Breaking Bad Finale Recap: Poetic Justice

Spoiler alert! If you read the following recap of Breaking Bad‘s mid-season finale, you’re going to find out what happened. So if you’re not caught up, be gone! Everyone else, proceed… 

Tonight’s Breaking Bad episode takes its name from a beautiful Walt Whitman poem. It’s a good fit — both because Leaves of Grass will play a gigantic, incriminating role as the series comes to its end next year and because the final 2012 episode was an incredibly well crafted piece of poetry. So let’s jump right in and review what happened in “Gliding Over All.”

THERE IS NO “WE” IN “ME” | As the episode opens, we see Walter in a pose we see him repeat several more times during the hour: sitting and staring. It’s odd, and it doesn’t get any less so when Todd arrives to tell him that he’s taken care of Mike’s car – cubed at the junkyard, thanks to Old Joe. The car’s previous owner, meanwhile, is unceremoniously being stored in a car’s trunk – “I don’t wanna talk about this. It had to be done,” Walt tells his new assistant, who doesn’t seem to care that a dead coworker is doing his best Samsonite impression just inches away — and before they can liquefy the recently departed ex-cop, Jesse arrives and wants to know what’s up. Mike’s “gone,” Walter informs him, leading his former partner to believe that the old man skipped town. What will “we” do about Mike’s guys, Jesse wants to know? Oh, don’t worry Jesse – Walt’s got a plan. But as White gruffly informs the younger man as he literally shuts the door in his face, he’s going to take care of everything himself.

BRANCHING OUT | Walt-as-Heisenberg meets Lydia in a restaurant, where she wants him to join her in a coffee (“I think this would play better if you would order something.” Ha!) and he wants her to give him the list of Mike’s guys. Squirrelly McTwitchalot may not always be able to put on matching shoes, but she’s no fool: She deduces that Mike isn’t “still a factor” and won’t hand over the roster – which she keeps in her head – until Walt has realized that killing her means missing out on an opportunity for overseas sales. Against his better judgment, Walt is intrigued. And in a masterful bit of acting, Laura Fraser takes Lady Banjo Eyes from frightened to ballsy in the time it takes to sip down a cup of joe. The deal, shorthanded: The Czech Republic has a lot of meth-heads; the product currently sold there is sub-par; and as Madrigal’s logistics goddess, the ability to put Walt’s blue meth in Europe is — for Lydia — “a laptop click away.” Very quickly, he agrees to her idea. She writes out the list, then makes him shake on it. “We’re going to make a lot of money together,” she says confidently before slipping on the Jackie O’s and skulking out of the place. Only then do we see that Walt has the ricin vial on his person. You better start committing lots more stuff to memory, Lyds…

SHIV AND LET DIE | After employing… let’s call them the “consulting services” of Todd’s penal-system-familiar uncle, Walt neutralizes his remaining threat. In a strike that should be studied at Harvard Business School for its planning and efficiency, all of Mike’s guys plus bacon-banana-cookie-baking lawyer Dan are offed in spectacular fashion – within two minutes – to the jaunty strains of “Pick Myself Up.” God, I love a good ironic soundtrack choice. Hank’s dejected at the news, calling the drug lords he chases “monsters.” Walt’s face when his brother-in-law says that, by the way? Orgasmic. Dude really gets off on getting away with actual murder. Is it gross or awesome, Internet nation? I can’t decide. Anyway, we’re soon treated to a tight, beautifully shot, sun-drenched montage of meth-making, exporting and money laundering, backed by Tommy James and the Shondells’ “Crystal Blue Persuasion.” We see Skyler! Saul! Money! Meth! Planes! Barrels! Walt showering! It’s all upbeat and slick, which of course immediately makes me think something terrible is about to happen. The feeling lasts when Skyler brings Walt to a storage facility where she’s secretly been stashing all the cash she can’t launder. We’re talking Scrooge McDuck levels of money here. “This is it. This is what you’ve been working for,” says Mrs. White, who seems significantly less cowed by her hubby than in past episodes. She admits she doesn’t know how much is there, because there’s just too much to count. “I just stack it up, keep it dry, spray it for silverfish,” she says, which – ha! The day I have to worry about having so much money laying around that pests think they can make it their home? That will be a good day.

