The fallout from last episode’s bullet storm of a cliff hanger leaves a pair of corpses in this emotionally devastating episode.
Continue Reading for my spoiler filled thoughts and reaction to Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 14 “Ozymandias”.
A helluva lot went down this week. The more I think about it, the more I appreciate everything that transpired in this fantastic episode even if my initial reaction is it wasn’t as great as “Confessions” or it didn’t reach the heights of the heart stopping cliffhanger to “To’hajiilee”. Which sounds silly considering this emotionally heavy episode had a beloved character die, a crazy family knife fight, Walt’s anguished phone call at the end and the awesomeness we come to expect from Breaking Bad.
On one level, Ozymadias is a logistical episode in which the course of events following the gun fight are played out; it’s merciless, gut wrenching, tragic and inevitable. By logistical I mean characters are positioned from point A to point B and the scenario for how Walt reaches the flash forward time point is set up.
Because the story is moving very fast, it makes it easier to accept certain necessary plot points like Uncle Jack sparing Walt’s life because of Todd’s deep respect and giving him a barrel of cash.
While the plot points build up to the final two episodes, every major character has a crushing moment of defeat or horrific revelation. This is incredibly dark territory in which we understand each character’s personal pain from their perspective. Each scene is like ripping the bandage off a festering wound … again and again.
At first the opening flashback felt like a delay to finding out what happened in the shoot out (yeah I’m impatient) but it’s actually significant in several different ways. Aside from the warm nostalgia of watching Jesse and Walt on their first cook in the old RV, it’s a vivid reminder of these characters at the start of their transformation.
Walt rehearsing his first lie is subtly amusing as we know it becomes second nature to him. Discussing what to name their unborn child brings to mind how over the course of the series, we haven’t seen Walt interact much with Holly even though he sees himself as a family man and went into the drug business to provide for them.
The time lapsed shots of the desolate desert in To’hajiilee from the first cook in the RV to the shoot out and eventual final resting place of Hank & Gomie is hauntingly symbolic. These images literally and thematically encapsulate what Breaking Bad is essentially about in a matter of seconds.
A part of me wanted Hank to find a way to get out alive but his fate was already sealed last episode so I was prepared for what was to come. Hank started out as a jokey gregarious bloke who evolved into Heisenberg’s greatest match. If it’s any consolation, Hank did defeat Heisenberg at this own game … at least until the neo-Nazis showed up.
I did appreciate Hank was defiant to the end, not begging for his life and throwing in a last barb at Walt. No amount of money could have saved Hank though Walt tried. As Walt’s actions become increasingly guided by his emotions it may be foreshadowing his final act of the series might be to do something terribly irrational.
Heading into the final season I was anticipating which secrets would finally be revealed and how it would impact the narrative. The ricin revelation became the turning point for Jesse to rat on Walt which eventually led to the shoot out. In this episode, Walt’s confession on letting Jane die was an emotional outburst equivalent to twisting a knife in Jesse’s heart. He blames Jesse for Hank’s death, not himself, and the reveal is Walt’s vindictive way to even the score. As many predicted, Jesse’s now a slave to the neo-Nazis.
At the heart of this episode is the fall of Heisenberg. His empire has crumbled. His family whom he valued most is lost, his brother in-law dead and 70 millions dollars stolen by the Neo-Nazis. I don’t think Walt was thinking clearly when he nabbed Holly but in a way it made sense for a man who lost it all to cling on to her. Walt has always projected himself as a great father but even that is lost when Junior who idolizes him calls the cops.
Tying into the opening flashback, Holly’s first words are Mama which makes Walt realize who the baby belongs with but also to look after Skyler. The way that I interpret the phone call at the end is that Walt knows the cops are listening which Skyler indirectly confirms. Reading in between the lines, Walt is telling Skyler not to incriminate herself and that he’ll take all the blame without actually admitting to any crimes of his own.
Hank’s death shook up Skylar; she can’t follow Walt down that road anymore but she still loves him. It goes without saying that Bryan Cranston’s performance is amazing; he’s projecting his anger over the phone while simultaneously he’s teary-eyed, broken up inside.
Throughout the series Walt has consistently been saving Jesse so one prediction floating around is that the finale will have Walt realize the blue meth back in the market is made by Jesse and he’ll have to save him one last time. However Walt’s hatred of Jesse and ordering his execution makes this prediction unlikely but I wouldn’t discount the unexpected on Breaking Bad.
Every time I think I’ve watched the best episode of the season, another comes along that’s even better. Two to go!
Was this a fitting end for Hank? Where does this episode rank in the final season so far? What’s your prediction for what happens next?