One of the most popular shows in cable television, "Breaking Bad," is taking a mid-season break like no other; in its final season no less! In fact, they won't be back until next summer with the final eight episodes of season five. Without sounding like a buzz kill, sure hope the show's fans come back after a year.
Titled "Gliding Over All," a direct reference to a poem by Walt Whitman from his "Leaves of Grass" collection, the final episode of the first half of season five was a gripping episode from start to finish. However, for each question that is answered, for each loose end tied up, something new and unanswered—untied—emerged.
The "Leaves of Grass" theme has been there, at least in part, and it was no more prominent than in the final scene, which, we'll get to later.
True to form for much of this season, the first half of the episode was devoted to beating into shape the loose bits from the previous week, with the second half focusing on creating new bits that will have to be given a name and a face in the following episode.
There were a few great and memorable scenes in this episode, including a coffee shop scene with Walt and Lydia playing a game, the outcome of which had long been decided; a murder montage in which several prisoners die at the hands of a bunch of nasty white supremacists that are part of Todd's uncle's crew; a scene with Walt and Skyler in a storage shed could prove to be the ultimate game-changer; a nostalgic scene with Walt and Jesse, and the cliffhanger scene with Hank having an epiphany while sitting on the toilet.
Walt, looking like a very dangerous man in his pork pie hat and designer sunglasses, heads into a nice coffee shop and promptly sits at a two-top already occupied by Lydia. He only cares about learning the identity of the nine people in prison, Mike's gang, who could ultimately rat him out. She's there to strike a business deal with him, and ultimately to save her own skin.
Lydia has the nine names in her head, but before she gives them up to Walt she wants to make certain she's not on the endangered species list. Previously, Walt had only guaranteed her protection from Mike. She wants to make certain Walt isn't going to off her as well.
She is also there to tell him she can make him a very wealthy man if he just lets her handle the overseas distribution of his product. Walt assures her she'll be protected and they're a go on the business arrangement.
In a later musical montage set to the great Tommy James and the Shondells' "Crystal Blue Persuasion," we see Walt making his blue crystal and Lydia's crew stuffing the packages into 55-gallon drums of oil, set to be transported by cargo planes to Europe.
We also see a ton of money being exchanged and counted, which we'll get to momentarily.
Prison Murder Montage
In the final scene at the coffee shop, Lydia writes down the nine names and hands the list to Walt. A precisely-timed mass murder then takes place across three different prisons. The nine die gruesome deaths at the hands of several white supremacists. The murders take place quickly, in two minutes, and with as little fanfare as possible, save one.
The final murder happens in a holding cell, where a highly flammable liquid is sprayed in through the cuff port on the door, much of which also drenches the lone prisoner. A match is lit and tossed in, and the rest, as they say, is history.
We see Walt at home checking his watch, noting the start and finish time. He gets a quick phone call at the end of the montage telling him "it's done."
Walt, Skyler, and a Storage Shed
We're inside a dark space when a door on rollers is lifted from the outside; enter Skyler and Walt. They close the door behind them and she turns on the light inside a storage shed.
Skyler tells Walt she wanted him to see the fruits of his labor and pulls the tarp off a large stack of cash. All denominations are bundled and strapped in packs. The pile is huge. She tells him she just stopped counting it, but surely there was more there than they'd spend in 10 lifetimes.
It is an absurd amount of money, tens of millions of dollars for sure, and it noticeably shakes Walt. He really had no idea how much money they were making and it's clearly a moment of clarity for him. We'll see how it plays out in the final eight episodes.
Remember the RV from Season One?
Jesse is inside his house when a knock comes at the door. It's clear he wasn't expecting anyone and peeks out the window to see who's there. It's Walt.
Jesse reluctantly invites him in, and in one of the most stark scenes of the entire episode, they chit-chat about the old days and the beat-to-hell RV in which they cooked their meth as well as delivered it. They wondered why they never took any of the cash they made and bought a new one.
As Walt leaves and shuts the door behind him, he tells Jesse he's left something for him. I thought it was possibly a new RV in keeping with the theme of the scene, but instead it was a big duffle bag. You can well imagine how full it was with cash.
W.W. might equal Walt White
The final scene is kind of a fast-forward in time to a backyard BBQ scene. Walt, Skyler, and family are reunited and they're sitting around a table chit-chatting with Hank and Marie. In a private moment, Walt says to Skyler, "I'm out." We believe him. Those stacks of cash in the storage locker really did jolt him back to reality.
Hank decides he needs to go see a man about a horse, and walks into the house and to the bathroom. While sitting atop the throne he reaches behind for something to read and grabs a magazine. Not fulfilling enough, he reaches back and grabs a book, Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass." He thumbs through it a bit then settles on the opening page where we see a handwritten note, addressed to "W.W." Who is W.W., Hank says to Walt in a flashback scene aloud. Woodrow Wilson? Willy Wonka? Walter White? The flashback has to deal with Gale's murder in season three and the opening episode of season four.
When Hank says, "Walter White" in the flashback, Walt raises his hands and says, "You got me."
Moments before this episode fades to black, we see Hank back on the toilet with a look on his face like he's just pieced it all together.
This was a very effective cliffhanger episode, but series creator Vince Gilligan is going to have to bring it hard and heavy in the final eight episodes of the series, starting up again next summer.
Is Walt really out? Will Hank bring him down? Will the two families sail off together into the sunset with all that cash? Will Walt and his family be killed? For the simple fact this long hiatus is occurring in the middle of the final season, Gilligan and staff have to come up with the greatest payoff in television history. No "fade to black" like with the "Sopranos." Fans need a real payoff that will reward their loyalty following for putting up with such mid-season shenanigans.
Stephanie Caldwell writes for CableTV.com. She is a huge Breaking Bad fan and is pretty upset that it won't come around again for another year. Catch her on Twitter for more shenanigans here.