In stark contrast to his threats and bluster from the past few weeks, Walt is speechless. Later, we see Walt go to Jesse’s and try to pass the visit off as mere happenstance. The pair reminisce about their old Bounder RV cookmobile before Walt takes off… and leaves a few duffel bags full of money for his former partner. Jesse has a minor breakdown after; suspicious of Walt’s visit, he’d grabbed a gun before he opened the door. From the amount of shaky breathing he’s doing, I think he really planned to use it. (Side note: Line of the night might be, “Yeah. Yeah. Inertia.”) Back at the White house, Walt simply tells Skyler, “I’m out.” His face goes through about 10 emotions in half as many seconds, and all of a sudden I’m not quite as anti-Walt as I was a few weeks ago. Damn you, Cranston!

THE BIG C | A hint at Walt’s subtle shift away from menacing douchebaggery might come when we see him undergoing an MRI. After, he stares into the mirror – like we saw him do at Vamonos Pest, and in the skeevy motel room, and by the pool – and glances at the towel dispenser still bearing the dents from his punch in Season 2. Might the cancer be back? We don’t find out for sure in this episode; even if it is, though, we know he’ll still be alive – with a full head of hair — roughly a year from now. And for the moment, everything seems hunky-dory for Walt and the fam. At a backyard dinner, we see Walt and Sky chatting easily with Hank and Marie while Walter Jr. plays with Holly.  (Another side note, this time to AMC’s marketing department: If you want to send around Schraderbrau to promote the second half of Season 5, I can assure you it won’t go amiss at the TVLine offices.) Then Hank gets up to use the facilities, and absolutely everything in Walt and Skyler’s life is about to fall apart oh God I’m getting anxious all over again just writing about it! Ahem. In the loo, the DEA chief undoes his belt and sits, then grabs for some reading material… where he finds the copy of Leaves of Grass Gale gave to Walt in Season 4 and which we saw earlier in the ep during one of Walt’s showers oh God oh God oh God. The inscription reads: “To my other favorite W.W. It’s an honour working with you. Fondly G.B.” Hank immediately flashes back to the Season 4 moment when he read the journal belonging to dead Fring chemist Gale, which also mentioned “W.W.,” and teased Walter that the initials were his. In the flashback, Walt playfully puts up his hands and says, “You got me.” Back in the present, Hank is flush with new knowledge. (You didn’t think you were going to get through this whole thing without one bad bathroom pun, did you?)

Now it’s your turn. A line from the poem “Gliding Over All” reads “Death, many deaths I’ll sing.” Could that be a hint that Walter’s got a few more lives left? Or do you think his run from [insert threat here] that we saw in the Season 5 premiere will begin sooner than we thought? Has Skyler’s hope come true – has Walt’s disease returned? So many questions, so much time before anything is resolved! Take our poll below, then hit the comments and let the speculation fly!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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361 Comments
  1. T says:

    Hank may not realize it yet but he’s in almost as much trouble as Walt. If Walt gets busted now that he’s a meth kingpin after all that’s happened everyone is going to think Hank is either the perfect man inside and part of Walt’s gang or that he’s the dumbest detective to ever live that he didn’t figure it out sooner. To everyone else it will look like Hank was always one step ahead and the focus of so much violence from the gangs because he was involved in the criminal enterprise all along. I think Walter knows what he’s doing leaving that book on the toilet.

  2. ron says:

    Let’s not over anyalze this last epidosde. Leaves more to the imagination of what is in store for next season.

  3. hoxfan says:

    The Leaves of Grass laying atop the commode is due to the most fascinating part of Walt’s transformation: hubris. All of you who do not understand the beauty and irony of this need to go out and read some Edgar Allen Poe. Tell Tale Heart, anyone?

  4. I predict Walts cancer coming back and Hank eventually having enough evidence to convict Walt, does Walt doe from disease or does Walt bribe Hank with money?

  5. loves it says:

    So love the show and was looking for stuff on season 5 like when it was coming back.. but just happened to read thru some of the earlier comments made in November on this site.. The guy Andrew b who commented on the American side of the Canadian rant from Dave d
    Hahah honestly both of u well done on pointing out um flaws i guess but mister Andrew b.. Great job in pointing out your 2 masters degree and employment position.. Yay you are educated. Awesome.( really not relevant when proving a point you look more like an insecure person).. But your lovely little loonie for advice ( cute joke there) um you talk about knowin Canadian culture
    Well yes u got it right on we love our igloos and hockey and ice fishing.. Wow love the smell of saracsim in the morning (or at least i hope thats what is because if that’s your definition of Canadian culture then every American is an inbred lol ) so what u r referring to is the absolute north of our country which is not even true.. Its a lovely stereotype just like your inbreds but im sure with a fancy degree like what you carry should have realized that the sarcasim you played out Was just as shallow as what u were fighting about (both people commenting sarcastically) and all your stooping to his level and your loonie of advice um . Sorry but you’re doing the exact same thing – arguing on the internet guess you’ve lost too. Hahah again i hope.u realize your saracsim but cute little rant.. However mister America could you not have at least referenced the show one bit.. No u saw somethin against Americans and ran to save the world acting all large with your knowledge of geography. I hope u at least watch the show cause sadly u didn’t even make a note to reference it on a website dedicated to talking about the show..

