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Recap / Breaking Bad S5 E8: "Gliding Over All"

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Season 5, Episode 08:

Gliding Over All
Written by Moira Walley-Beckett
Directed by Michelle MacLaren
Air date: September 2, 2012

"Back in college, I'd spend my days marking trees in the woods with those orange spray cans. [...] I've been thinking about that job more and more lately. Maybe I should've enjoyed it more. Tagging trees is a lot better than chasing monsters."
Hank Schrader

Walt sits alone in the exterminators' office, deep in thought, until Todd returns to inform him that Mike's car has been disposed of. The two then open the trunk of Walter's car, which contains Mike's body, and prepare to dispose of it. They close the trunk when the garage door opens and Jesse enters, asking if Mike got out of town okay. Walt simply tells Jesse that he is gone. Jesse suggests discussing how to deal with Mike's "legacy": the nine guys in prison he was paying off to keep from talking to the cops, and whose hush money has been RICO'd once again. Walt, however, states that because Jesse and Mike are no longer in the business, there is only one vote left: Walt's.

As Mike's guys begin to trip over themselves asking for deals with the DEA, Walt approaches Lydia to get their names. Lydia is reluctant at first, because she claims that Walt would simply kill her once getting what he needs since she would just be one more loose end. To ensure her continued usefulness, she makes him an offer: she can sell his "Blue Sky" meth in the Czech Republic, using her associates at Madrigal, and in exchange for a 30% commission, she would double Walt's profits. Walt accepts the offer, so Lydia gives him the list of names and proclaims, "We're gonna make a lot of money together."

Unbeknownst to Lydia, Walt indeed had planned to dispose of her after obtaining the names; he had brought his vial of ricin and changed his mind after hearing her proposition.

With the list of names, Walt meets with Todd's uncle: Jack Welker, the leader of a prison gang of neo-Nazis (most likely the Aryan Brotherhood), to discuss the logistics of killing Mike's lawyer and nine guys. The following day, Jack uses his prison connections to arrange their murders. Within the span of two minutes, Jack's gang members kill their targets: shanking them, strangling them, beating them to death, and in one case, burning them alive, all so those associates would not have a chance to ask for protective custody or spill the beans if they found out the others had been silenced. Hank starts looking into the murders shortly after. When he and Walt meet while Walt is visiting Holly at his house, the two sit down together and a defeated Hank tells Walt about a summer job he had in college tagging trees for lumbering crews to cut down. He didn't particularly enjoy it, but thinking back on it, he admits that he misses that simple work while he's "chasing monsters". Walt responds, "I used to love to go camping."

Over the course of the next three months, Walt ramps up his meth production, running labs in several tented houses as Skyler continues to launder his money, Declan and Lydia distribute the product throughout the American southwest and Europe, and Saul ensures their operation is unimpeded by the DEA. After Marie suggests to Skyler that it might be time to start repairing the family and send Holly and Junior home, Skyler takes Walt to a storage unit she's rented out. Walt is making so much money that she can't even store it all in their house, let alone launder it. She doesn't even know how much he's made, as it's impossible to count. She asks him a burning question: how much larger does the pile of money need to be before it's enough, and her family can be made whole again?

After having a routine MRI for his cancer, Walt pays Jesse a visit. Jesse is distant and on edge, and tells Walt that he heard what he did to Mike's guys and is still not coming back to the business. Instead of pressing him, Walt just begins to wax nostalgic about the "Crystal Ship", the RV they used as a mobile meth lab when they first started working together, and he and Jesse share a few memories of it's many dysfunctions. Before Walt leaves, he tells Jesse he left him something. Jesse finds two duffel bags on his front porch and apprehensively opens them to reveal his buyout money: five million dollars. He collapses to the ground and flings the gun he'd been holding to protect himself from Walt across the floor.

His business with Jesse concluded, Walt tells Skyler: "I'm out." Skyler stares in complete disbelief.

Afterwards, Junior and Holly return home as Walt, Skyler, Hank, and Marie enjoy a happy family get-together at the White residence. Hank leaves to use the restroom and finds a book to read: Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. Inside the cover of the book, however, he finds a message written inside: "To my other favorite W.W. It's an honor working with you. Fondly, G.B."

Realization begins to dawn on Hank: he thinks back to his discussion of Gale Boetticher's murder with Walt, and how he found mentions of a "W.W." in his notes.

"Who do you figure that is, y'know?" Hank asked Walt. "Woodrow Wilson? Willy Wonka? ...Walter White?"

"You got me." Walt said sarcastically, his hands raised in resignation.

Slowly, but surely, Hank comes to a frightening realization:

Walter White is Heisenberg.

