I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
This was a difficult episode to watch. So many dreadful, harrowing things happened. So many lives ruined, destroyed and gone in a blink of an eye. I had to lie down for an hour after I watched it whilst I cuddled with my boyfriend, because it was all just so depressing and heartbreaking. This episode really affected me emotionally, and I found myself choking up at several points throughout the show. Honestly, Breaking Bad might have just ruined television forever for me: I can’t imagine anything else having such a powerful impact ever again.
Including the flashback here was initially confusing, but by the end of the episode, I think I have a good idea about why it was placed here. It serves as a reminder to the viewers about how far (or how low) Walter White has come. The first cook in the barren desert with the wildchild Jesse Pinkman was the start of Walter’s drug empire. The call he makes to Skyler was the first of many lies that he would have to tell. But it was also a reminder about how close these two were, how genuine their feelings were for each other, and how desperately noble Walter was at the start when all he cared about was his family: that ‘I love you’ at the end was impactful. Indeed, the writers were really hammering home the point about Walter’s family being his core motivation in this episode; I feel vindicated from my last review where I commented on how wrong Jesse is about Walter’s motivations. Yes, there was pride involved, but primarily, it was and still is, about his family.
The transition into the next scene was brilliant. I’m sure everyone groaned at the end of the last episode and the cliffhanger it finished on, and perhaps people groaned further when the show didn’t immediately open with the conclusion of that gunfight. But the way they did it with the flashback was absolutely perfect and it paced the climax of that scene so very well.
This scene hit hard. Straight away, it cuts to a shot of Gomez lying very very dead in the dust. Then it shows Hank, injured in his leg, giving viewers a small glimpse of hope regarding his survival. But alas, Jack and co. approach, discover he’s a DEA agent, and that hope is dashed.
Showing Walt beg Jack though was a wonderful scene to witness. It once again goes to show how far he’ll go to protect his family. The fact that he was willing to give up $80 million for Hank’s life (remembering of course that Hank was just about to ruin Walter’s life) was one of the noblest things that Walt’s done in the show. He tried his best, darn it, and you can see how guilty and wrecked he feels about the way these events went down. Walt realises he’s not a hero. In the flashback, that was a Walt who still thought of himself was a hero; now, in the present day, Walt clearly looks upon all the havoc he’s wrecked and he knows he’s responsible.
Hank’s final words though were fantastic. The way he tells Walter exactly how it is, and then the way he just gets shot without even finishing his sentence…I was left gobsmacked. I mean, I predicted Hank would die. But it was still absolutely shocking the way he just bit the dust so quickly. Walter’s reaction was spot on too; in that moment, you could see how much regret he had. You could see just how much despair he felt. Bryan Cranston, again, nailed it.
Then, they dig up the money. Like I said in my last review, I thought it was a mistake for Walter to tell the neo-Nazis about the exact coordinates of his location and lead them to the money. That turned out to a correct suspicion, and watching them haul off all that money was actually quite depressing. The way their greedy little faces lit up as they opened the barrels, the way that guy didn’t want to give Walter even a cent…man, the writers have really created some absolute douchebags.
Also, I thought it was a stroke of brilliance to see Gomez and Hank’s body thrown into the pit where the money was. The money would have been their coup-de-grace, their ultimate ace in the hole, the final pin in the donkey that would have absolutely nailed Walter White as the drug lord Heisenberg. They were chasing that money just as much as they were chasing Walt. The money was supposedly where, according to Jesse, Walter really lived. Now, there’s only a hole left. The imagery is obvious: Walter both literally and figuratively dug Hank’s grave.
I think my heart just did a somersault when Walter said “Found him.” And it zoomed in on a frightened Jesse hiding under the car. I knew the writers wouldn’t let me feel sympathy for Walt for any length of time, and seeing the way he so ruthlessly ordered Jesse to die was the perfect way to dash my sympathetic feelings. Is this the unforgiveable thing that Walt was supposed to do this season? I’m a bit conflicted on this. At the start of the season, if I was told that Walter would order Jesse dead, I’d definitely feel like Walter had truly ‘broken bad’ at that point. But now? After all that’s happened? I can totally see why Walt would justify that hit…he blames Jesse for Hank’s death, just as much as he blames himself.
The spiteful confession about Jane took me a little by surprise. It comes a little out of the blue, as if the writers were like, “Shit, Jesse needs to find out about Jane somehow!” But I’m glad it did come out and that it had the effect that it did. Jesse’s complete face of defeat was traumatising to watch. There really is no going back after that confession. The happy relationship we saw the two have in the flashback is now forever irretrievable, and as the desert sand is now tainted with blood, so too is their entire relationship.