    • Andrew Brannigan says:

      Hey there, “Loves It”, maybe you ought to have a look at the comment that I left back in September where I went through all the bullet points that the writer of this article used to hypothesize where the final eight episodes of the series might take the story. The reason why I felt the need to take Dave to task was because first of all, it’s absurd to think that politics have anything to do with entertainment, and secondly, because all too often, people think that it’s okay to slander an entire group of people simply because they’re miffed or offended at something that someone who may or may not be a representative of that culture has said or done. That being said, I made it very clear that Kraut’s comment was completely asinine and his words made him look like a buffoon. Whether or not someone hails from the Great White North doesn’t make him or her any less astute at making observations about the series that we all obviously enjoy and that brought us here in the first place. It was moronic of Kraut to have made the poor attempt to insult Dave by pointing out the fact that he isn’t an American. But it was doubly wrong of Dave to answer an insult with an insult, especially because his anti- American rant only served to put him in a bad light, and as I mentioned, it alienated anyone who might otherwise have been inclined to make the natural assumption that Kraut is probably nothing more than a sad little man with anger issues living in his mother’s basement. My point was that a common love for this show is what led us all here and which passport any of us hold ought to be irrelevant – only our thoughts on the show matter to anyone else. My apologies if my dry humor went a bit over your head, I can assure you that there was no vehemence, veiled or otherwise, in my words with Dave. You also mentioned that my comment had nothing to do with the series, which I must admit is true. However; in this last comment that you made criticizing one of my earlier ones, there is barely any mention of the show as well save for that you enjoy it and are looking forward to the conclusion. This is something that I think any of us could have gleaned considering that you’re reading these to begin with. In short, if you were offended by the fact that I made light of the situation by sprinkling a few humorous stereotypes about Canada and its citizens into my comment, than please accept my apology for that. I have nothing but good feelings about Canada/Canadians and nothing but good memories from my experiences visiting there or interacting with Canadians. I can see though why the offhand mention of my level of education bothered you as your spelling is absolutely atrocious. But I’m sure you’re a nice person so let’s just let that one slide. Enjoy the rest of the series, and if you have time, maybe you’d care to read something that I have to say that’s actually related to the series sometime. Cheers.

  6. sarah says:

    yu reap what yu sew in this show.

  7. Crazy8 says:

    Don’t know if this has been mentioned yet , nor do I know the significances of it , but I noticed that in the beginning of ep 01 season 5 when he is in the bathroom in the dinner he takes medication (possibly), from a prescription pill jar. Maybe that means the cancer has returned and/or worsened .

  8. Jacob says:

    Circumstantial evidence is used all the time, and people are often convicted on less.

  9. bbfan says:

    What I’d really like to find out is what exactly happened between Walt and Gretchen. We saw a flashback in season 1 that showed they were previously in a relationship. Then later down the track Gretchen says to Walter ‘you left me’. Hopefully this will be explained further – I’m assuming their breakup led to Walt selling his share of Gray Matters. But would love to know why they broke up and what happened.

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  11. drausch says:

    No one seems to have mentioned that the very thought of Hank finding out and solving a case that was right under his nose and the fact that his brother in law is a drug kingpin might just be a bit too much of an embarrassment to bear. His family will be torn apart as well. Not to mention that the long arm of suspicion will point at Hank as a family member no matter what happens. I would not jump to the conclusion that Hank will pursue Walt in the conventional sense if he pieces this together.

  12. Scott Shanks says:

    Finally caught up. Watched 5 seasons in a month. Don’t think anyone mentioned the irony of the song playing in the background at the end of season 5: Squeeze’s “Up the Junction.” Pretty damn good.

  13. Twice AsNice says:

    A few things never addressed.
    1. Who called and gave Hank a warning the Salamaca brothers were about to strike. Who did this and why.
    2. Todd took the kids spider jar after he killed him. This sort of thing almost always comes back later.
    3. Walt still has the vile of Ricin. If Jesse sees this he will suspect he was duped.

    I suspect that the cops aside from Blanco were working with Gus and have been protecting him. This would explain the promotion and the constant redirection by the police force itself. And to the insight Mike had about what Hank was doing. Not sure why Walt had the machine gun at the start of this season but we will see. I have not seen the episode 1 seasoin 6 yet either.

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