‘Breaking Bad’ Review – “Ozymandias” S5E14

Spoilers ahead…

BrBa ozymandias 1

Agreed

That shit was bonkers.

But before we get to that… let’s start off with the teaser. Enter the RV. And may we say, we are so glad we get a glimpse of the RV one more time. It has been such a symbol to represent the show, and we have truly missed it. We are at the first cook, as made clear by Walt’s lack of clothing and tighty whities. Jesse asks Walt questions about the cook and Walt says, “The reaction has begun.” What a great use of dialogue to sum up what that first cook really represented. The reaction began for everything we have experienced up to now and for every character in the series.

Walt and Jesse step out of the RV, and we get a close up of Walt calling Skyler. Walt stands in front of the New Mexican desert background, the RV, and Jesse. Jesse, meanwhile, comedically practices his karate moves. Walter tells the lie that starts all the lies: Bogdan has a “bug up his butt” and is making Walt stay late to work at the car wash. The use of the word “bug” in this line is a nice little twist on the omninous symbol. During their conversation, Skyler is packing up a ceramic crying clown who is dressed in blue and white, just as Walt dressed in the shootout from last week’s episode. The clown also creepily cries red tears. The “tears of the clown” show someone, in this case Walt, realizing truths of their own life and it becoming too hard to handle. Once this scene fades to the shootout scene, it becomes clear the situation is too much for Walt. The fading of the first cook scene to present day is so well done. First Jesse and Walt fade, then the RV fades and then we just have the desert. From that first cook in the desert until the moment Walt has to face his demons has been quite the journey.

We join our Breaking Bad buddies with the big shootout now in the past. The gun smoke has cleared the air, and we see Steve Gomez lies lifeless on the desert floor, with Hank having a rather painful bullet wound in his leg – this guy just can’t catch a break. As Hank army-crawls towards Gomey’s shotgun, Uncle Jack and his crew find out that Hank and his partner are indeed law enforcement. The apathetic reaction that Grand Dragon Jack has to this news suggests that it wouldn’t have changed the initiation of their encounter a bit. As Jack reaches for his pistol to finish off Hank, Walter pleads with Jack to spare his brother-in-law, and everybody can just go on their separate ways, pretending that none of this ever happened. Walt even tries to buy Hank’s life by offering up the 80 million. Fat chance, Heisenberg.

Walt also insists upon Jack using Hank’s name when before he was referred to as “fed.” Respect means a great deal to Walt and using one’s name shows the utmost sign of respect. In what might have been his most heroic act of the series, Hank recognizes his fate and looks death straight in the eye, telling the head of the Aryan Brotherhood to go fuck himself and taking back his name by not just being called Hank, but dying with his life’s work, ASAC (Assistant Special Agent in Charge) Schrader. Hank is a proud man, just like Walt, and decided to take control of his title directly tying it to his life mission. Walt expects that Hank will want to save himself and in what will become one of the most memorable lines of the series, Hank looks up at Walt and says, “You’re one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, and you’re too stupid to see he made up his mind ten minutes ago.”

And then, Jack shoots Hank point-blank in the head.

It was incredibly hard to watch, and the scene cut away before we even see Hank really fall. It wasn’t nice, but it was what had to happen for the rest of the story to continue. Hank spent the entire time we have known him trying to take down the Heisenberg, and seemingly, he actually did it, because his own death is what set in motion Walt fleeing town at the end of the episode.

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

After Hank is shot, Walt falls to his knees. He lays on his side and cries uncontrollably. Todd looks at him and wipes his own nose. Again, Todd is a reflection of Walt and feels bad for Walt’s loss, as he states a few minutes later. The similarity between Walt and Gus crying over the death of a loved one must be noted. Through the broken glass of Hank’s suburban, we see a shovel pulled out of a car. Jack tells Walt that his directions were so specific. He knew the money had to be buried at those coordinates because Walt was too specific on where to go. He goes to look for Jesse by Hank’s car, but declares no sign of him. We find this odd because we find out that Jesse is under the car. Who wouldn’t look under the car for someone? One man is sent to look for Jesse, and the others uncover Walt’s money. They pull out the barrels and move Gomez’s and Hank’s bodies into the grave that Walt dug. The dichotomy of imagery of the place that once held Walt’s money now holds his family is heartbreaking and amazing all at once.