This episode provides examples of:

  • Alas, Poor Villain: None of the guys killed in lockup were good guys – all of them willingly partook in a meth operation, and at least one (Dennis) was willing to roll on others, but it's pretty tough to see the utterly brutal end they meet, especially when people like Walt and Lydia – with higher body counts and much more power within the operation – walk free.
  • Anachronism Stew: The episode is set somewhere in 2009, but Jack Welker mentions the assassination of Osama Bin Laden, which took place in 2011.
  • Atrocity Montage: Walt ties up loose ends in three New Mexico prisons after Mike Ehrmantaut's death by ordering Jack and the Aryan Brotherhood to stab nine of Gus' remaining henchmen, followed by Dennis Markowski, the manager of Gus' industrial laundromat being immolated alive in his cell, all within less than two minutes, accompanied by an unsettling rendition of Nat King Cole's "Pick Yourself Up".
  • Boredom Montage: During the three month-long montage showing Walt cooking meth and collecting his funds, it gradually starts to show shots of Walt sitting on his couch with increasing weariness. Now that there are no more obstacles standing between him and his cook, making meth has just become a dull 9-to-5 job for Walt.
  • Call-Back:
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Walter was planning on killing Lydia by poisoning her drink, but he decides against it after she makes it clear that her help is vital to his expanding meth empire.
  • Continuity Nod: This episode possibly has more than any other.
  • Chekhov's Gun: As Walt is getting out of the shower, the camera focuses on his Leaves of Grass book gifted from Gale sitting atop the toilet. At the end of the episode, Hank finds himself on the toilet and decides to take a peek at this book...
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • Todd mentioned having connections back at buyout. Walter ultimately decided to take up his word.
    • Gale becomes one from beyond the grave. The dedication he left to Walt in the Leaves of Grass book he gifted him becomes the key to Hank finally realizing that Walt is Heisenberg.
  • Cliffhanger: Hank is starting to piece together that Gale's address to W.W. is Walter White.
  • Death by a Thousand Cuts: Most of the prison kills are done by inmates ganging up on their target and stabbing them with small shanks over and over and over again.
  • Death Montage: We're shown a montage of the simultaneous assassination of all eight of Fring's former employees (plus Mike's lawyer) currently in jail. Creepily set to Nat King Cole's "Pick Yourself Up."
  • Deducing the Secret Identity: Hank finds a message from "G.B." addressed to "W.W." in Walt's copy of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. He thinks back to his discussion with Walt about a "W.W." when they're discussing Gale Boetticher's murder and realizes that Walt is Heisenberg.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: After Skyler says that there's more money in the storage unit than she can count, Walt presses her for an exact amount, leading her to clarify her point- there's more money in there than they can spend, let alone launder.
  • Empty Shell: After all that has happened and suffered through with nothing to show for it, Jesse has been reduced to a husk of a person, sitting at home for months, not talking to anyone, not even taking phone calls, constantly fearing for his life after hearing how Walt killed ten witnesses.
  • Exact Words:
    • Jesse asks if Mike made it out safely. Walt simply replies, "He's gone."
    • Discussed when Lydia asks for reassurance that Walt won't simply kill her once she's provided him the names he needs. Walts says he's already promised her safety, but Lydia recalls that it was specifically safety from Mike. Sure enough, Walt was planning on killing her then and there.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Walt goes through everything he possibly can to keep his empire going and his criminal identity a secret, yet is unable to factor in the piece of evidence that would've been the easiest to hide: Gale's book. Which Hank then comes across by chance.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When Lydia believes that Walt will kill her if she gives him the names, Walt is incredulous that she thinks he'd kill her so publicly, only to later reveal that he had a vial of ricin concealed in his hat for that exact reason.
    • Walt's regular MRI checkup will reveal that his cancer has returned.
    • Many have noted Walt's tendency to adopt food-related particularities of the people he kills. When sharing a scotch with Hank, Hank asks him, "Rocks, right?" as opposed to Hank's preference of a neat scotch. In a few episodes, Hank will die, although not directly at Walt's hands. In the penultimate episode, Walt orders his scotch neat, indicating that although he did not kill Hank himself, he feels responsible for his death.
  • For Want Of A Nail: For all the effort that went into keeping his criminal life away from both his family and the DEA, from the systems Saul and Lydia laid down to hiring Jack's gang to get rid of every witness left, and despite every lucky break he got, Walt's undoing stems from him keeping Gale's gifted copy of Leaves of Grass in the bathroom for Hank to unwittingly stumble across.
  • Funny Background Event: In a subtle piece of Black Comedy, the convict on the phone next to Dan Wachsberger immediately hangs up the phone and walks away the second he sees the Aryans coming for him.
