack note: “Up the Junction” by Squeeze plays at the White house.) It feels genuine for the first time in a long time now that Skyler feels slightly more comfortable. Hank heads inside to the washroom at one point. He takes a seat and needs reading material, picking up Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass off the top of the toilet. Inside, he finds the inscription Gale Boetticher left for W.W. And finally, after so long, the pieces come together for Hank as he remembers that old conversation he had with his brother-in-law after the shooting.
Oh. My. God.
Stunning episode with a killer, knockout moment at the end. Just amazing work, all around. “Blood Money” continues this tortured saga next.