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Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad is a drama about Walter White, a chemistry professor who is diagnosed with lung cancer. He enlists the help of his former student Jesse Pinkman to manufacture and sell methamphetamine. AMC 2008-???

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Viewer
79
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Episode 8 - Gliding Over All

4 February 2014

Credit AMC

Synopsis: Lydia seduces Walt with the offer of selling meth to the Czech Republic. He spares her but arranges for Jesse’s relatives to kill off the remainder of Gus and Mike’s men. Now that he can finally run things the way he wants Walt spends nearly three months working busily and accumulating piles of cash. Marie eventually suggests to Skylear that it’s time to take her kids back. Skyler shows Walt the pile of money he has and he decides to get out. He gives Jessie his share and apparently leaves the business. Hank then discovers a book in his bathroom with an inscription from Gale.

The Good: I thought parts of this were spectacular. Two scenes in particular felt to me like Breaking Bad at its very best.

The first was the mass murder of the nine legacy witnesses in prison. I found those collection of scenes horrific and unpleasant. It’s a huge credit to the show that I did because, even though I’m not the most knowledgeable when it comes to mafia movies, it felt hugely derivative. Walter stared at his watch like the Godfather while his enemies were butchered on his orders. The violent depiction of the murders saddened me and the feeling I had watching Walt tucked away in his home was particularly interesting. Unlike actual mafia bosses I don’t think Walt could have handled seeing those murders in person. His shocked reaction to Mike’s far less horrific death showed us that Walt is still playing at being Scarface. So to see him standing in his home away from all the action underlined to me how insulated he is from his victims. I assume he paid Todd’s family well to coordinate this series of attacks, money he surely could have transferred to the legacy men to keep them quiet.

It was as dark as anything the show has done and I thought it fed well into what followed. Hank looked very much like a broken man as he shuffled home and reminisced about his old job spraying trees when he didn’t have to see such horrors. Walt then began to have similar feelings. Rather playing off my feeling that he isn’t Scarface he soon began to realise that life was pretty empty now that he was King. The extra long montage of him cooking, showering, shipping and collecting bags of money made its point well. Walt wasn’t surrounded by friends and family or anything that gave him pleasure. Instead he was just rushing from one place to another collecting money that he didn’t need.

As the montage rolled on I wondered how long exactly Hank and Marie were having to look after the White children. As we came out of it those questions were immediately answered with Marie understandably feeling that after three months nothing more was likely to change between Walt and Skyler. The huge pile of money Skyler showed Walt was a visual aid lacking in subtlety but it did echo the emotions that had been evident on his face during the montage. He was clearly not enjoying the “Empire Business” and decided that now was the right time to pursue happiness instead

Which brings us to the second great scene. Walt goes to see Jesse who looks terrified of him. It took me a minute to realise that Jesse would have learnt what happened both to Mike and the nine guys in prison. I did also note that Jesse went off screen to get something before opening the door. He tried to hide his bong from Walt so as not to prove him right (from their argument last episode) and then they began to talk. Walt then reminisces about the old days when they cooked in the RV and scraped by. I loved the dialogue between them because unlike the big pile of cash it made its point in what wasn’t said. Clearly Walt was happier when he was cooking with Jesse. It was more exciting when they were starting out and their achievements came at no one’s expense. He also misses Jesse, a partner with untapped potential who cared about him, rather than the criminally raised efficiency of Todd. What I liked even more about all this was that it chimed closer to the Walt we saw for the first four seasons. I haven’t had trouble buying into his moral flexibility but I’m glad that the warmer part of him hasn’t been forgotten. He seems a far more rounded character for being willing to admit at least one of his mistakes and leave Jesse his five million. Of course Jesse then collapses in an emotional heap and reveals the gun he was holding the whole time which was a nice touch.

The Bad: Nothing bad bad...

The Unknown: Earlier in the episode it was Walt holding a deadly weapon as he came to his meeting with Lydia prepared to liquidate her with some ricin. That was a revealing moment and yet she appealed to his greed with talk of the Czech Republic and he decided to leave her be. I was happy with that to an extent. Lydia entered the season a quivering wreck and so it’s hard to accept that she would jump into the arms of Walt rather than aim to get out. Perhaps she thought seducing him with an offer of money was her best bet to survive but surely she knows that that is only a temporary saviour.

Walt announcing that he was “out” was a tough moment to process. Did he really just say to Todd “you’re on your own now?” Did he tell Declan to take over the business? Was he telling Skyler he would be out soon? Or was he lying to make her happy? The next scene at the family dinner certainly implied that this was meant to be the happy ending for the Whites. If so then Walt’s exit was terribly rushed and not very convincing. I hope next season we find out more about how he planned to wind down.