  • Grass is Greener: After all ten witnesses in the Gus Fring case are killed off within minutes of each other, Hank has unsurprisingly gotten into a deep depression about the whole ordeal. He reminisces with Walt about a summer job he had in college marking trees in the wilderness for loggers. He didn't enjoy it then, as it was gruelling, he got sunburned, and there were mosquitos everywhere, but now facing down powerful and merciless criminals, he thinks it was far better than what he has to deal with now.
  • He Knows Too Much: With no hazard pay to compensate for Mike's trusted men, this becomes an immediate problem. Dennis even considered a plea bargain if he cooperates.
  • Hope Spot: After constantly living under the threat of death from various sources as well as increasing law enforcement scrutiny and a growing estrangement from his family, Walt finally seems to be free: Everyone who wanted him dead has been eliminated; he has killed everyone who would link him to the meth business; he has made enough money for several lifetimes, as well as securing means to launder said money; He has retired from cooking meth, opening the door to reconcile with Skyler. Too bad he left the last piece of evidence somewhere Hank could find it....
  • Improperly Paranoid: Being kept in the dark about what exactly happened to Mike, knowing Walt had all of his men killed off quickly, and considering how their relationship was deteriorating since his own leaving of the partnership, Jesse is justifiably on-guard when Walter comes over to his house to make idle chatter. He also doesn't know that Walter cares too much about him (in his own selfish and twisted way) to consider him a loose end, and is astonished to see him actually provide the $5 million share he demanded. His fear is so dire that he felt he needed to keep a pistol hidden on him for the duration of Walt's visit.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: After Hank spends several days dealing with the fallout from every single one of his witnesses being murdered all at once, he understandably and immediately needs some bourbon when he gets home.
  • Internal Reveal: Hank finally begins to realize that Walt was Heisenberg all along.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • Lydia, to Walt: "We're going to make a lot of money together." Tuco said the same thing, word-for-word, to Walt four seasons earlier, and that didn't end well.
    • Walt, to Lydia: "Learn to take yes for an answer."
  • Kill It with Fire: The last of the witnesses on Walt's hitlist is kept in solitary and out of arm's reach, so the prison gang resort to sending flammable liquid in and setting him on fire.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Walt was the one who set Gale's death into motion, so it is fitting that Gale's book ends up being the crucial piece of evidence that sets Hank against Walt.
  • Late to the Realization: The episode ends with Hank thinking back to Walt's Sarcastic Confession in "Bullet Points" and realizing Walt was not as joking as he thought he was...
  • Literary Allusion Title: To a poem in Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman.
  • Man on Fire: Jack's prison connections kill the last of Mike's witnesses by setting his holding facility on fire.
  • Metaphorically True: When asked where Mike is, Walt simply says "he's gone."
  • Money for Nothing: Over the course of this one episode, Walt makes so much money that Skyler had to rent a storage bin simply to store all the cash and she's given up calculating how much of it there is considering both the immense quantity and the rate at which Walt procures more. She tells him point blank that it is impossible to launder it all and even if they could, it would be far more than they could spend even in ten lifetimes. This is what finally encourages Walt to quit cooking meth.
  • Montage:
    • Walt has all nine witnesses and Dan Wachsberger murdered in under two minutes, in real time and cut together quickly.
    • The steady progress and success of Walt's empire is shown over a period of three months. The routine goes from Walt and Todd cooking across several houses with Vamonos Pest, Saul's consultation, Lydia's management of resources, and Skyler's laundering through the car wash.
  • Mood Whiplash: The final scene: the first of it is all in the Whites' backyard, overall a pleasant time for everyone. Hank then steps inside to use the bathroom, and while there he starts digging through the magazine holder for something to read. What he finds is none other than Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass... and it's Gale Boetticher's copy from a season ago, with the initials "W.W." inside. Hank's expression turns to horror when he starts connecting the dots.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The look of guilt on Walt's face, coupled with the fact that he could've gotten help from elsewhere on Mike's men, makes killing Mike weigh on him.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: As Walter is far too gone to be considered an anti-hero at this point, though still applies by making things worse for himself. Hank was pretty much on the verge of giving up his investigation into Heisenberg, until he takes out a glaring piece of the puzzle Walt forgot to hide.
  • No Social Skills: Your depressed brother-in-law is investigating the brutal murder of 10 people in an ongoing investigation against one of the biggest drug lords in the Southwest. He tells a story about his old teenage job and relates it back to the "monsters" he is chasing. He is utterly despondent and looking for some sort of reassurance. Your response? "I used to love to go camping." Sure.
  • Offscreen Villain Dark Matter:
    • Lydia pitches to Walt that she's capable of expanding his meth business as an empire, just as she'd done so for Gus. As she explains, Madrigal is such a large corporate conglomerate that they can both manage every resource they'd need and withstand the heat of the DEA's investigations, with her as the logistics expert in touch with all the right people. By the end of her tangent, Walt's sold.
