Wow. Just…wow. I’ve been privy to epic television episodes throughout my life. But last night’s episode of Breaking Bad, titled “Ozymandias” broke the mold. It’s amazing to me that as the series winds down, it is not letting us go easily into the night. Creator Vince Gilligan has created something magestic here, even in its disturbing imagery, and director of said episode, Rian Johnson (Brick, Looper) angles the camera perfectly to document the downfall of King Walter White (referencing back to the title of the episode). Now bear with me, there’s a lot to recap here, but you know as well as I do that every moment of ”Ozymandias” was crucial.
The events begin with a flashback, putting us in the time frame of Walt’s and Jesse’s first cook. Walt’s rocking his tighty wighties, and Jesse is a punk. Walt goes far out into the desert to call Skyler, and begins his series of lies, only this one seems innocent in nature compared to what Mr. White has done to her since. When the phone call is finished, Walt fades away, along with the infamous RV that housed the beginning of a meth business.
We then move back to the conclusion of last week’s episode. The gunfight is over, and Gomez is wiped out. Hank has been shot in the leg, and he reaches for Gomez’ shotgun. Bad move, Hank. Jack (Todd’s uncle) moves toward the wounded solider and steps on his hand, removing the ability to get the gun. One of Jack’s cronies finds out that Hank is with the DEA, and when Jack is about to plug him, Walt screams for it all to stop. White exits the car he’s been trapped in, and pleads to let Hank go for all of his earnings since he’s been cooking — a whopping 80 million dollars. Walt and Hank exchange words, with Walt begging Hank to just let them do this and go, no charges made, but that’s not going to happen. Hank tells Walt these chilling words… “You’re the smartest man I’ve ever met, but you’re stupid to see — he made up his mind ten minutes ago.”
Hank then faces towards Jack and says “If you got something to do then do-“
At this point in the game, my head cowered into my hands. Like this was a predictable moment, it was, but still, the death of Hank just begins the downward spiral of this phenomenal episode. Walt drops to his knees, shocked beyond reasoning. He slumps to the ground, but Jack and his posse don’t care what deal has been made. They load up Walt’s money, leaving him ONE barrel (that being thanks to Todd’s good deed and him asking his Uncle to at least have a little dignity) that’s 11 million dollars worth. Once Walt gets back to his feet, he tells Jack that he still owes him Jesse Pinkman, who happens to be hiding underneath Walt’s car. Jesse accepts his fate, but not before Todd reasons with his Uncle that Jesse could provide them information before they put him down. Todd proclaims they will do the job Walt wants right when they are done, and when they escort Jesse out, Walt drops the bombshell:
“I watched Jane die. I watched her overdose and choke to death. I could’ve saved her. But I didn’t.”
Jesse is taken away, and Walt is left alone.
In the first half hour of the program, our stomachs have already been punched. Real hard. But we aren’t done yet. Also, a side note-whoever thought to place the opening credits halfway through the episode made a smart move. The first half hour being uninterrupted was superb thinking.
We resume back to Walt, who is driving back home, but his car is out of gas. He comically rolls his barrel of money to a nearby house, and pays a good chunk of change to the resident for a truck.
Meanwhile, Marie finds Skyler at A-1, and tells her that Hank has Walt in custody, and Flynn/Walt Jr. needs to be made aware of his father’s actions. Then Marie, Skyler, and Walt Jr. are all in the same room, and Walt Jr. won’t have any of this news. However, he does break through a little bit only to call his mom a liar if it is true.
Skyler and Walt Jr. arrive at home to see Walt’s new truck. They encounter the once proud meth lab king, who begs for them to pack up so they can go away. Skyler begins to question Hank’s whereabouts, as Marie said he had custody of his brother-in-law. Walt doesn’t reveal too much, which eventually leads his wife to believe that he killed Hank. As Walt escorts Walt Jr to his room to pack, Skyler arms herself with a kitchen knife, and swings at Walt, cutting his hand. The two grab at each other and tumble around on the floor, and when Skyler breaks loose, Walt Jr. back up against his mother to defend her, dialing 911 in the process, and informing the poilce that his dad is dangerous and needs to be dealt with. Walt escapes, but not before snagging Holly. He races off with her in his truck, leaving Skyler to slump to the ground in the middle of the road.
