Breaking Bad – “Gliding Over All” – review

September 4, 2012
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This season (excuse me, half season) of Breaking Bad has been full of great shit, but said great shit has certainly felt rushed.  So much stuff happened this season that it could have been told over a full, regular thirteen episode season more smoothly – hell, it maybe needed even more time than that.  The final episode of 2012, “Gliding Over All,” points out this issue more clearly than anything we’ve seen all year.

So Walt has Todd help him clean up what he did to Mike last week and it seems to go well enough.  Jesse is none the wiser and Todd seems like snitching isn’t his bag.  Then, as he thought too late into his confrontation with Mike, Walt asks Lydia for the names on the legacy list, but she plays it smart, making herself useful by saying that once the legacies are handled she can expand his business to the Ukraine for a cut of the profits.  (I’ll ask for the first time: what about the guys in Phoenix?  What happened to his deal with them?)  Walt agrees and then asks for help from Todd’s Aryan Brotherhood-ish connections with contacts in jails all over the state.  (I’ll ask for the second time: where are the Phoenix guys on this decision?  Do they not have guys in prison who could lend a hand?)

So Walt has his Godfather baptism scene with these dudes that have just barely been set up in the show previously, the plan to kill all the legacies in one fell swoop over a few minutes in different prisons going off without a hitch, the ironic music playing over the scene letting us know that there’s no reason to worry about the outcome.  Then Walt talks to a very defeated Hank and boom, that’s the end of that problem.

This would be enough to fill a whole episode normally (hell a couple of episodes) but it takes almost half the episode to move past.  Walt just has to suggest to these new players that this shit has to happen and, what do you know, it happens.  That would’ve been a cool enough end to the half season, really, the climactic moment being the massive slaughter of a bunch of dudes by grisly means, but instead we have another montage following it, this time of Walt’s success as an international meth distributor with the help of Lydia.  (Again, what ever happened to the Phoenix boys?)  We learn that this montage takes place over just a couple months and that in that time Walt has made more money than he could spend, as Skyler puts it, in “ten lifetimes.”  He decides to retire at Skyler’s urging, gets Jesse his five million that he’s owed, apparently (possibly) is cancer-free, gets the kids back from Hank and Marie, and all is right in the world until the final moment of the episode.

Before we talk about that, though, there’s some other things that are bothering me.  First there’s the weirdest thing the show has done to date: allowed the kids to stay at Hank and Marie’s for-fucking-ever.  That is too goddamn weird to me.  Yes, the Schraders and the Whites are close as all hell, seemingly the sole guests of choice at their respective barbeques and all, but marriage problems leading to ditching your kids for more than a week or so?  That’s too fucking weird, just never sat right with me.  That was a fix that put allowed Skyler to keep from ratting, yes, but also needed some more screen time to make believable, if it could ever have been believable.

Then there’s the thing I’ve been parenthetically hinting at all review: the disappearance of the Phoenix connection.  Apparently Lydia and Walt were up and running right away and that was that.  Maybe I missed a throwaway line that explained it (and, you know, correct my ass if that’s the case, diligent Broke Badasses) but, seriously, what happened to those guys?  Were Walt and Todd able to produce so much that he could satisfy both the Ukraine and Arizona at the same time?  Again, a little screen time would’ve cleared this all up.

Then there’s the tossed off nature of his roaring success over, you know, apparently just a few months, success so massive that he has a storage locker filled with cash.  It just doesn’t feel right to me.  So much happens, so many jumps in just one episode on a show that never used to jump.  But then the timeline never seemed weird to me until season five part i, said timeline being first called into question on the fifty-first birthday episode.  Breaking Bad is a show that’s never better when they let us in on the process, and lately they’ve just been hurrying past the process in favor of having more cool shit happen.  Granted, we’ve never asked for flawless logic or airtight plotting from this show (you could poke all kinds of holes in anything and it’s not a productive thing to get caught up in when enjoying fiction) but they really seemed to stretch it a little too much for my tastes this season.

But all this griping isn’t to say that I haven’t loved the show this season, or even this episode.  There’s too many fun and exciting developments going down for me to get too bent out of shape, too many moments that I loved to be bothered by how those moments were achieved.  I dunno, though, dear reader, am I alone on this island?  Am I the only one feeling like they needed more time to make some of these developments feel less forced and shoe-horned in?  Who doesn’t love a fast-paced story but really I think the show has been at its best (note that season three is my favorite) when they let shit breathe, when they take a more Sopranos-ish, character-driven approach.  When something major happens every week it makes the major things less special.  But again, I might be alone in feeling this.

But that’s enough of my griping – let’s talk about that awesome final scene.  The suspense of that wide shot around the pool was fantastic.  You’ve got an inane conversation happening at the patio table and Walter Junior pushing around the baby ever so slowly, the scene certainly fooling me into thinking that we’d see Walter Junior take a sniper shot to the head and topple into the pool, Gus-Fring’s-lover-style.  But then nothing happens, no bombs or shots or anything.  Instead, Hank has to drop a different kind of bomb in the can.  At that point it seemed clear that he was going to discover something, and at first I was thinking it was going to be one the many things Walt hid in the light sockets.  Instead it was a book signed by Gale Boetticher, leaving little doubt that, yes, Hank’s brother-in-law is the brilliant chemist, W-fucking-W.