Jack tells a catatonic Walt that he is leaving a barrel of money. Jack then tells Walt that Todd would be unhappy if anything were to “go the other way.” In this scene, Jack leaves Walt little choice to accept his terms, and in the same way that Walt embraced Jesse when he asked him to “start over” in “Rabid Dog,” the handshake here is a symbol of submission. Walt better accept that the two parties are even, or the Neo-Nazis will murder him and his family with the same reckless abandon that they just dusted two highly-ranked lawmen. Walt then does something unexpected; amongst all the calamity of watching his family member die in front of him, he reminds Jack that the deal is not complete until they kill Pinkman.

Why the importance of ending Jesse’s life? It is evident that Walt holds Jesse accountable for Hank’s death (although it was Walt that figuratively and literally dug Hank’s grave), but why is it so paramount that Jesse is the last loose end? Even as they brush off his request with a “sure, if you find him, we’ll do it,” Walt has already spotted him underneath the Chrysler 300 and orders they end his life. The drag Jesse, kicking and screaming, from underneath the car. After a season of spiraling out of control and being lost in the abyss all Fifth Season, it was gut-wrenching to see Jesse finally fight for his life. As Jesse kneels on the ground before Walt, he looks up at two black birds flying free in the sky, almost poetically, to explore the unknown blue, wild and free. We were almost convinced they would end his life there, until Todd saves the day. He suggests perhaps they should find out what Jesse has told the feds before “doing the job.” Todd says that Jesse and he have “history,” which should somehow help him get information more easily, we suppose. Having a history with Todd hasn’t been too much help for anybody thus far in the series, and it no doubt insinuates torture and death for Jesse, a fate with which Walt agrees. As they drag Jesse’s defeated body away, Walt has one last anecdote to share with his former partner:

“I killed Jane. I was there, and I watched her die. I could have saved her, but I didn’t.”

I could have saved her...

I could have saved her…

We are not sure he said this line just to spite Jesse. The look in his eyes and the tone of his voice say that he is saying it to make himself feel better. It is something Walt has held in for a long time, and this is his moment to get it off his chest. Jesse is put in the Aryan’s sedan, and they drive away, leaving Walt in the desert. The scene pulls back and we get a long shot, very similar to the end of the teaser, this time Walt alone in the desert.

By the time we come back, the episode is at its halfway mark, but we just now get the credits. It doesn’t mean much for the episode, but it is worth noting. Walt looks at his reflection in the rearview mirror and quickly turns the mirror to look behind him at the desert. Not only does Walt not want to look at his reflection (reflection is a commonly used symbol in this episode), but he is looking at the scene behind him where Hank now rests. As Walt drives away, his car makes strange sounds, and he sees he is out of gas, yet another metaphor. He gets out of the car and looks under it to see a gas leak. The next shot is great because it is exactly the cinematography that matters in Breaking Bad. Walt stands to look at the bullet hole in the side of his car. The sole intent of the scene was not to show that we know why the gas is leaking, but we see Walt’s reflection in the car several times over. The most obvious reflection is Walt’s face with the bullet hole in his forehead. And for us, this confirms that Walt must die at the end of the series.

Good thing this show doesn't ever use foreshadowing... oops!

Good thing this show doesn’t ever use foreshadowing… oops!

We then see Walt rolling his one barrel of money through the vast desert. Several things are preeminent here:

1. Walt has finally learned to roll the barrel, unlike his grand theft of the barrel of Methylamine with Jesse.

2. He passes by the pants he loses in the Pilot episode, the same episode Ozymandias” flashes back to.

3. The song playing to the epic rolling is called “Time’s a Gettin’ Hard” by Eddy Arnold. In the lyrics played, we hear the chorus of the song, “Take my true love by her hand/Lead her through the town/ Say goodbye to everyone.” The rest of the song left unheard is just as interesting, mentioning being happy a year ago, having a house, the money being scarce and having no place to go.

Our question is, who is his true love? It isn’t Skyler. Is it the money or the blue? This will most likely be answered once we find out why Walt comes back to Albuquerque.

Walt rolls the barrel to a man’s home on the To’hajiilee Reservation. The man looks out his window and sees Walt’s reflection coming up to his property. Walt offers to buy the man’s truck, and the man says its not for sale. But Walt is actually able to buy his way in this situation offering the man a stack of cash. Walt has the truck and loads up the barrel of money.

