There’s only two episodes of Breaking Bad left, and if they’re anything like “Ozymandias”, the title of the latest episode, Vince Gilligan and his team of writers should win the Galaxy.
(Spoilers a’plenty, so proceed at your own risk)
“Ozymandias” is hands down one of the most brilliant Breaking Bad episodes to ever air. It’s also one of the saddest and more painful episodes to watch. Just as the poem of the same name states (Cranston read it as a teaser to final season), Walt’s empire is beginning to crumble before his eyes due to his Heisenberg hubris, and the natural flow of time. The end has begun, and things don’t look good for everyone involved.
Back to the desert where it all began
The episode began with a flashback to the first cook that Jesse and Walt produced in the exact same location where Walt, Jesse, Hank, Gomez, and Jack’s band of neo-nazis had a shoot-out at the end of last week’s episode. The flashback served as a look back at the beginning of Walt’s lies, which at first were meant to protect his family from his plan to sell drugs to ensure that they could survive without him once his cancer took him from the Earth. At that time no one knew what Walt and his lies would turn into, not even Walt himself. Deep down he truly did have good intentions at first, but as with any man who comes into power Walt let his ego get in the way, and it has lead to nothing but death and tragedy.
This flashback violently fades into the present day, focusing back on the shoot-out that ended last week’s episode. It’s made clear that Gomez didn’t survive the gun fight, and that Hank has taken a bullet to the leg, which foreshadows his impending doom. The scenes that follow the flashback become very hard to watch, and quite painful to think about knowing what is about to happen to Hank. Walt pleads and begs with Jack to let Hank live, clearly showing that Heisenberg hasn’t completely taken over his psyche, but the seeds he’s sown over the past few seasons have taken a firm root, and there’s no amount of begging that can reverse the course Walt has set his family and everyone around him on.
Sadly, Walt is forced to watch Hank get shot as he collapses in a heap of human regret. To make matters worse he also has to watch Jack and his gang steal his barrels full of cash, which he informed him of in a desperate attempt to save Hank’s life. The same money that he’s compromised his entire life over is now slipping through his hands, which is sad to see in a way thanks to the fact that we as viewers know of all the sacrifices Walt made to earn that money. All the betrayals, murders, and lies were for nothing. Walt has lost the fortune that he crossed over to the Dark side to earn, and more importantly, he’s lost his soul.
Any fatherly feelings Walt may have had for Jesse have since evaporated, and the look in his eyes spelled doom for his former student and partner. The nail in Jesse’s coffin in regards to Walt’s feelings for him is hammered home when Walt tells Jesse that he watched Jane die and did nothing about it. Walt’s disgust for Jesse’s betrayal is only tempered by Todd, who curiously suggests that Jesse should be kept alive and tortured to find out what he told the DEA. Rather than saving Jesse from this ordeal Walt agrees to his fate and heads home with his lone barrel of cash, any semblance of his former self lost in the dust of To’hajiilee.
The cat is let out of the bag
While all of this is happening in the desert Skyler and Junior are left wondering why Walt left in such a rush, and why he can no longer be reached. Skyler soon finds out the reason once Marie shows up to inform her that Hank has Walt arrested, and “Dead to rights.” With this news in hand Skyler finally breaks down her Walt wall of protection and conforms to Marie’s demands to tell Junior what his father has been up to. Upon hearing the news he goes into a rage over the fact that both his parents have been lying to him for quite sometime, but he still refuses to accept the fact that Walt has broke bad, and wants to hear it from his Dad first hand.
He gets his wish in the next scene when he and Skyler return home to find Walt not in custody, frantically packing suitcases and demanding that he and his Mother do the same thing. This particular scene is the most difficult to watch not only because its sad to see the person Walt has turned into, but also how his actions have destroyed the lives of the people he initially intended to protect. Skyler, knowing what probably happened to Hank finally slips out of the spell Walt cast on her through fear and attacks the man she has two kids with. The two parents duke it out in a bout of family battery, which prompts Junior to finally see that his Father is not the man he thought him to be, which leads him to call the police. Frantically, Walt kidnaps Holly and leaves Skyler and Junior in misery, fulfilling their worst fears about him.
Hubris in its purest form
“Ozymandias” wraps with two frightening scenes. The first is of Jesse in his cell now that he’s been taken captive by Todd and Jack. It’s abundantly clear that Pinkman has been mentally and physically tortured. So much so that he’s been broken to a point where he acts like a frightened child at the site of Todd. It’s soon made clear why Todd spoke up in the desert to save Pinkman, as he leads him to a meth lab in fetters and chains. Jesse is strapped into a zipline of sorts and freed so he can teach Todd how to cook Walt’s infamous blue meth. When he sees a picture of Andrea and Brock, Jesse realizes that he has no choice but to resume the hobby that led him to this conundrum in the first place. He, like Walt, is screwed.
The final scene of the episode is also its most disturbing. Walt, realizing that his family is against him makes a threatening call to Skyler, who unbeknownst to Walt has the police with her. Walt slips into full on Heisenberg mode and begins to lash out at Skyler with threatening remarks and reminders of his power. He lets her know that Hank ultimately perished because he crossed Walt, and that the same fate awaits anyone else, family or not.
The evilness that Walt exhibits is frightening, and any amount of respect you may have had for him over the years will surely begin to dry up. Although, if you think about the entire scene and take into account Walt’s brilliance, the entire hate filled diatribe may have been a ploy to ultimately clear Skyler of any ties to his crimes. He may indeed have let Heisenberg loose to save the ones he loved after all. Thankfully he leaves Holly in a fire station before he rides off into the sunset with Saul’s guy in charge of giving people new identities. Ultimately though, Walter White has officially died in the eyes of his loved ones, and viewers.
“Ozymandias” is one of the more brilliantly written Breaking Bad episodes that will take long time viewers through a litany of emotions. Walt White has been hanging on to a sliver of his former self, but that sliver was firmly extinguished by the end of this episode. Heisenberg’s hubris has blinded him to the fact that he’s now hurting those he once loved, the same people he compromised his clean lifestyle over way back in season 1 to provide for them after he died. It’s now Heisenberg versus the world, he has no allies left, not even Jesse. It will be interesting to see how the final two episodes play out, but I now think we know who the last dose of ricin is for that Walt picked up in one of this season’s flash forwards. Heisenberg is not the type of man to be taken alive.
[schema type=”review” name=”Breaking Bad: Ozymandias | Review Summary” description=”The Awesome: Brilliant writing, Top-notch acting, Drama to the max | The Not so Awesome: Walt’s Toe the line speech to his wife” rev_name=”Breaking Bad: Ozymandias” rev_body=”Ozymandias is one of the most emotional episodes to ever grace the Breaking Bad franchise. It’s full of loss, betrayal, and hatred that will hit the hearts of fans differently. Hubris and its effect on people of power has never been showcased as excellently as it was in Gilligan’s third to the last episode of Breaking Bad.” author=”Matt Heywood” pubdate=”2013-09-16″ user_review=”10″ min_review=”0″ max_review=”10″ ]
Images via [Ursula Coyote for AMC]