But you know what? I think Todd overshadows Walt in this scene. His totally calm, nonchalant reactions and his idea to keep Jesse alive to interrogate him…it was chilling. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: this guy is a psychopath. “Sorry for your loss” was such a simple line, yet it really resonated with the title of this episode: Ozymandias.
In any other season, this scene would have been mildly funny. I think this was included as part of the ongoing call-backs and flashbacks though perhaps I’m overanalysing.
To me, Walter running out of gas was a nice call back to “4 Days Out” and being trapped in the desert with Jesse. Of course, this time, Jesse is not there and the cause of the vehicle malfunction was the earlier bloodbath.
Then, Walter rolling the barrel in my opinion, was a call back to “A No-Rough-Stuff-Type Deal” where Jesse and Walter stole those barrels of methylamine by trying to carry it to their car. It reminded me of Hank watching that footage and shouting, “It’s a barrel, you can roll it, dumbasses!”. But now, neither Jesse nor Hank are there, and Walter is left to pitifully roll that barrel by himself.
The song choice was brilliant (“Time’s Are Getting Hard, Boys”) too. Another wonderfully shot scene.
I’m glad we got this scene because I think it was important for Marie’s character development. Wow, there’s a sentence I thought I’d never write. But truly, I do think it was good for Marie for her to be able to tell Skyler that she’s won. The dramatic irony here was pitched perfectly, and my heart pounded for Marie as she enjoyed the last relief she’d ever enjoy. Knowing that Hank was already dead, that Marie’s victory was entirely hollow…it was really hard to watch. It was also a fantastic scene for Anna Gunn, who’s acting as Skyler was absolutely top-notch this episode. Seeing her nod at Marie’s request through her tears, watching her grief at knowing that this was the end…yeah, I wish I looked that goddamn amazing and dignified when I’m bawling my eyes out.
Speaking of tremendous acting, R.J. Mitte finally got a chance to shine and I think he nailed it. He delivered his lines wonderfully, really spitting out the complete disbelief and betrayal that he felt in that moment. And he was right to basically tell Marie to f- off when she told him to just try to breathe.
Oh god, seeing how messed up Jesse’s face was and how completely downtrodden and defeated he seemed…it was heartbreaking. And Todd once again, showing what a cruel bastard he is despite looking like a completely incompetent little boy. Todd really does look at odds with the rest of the characters in the show with their bald-heads and tattoos and wrinkles. It makes him all the more chilling to behold.
Anyway, I did call it in my last review: Jesse is being forced to make meth for the neo-nazis. The picture of Andrea and Brock was a nice touch. The way Jesse inched his way forward to see it more clearly was so harrowing to watch. That small intrusion of warmth in this bare metal cage of lab equipment was so ominous, that slight threat was all it took. I think I’d prefer being in the empty underground cage than in this awful industrial lab, forced to cook and spend time with that crazy torturer.
But you know? I still don’t particularly hate Walt for putting Jesse in this predicament. Jesse isn’t entirely innocent either. Somehow, the show has got me convinced that Jesse’s actions have contributed to this fate as well. I can even see how Walt would justify this to himself and how he can feasibly blame Jesse for Hank’s death. Plus, I have a sneaky suspicion that Walt is going to come rescue Jesse (or at least attempt to). Damn you Breaking Bad for really asking me to get to grips with my moral stances and then just leaving me utterly bewildered!
“If all this is true and you knew about it, then you’re as bad as him.” Pow. What an epic line from the least likely of sources. Walt Jnr. really shone in this episode, and that line summed up the whole Skyler and Walt partnership so well. Not because I think he’s right (Skyler’s got far less blood on her hands), but because it really solidifies the idea that those two were equals; once Skyler found out, her actions were not those of a victim, but those of a true equal. She demanded just as much as she gave. And now she’s forced to suffer those consequences.
Then, in the house, Anna Gunn once again blew me away with her powerful acting. The way she insists on knowing what happened to Hank, and then her accusation, “You killed him!” was the perfect thing to set Walter off. Walt’s insistence that he tried to save him was so pathetic in that instance, and yeah, I think in that moment, Walt felt the weight of her words too. Even if he didn’t hold the gun, Walt did kill Hank. Perhaps that’s when he realises that it’s not Jesse who killed him.
The shot of Skyler approaching the table where there’s a block of knives and a phone was absolutely brilliant; it was a subtle way to ramp up the tension. And when she grabbed the knife, I inhaled a deep breath and braced myself. I was so worried for everyone’s safety in that scene. When he slashes at Walter, for a moment, I thought I saw a bit of the old Walter White; in that instance, he looked more like a shocked, bumbling and hurt father than the evil druglord kingpin. “We’re a family!” he bellows, and boy, as he sees his son shielding his mother and both of them cowering in fear…I felt so sorry for him. This is the great Ozymandias: “Nothing beside remains”. His family is gone.
Walt’s desperate ploy by grabbing Holly was shocking. I honestly didn’t expect that at all. And then, Anna Gunn just rocked my world with that desperate performance. As she ran into the street, screaming and begging for Walt to come back with her baby…my heart broke for the 10th time this episode and I really, truly, wept at that scene. I felt all the weight of Skyler’s hurt and fear and it really ruined me. I had to pause the episode at this point and just take a breath.
Then I remembered that opening flashback. Back then, Skyler was just a normal person struggling through life like everybody else. She was an aspiring writer who sold off trinkets on eBay: a woman whose world was made better by turning a $9 profit. She was pregnant and happily married, and just reflecting on what to call her baby. Now, she’s a woman who turned down $11 million, who says no to her husband, who fiercely defends all she has left. She’s a woman who, in that moment as she watched Walt drive away from Holly, has suffered true devastation. Her life is so thoroughly ruined at this point that it was near unbearable to watch.
“Mama ma!” was just such a shattering scene. Poor Walt. He grabbed Holly in a desperate attempt to keep together his family. His older son had abandoned him and his wife hates him. Holly, a pure innocent in this world of blood, was the only thing Walter had left. And damn, he couldn’t even have that; Holly would forever remind him of the family he had destroyed. You could see the utter despair in Walt’s face as he makes up his mind as to what to do.
The phone call was a true stroke of genius. Remember when Hank says that Walter is the smartest guy he knows? Yeah, this was the scene that made him worthy of that praise. The way he perfectly pitched his speech to exonerate his family was nothing short of brilliance. I’ll admit, I was at first drawn in by all the awful vitriol. I was ready to start hating Walter White, finally. But Bryan Cranston absolutely blew this performance out of the water with his tears and his defeated face. The way he pauses between heaving cries to ready himself for the next round of spewing hatred was just so well acted. I can already see the Emmy’s piling up for this performance.
But it’s not all fake, is it? I don’t think he hates Skyler the way he makes out in the call, calling her a bitch and what not. But to some extent, that was coming from a real place. His rage, his anger, his fury at being constantly misunderstood…that was all authentic. It reminded me of the call he made to Jesse as he was driving out into the desert when he was telling Jesse all the things he did for him and how Jesse was too stupid to know it. Yes, Walter was staging the call to exonerate his family, but he was also using it to vent. Here he was channelling pure Heisenberg: the head of an enormous drug empire, the very model that he aspired to be. But of course, he isn’t really Heisenberg: the tears betray him.
And of all the characters, Skyler was best placed to really understand. The way she says, “I’m sorry” made that clear. She knew what Walter was doing for her and she understood what Walter was sacrificing. It was so different to the phone call at the start of the episode, but it echoed much of the same sentiment. Despite everything, Walt still loves her…and I think Skyler loves him back.
“I still have things to do.” Gorgeous line. It echoes what everyone’s thinking. You have stuff to do Walter, and it’s not ending yet.
No wonder they picked such an iconic location a few episodes ago when Jesse was getting ready to disappear. It must have been for this very scene, so that we as viewers would instantly recognise what was happening. With no words, it was clear what Walter was doing.
Except…we know he comes back. I’m now rethinking what I thought previously which was that Walter fakes his own death. I’m guessing he just disappears and people assume he’s dead or something. It would explain the neighbour’s reaction and his fake ID in the earlier flash forwards.
Only two more episodes left! My heart might give out before the end at this rate!
*Did you notice the dog running across the shot at the end? A reference to the Rabid Dog, I think, and a clear indication that Walt’s unfinished business is going to concern Jesse.
*The knife block was highlighted in the flashback scene. I love those little continuity nods.
*Oh god poor Marie. I don’t have much to say except I felt so sad for her in that moment when she realises that Hank’s dead. Will she kill herself perhaps? She did research a bunch of poisons…
*Um, Jesse told the Nazis about the tape at Hank’s house…I hope no one’s home L Oh god if they kill Marie…or Walt Jnr. or Skyler…I’m just going to hide under my bed forever, okay?
*Speaking of poisons…yeah I’m now thinking the ricin is going to be used on Lydia. She does drink an awful lot of tea, right?
*Ugh I really don’t want to watch Dexter after watching that episode of Breaking Bad. Anyone else in the same position?