“Gliding Over All” is a poem by Walt Whitman, one of Gale Boetticher’s favorite poets. Gale is perhaps one of the nicest characters ever on Breaking Bad. His knowledge of chemistry thrilled Walt, as he saw him as almost an equal; don’t forget his awesome coffee, either. That might help explain why Heisenberg needs to have the book of poems given to him by Gale close at-hand -say in the bathroom. Earlier in the episode, in a very good, tense scene, Heisenberg takes a walk down meth-making memory lane with Jesse, who thinks his erstwhile chemistry teacher has come to his house to kill him. So as Heisenberg has isolated himself through his persona, it could be the case that as he grows old, he grows more sentimental and lonely. Clearly this theme develops through Heisenberg in ‘Gliding Over All.’
The season finale of the half-way season, only 8 more until Breaking Bad ends its run, offered an oh-so-sweet cliffhanger. Finally, after all his careful and dogged sleuthing, Hank, while reliving himself in the White house, discovers Heisenberg’s true identity. As the camera pushes in a Hank, and the realization slowly dawns on Hank, his face contorts from comprehension into rage, seems to me.
What is going through Hank’s head? The first-time he offered Walt a ride-along to a bust? Was it when Walt and Hank sat outside Los Pollos Hermanos when Mike parked right next to them? Was it when Walt crashed his car into on-coming traffic to avoid going to the super lab? Was it the scene, just in this episode, when a clearly fatigued and dispirited Hank, wonders blankly to Walt, whether he should find a new line of work because chasing ‘monsters’ crushes him? We did know a little of what went through Hank’s mind. We are offered a flashback to Walt’s surprisingly honest response to Hank’s question regarding the poems inscription: “To W.W. My Star, My Perfect Silence.” Perhaps, the initials are from Walter White, Hanks volunteers. Heisenberg does not deny to Hank that it’s not him; rather he admits, “You got me.” Though I had thought Hank should have made the connection sooner, as there have been hints throughout the series that he has.
So next year will be Hank chasing down Heisenberg. If Breaking Bad stays true to itself, next season should open with Hank coming out of the bathroom to re-join the family party, seeing “Heisenberg” for the first time. The last 8 episodes will no doubt thrill. We do know that Heisenberg was not dead or incarcerated at the start of this season, one year into the future. So then presumably Heisenberg alludes Hank for at least a year.
Aside from the excellent ending, the rest of the episode delivered and entertained. The opening sequence with Todd as Heisenberg’s ‘cleaner’, (the role Mike performed for Gus) reflected a sadness appropriate for a character like Mike. Heisenberg still seems a little emotional about, as he doesn’t want to talk about it. Mike’s fate is sad—his granddaughter will never know what happened to him. Mike’s pathos stops him from killing Lydia earlier this season precisely because she does not want the same thing to happen to her and her daughter. Sad irony, indeed.
While I enjoyed the scene toward the end, as the camera floats above the ABQ, Vamonos Pest’s green and yellow stripped tents pop up throughout the neighborhood, reflecting Heisenberg’s empire working and producing prodigiously, I thought some of the episode shift’s too abrupt.
For example take Skylar. While I can believe that Skylar aches so badly for her children that she is willing to believe any, however unlikely, piece of hope that she can safely raise her children, her acceptance felt too perfunctory. Skylar is too smart to believe that Heisenberg’s declaration of “I’m out,” is not that simple. Considering the excellent scene earlier in the episode when Skylar reveals the absurd amount of money the ‘empire’ has generated, she understands that astounding amount of money was not created in a vacuum. Others are making enormous sums too and what will they do when the cash stops? Wouldn’t she have some questions? Or is it the case, that her maternal instincts overwhelm her reasoning apparatus?
How much is enough anyway? The storage room filled with bricks and stacks of bills demonstrates Heisenberg’s success, but do we think he is happy? His trip down memory lane with Jesse earlier and the affable pool party with the Schraders, as Junior plays with Baby Holly, suggest Heisenberg’s empire is not all that he thought it would be. He missed his family. Of course, I don’t believe that Heisenberg is really out. Much too easy if it were. Still, though, the episode tried to show Heisenberg as lonely and isolated. Do you buy that? Isolated, maybe. But lonely? Not me. Perhaps his loneliness, (my assumption) has to do with the doctor visit. Has the cancer returned and now he selfishly wants his kids around so he tells Skylar want she wants to hear? However, I simply don’t have much sympathy for Heisenberg whatever the case.
It may be the case, that maybe, just maybe, the brilliant Heisenberg had a perfect plan, made the money, and he figured out a way to leave the business, free and clear. If that is the case, than that’s way too easy. But suppose it is, Hank knows the ugly and embarrassing truth now. It might be sweet irony for that to be true. Heisenberg might have almost got away with it, had Hank not needed to crap and read.
Many things still are left unresolved, however, a worthy mid-way finale nevertheless.
Review by Ron Peltier