The focus returns to, Jesse, who is now beaten and bloodied. The poor guy is chained up, but Todd arrives to bring him to where he is needed. Hooking him on a leash attached to the ceiling, Todd brings up the lights of Jesse’s new yet familiar employment. It’s the meth lab, and since Jesse knows the formula for the blue meth, Todd tells him that they are going to cook. Jesse is silent, but he sees a picture of Brock and his mother, Andrea, on a nearby post. Jesse’s eyes go wide, and that’s the last we see of him for the episode.
Finally, Walt puts in a call to his former (as if she’d be anything else now) wife, and questions Skyler if the police are there. Skyler says no, but Mr. White knows better, and begins his verbal digs at Skyler, saying how she never believed in him, how he had to do everything for his family, and if he crosses him again, he’ll end up just like Hank. Walt, despite his horrible tone of voice, seems to be acting this way to make sure that his family stays safe and aren’t questioned for involvement, because even though Skyler attacked him, Walt really did want was best for all of them.
While Skyler’s on the phone, Marie over hears of her husband’s demise, and the tears are shed. Walt, meanwhile, proclaims he still has things left to do, and with that, he cracks the phone to remove evidence, places Holly in a fire truck at a nearby station, and bails.
The final few shots are of Walt packing his bags into that red van-you know, the one that takes you to wipe your slate clean — and hitching a ride into the distance. A stray dog crosses the street behind the vehicle, which one could mean to symbolize that Walt is all alone now and he has nobody. End episode.
“Ozymandias” was not only one of the finest episodes in Breaking Bad history (if not the best), but in television history as well.
Never before has so much emotional impact been broken up over an hour of television, and for that matter, perfectly paced. Every second I felt like was out of breath, or my jaw was opened slightly, or I was misty eyed (no regrets), or I was just completely astounded, or hell, all of the above. And the thing about it is, this ride isn’t over yet. We have two more episodes to go, and who knows what will happen?
There are a couple of things that may tie together here. Walt escaping may ultimately be where he ends up in New Hampshire when the flash forwards begin. Is he going to use that machine gun in his trunk on Jack and crew? Just maybe. However, so much is left unsaid. What will happen to Jesse? Will Walt redeem himself and save his former partner? And Walt’s family, what will happen with them? Will Hank’s body (Jack and his crew buried him and Gomie in the desert) be discovered?
With only two episodes to go, the show has a lot to clear up, but after this episode, have no doubt it will end in a way that satisfies all the fans.
Before I wrap up, it must be noted that the performance of Bryan Cranston is absolutely phenomenal here. Cranston perfectly balances the two sides of Walter White here and every time you start to feel sorry for the guy, he puts his Heisenberg hat back on and you realize that you’re supposed to hate him. He has indirectly sent his brother-in-law off into the afterlife, he “cleared” his conscience with Jesse, which was a major, MAJOR blow, and he basically told his wife off, although, for the better of his family, who will have no ties to his crimes since he seemed like (to the police overhearing )he was pulling the strings all along.
And speaking of his family, the superb acting ability of RJ Mitte (Walt Jr.) was a tour de force here, as the young man vouched for his dad in the conference room in front of his kin, and then protected his mom when all hell broke loose. Mitte was never much of a main player on the show, just reduced to an in-joke (breakfast) and some emotional moments here and there but last night, Mitte proved that Walt Jr. will not back down from protecting his family, running a more innocent parallel to his father. Incredible work here by the young actor.
Two weeks left for this show. How will it all end? Despite that last night’s episode draining me emotionally, my feelings tank is ready to handle the conclusion of Walt’s saga.
The king has fallen.
Let’s see how far down he will go.