In the next scene, Marie enters the carwash to talk to Skyler. We love the production’s attention to detail. Marie is wearing black in this scene, a very rare occurrence; she normally wears her signature purple. The death of Hank touches everything. The two sisters sit in Skyler’s office. The shot of them sitting across from each other, Skyler wearing white, Marie wearing black, and a purple orchid sitting between the two is striking. With a smug look on her face, Marie gloats that Hank had won, “dead to rights,” she believes was the way Hank put it. As much as it pained us to see Hank go, we were personally satisfied to see Skyler’s world turn to shit because of his death. Marie corners Skyler, telling her to give up the fake videotape she and Walt made and give up everything she knows to get herself off the hook, on the condition that Skyler tell Walt Jr. everything. Of all the things we dislike Marie for, the prospect of making Jr. find out the truth from his family was the closest to an endearing moment she’s had this season. Skyler goes from kingpin’s wife and accomplice to total victim in five seconds flat. She’s a total wuss and is willing to sell her husband down the river to save her own skin, using the children as a shield to hide behind.

The scene shifts to Jesse, who is chained like a dog in an empty cellar and has had the utter shit beaten out of him.

Again.

It seems as though the Aryans have already interrogated him for information, or fun, when the gate opens suddenly, sending Jesse whimpering and crawling into the corner. The right side of Jesse’s face is so beaten in that his eye is swollen shut, and it almost looks like it is missing. The symbol of “one eye” has recurred throughout the series and particularly in this season.

Eye See You.

Eye See You.

In total gentlemanly fashion, Todd lifts Jesse out of the grated pit and shows him their super secret meth hideout. Classic Bond villain mistake. Which brings the comparison of Jesse and James Bond in last week’s episode to fruition. After chaining Jesse to a sliding ceiling pole, it becomes apparent that Todd’s plan all along was to have Jesse teach Todd to cook the blue. Now, while the words “Todd” and “plan” are seldom mentioned in the same sentence, it shows that Todd is not just a pawn in his uncle’s scheme, but is capable of his own actions outside of Jack’s posse. It can be assumed that he’s keeping Jesse a secret from the rest of the Aryans and we predict that, since thinking is not Todd’s strong suit, his journey will end in death during the next episode, in the way of some good old fashion Red Phosphorus to the face via Jesse, especially since Jesse sees a picture of Andrea and Brock hanging in Todd’s lab. This would give Jesse even more reason to kill the guy who either has a creepy obsession or is planning a future hit.

Back in the carwash office, Jr. is visibly upset and calls Skyler and Marie out on lying. As a sidenote, who is telling the customer’s to have an A1 day now that no one is manning the cash register? Anyway, Jr. calls the sisters out and demands to talk to Walt. After realizing that Walt is supposed to be in jail, he wants to call Hank. Hank and Marie have always been better parents to Jr. than his own parents have been. Back at the house, Walt frantically packs his clothes and his family’s clothes. In the car, Jr. tells Skyler she is “as bad as he is.” It’s about damn time someone told her that. The shot of them in the car is also threatening. It’s usually not a good thing when the camera is following someone from behind, because they usually die soon after. We see the back of Skyler and Jr.’s head and Holly faces the camera. Is Holly the only one to make it out alive at the end of this tale? Time shall tell.

As the family comes together in the house, Walt yells at everyone to pack the things that are most important to them, Jr. wants to know if what Skyler and Marie told him was true, and Skyler is bent on why Walt is there and what happened to Hank. Walt tells her he negotiated, and Skyler becomes increasingly angry, demanding to know what happened. Walt says, “everything’s going to be fine,” the same thing Hank told Marie on the phone in their last conversation. Walt also tells Skyler that he “needs” her to trust him, just like he needed Jesse to trust him regarding Mike. No one trusts Walt anymore. Continuing the reflections of past conversations, Walt also tells Skyler that he has 11 million dollars and they can go and do whatever they want, very similarly to the conversation Jesse and Jane have when they want to take their money and go to New Zealand. Skyler then calls Walt out for murdering Hank. He yells that he didn’t but instead, that he tried to save Hank. Walt will never take responsibility for anything.

