Breaking Bad Review: “Ozymandias”

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The final season of Breaking Bad has been an emotionally exhausting ride, no episode perhaps more than last night’s. And honestly, that’s really all I can say without giving anything away, so I’ll just dive right into spoiler territory. If you’re not caught up, trust me, go no further.

Last week we had hope. A small amount, but some. Yes, Hank, Gomez and Jesse were pinned down in a firefight, outnumbered and outgunned, but the episode cut away before anyone died. Character deaths happen at the end of episodes, not the beginning, right? So maybe there’s a way out. Maybe the DEA swoops in with helicopters and snipers and everything is A-OK.

But this isn’t Hollywood, this is Breaking Bad.

After a lengthy retrospective of a specific season one that almost convinced me I was watching the wrong episode, we immediately learned that Gomez was killed in the firefight, despite the fact we didn’t see him get hit. It makes sense, given the amount of firepower being hurled toward the two of them with minimal cover. Hank had a bullet in his leg, but was alive.

My mind raced as I tried to imagine any possible way that Hank could live through the next five minutes, the same thought that was probably going through Walt’s head. But to paraphrase Jack, “there ain’t no scenario where he’s leavin’ here alive.”

And there wasn’t.

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“My name is ASAC Schrader.” A badass to the end.

It was the only way things could have gone. All the money on earth won’t make a neo-nazi criminal let a DEA agent walk free after a bloodbath like that. There was just no way. Hank knew it, Jack knew it, Walt didn’t understand it until it was too late.

Hank is a huge loss for the show, as it’s practically like Breaking Bad killed its protagonist. This past season, Walt became the bad guy while most of us were rooting for Hank to catch him, but now? I suppose we have to be in Walt’s corner once more.

In the end, Walt did everything he could to save Hank. While he finally turned on Jesse, he would never have had Hank killed, not even to save himself, not even to save his money. He tried to call off the hit when he realized Hank was there, and even tried to give away all his money to save him, something I never thought I’d see.

Jack was smart to try and make peace with Walt, though it would have been smarter to just kill him and jet with the $80M. He knows how dangerous Walt is, and Todd’s hurt feelings aside, the smart move would have been to leave his body in the barrel grave with Hank and Gomez. Now, it’s going to have to come back and bite him.

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“Let’s just leave him with enough resources where he could easily hire someone else to kill us”

The scenes were Walter Jr. finds out the truth about his father were heartbreaking, especially when he sees the monster Walt’s become when he learns of Hank’s death. It’s insane to think about how clueless he’s been this entire time, and how much his world had to have been shattered over the course of an afternoon. The show doesn’t often demand much of RJ MItte, but he did a great job last night.

And even though Walt comes off like a complete psychopath wrestling a knife away from his wife and kidnapping his daughter, it’s still ultimately for his family’s greater good. The kidnapping gets the police’s undivided attention, and he’s able to stage a recorded call where he absolves Skyler of all blame for the meth business, claiming she was just a pawn with no real knowledge of what he was doing, and that she even tried to stop him. Smart, and again, heartbreaking.

So now where are we? What does Walt have left? Only revenge, it seems. I didn’t think the neo-nazis were going to become the new villains of the show, but that’s where we seem to be. They stole most of Walt’s money and killed Hank, despite his pleas. Even if any criminal with half a brain would have done the same thing, Walt is going to get his revenge, and now that he’s disappeared with Saul’s disappearing guy, I have a hunch next week we’re going to pick up where the flashforwards have left off, with future Walt having a vial of ricin in his pocket and a military grade machine gun in his trunk.


Game on.

In the end, the show has kept Walt’s soul, however shattered it may be. Many speculated that the machine gun would be for going to war with Hank, or the ricin was for poisoning Skyler, but in the end, he never turned on family, and would do anything for them right up until the end.

And yes, he was willing to let Jesse die, but I have a hunch he’ll play into Walt’s redemption in these final two episodes as he works as a dog on a leash for the neo-nazis making the famed blue meth. I’m really unclear as to why the nazis are still in the meth game at all when they have 70 million dollars in cash on them, as that just feels like tempting fate. Seems like sort of a shoehorned plot point, but perhaps there’s another angle to it I’m not seeing.

In any case, this final season has lived up to every expectation so far, and I can’t even begin to imagine what they have in store for a finale.

