Breaking Badass Power Rankings: ‘Gliding Over All’

Breaking Bad is the greatest TV drama of all-time (THIS IS A FACT), so UPROXX is going all-out on our coverage of the show this season. Cajun Boy will be writing an episode recap (with GIFs!) every week, while I’ll be handling the Breaking Badass Power Rankings, which will, well, rank the most badass characters from every episode. Why “Badass?” Obviously, the so-not-clever-that-it’s-clever name, but also because Breaking Bad is the kind of a show that makes you want to drink an entire bottle of bourbon and/or Franch before watching it, to soothe your soon-to-be-tense nerves. That’s pretty badass.

Episode: “Gliding Over All”

Not Ranked: Dennis Markowski, Gomie, Holly White, and Marie Schrader

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W.W. IS WALTER WHITE, JR. Breaking Bad is going to end with Hank mowing down Emo McGee, and the final shot will be Holly putting sunscreen on her nose…without eating it. McGee’s no longer needed.

That was one sick cup Saul was drinking from.

Obviously Walt wasn’t going to murder Jesse when he arrives on his doorstep — it wouldn’t make sense from a story-telling perspective, and even Breaking Bad wouldn’t kill two of its biggest characters in back-to-back episodes — and yet, didn’t a small part of you think Walt was going to kill Jesse when he arrived on his doorstep? It’s not just in the way the scene was shot, too. We saw that look of absolute terror in Jesse’s (stoned) eyes when he peaked through his blinds and saw Walt there, silently waiting. He had good reason to believe he was about to reunite with Jane in Heaven…or, um, that other place: Walt has a history of permanently disposing those who he has no need for anymore. Plus, with the way the show is set up now, Jesse is just kind of…there. He knows everything, but he’s no longer involved with Walt, and he wants to do something new with his life. Or at least wants to want to do something new with his life. Judging by the way he’s home in the middle of the afternoon, smoking from a bong, he’s not sure what that something is yet. But Walt wasn’t there to gun him down; he was there to reminisce about their misadventures in the Crystal Ship.

That scene didn’t end with bloodshed, but Breaking Bad‘s playing the waiting game now: it’s only a matter of time before Jesse figures out what happened to Jane and Mike. Once he does, what will he do to Walt? That’s the plot I’m most looking forward to/dreading in the second half of the season.

I’ve been waiting so long for Nazis to appear on Breaking Bad. So, so long. If an Internet conversation can’t go five minutes without someone mentioning Hitler, is a TV show really a TV show without at least one Nazi? The Nazis on Breaking Bad are Todd’s uncle, who looks a lot like Mac’s dad from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and two other swell gents, including Street’s murderball friend from Friday Night Lights/Devil from Justified, and you gotta give it to them: they do good work. In a two-minute span, eight former Fring associates and a (Jewish) lawyer get stabbed, gassed, and set on fire, reducing the chances of prisoners of ratting on Walt to the Feds all the way down to 0%. Moral of the story: hire Nazis to do your dirty work.

Ranked so high because nary a silverfish will ever destroy anyone’s giant pile of money ever again.

Three months pass in “Gliding Over All.” A beautifully shot montage fast forwards us through approximately 90 days worth of plot: Heisenberg Enterprises going global, Heisenberg Enterprises making millions of dollars, Heisenberg Enterprises setting up exterminator tent after exterminator tent all over town. And it’s all because of Lydia. Sure, those Walt and Todd guys help, but without Lydia, who provided them with thousands of gallons of methylamine, the names of the prisoners who were about to tattle on them, and a way to ship their goods overseas without setting off any alarms, their operations would have floundered. Blue Sky would have been a small-town phenomenon, like the Big Duck in Flanders, New York, remembered only by junkies and the DEA. When Lydia first appeared in “Madrigal” as a jittery, unbalanced mess, we wrote her off as, well, just that: a jittery, unbalanced mess. She’s since become an integral member of Team Heisenberg, someone who’s just as important to their success as Walt, and has thusly been deemed a Badass.

Then again, if Walt’s actually finished (no matter how unlikely that is), what’s Lydia going to do?

In last week’s Power Rankings, I (foolishly, it seems) wrote that Walt killing Mike was the beginning of his end, that he realized how much of a monster he’s become and that it was all downhill from here. I was half-right: Walt’s cancer is back, bringing him closer to death than he was before “Gliding Over All” began, but I couldn’t have been more wrong elsewhere: Walt is still a ruthless, efficient killing machine. Like Skyler and Hank and so many others, I underestimated Heisenberg. Never again.

He’s a multi-millionaire who HIRES Nazis, is a global meth-making sensation, has taken out nearly all of his direct opponents (minus that whole brother-in-law thing), and he’s even a “nice” fellow, delivering literal sacks of money to his former co-cook, Jesse. But he’s still merciless, and like a Czech Republic junkie who’s gone from 60% concentration to Blue Sky, he’ll do whatever he can to get WHAT. HE. WANTS. He’s not happy, though, and it’s not just because the cancer’s back. Walt, not Heisenberg, is tired and worn out from the day-to-day operations of setting up a place to cook, cooking, dismantling the place to cook, delivering and/or picking up the product and/or money from Lydia, setting up another place to cook, cooking, etc. As my grandma used to say, meth cooking’s a young man’s game. Walt’s the undisputed King, but, without Jesse around, he’s a king without anyone in awe of him, constantly marveled by his genius. The thrill has worn off. It’s becomes a job like any other job, and once Walt realizes this, with the trail of blood-splattered excitement long since dried on his path, he bows out…or so he says. He wants to go back to Skyler believing he’s a family man; he has more than enough money to last “10 lifetimes,” after all. (I’m guessing he’s in a CEO-type situation now.) For many movies, that would be the happy ending, the good man becoming a bad man who learns from his misdeeds and becomes the good man again. Now that Hank’s found W.W.’s copy of Leaves of Grass, however, Walt’s story still has a long way to go. There are no happy endings for Walt here, only a cancerously slow build to when Hank finally brings down Heisenberg.

I mean, Hank has to be #1, right? He’s got him. Hank may not have found him, so to speak, in the most flattering of situations (taking a dump on the can, though that’s where I come up with my best ideas — why WOULDN’T turkey and peanut butter taste good together?), but after delivering a monologue earlier in the episode to Walt about appreciating monotony in the workplace, the thing that later drives Walt out of the meth business, he sees the signed copy of Leaves of Grass, and remembers his brother-in-law’s previous “You got me” joke-confession in “Bullet Points.” The man Hank has been looking for has been right under his nose the entire time, not unlike Merkert’s relationship to Gus Fring, except unlike that relationship, he’s going to be the one who takes out his villain. If this is the part where we predict what’s going to happen in the final eight episodes of Breaking Bad (only a year away!), my guess is that Hank does some digging into Walt’s finances. Was he really a gambler? How could he afford two sports car and that watch? Why is he saying his favorite play is MacMeth and listening to Method Man? It’s gonna be good.

Most importantly, dude knows how to look damn good in a photo with underage female softball players.