It’s a great cliffhanger and one we’re all no doubt dying to see play out toot-fucking-sweet.  Too bad it won’t be until next year.  Really, if you think about it, such a cliffhanger wouldn’t have been a terrible way to end the series as a whole.  It’s a classic movie ending, one that would rile people up even more than the ending to The Sopranos, but it would also be pretty cheap.  I always hoped that Hank would get a chance to look like something other than a schmuck, but I didn’t know it would happen with eight whole episodes left.  What doe you guys think will open the series next year?  Hank helping Walt escape to New Hampshire with a new identity?  Walt catching onto Hank’s suspicion and lighting out on his lonesome?  Walt somehow able to kill Hank before he can bring it all crashing down on him?  The Phoenix boys realizing that they haven’t been getting a shipment for-fucking-ever and doing something about it?  (I’ll give it up now but seriously, how did extricating himself from the life, internationally or stateside, come so goddamn easily as well?)

Anyhow, see you next year, Broke Badasses.  It’s a long ways off but we’re all in this together.

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Nerd of Noir

I love crime/noir fiction, comics and movies. I think my opinions are web-worthy. Then again, what asshole doesn't think that their opinions deserve a blog?

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4 Responses to Breaking Bad – “Gliding Over All” – review

  1. Patti Abbott on September 5, 2012 at 9:57 am

    I agree completely about the rushed nature. It’s how they have to cover a lot of ground in a two-hour movie not a TV show. Although like you, I love every minute.
    I think Hank has a real problem on his hands. Destroy his family now that Walt is out of it? Seems unlikely except he may need to bring to conclusion the thing that has now haunted him for years. He may not be able to help himself. Skyler would have to go down with Walt. Just how much does he love those kids.
    Can’t wait to see.

  2. Alex Santos on September 5, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    I think Walt will try to kill Hank with the ricine and will kill Marie in the process, accendentally.

  3. Nathan Pettigrew on September 5, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    The Phoenix guys Are his distribution, stateside anyway. That’s the deal he made, and I’m assuming that the couple of times they showed Todd making deliveries during the montage, that’s who was in the other car—Walt’s new distribution team aka the guys from Phoenix.

    Hank and Marie with the kids for 2 and half months, yeah that’s definitely long, but it’s believable to me in this case considering Skylar’s stunt in the pool. If not for that, I would agree, but in this case it was more than just marital problems and dumping the kids on Hank and Marie. It’s “Skylar’s going through some Psychiatric shit!” That’s what Marie meant when she was telling her, “You look Happy or You’re smiling again. But we feel we’re Enabling you.” Right. Marie herself is pointing out that it’s been too long, but they’ve been extremely cautious out of concern for Skylar’s mental health. I think stability was the whole key. Not to mention Marie’s partly to blame. She loves that baby and would raise Holly herself if she could. They’ve made that clear in a few scenes over the past couple of seasons, and holding on to the baby that long probably had as much to do with Marie as it did Skylar.

    So yeah I guess I disagree about the episode feeling rushed, in fact I thought the season as a whole this year has been a bit of a slow burn, though very realistic considering the fallout and consequences of taking out a major player like Gus. Just glad that all finally came to a head and we’re on to something new.

    And damn—there are Endless possibilities with Hank in the know. How can he not tell Marie if she’s always going over to Heisenberg’s house? What happens to Marie and Skyler when he does? But he probably shouldn’t tell anyone at first seeing that’s how a professional operates, will have to tail Walt to see what happens, but what will he find now that Walt’s allegedly out? And yeah those kids—Will Hank want to actually hold on to those kids now more than ever with what he knows? It’s more than cop chasing criminal. It’s a serious and complicated family drama with endless possibilities for the writers. Makes for very exciting final 8 and too long of a wait, but there’s always Justified Season 4 in the meantime ;) Any chance of you guys reviewing Boardwalk Empire?

  4. Josh C. on September 7, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    I’m with you. This season has a lot about it that just didn’t sit well with me. On top of that, I don’t understand why it was split up like this. I’ve said before I didn’t buy into the Mike situation, and I still don’t like it, but okay. And yes, this episode rushed way too much. But where ARE those Phoenix boys? How did Walt just retire? I think these are questions left to be answered in the next half-season, most likely with Walt selling his recipe or some such thing.

    The last scene of the family with the pool, like you, I was waiting on a bomb or a sniper or something like that, too. I didn’t see Hank finding that book dedication in the crapper. I still think Skyler is going to be the one to kill Walt, possibly with Jesse’s help. How the Hank situation will play out, I’m not sure, but I can’t see anyone with as much reason to put Walt down as Skyler. In an earlier episode where she said she wasn’t as smart or calculating as Walt, yeah, I don’t think that was written in there by accident. It just means he won’t see her coming.