      Lydia: This is what I do, you understand? Move things from point A to point B all over the globe. 1.2 million metric tons a month... and all of it right at my fingertips, a laptop click away.
    • Then it's Deconstructed. Walt does not have the same foresight, connections, and means Gus had in order to launder all the money he's making, preventing any legitimate use. He also doesn't have the tempered personality that allowed Gus to handle it, and currently, there aren't even any other endeavors in the criminal underworld he'd think to spend his funds on. With his only concern being the cooking, he gradually loses interest in the routine after a few months pass. The result is a huge pile of cash he can't use in any meaningful way, and though he'd be better off trying to get rid of it (or at least the excess), his ego demands hoarding it anyway.
  • Oh, Crap!: Hank's reaction to finding Gale's book.
    Walter (from a flashback) You got me.
  • Pet the Dog: Walter decides to give Jesse the five million he's earned. Needless to say, Jesse is in a mix of relief and confusion afterward.
  • Properly Paranoid: Lydia voices her hesitation in giving Walt the list of Mike's men, as she assumes she'll be another loose end he intends to take out immediately. Walt claims her fears are ludicrous seeing as they're in public... but later quietly withdraws the vial of ricin he was planning to have her take.
  • Reluctant Retiree: After three months, and with Marie suggesting that the kids should return home, Skyler pleads with Walter one more time to get out of the meth business, especially with a storage unit full of cash. Walter decides to retire the next day.
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • After Walter tells Jesse he has the final say in how they'll be dealing with Mike's men, they're left staring at each other as the garage door slowly closes between them, signifying how much they're drifting away.
    • Just as the last of Mike's guys is killed, the montage cuts to Hank in a photoshoot with a local girl's softball team, where he receives the news. As a parallel to the ten witnesses on the list, the team consists of ten members.
  • Sarcastic Confession: Played with. When Lydia accuses Walt of intending to kill her after she hands over the list of nine names, Walt points out how absurd it is that he would murder her in the middle of a café in broad daylight. The end of the scene reveals that he had a vial of ricin concealed in his hat, meaning that was Lydia right on the money after all.
  • Sinister Shiv: Most of Mike's men are killed in prison by being repeatedly shanked, although one is burned alive.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: "Pick Yourself Up" by Nat King Cole, aka a slow dance song, is put over a prison massacre.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: While Walt's empire is capable of earning him tens of millions of dollars within a few months, he and Skyler only have one car wash to let them legitimize it, and it was already a hassle to try and find a business that wouldn't raise eyebrows to the authorities. As impressive as the pile of money is, Walter's position also voids him of any reason to keep it around beyond sating his ego.
  • Time Skip: A short one of 3-4 months where Walt eventually accumulates his vast amount of wealth, followed by another one of an unspecified amount of time (stated by Walt one episode later to be about a month) for the White family to get back together.
  • Victory Is Boring: The real reason Walt finally calls it quits after months of rationalizing. Everyone who could threaten him is dead, he's made more money than he can possibly spend, much less need, and at this point his cooking is starting to feel like just another job. Even the three months of successfully running a drug empire is done in a quick montage, seemingly to illustrate the fact that there's no longer any drama, or stakes to keep his story interesting.
  • Wham Episode: All loose ends were successfully whacked and Walt decides to leave the meth business. Then, Hank finally puts it all together and realizes who Walter really is. Good thing he was already sitting down. On a toilet.
  • Wham Line: A flashback version that Hank recalls:
    Hank: "To W.W. My star, my perfect silence." W.W. I mean, who do you figure that is, y'know? Woodrow Wilson? Willy Wonka? ...Walter White?
    Walt: You got me.
  • Wham Shot: This episode is full of them.
    • Walt takes his Heisenberg porkpie hat off the table at the café, revealing his ricin vial.
    • Skyler pulling the tarp off of the enormous pile of Walt's drug money. Doubles as In-Universe for Walt, who had no idea his business had amassed so much money.
    • After Walt leaves Jesse's house, Jesse reveals a pistol he'd been concealing in his pocket, and tosses it aside, relieved.
    • And of course, the closeup of Hank's face as he realizes Walt is Heisenberg.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Lydia wants to Defy facing this from Walt, who demands she give him the names of Mike's men, both seeing it as the only reason Walt's kept her around until this point. Not only does she successfuly do so by providing the names, but also by explaining how she can use her connections to expand his empire further. While he initially didn't want to hear it, Walt ends up taking her up on her offer.

"You got me."


Video Example(s):


"You got me."

While using the bathroom at Walter's house, Hank finds a copy of Leaves of Grass with the writing of known meth cook and associate of Heisenberg Gale Boetticher inside, leading to Hank realizing that Walter was Heisenberg this whole time.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / DeducingTheSecretIdentity

Media sources: