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Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 14 "Ozymandias"

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"You're a damn artist! This is art Mr. White!"

An initially skeptical Walt had once shrugged off Jesse's nave notion of quality meth manufacture as being an art form, but as the chemistry of Walt's choices began to push him farther down this darkened path, he began to get swept up in the notion of his own blue majesty which grew to be an extension of himself. The egotistical man with the black sunglasses and pork pie hat. Something of which always felt like an act to begin with and was never as properly utilized as Walt would want to think. Skyler gets rid of Walt's "hideous sad clown" which Walt understandably admits "Well, shows what I know about art..." Walt has a delusional, twisted concept of what's good and Skyler has always been on top of that. Heisenberg was originally an idea put to paper that turned up with unimaginable results. The intentions of what he cooked was seemingly justified at first and that's the first image we get of this episode. However, those crackle and pops transition to the end result as we return to the present with an unfortunate hail of automatic fire. The journey to hell has now come full circle.

Gomez is dead. Hank is shot. Jesse is missing. As Jack and his men approach, you quickly feel the powerlessness of all our familiar characters. Hank on the ground trying to come to terms with what happens from here as the neo-nazi's try to figure out the same very matter-of-factly. The curtain is lifted at it's most, yet for all the dread, there's a calm tone to all of it. Todd reports to Jack that they can't find Jesse as if he's a dog who doesn't know where the tennis ball rolled to. It's very surreal to watch Hank get such a casual glimpse of the very world he's been battling against with the protection of a badge non-existent. Sure, he's been in the thick of it with Tuco and the cousins, but this is like an inevitability of his worst fears finally realized, yet he's strangely accepting to all of it. As Walt blubbers for Hank's life, you can tell very early on that Hank knows there's no way out of this. Not only does he get to go out like a man, but he gets to screw Walt from beyond the grave, setting a wild series of events throughout the episode that leads to Walt finally facing the holy of all consequences.



Did you feel the air just completely deflate the room once Jack pulled the trigger? That's powerlessness and Walt falling to the ground Gus/Ozymandias style is what we're left with. There is no proper response but to submit in horror when you're miles away from any shred of sympathy. For the Nazis? It's digging time and they do so with the same ultra indifference that would probably make Alex from Clockwork Orange grin with joy.

Walt is not an innocent guy though and while his resentment is understandable, what he does next is just as indifferent. Jesse is pulled out from beneath the car after being revealed and then Walt okays the hit against him right there in cold blood. Todd interrupts, not so he can do the job himself (which would have been completely believable from the little psycho), but to offer an even worse proposition to keep Jesse restrained at their HQ to get answers out of him before they kill him. Walt of course then okays this because he REALLY doesn't give a shit. Notice the two birds in the sky cross each other as Jesse awaits his fate? Very similar imagery to that of the plane crash. Perfect timing for Walt to squeeze lemon juice in Jesse's wounds as he tells him of his non-action during Jane's death. A stamp of approval on their parting ways.

Walt is on his last gas here (no pun intended) and there's plenty of death imagery to find. I noticed when Jesse is looking out from the backseat and we get his POV, it looks like Walt is standing over a black coffin (the rear windshield's light). Then there's the more obvious warped reflection of himself later with the bullet hole in his head. Rolling a barrel though the open desert pretty much conveys this overall tone as well, especially when capped off with a cattle's skull.

So many finalities to come to terms with in this episode. Marie shows up at the car wash to tell Skyler the jig is up. Even the elevator-like music has this final innocence to it as Skyler goes into the office and we get that last moment of decency for Junior manning the cash register, in which he is unaware to savor. Junior is brilliant following this too. I love how the dreadful summarized explanation is left to our imaginations and we open up with just him processing. You can literally see all the synapses in his brain going off as he takes this massive blow of fucked up realities. There is a little twisted humor in it (which lie is it?) and all within the context of how absolutely true-to-life his reaction is.

We get a glimpse of Jesse's hell as he lies beaten to a pulp in his concrete, underground cell. Todd is his puppet master and it looks like they are using Jesse for more than just answers. He is now an enslaved, chained up meth cook which was entertained for a brief second in the season 4 finale, but now the stakes are a lot more determined as he trolls along the lab to find a picture of Andrea and Brock looming as a dark incentive for good behavior that is ripe with many scary possibilities.

Now imagine being Junior and coming home to a frantic dad packing up all your shit and barking orders that we have to get the fuck out of here. The fact that Junior is entitled to every question he asks, yet is being shoed away while the deluded father continues to selfishly control everybody's lives in this panicked state, is just so upsetting to me. Walt can't even deal with his own son's take on this right now and to see him yell and act all disturbingly rash is like Junior's worst fears confirmed when you can tell the kid is banking on the 10% of hope that this is all a very very bad dream. The curtain is completely lifted here and it's heart-breaking.

A confused Skyler questions Walt to get some grounding on this unexpected turn of events until the answer becomes all but clear. Hank is dead and there is not even enough time for Walt to explain that it wasn't by his hand, but it is not Skyler's fault for assuming in the moment what Walt has proven time and time again of what he's capable of. Then another twist. Skyler has been so deep in stockholm syndrome but it seems that the hell of having explain this to Junior has finally spat her out the other side of it. She finally takes a step in the right direction in the means to redeem herself after making the wrong choice with that false confession tape. The set of knives we saw in the beginning of this episode come in to play and she pulls it out on Walt!

We then get one of the most dysfunctional scenes for the whole family ever as she cuts Walt on the hand and they both fight over it, bouncing off the walls and on to the ground. Baby Holly can be heard crying in the ambience of all this and Junior desperately pleads for them to stop. Once Walt has mounted himself over her, he holds the bloody knife behind his back and Junior goes for the tackle. ugh what an emotionally disturbing scene. Walt yells "What the hell is wrong with you? We're a family!" before his deluded little bubble he's been living in begins to quickly fade and some hardcore realities begin to set in as Junior comes to the rescue with the most sense any character has ever had. He picks up the phone and calls 911! *round of applause* Walt is dumbfounded and flees but not before snatching Holly from the crib with a distraught Junior and Skyler a little too late to notice!

The air once again feels 10 degrees hotter and Skyler powerlessly runs to the driveway, where a chaotic Walt locks the truck door and stomps into a grinding reverse. The music feels like something out of hell itself. Just, fuck. Also, someone give Anna Gunn an emmy for this (oh you did, thanks!) because her expression of just downright horror followed by the drop to her knees is one of the most moving performances I've ever seen. However the next scene is a worthy contender as well from Holly herself. Very authentic and Bryan Cranston was wise to play off on this.

The next scene is so rich with ambiguity, it's delicious. From Marie, Junior, and the police's point of view, they are listening to an unfamiliar monster. Even Skyler was able to believe it at first before figuring out what was happening. Walt's phone call was brutal for both ends since in reality he's playing it up to relieve Skyler the best he can from having any consensual part in this. It doesn't redeem Walt necessarily but it's an act of generosity no less. A better act of generosity would have been to come clean like Hank suggested a while ago. But it doesn't really matter now, does it? Hank is dead and a horrified Marie (another immersive performance from Betsy Brandt) hears an evil Walt confirm this. Notice how many people just drop to their knees in this episode? (Walt, Jesse, Skyler, Marie)

Walt ends it by saying "I've still got things to do..." and it cuts to the fire department which echoes a bit of the pilot, back when Walt was able to conveniently get off the hook for what he was doing. He leaves Holly in the passenger seat of the fire truck which I don't know about you guys, but that is an oddly disturbing shot. It looks like she's locked and loaded with a bomb in her diaper or something. Very creepy image. Then Walt is shown waiting on the side of the road, in which the mysterious red van pulls up again. And just like that, he's gone. A dog passes symbolizing (according to the commentary) whatever you want to take from it in regards to the theme of problem dogs or rabid dogs, but yeah overall a powerful episode.

Who did you feel bad for the most?

Comments

  1. Swoony's Avatar
    Christ this is one of the best episodes of anything i've ever seen on tv, let alone being among the best Breaking Bad episode ever.
  2. lionelhutz123's Avatar
    moira walley-becket won the emmy for best writing with this episode! and yes it certainly is a brilliant episode. every act was just brutal from beginning to end. I remember when I showed my sister, she thought the episode was over halfway through because of how constantly climactic it was.
    Updated 09-09-2014 at 11:58 AM by lionelhutz123
  3. Walid's Avatar
    This episode hit me so hard when I first saw it. Soooo much happened. Such a tense episode.
  4. lionelhutz123's Avatar
    once again, I have to say that the scores in this show from dave porter can really send chills down your spine. whenever I think of this episode, I immediately hear that straining hopelessness when the barrels are being loaded on the truck followed by walt still lying in the dirt.

    or the paralyzing tension when Todd says "Let's cook."

    but more importantly, the music when Walt is backing out of the driveway with Holly. so fucking good.

    and of course in terms of regular music: