So technically we’re at the halfway point of Breaking Bad’s last season, but in practical terms, episode eight represents a pretty epic cliffhanger, not to be resolved until the show’s excruciatingly delayed return in summer of 2013. For all intents and purposes – as the online dialogue surrounding it can attest – “Gliding Over All” is functionally a season finale episode, and it plays its hand with all the quiet assuredness fans have come to expect.
Episode eight fades up on Walt sitting alone in the pest control office, darkly contemplating a housefly. Todd quietly appears and announces that Mike’s car has been transferred to the junkyard and crushed into a cube, having successfully avoided suspicion en route. Walt is stoic, but appears satisfied. They walk to the garage and peer sickly into the trunk of a car at Mike’s crumpled corpse for a few seconds before Jesse shows up, voicing concern about Mike’s legacy contacts who are continuing to languish in prison. Walt brushes Jesse off, saying it’s none of his business now that he’s taken himself out of the game, and that Walt will take care of it.
Following the credits, Walt showers and grabs a towel off the rack next to him. Below it, crassly situated on top of a stack of magazines for convenient toilet seat perusal, is Gale’s copy of Leaves of Grass.
Hank harangues the same prisoner he tried to squeeze at the start of the season, making fruitless and circular attempts at bargaining with his lawyer. The prisoner seems antsy to cut a deal now that his hazard pay has been truncated, but he’s obviously still too reticent about the amount of information he’s willing to provide. Hank eventually gets impatient and stands up to leave, promising to go “rattle some cages” elsewhere.
In his Heisenberg hat and sunglasses, Walt strides into a café to meet with Lydia. She has the names of the nine legacies memorized, but before she’ll divulge them, she wants to make sure Walt has a solid incentive not to follow up her revelation by bumping her off. She correctly intuits Walt’s sudden, active interest in eliminating the remaining Fring associates to mean that Mike is out of the picture, which also means that all bets are off as far as her own personal safety is concerned. Walt is impatient and belittles Lydia’s suggestion that he would bother trying to assassinate her, but he shuts up once he realizes she has something to say that he’s actually interested in hearing.
Thanks to her business contacts, Lydia has the ability to help Walt expand his market overseas into the Czech republic, which as Lydia explains is pretty much the hugest meth market in the entire civilized world. Over 5% of the country’s total population are regular users, and the available product is nowhere near as pure as Walt’s, meaning he could pretty much double his business overnight. Walt mulls the offer over and agrees, and they shake on it. Lydia writes down the names of the prisoners on a napkin, which she slides across the table, then gets up and leaves.
Once Lydia is out the door, Walt lifts his hat off the table where he’s been fingering it throughout the conversation. Hidden beneath the hat is the glass vial of rycin.
Walt meets in a dark, skeevy crack hotel with Todd’s uncle and his swastika-tattooed flunkies to discuss the offing of the Fring legacies. The murders have to happen simultaneously so nobody will have time to seek protection or give the police any information, which means the hits will have to be tightly planned and coordinated down to the second. The thugs are initially reluctant to take on the job, but Walt convinces them.
The Lord, and/or the show’s writers, have heard my fervent prayers and deigned to bless me once again with a glorious, glorious Breaking Bad montage. The montage is a montage of death and carnage set to toe-tapping lounge music. One by one, all nine legacies and the pudgy lawyer with the cookies from last week’s episode get ambushed by prison toughs and quickly, methodically whacked. Most of them get shivved, but one dude gets his throat cut, and that other guy Hank was hassling at the beginning of the episode gets locked in a laundry room and set on fire.
At Hank and Marie’s, Walt plays with Holly in front of the TV while a news report plays detailing the recent spate of prison murders. Skyler isn’t there – evidently they’re no longer on speaking terms and have been visiting the kids in separate intervals. Hank comes home from work and shambles into the kitchen looking despondent, greeting Walt and pouring them both a drink.
They sit down in the living room and regard each other silently for a few moments. Dreamlike, Hank begins to relate the story of a summer job he had in high school, marking trees with spray paint deep in the woods for a lumber company to cut down. The pay, Hank explains, was low, and the work was terrible. He concludes by tiredly saying that maybe he should have appreciated the job more – “tagging trees is a lot better than chasing monsters.” Hank covers his mouth with his hands and stares at the floor. Walt looks at him, unblinking and emotionless, then downs his drink and thoughtfully says, “I used to love to go camping.”