In a way though the details of his exit were less important than what you knew was coming next. I thought it was a fascinating choice to show Walt having regrets and decide to do right by Jesse and his family. We already know where he will be on his next birthday so the happy family scene was screaming “Here it comes” throughout the light chatter about sun screen. Then the question became what was Hank going to find in the bathroom that would give him his Usual Suspects moment. I thought he was going to find a book about Heisenberg but instead we returned to Gale and Walt Whitman and that teasing moment when he “accused” Walt last season (404). I was disappointed that it was such a literal clue and didn’t require more detective work. I don’t remember Gale giving Walt the book either which would have helped.

The rushed nature of Walt’s decision to quit (from our point of view, I know three months did pass) wasn’t helped by him sitting so fearlessly next to Todd’s neo-nazi pals. The painting on the wall was the same one present when he was in hospital (hence his musing on it) and we got a similar call back when we saw the towel dispenser he punched in (209). Walt’s lung scan may factor into things of course. Perhaps the fly was just another call back too (310) but it was interesting to see him pondering on flies in general for so long.

Best Moment: Jesse and Walt discussing the old RV. Breaking Bad rediscovering a bit of subtlety.

The Bottom Line: I liked this a lot and in a way can now see why we were given the flash forward. It meant that we weren’t supposed to be taken in by the brisk happy ending that Walt concocted. We were meant to know that this was all going to come crumbling down and now the back eight will all be about Hank finding proof. It should be excellent and filled with tension which is what we are all here for.

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  • Post Pod cast comments:

    Good:

    The coordinated assassinations of Mike’s crew were disturbingly powerful. The technique
    has been done before in movies. The guy set on fire I have not seen before.

    Music helps tell the episode really well:

    I love the easter egg of Squeeze’s song ‘Up the Junction’ that was playing as background music while everyone is around the patio table next to the pool before Hank goes to the bathroom and finds his connection of Walt with Gale. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Up_the_Junction_%28song%29


    The camera work of Walt on the sofa talking to Hank leaning forward and then leaning back in his cook suit at a cook site was nicely done. I loved the montage of his 3 months cooking to earn bank while ‘Crystal Blue Persuasion’ was droning on in the background.

    This is one of my favorite episodes so far of the series.

    Lots of action and story development done very well!

    The scene between Walt and Jessie was tense! Jessie definitely looked afraid of Walt and the lines for his anxiety worked very well with his emotions. The gun confirms this at the end leaving any doubt. Why was Walt there (really)?

    Bad:

    It may be possible that Hank would have found the book, however it was down in the stack pretty far (in BACK of him.) I thought it was a little bit of a reach. Especially him looking through every page. Hank doesn’t strike me as being a renaissance type of guy (that likes artsy type of things). Then again, he was into minerals and beer crafting so I guess reading Walt Whitman isn’t too much of a stretch.

    Unknown:

    Why was Walt really at Jessie’s place?
    Was it out of guilt for not giving him his 5 Million?
    Is Walt really out of the Meth business?
    Does Walt feel empty because there’s really nothing left in his mind of his old self?
    Is Todd in charge now of everything?
    When will Hank confront Walt?
    Was Hank having a panic attack in the car?
    What is physically wrong with Hank?
    He had a similar episode to the one when he was driving earlier in the series when he was on a drug bust.

    Viewer score: 75 / 100

    Posted by Fluids, 03/02/2014 5:36pm (6 years ago)

  • You should watch them :-)

    You can find my review of Rubicon elsewhere on the site btw.

    Posted by The TV Critic, 22/01/2014 6:31pm (6 years ago)

  • I’ve spent the last couple of months watching the whole of Breaking Bad and am now in the final straight for the last 8 episodes. I share a disappointment with Robin after watching “Dead Freight” with the heist. It felt like the cast were in another show and to me it all seemed over the top. I had similar feelings watching “Gliding over all” with Lydia offering so easily a new market to Walt and then the prison killings which I thought were all so quick to accomplish. I was driven to watch the first 4 seasons but rather than watch the last of season 5 I have started to watch Rubicon which is a total contrast and to me it is, so far very good. I will come back to the last episodes of BB but I have no sense of urgency to watch them.

    Posted by Robertinspain, 22/01/2014 3:13pm (6 years ago)

  • Thanks for the great podcasts as it is unique to the others that I listen too. I have seen the last episode again after listening to your podcast, as well as after buzz and breaking good. After the second viewing and absorbing the podcasts I listened to, I enjoyed this episode much more then I originally did. I don't know if Jesse knows that mike is dead like you say. I believe that he would have confronted Walt about mike when Walt was at hs house. Speaking of that scene it was my favorite for me when Jesse breaks down a little and throws his gun on the floor.
    As for your comments on mike not acting like mike at the end, Vince Gilligan Has said the reason mike was not on top of his game was because he was getting old sloppy, and didn't care anymore. I'm not sure where I stand on that issue yet. I definitely agree that brba is much better when Walt is not entirely just his old self or just Heisenberg. Much more interesting, relatable, and empathetic.

    Viewer score: 75 / 100

    Posted by Matthew mossberg, 09/09/2012 1:14am (7 years ago)

  • Hey Robin, just a thought, on the Afterbuzz, Breaking Good and The One Who Knocks podcasts they all try to get listeners to use what I think is called the Affiliates programme through Amazon. Basically when listeners buy something on Amazon they go through a specific link or code and they don`t pay any more but a small percentage of their purchase goes to Breaking Good etc. So if you could find out what that is and sign up then when we buy things on Amazon we could use the link to your site so you could get the percentage. I don`t know exactly how it works or if you`ll be eligible but if so I`ll do it for your site when I use Amazon. Great podcast by the way. Cheers, Kay.

    Posted by Kay, 06/09/2012 6:29pm (7 years ago)

  • Hi Robin

    A rewatch of seasons 1, 2 and 3 sounds fantastic and would help a lot with the wait until next season.
    I`d definitely listen.

    Kay

    Posted by Kay, 06/09/2012 4:54pm (7 years ago)

  • Pertaining to this week's episode. I found it wonderful.

    There was palpable electricity between Walt and Lydia and I'd lay odds that there's a romantic encounter in the offing. I don't think it's an accident that she resembles Walt's old flame Gretchen Schwartz in appearance and character. (Try a Google Image search on actresses Laura Fraser and Jessica Hecht, Lydia and Gretchen respectively; the similarities are striking).

    I loved seeing Lydia's fine-tuned business skills and ability to scheme furiously on display in her Czech pitch to Walt. Her verbatim echo of Season 1's Tuco, "We're going to make a LOT of money together!"was kind of chilling. I can't guess at the significance at this point, but I don't make it out as being terribly auspicious.

    Anyway, in my opinion, Lydia has shot up like a test pilot to the ranks of the most interesting characters of the show. Her performances are spellbinding.

    The series of jailhouse hits was stunning. Montages are certainly a specialty of this series; and the technique was beautifully employed for this purpose. As for the deed itself, the sheer suddenness and volume of human suffering exacted (ten murders in two minutes) actually served to humanize the victims, who, largely as vicious thugs themselves, would not have generated much sympathy viewed individually.

    As a criminal act, it was a hideous and simultaneously wonderful move which not only advanced the story, but built up Walter into a true "monster," as Hank would later express it. This crime was Walter at his most savage; he had never before been as calculating and cold-blooded.

    Speaking of Hank, I loved how the enormousness of the deed weighed visibly on him. You could see it in his more pronounced limp as he arrived home and made his way directly to his bourbon bottle before morosely slumping into his chair.

    One problem I have: unless I'm missing something, Hank doesn't know that Mike is dead. Instead of brooding, shouldn't he be mustering his agents for a frantic manhunt? I guess I'll put that in the unknown category for now.

    Finally, I've seldom experienced such a bracing cliffhanger or one that so depressed me at the thought of waiting 10 months for the resolution. My mind reeled at all of the potential avenues down which the writers could take Hank's revelation.

    Viewer score: 95 / 100

    Posted by DrZin, 06/09/2012 12:25am (7 years ago)

  • To Jerome and dbates:

    The fact that Walt and Jesse always seem to have distribution problems was one of the driving premises of the show. Everytime they gained, they lost. It seemed a curse that they could never get ahead. It began with Crazy8, then Tuco, then failure with territorial disputes with Combo getting killed, and finally Fring. And I think that frustration was a major factor in Walt becoming Heisenburg.

    But now that distribution is no longer a problem, thanks to Declan and Lydia, everything is smooth sailing. There are no more cartels to worry about and no competition. Why wouldn't the empire grow? They finally found their even break.

    Viewer score: 90 / 100

    Posted by Spocker, 05/09/2012 6:45pm (7 years ago)

  • Dear TV Critic,

    Thank you so much for your attention to my points and the ensuing discussion. It was rather inadvertent that I set myself up as a kind of nemesis and that my mail kind of colored the remainder of your podcast, but I do admit that I was being a bit glib about concepts like "a wrong way" to watch TV and so forth.

    Of course, I truly believe that the concept of Willing Suspension of Disbelief (WSD) is widely misunderstood and abused, and that excessive parsing of plausibility is a flaw in viewing. But my tone was partially because it's a little bit more fun to be politely antagonistic and partially due to the level of indignation I'd been experiencing due to what I felt was your persistent slighting of a TV show which I, and so many people whose opinions I value, consider to be the greatest TV show of all time. (By the way, I don't think I've said that about any TV show in my life other than the X-Files perhaps 15 years ago, so I'm not especially promiscuous with my TV praise).

    Well, at that time, I hadn't heard your Dead Freight podcast from the prior week. As I was listening to that (I told you, I remain a fan), I found that you provided a very nice explanation of your scoring system. I wish I'd understood that when I first picked up your reviews in Season 4. All this time, as a product of the American educational system, I had thought that you were giving Breaking Bad perpetual C minuses and D plusses. I was quite relieved to learn that a lot was owed to simple misunderstanding. I noticed that you rate Breaking Bad on the whole second only to Lost, on your website, so it seems that on some level, we're of the same mind about the show.

    But moving on, in your rebuttal to my email, it became quite clear to me, as expected, that we simply subscribe to different schools of critical theory. You stated that you didn't believe it the responsibility of the viewer to make leaps of imagination. I agree that a so-called "leap" should be given a boost by the author.

    However, I don't include in the leap category that which is entirely within the realm of mundane plausibility. Sticking with the train heist as our common analogy, while it would have been a couple of days of hard, hurried work, a WSD positivist (as I'll refer to myself from here on out) starts with the idea, again, semi-consciously, "Well, they've certainly made great haste in their setup; what could account for that?"

    So then I reflect and find nothing particularly implausible about securing a couple of 1000 gallon tanks, a couple of trucks, and a backhoe over 48 hours to pull off that train job. Having personally seen expeditious, determined effort produce amazing success dozens of times, I KNOW that things of that nature are very possible, if not necessarily easy. In fact, given the necessary financial resources (and without even the resources of the Joe's junkyard and Mike's impressive connections, criminal and otherwise), I'm fairly certain that I myself could go to Albuquerque tomorrow and come up with that equipment in a well-spent day on the telephone (and I'm a bit of a slacker).

    So couple the power of human motivation and industry with the implicit resources and manpower that Mike and Walt can muster and you have a plan that doesn't even poke my credulity. I would love for someone to explain to me where exactly in that scenario credibility is forfeit.

    This is why I believe that it wasn't the narrative that failed, but the will of the nitpicky viewer to examine the realm of plausibility.

    Now I don't love everything about the show, I must say. I thought that this season's storyline pertaining to my favorite character, Mike, was a bit of a letdown. He displayed weakness that I found beneath his character, namely, the grudge against Lydia for contracting a hit on him. I also didn't credit some of his poor judgements, like employing a literal "half measure" in binding Walt to the radiator by only one hand with a plastic strip. I had a difficult time imagining Mike suffering these failings and to borrow a favorite TV Critic phrase, I was "taken out of the moment." Of course, I quickly recovered and returned to delighted viewing.

    Anyway, sorry for the antagonistic tone of my earlier correspondence, but as a guy who has really been touched by Vince Gilligan and the creative others and is somehow irked by arcane perversions of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's intent, you'll probably hear from me again.

    Thanks a bunch,

    DrZin

    Viewer score: 95 / 100

    Posted by DrZin, 05/09/2012 6:56am (7 years ago)

  • This episode was satisfying for the most part. Taking out the witnesses, moving thru three months of production, Walt's visit with Jesse.

    I was glad to see that pile of dough in the storage locker, since there's no way Skyler could have laundered more than a tiny fraction of what Walt has given her. But please, let the Whites learn something from Mike's misfortunes and divide up that mountain of money into a few different piles in different places, asap.

    I enjoyed the episode up until the disappointment of Hank's potty time discovery. How convenient that Gale must have given Walt this inscribed copy of the book, though we've never seen either the gifting or the dedication. And either Walt never noticed the inscription, or the cancer ate a small hole in his memory. And we the audience are so stupid we need it spelled out in neon letters just what this means via Hank's auditory flashback. (An alternate theory I saw suggested Walt got this book from Gretchen way back when, and that her maiden name started with B. This seems even more farfetched. Besides, according to a video at AMC, Hank now "knows Walt is Heisenberg.") Stupid book inscription plot crater or no, what's left for Hank to investigate? Then there's the obvious several layers of backfire likely if he shares his discovery, which is small evidence anyhow.

    Breaking Bad is going out with a bang, says Gillian on the Insider Podcast, there's no reason to hold anything back, the most exciting episodes are left to come. Let's hope they can manage to do that without any more magical contrivances.

    Viewer score: 70 / 100

    Posted by Nono Ono, 05/09/2012 12:23am (7 years ago)

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