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Recap: Heartstopping 'Breaking Bad' Midpoint Finale 'Gliding Over All' Is The Season's Best Episode

by Cory Everett
September 3, 2012 2:04 PM
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Breaking Bad finale 2

While we did not see “Walt 52” again, the episode does feature the second largest time-jump in the show’s history as three months pass during an expertly edited montage. Brilliant match-cuts show the characters going about their business as things are running smoothly. No trouble from Lydia, the DEA or Declan and his goons and yet Walt looks weary from the work. Gilligan describes him as just “going through the motions.” Without the danger, it’s just like any other job and it looks like drudgery. Skyler picks this moment to tell Walt that she wants her kids back using a pyramid of cash to reason with him. “How much is enough? How big does this pile have to be,” Skyler asks over a pile of money so large neither of them could count it, let alone spend it “in ten lifetimes.”

Walt goes for his checkup and lying on the table he already looks like a corpse. On the way out he catches sight of the paper towel dispenser he mutilated back when he first found out his cancer had gone into remission and he’d have to live with himself, knowing the things he had done. The image is a distorted reflection of his former life. Though we aren’t shown any doctors or results, we are given more than one reason to believe that Walt’s cancer has started to come back. We’re fairly certain it will be back in force by the time we see “Walt 52,” (about 9 months from now).

Out of the blue he makes amends with Jesse, leaving him the $5 million he’s owed (or maybe more). As many times as Walt has manipulated and abused Jesse, we still like seeing these two together. It’s an abusive relationship, sure, but when it works it works so well. The dark cloud on this whole reconciliation is that Jesse thinks Walt has come to kill him. And then he tells Skyler “I’m out.”

Now, how he’s managed to get out of his contracts with Lydia and Declan, we’re not sure. Is it really that easy to just walk away from a meth empire without anybody raising an eyebrow or a weapon? That’s why we’re not even sure that he is actually out. But Skyler believes him and (we may have fallen for this one too many times ourselves but) he does seem sincere. And if so, that definitely leads us to believe that his cancer is indeed back and now he’s preparing for the end by putting his affairs in order in an inverse of his origins of his entry into the meth business.

Over the final scene, the family gathers in the backyard while small talk fills the soundtrack but the tension is unbearable. We know our time is running out with Walt. As Hank heads into the bathroom, he reaches for some reading material and finds Walt’s copy of “Leaves Of Grass” with an inscription from Gael Boetticher. The initials spell out everything in Hank’s own personal Keyser Soze moment. Walt is Heisenberg. The look on Hank’s face says everything. And we can hardly speak but to utter “Oh, SHIT.” [A]

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  • Steve | September 17, 2012 1:54 PMReply

    There was a shot a few episodes back from what looked like a high corner of Hank's office, right after Walt removed the bug in the picture frame. I wonder if there is video surveillance in Hank's office? If so, and Hank pulls the tapes, that would totally bust Walt, regardless of any finessing the inscription in the book.

  • Aidimu | September 5, 2012 9:20 AMReply

    I wouldn't be surprised if the Gretchen Black thing could pass for true . . . until handwriting analysis proves otherwise. Although, early on it was implied that she and Walt had a romantic relationship and that note seems too formal. On the other hand, from the few scenes we saw with Walt and Gael, you didn't get the feeling they were close enough to be exchanging gifts. Yet the wording in the note probably is characteristic of Gael's persona.

    Regardless, I could see Walt coming up with some contrived account like; he some how met Gael or was introduced to Gael, who wanted to pick his brain about some chemistry processes for something he was working on or related to his Masters thesis or even a PhD project he was contemplating. The way Walt so often feigns tears, he could claim he was too scared to say anything when Hank showed him the notebook for fear he would be implicated. Remember after having too much wine at dinner one night, he told Hank the notes in the notebook looked like copying, as he had seen plenty of student's notes, after Hank's gushing over Gael's genius finally got to his ego. He could claim the "work" was simply instructing Gael on particular chemical processes that could be used in many applications, although he "pondered" whether it could be for meth synthesis or “something illegal". He was just so caught up in the mental challenge of solving this chemistry project and flattered at being so respected for his expertise, especially with the looming cancer diagnosis making him feel like he had wasted his talents. So he got carried away with “helping” Gael figure out his chemistry dilemma, even though he had concerns that his coaching could be getting him too involved in “something” he shouldn't be doing!