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  1. While watching this episode I was huddled in the corner of my room, hugging my knees, rocking back and forth. This was truly an Ozymandias episode, where Walt’s entire empire collapsed before his eyes and he’s reduced to rolling a barrel across the desert only to come across a Native American man who was probably thinking…

    “I met a traveler…”

  2. I don’t think I’ve ever been through an experience like that with a TV show. Literally feeling sick to my stomach as things progressively get worse and worse throughout the episode.

    Every single time I though Walt had perhaps reached a breaking point, where he would finally call the madness off, and somehow find the grace to do the right thing, he would regroup and start with the insanity again. After begging for Hank’s life, and losing, then spotting Jesse under the car, I thought for sure he would take the chance to let Jesse get away. Not only does he give him up, he sticks the knife all the way in and twists it in the cruelest way by confessing he watched Jane die, and did nothing on purpose. WTF?

    The scene at home with Skyler and Flynn, holy shit. If you’ve ever been through anything remotely like that, and I’m not talking about finding out a family member is a drug lord, but the violence and emotional agony of a family literally being ripped to shreds in a few instants, then you were probably like me, on the verge of tears. I’m a 48 year old man, and I don’t think any scene on TV has ever affected me like that. Superb acting.

    Finally, seeing Jesse, tortured and chained, cooking under threat of violence to Andrea and Brock was the proverbial shit in the bowl of cereal.

    I remember walking out of the theater after seeing Saving Private Ryan the first time, and feeling traumatized for about 3 hours. I feel even more f*cked up about this episode of Breaking Bad. It’s like ending a relationship with your significant other of 10 years, while you find out she gave you syphilis, herpes, had sex with all your friends and ruined your credit after totaling your car and killing your dog. Only worse.

    I’m almost cringing at watching next week’s episode.

  3. Not sure why we were supposed to be rooting for Hank after he admitted to Gomie that he didn’t care if Jesse was capped or not when he met up with Walt.

    Hank has been a bully and a jerk for practically the whole series. Even when as an idiot savant he figured out the truth he put Gomie and Jesse in danger since he was too cowardly to go to the DEA.

    He got what he deserved. If he was a true DEA agent he would have gone to his superiors much sooner – even the incompetent Marie told him that.

  4. Todd has Jesse making the blue meth because he’s in love with Lydia, the chemical company rep. I bet she’ll never even know that Jesse is still alive; Todd will take all the credit for the better cooks. I think next episode you’ll see Walt in his new life, find out that the blue meth is still out there and realize that the neo-nazis kept Jesse alive. The flash forward is a year after his birthday in season five and everything we’ve seen so far this half of the season happened in the couple of weeks after that. Walt won’t be able to leave his old regrets behind, proving skylar right, so he comes back into town, gets the machine gun for the nazis and the ricin for himself. He frees Jesse, gives him the remainder of the money then kills himself since he’s going to die anyway.

  5. Nick,
    I think you are mostly right, but I think that in the flash forward Walt has already killed Todd and freed Jesse. This is because he is wearing Todd’s jacket in the flash forward (read the walt taking on traits theory). Not sure about the ricin’s use but the machine gun has to be for getting revenge on the remaining Nazi’s for killing Hank.

    Thinking about it. Maybe Walt is going to give Jesse choice of whether or not he commit suicide with the ricin.

  6. Nick, don’t forget about the montage at the end of the Midseason Finale of Season 5 last year… It was supposed to advance the show about 6 months into the fugure, so the flash forwards are only about 6 months from where we are now.

  7. The reason for the nazi plot device is Walt’s hubris.
    He had to eventually pay the price for all his crimes and giant ego.
    But even so, he refuses to give up and soldiers on.

    I always thought this group of nazis would be a problem for Walt.
    I saw the absence of any sort of threat from this group as a conspicuous sign that this would change in days to come.

  8. Well the blue meth is all he has left. Really legacy of his empire. It kinda fits the poem which is basically the tale of Walt at this point. Jesse and Walt have had their fair share of ups and downs and always end up back together. This was a journey for both of them, in the end neither has anything left expect the other. I dunno i think he will also make one last ditch effort to save his family, and they will know and understand his sacrifice, which is what he always wanted for them. This goes back to the first episode and his confession. This show is amazing and has been one hell of a ride. I feel bad in a sense for Gillian as whatever he does next will be compared to this masterpiece, and that will be hard to do again.

  9. i know hank is suppose to represent the good guy protagonist, but ive never really thought of him in this sense, i use to see him as a looming threat an obstacle nothing else

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