Two montages in one episode, guys! This one is set, adorably, to “Crystal Blue Persuasion” by Tommy James and the Shondells, which I can’t believe has never been used on this show before, because yeah, wow. Todd and Walt cook blue crystal, Lydia pencils out the logistics of shipping and transport for the international sales, and a phalanx of nameless, faceless heavies drop bags of meth into oil barrels, which they then seal and tag to ship. Skyler and Saul Goodman both make their first (and in Saul’s case, tragically, last) appearances of the episode, cooking books at the car wash and furtively accepting fistfuls of ill-gotten cash, respectively. The montage’s final shot is a sweeping pan over the residential neighborhoods of Albuquerque, with yellow-and-green striped tents tranquilly fading in, one after another, blanketing a succession of roofs.
Skyler and Walter Jr. sit in Marie’s living room playing with Holly. Junior leaves to take a call, and Marie and Skyler talk awkwardly about the kids’ current living situation. Marie starts pushing for Skyler and Walt to take the kids back, referencing Walt and Skyler’s marital problems, and Skyler’s swimming pool episode, with chipper condescension. Skyler seems uncomfortable, not sure how to respond.
Later, Skyler comes home and confronts Walt, asking him to take a drive with her. They go to a storage facility, and Skyler takes Walt to a unit filled with piles upon piles of uncounted cash. She explains that there is too much money coming in for her to count anymore, and that her efforts to sort and weigh it have ultimately proven too logistically complicated. She literally has no idea how much money there even is anymore, only that it’s too much to launder – too much, in fact, to spend “in ten lifetimes.” She wants to know when Walt plans to quit the business and walk away with what he’s already earned, telling him pleadingly that she wants her kids and her life back.
Walt shows up unexpectedly at Jesse’s house. Reluctantly, Jesse invites him in, making the weird, hilarious gesture of picking his bong up off the coffee table and placing it discreetly behind a cushion on the floor. Jesse tells Walt that he knows about the prison hits, which is why he hasn’t left town like he said he would. Walt flatly says it needed to be done, and Jesse appears to accept that. They have a strange nostalgic conversation about the seeds of their professional relationship, making fun of the trailer and talking about how often it used to break down and how badly equipped it was.
Finally, Walt lets himself out, casually telling Jesse that he left something for him. Glancing out onto the porch as Walt drives away, Jesse is confronted by three large black duffel bags – all filled with cash. He sits on the floor of his living room hyperventilating, pulls a gun out of his back pocket and drops the cartridge, sliding it away from him across the floor. He collapses into a heap, sobbing.
Skyler washes dishes in the kitchen. Quietly, Walt comes up behind her and touches her shoulder. “I’m out,” he says, smiling gently. She stares at him, uncomprehending. “I’m out,” he repeats, then turns and walks away.
Marie, Hank, Walt, Skylar, and the kids are reunited by the pool for dinner. The scene is staged in an interesting way – all the dialogue is downplayed and ambient, and nothing very important is said. At length, Hank stands up and walks inside the house to use the restroom.
Sitting down on the toilet, Hank rifles through the magazines in the basket on top of the toilet tank and comes up with Walt’s copy of Leaves of Grass. Thumbing through it idly, he flips to the title page and notices the inscription.
To My other favorite W.W. It’s an honour working with you. Fondly, G.B.
Hank stares at the caption, frowning silently for several seconds as the camera tracks in slowly on his face.
A fraction of the blue-lit scene from the bedroom between Walt and Hank, shortly after Gale’s murder, replays. Hank reads out loud to Walt from Gale’s recovered notes – “To W.W., my star,” Hank intones. “W.W. – who do you figure that is? Woodrow Wilson…Willy Wonka…Walter White?”
Walt holds up his hands and chuckles. “You got me.”
Slowly, with an expression of dread, confusion and disbelief, Hank raises his head and stares into the camera.
Enjoy waiting an entire year to find out what’s going to happen next.