Before we recap, let's go ahead and clarify something. Episode 8 of the fifth season of AMC's Breaking Bad was the finale...sort of. It was the finale for 2012, but it wasn't the series finale. And it wasn't the season finale either.
At least that's what AMC is telling us. But that's stupid. The next season starts next summer. It's almost a full year away. How can you call that the same season. You saps can call this the first half of Season 5. I'm calling it Season 5...period. When the show comes back in 2013, that's Season 6 for me. I might be on an island on this one. That's fine. What's new?
Regardless of AMC's bizarre strategy of splitting up a season by almost a calendar year, the results of the finale were not diminished.
Usually, Breaking Bad episodes are either super intense with lots of action -- or they're a little more dialed down and cerebral. But, in this, the last episode of the year, the writers managed to outdo themselves by delivering an episode that was both.
"Gliding All Over" was about tying up loose ends, in a very big way.
After awkwardly knocking off Hitman Mike, Walt picks up where he left off, by meeting with Lydia (from Madrigal) to discuss the list of the nine men who know too much.
It takes some doing, but Walt is finally able to persuade her to give him the names. He also convinces her to help him launch a full on international export business.
Except, that's not exactly what happened.
In a desperate effort to make herself look valuable to Walt, Lydia sells him on the idea of distributing to the Czech Republic, where she assures him she has connections. He says ok. They go on their respective ways.
Walt takes the list of names to Todd's uncle, whom Todd had previously mentioned as having "connections in prison." Walt delivers his plan to Todd's uncle (and henchmen), ordering that all nine of the men on the list (all in prison) were to be killed, all within a two minute time window.
It's an obvious message and a huge power play. It gets done. Loose ends are tied up.
Directly after the plan is executed, Walt heads over to Hank's place, ostensibly so he can play with his daughter (whom Hank and Marie is still keeping). As Walt pretends to be "Father of the Year," Hank arrives home, none too pleased about the news of the nine men being executed simultaneously.
Hank had every intention of shaking them all down, hoping to finally get to the bottom of the Gus Fring file and put it to bed, once and for all. But that opportunity is gone now.
You get the feeling that Walt has come over, almost to passive aggressively gloat over his victory. It's like he wants to see Hank in his defeated state and quietly rejoice on the inside. It's twisted, but does that surprise you?
Marie has a sitdown with her sister, Skyler, where she makes her case for Walt and Skyler going ahead and bringing their kids home. Essentially, she makes it clear that they can't stay with her and Hank anymore.
Realizing that the writing is on the wall, and that's she's basically out of cards to play, Skyler takes Walt for a ride to a local storage unit. To Walt's amazement, Skyler shows him where she has been storing the mountains of money she's been laundering for him. It's a crazy, ridiculous amount. To quote Skyler, "It's more money than we could spend in ten lifetimes."
After showing Walt, Skyler pleads with him to call it quits. She wants her kids to come home, and they have plenty of money. It's time to walk away from the meth business.
Appearing to be convinced by his wife's plea, Walt visits Jesse, where they share an uncomfortable but nostalgic conversation about everything that's happened between them. Jesse is clearly on edge, knowing that Walt has just erased ten lives in a matter of days, and that he could be next if Walt decided for that to be how things played out. But it isn't. To boot, Walt gives Jesse his share of the money, and he's on his way.
Walt tells Skyler he's out, they get the kids back, and by the end of the episode, it seems like everything is as back to normal as it possibly could be. But then it happens.
Hank finally realizes what's been sitting under his nose this whole time. Walt is Heisenberg.
He might not be sure of it. It's hard to tell, as it was part of the cliffhanger ending, but we're left with the impression that Hank has had an "Oh My God" moment, and that next season (Remember? We're calling it a new season. Cooperate.) is going to start off with Hank taking on the regrettable task of hunting his brother-in-law.
And we have to wait a year for it. Thanks, AMC. Thanks a pantload.