    I could see him coming up with an elaborate fabrication like that to explain his association with Gael, as implied by the note in the book. Hank won't believe it but it could be a plausible explanation that Hank probably couldn’t prove otherwise . . . although there is the “gambling” money. Also, referring to the comment about Walt being family and right under Hank's nose, once it comes to light that Walt's money paid for his therapy, Hank might decide he likes Walt's fairytale version. At any rate it’s fun to speculate on the various scenarios that might play out.

  • Jabs69 | September 5, 2012 7:31 AMReply

    Gretchen's maiden name is indeed "Black".

  • gdragon | September 7, 2012 5:13 PM

    Initially 3 Parts of the Company right = Elliot, Gretchen, and Walter = Gray Matter.

    At Elliot's Birthday party (season 1 or 2?) Elliot was explaining the name Gray Matter as this "Schwartz, Black, Walter White..... Gray Matter".

    Unfortunately Walt sold his stake holding in the company.

  • David | September 6, 2012 4:32 PM

    No it's not. Where do you get this? There's nothing anywhere that proves this.

  • Jerry | September 4, 2012 10:16 AMReply

    I can't believe this show has me empathizing with DEA agent.

  • Zack | August 11, 2013 9:41 PM

    I can't believe this show has everyone empathizing with a meth cook

  • Christopher Bell | September 3, 2012 10:31 PMReply

    This episode put to rest the "Hank Knows About Walt" theories that have been going around since, I dunno, season 2. I always thought that was an interesting theory without a lot of concrete evidence to back it up.

  • Jimmy | September 3, 2012 7:51 PMReply

    Ummm Walt is still the protagonist of the show. Even though he has become despicable he is still the main character.

  • Adam L | September 3, 2012 4:06 PMReply

    I've been watching Breaking Bad since episode 1 first aired. I can't even describe to you how yesterdays last scene felt to me, INSANE!!!!! I cant believe we have to wait a whole year!!

  • DG | September 3, 2012 3:29 PMReply

    A good episode but not the best of the season (that being the train heist). I sort of thought it felt like too much was happening too fast and that they relied too much on montage but whatever thats just nit picking, it was good and the show seems to be heading to a satisfying conclusion. Good point about the inverse of his plan with the entry into the meth game thing. I wonder if Hank is going to go after Skyler too now?

  • Eightandahalf | September 4, 2012 9:32 AM

    We saw the "Leaves of Grass" book back in season 3. Not sure of the episodes, but after Gale and Walter discuss Whitman in the lab, there is a scene where Walt is reading the book in his apartment. Also, it will be interesting to see how Hank handles the situation. He is so connected to Walt (his therapy was even paid for with meth money) that it is going to be difficult for him to prove that he didn't know anything. By going after Walt, he will have to completely destroy the entire family.

  • SM | September 4, 2012 12:35 AM

    I agree. Though the montage bit was flashy and fun, I felt it wasn't in true brba fashion as the show has been a day to day (or couple days) kid of show.
    Plus I felt the addition of a object we've never seen was a bit lame.

  • AS | September 3, 2012 2:53 PMReply

    "this sequence which would even make Gaspar Noe flinch" - Really? I didn't think it was THAT brutal. The stabbings did look kinda fake.

  • Josh | September 4, 2012 6:45 PM

    Funnily enough they probably looked quite accurate. If you see any real life murders caught on camera they look quite far from the way Hollywood depicts them.

  • EVILNIK | September 3, 2012 2:39 PMReply

    epic episode with a epic ending

  • P | September 3, 2012 2:15 PMReply

    Correction: The inscription in the Walt Whitman book is actually from "G.B."-- Gale Boetticher, not Gus Fring.

  • The Fanciful Norwegian | September 4, 2012 12:57 AM

    Gale's handwriting matches the inscription in the book ( This "G.B. = Gretchen" theory needs to go away.

  • GHOST OF GUS FRING | September 3, 2012 11:23 PM

    Gretchin's last name is SCHWARTZ (which I guess means black in german), but isn't actually Gretchin Black, bro, nice try.

  • Jack zach | September 3, 2012 5:51 PM

    Correction: G.B. stands for Gretchin Black

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