Skyler turns, and in the same shot from the flashback, we are facing Skyler and into the hallway of the home. The phone and the block of knives are sitting on the kitchen island. Skyler grabs a knife, enters the hallway and puts her hand on Jr. to block him from her future attack. She tells Walt to leave and when he refuses, she slices the palm of his hand. In a very dramatic scene, Skyler and Walt wrestle to the ground with the knife. It was terrifying to think that either one of them could be mortally stabbed in the fight. Due to Jr.’s abnormal forearm strength, he is able to put his dad in a headlock and save his mother. Jr. then calls 911 and lies that Walt attacked Skyler with a knife. Walt gets his bags, grabs Holly, and goes to his new truck. Skyler realizes he has taken Holly and runs out of the house screaming. Walt backs out of the driveway, pushing Skyler’s car out of his way while she chases after the truck screaming. It’s a scene that the neighbors definitely heard, An Amber Alert is then put out on Walt for baby Holly.

Walt takes Holly to what we assume to be a restaurant bathroom (Koala Kare stations are usually only found in restaurants and airports) and changes her, taking an intimate moment out of his frantic life to be the father that, up to that point, he has not been. In large, Holly has been but a prop to Walt – a means to justify the monstrous acts committed throughout the series. Holly begins saying “mama” repeatedly, showing Walt that Holly is indeed not his, but Skyler’s. He has effectively missed the very precious moments he hoped to cherish by making and selling meth in the first place. With his terminal cancer back and currently a fugitive on the run with no place to turn, Walter White commits the single most selfless act throughout the series. He calls Skyler and berates her for being a terrible person, mother and accomplice, implying that she could not follow instructions and that she should “toe the line, or end up just like Hank.” While viewers can follow that he is upset with her, he is uncharacteristically violent in his words towards her. It’s not until you see tears streaming down his face that the audience realizes that he knows he is being recorded and that he is going out of his way to clear her name of all charges, an act that Skyler would never do for her husband. He fights back the sorrow as he explains to Skyler that they will never see Hank again, sending Marie into hysterics and, in turn, accepting responsibility for his murder. Accepting that a lonely and shameful end is not one to be shared with his estranged infant daughter, Walt leaves Holly inside of the cab of a firetruck with what can be considered the least-attentive fire-fighters in the world.

Yes, I'd like one Hoover Max Extract PressurePro model 60 and a piece of my soul back, please.

Yes, I’d like one Hoover Max Extract PressurePro model 60 and a piece of my soul back, please.

As Walt takes his last barrel of money to meet the disappearer the following day, it brings up the question of where Walt was the previous night. It’s a pretty big blank page to fill; we know that he had to have called Saul to arrange for a new vacuum cleaner because he meets at the same spot Jesse met Saul’s “guy,” but we don’t get many answers as to what links this moment to the flashbacks in the beginning and mid-season premieres. It’s great symbolism that the viewers don’t even get a glimpse of who the guy doing the disappearing might. What we do get, however, is a closing season of the van driving away, likely to the Granite State of New Hampshire, and a dog running across the shot – noticeably without a leash. This has been a symbol for Jesse, the “Rabid Dog,” a “Problem Dog,” and now a dog on a leash, while Walt is the stray dog with no place to go. The news of Jane’s death being a play of Walt’s hand will not be taken without vengeance. We both believe that Jesse will follow Hammurabi’s Code, taking a lover for a lover and possibly, gulp, a son for a son.

Predictions for the rest of the series are wild in theory, but one thing is for certain – the secret is out. Marie, by way of Skyler and the confession tape Jesse made for Hank and Gomez, will out Walter White as the notorious meth kingpin of Albuquerque, and Carol will lose her oranges somewhere in the process. We believe in a future where Jesse or the Aryans murder the remainder of Walt’s family, save for little Holly, and spray “Heisenberg” sarcastically in yellow. We also predict a ricin-flavored cup of tea for Lydia, who is really the only loose end who needs to be dealt with subtlety. And we believe an epic showdown between the Whites and the whites are going to bring the series to a close.

Hush Comics gives Breaking Bad‘s “Ozymandias” an A+(++…+). A beautifully shot and written episode that tugs at the heart-strings and makes you cheer for others’ misfortunes. After watching the episode, the viewer feels like a true Heisenberg. There’s no going back now, as we are two weeks away from ending this tragic journey. Thanks to The Heisenberg Chronicles and AMC for the pictures in this week’s review.

written by Adrian Puryear and Sherif Elkhatib

All media belongs to AMC Television and Sony unless otherwise stated.

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