Crumbs: Reviews » Dramas » Breaking Bad » Season 5 » Ozymandias
Critical reviews of U.S. TV shows
and analysis of what makes them
good, bad, irritating and enlightening.

Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad is a drama about Walter White, a chemistry professor who is diagnosed with lung cancer. He enlists the help of his former student Jesse Pinkman to manufacture and sell methamphetamine. AMC 2008-???


Episode 14 - Ozymandias

18 September 2013

Credit AMC

Synopsis: Gomez is dead and Hank soon follows. Uncle Jack digs up the money but leaves a barrel out of courtesy. Walt hands Jesse over and tells him about Jane. Marie tells Skyler that Walt is under arrest and forces her to confess to Walter Jr. When the Whites arrive home they find Walt packing their bags. When Skyler realises that Hanks is dead she picks up a knife and forces Walt out.

The Good: I found myself thinking of “Fly” (310) when this episode ended. Walt wanted to die and leave a surprising legacy. He wanted his family to think of him as someone who achieved and provided. Instead they no longer know him. They are now afraid of him. Ashamed of him. And yet he still lives. He is forced to watch his sins catch up with him and in another city read the descriptions of his own fall from grace. It’s not quite justice but it feels like the end which Breaking Bad always promised for Walter White. I know his story isn’t over but to have his son call the police on him and his baby cry for Skyler were pretty damning conclusions.

The White family drama was as dramatic and emotive as TV drama gets. When Walt and Skyler began fighting over the knife I just began yelling a particular expletive over and over until it stopped. I was so afraid that Walt was about to stab his wife or son.

The build up to that moment was excellent. As the dominoes began to make contact Marie can’t wait to get to her sister and lay down the law. Skyler doesn’t check out the story either. She saw Walt run out the door and he hasn’t made contact since. Skyler has been fearing this day for so long that she just weeps now that it has finally arrived. She can’t explain to Walter Jr why she went along with Walt’s crimes. It was death by a thousand cuts, she has no lung cancer moment to point to.

But when her son lumps her in with Walt her attitude changes. The realisation that Hank has died to facilitate Walt’s continued existence is too much to take. She cannot go on living like this. She hoped too that Walt would die and her sins would be forgotten with him. But he goes on living and lying and she decides that it’s now more important that Walter Jr recognise the difference between his parents. I loved the lighting and close up of Walt as he tried to bargain with her. He looked like the devil asking her to forgive one more murder in exchange for a new life.

The knife fight was intense and emotive. To abduct Baby Holly and leave Skyler collapsed on the road only added to the overwhelming nature of the tragedy. As Walt tries to construct some sort of future with baby Holly she cries out for “mama.” That was simple and powerful. Across his disappointed face a thousand thoughts could be imagined. I thought of that video Marie made for Holly back in Season One (107) and whether she would ever be allowed to see it.

Walt’s bitter, angry phone call to Skyler was a slightly confusing but very clever scene. It took me a couple of rewatches to realise that Walt was putting on a performance. His tear-stained fury was convincing enough to fool me but the content of what he said just wasn’t right. Initially I was puzzled by seeing another phone-call-confession from a man who should know better. But it’s clear when you look at it again that he was trying to absolve Skyler of any wrongdoing. He knew the police would be listening and decided to do one last good thing for his family by claiming full responsibility.

It was a wonderful pair of performances. We know how good Cranston is but Anna Gunn did a terrific job portraying just how trapped and confused Skyler was. With police and family listening in she can do nothing but absorb the abuse and try to figure out what Walt is playing at. She eventually apologises to this awful man who she recognises in the moment is trying to be kind.

As for Jesse...Walt showed why he deserves what he’s gotten when he hands his former partner over to Todd. Just to add to the cruelty and betrayal he confessed to watching Jane die. Ouch.

That much I was expecting though. I had actually been fairly numb to the episode early on (see The Bad). What first turned me around was the sad, sad sight of Walt left alone and dirty in the desert with only a barrel to keep him company. But what actually got me back into my normal emotional engagement with Breaking Bad was Jesse chained up on the floor. Aaron Paul did an amazing job with the minute or so we saw him lying down. We needed no brutal torture scenes to appreciate what Jesse was going through. He simply crawled to one corner of his cell and begged not to be hurt anymore. It was tremendously affecting.

The Bad: The beginning of the episode (ignore the teaser) continued the flat notes from last time. Gomez was dead. The moment completely wasted. Now Walt begged for Hank’s life. But the pent up emotions of the previous episode had all dissipated. I was feeling no tension and no connection to the essence of Hank’s heroism. Hank will not even pretend that he plans to give up his investigation. And then Jack shoots him and I felt nothing. How the writers managed to neutralise the death of a character I cared about is a story for last week’s review and podcast. But I continue to believe that had this happened at the end of last episode it would have been tragedy. Here it was just inevitable.

The Unknown: The teaser added little to the story. They showed how far everything had come. And how Walt once cared for his family and how twisted that has now become. But I didn’t particularly need either reminder.  

Without much characterisation for Uncle Jack it felt a little easy that Walt was handed a barrel and sent on his way. I can believe that is how things would play out given Walt’s value as a meth cook but it would have been nice for Jack to make that clear in some way. Is Walt still expected to give Todd cooking lessons or is the seventy million enough?

Best Moment: The knife fight. To see Walt nearly stab the family he had done all of this for was horribly emotive.

The Bottom Line: This was visceral and satisfying. It did have weaker moments but the strong points were rock solid.

The machine gun must be for the neo-Nazis and Jesse’s freedom. The ricin could well be for himself. We now know why and how he ends up assuming the pseudonym of Mr Lambert. So what happens next week? I guess the house gets torn apart...



Add your comments on this episode below. They may be included in the weekly podcasts.

Post your comment


  • Thank you to all the late commenters. Will include bits if I possibly can.

    I will of course be watching the episodes one at a time and reviewing and not back to back :-)

    Posted by The TV Critic, 22/09/2013 6:59pm (7 years ago)

  • Hi Robin, I am big fan of your BB podcast and I quite like your scoring system. Here are just a few thoughts on some of the less-discussed elements of the show.

    (One of) My favorite moment(s): the scene between the sisters in the office. Has anyone else noticed that Marie has not worn purple but only black around Skylar ever since she found out the truth about Walt? She's been mourning the loss of her sister and unknowingly foreshadowing her inevitable widow status. Skylar has worn almost all beige this whole season but in this scene she has a touch of purple on the cuffs of her sleeves. A visual indication that she yearns for things to go back to the way they used to be for the Lambert sisters. And between them, a purple orchid floats in the air: indicating hope for reconciliation that teeters delicately on Marie's conditions just as the orchid's large bloom teeters on the flimsy stem. Beautiful art direction that really cashes in on this show's attention to detail. I have imagined a whole back story for the Lambert sisters and their childhood. I am convinced that they were raised in a home where addiction and enabling and emotional abuse ran rampant and they got through it by leaning on each other. Both of these women are nitpicky and controlling but fiercely loyal to each other. This type of back story would explain why Skylar could be both controlling and occasionally manipulatable by Walt over the course of the show.

    Hank and Marie have been my favorite characters ever since the scene they shared in the elevator in "One Minute," season 3. (They even surpassed Penny & Desmond as my all-time favorite TV couple). Hank's breakdown and Marie's quiet loving embrace was such a sad and powerful image, and they both turned it off instantly when the elevator doors re-opened. As though this was not the first time they've dealt with great pain as a couple. (Another back story I've imagined involves Hank & Marie coping with & eventually making peace with infertility. Something about how they stepped up to help raise Walt Jr. & Holly, but never once discuss or mention the possibility of having children themselves.) I realized how much they need each other. The hardest thing about being married is letting somebody else see you through your rock-bottom (Minerals, Marie) moments and loving them through their's. I loved how Hank & Marie fought for and against eachother over the course of the series. They are rich complex flawed human beings who loved each other through thick and thin, sickness and health, shoplifting and paralysis. As it became clear over this past season that their relationship was doomed it made me just ache for them. That these characters started out as cartoony caricatures and evolved into the most honest, moving portrayal of a loving long-term committed marriage I've ever seen on television is an impressive artistic achievement.

    I think that if there is one fundamental flaw in BB's writing, it is that I have never ached for the White's marriage the way I have ached for the Schraders. At least not until Ozymandias. The sweetness of the phone call between Walt and Skylar in the flashback was jarring to me, not because of the contrasting phone call that came later, but because I don't remember ever seeing them act that lovingly to each other. In fact, I have long-wondered whether the Whites were ever really all that deeply in love. It seems entirely possible that Walt was rebounding with a cute hostess after whatever happened with Gretchen, and he just ended up staying with her sort of by default. At this time, I sort of have to declare shenanigans on those who oversimplify all Skylar hate as pure misogyny. There's no excuse for a lot of the nasty internet trolls & their rhetoric but from a character development/exposition perspective, let's remember that from the beginning, Skylar was presented as a rather controlling, stubborn woman. Remember her nitpicking Walt for using the credit card to buy something trivial? Remember the perfunctory birthday hand-job that she framed as being all about him but couldn't be bothered to look away from ebay? Remember how she took over with the treatment plan when Walt first told her he had cancer? Remember the flashback when she deflected Walt's optimism about the future because she had basically already decided that this was the house they were going to buy? All of those moments were meticulously crafted early on to help the audience empathize with and root for Walt to break bad. If, early in the series we had seen more moments like the one in the flashback phone call, or if along the way we had seen some flashbacks of the Whites early in their marriage fighting for and against each other as they find a way to cope with the financial and emotional cost of raising a son with cerebral palsy, then it may have allowed us to understand and empathize with Skylar and see her with more nuance.

    Having said all that, Anna Gunn wrecked me in this episode. Facing her son, facing herself, facing down Walt and then screaming and crying in the street as helpless as the baby who was just taken. Phenomenal performance.

    And just one final thought: Giving Jesse up to be tortured is the worst thing Heisenberg has ever done. He just threw him away like a piece of trash after abusing him so horribly all this time. I think for me, a satisfying resolution is going to require Walt to end up at Jesse's mercy. #letjesselive

    Viewer score: 85 / 100

    Posted by Pushy , 19/09/2013 11:33pm (7 years ago)

  • First off this was the most emotional episode so far. I loved it so much the way whole story is wrapping up together. I'll try make this brief. Myself and my fiance are not watching bb next week and will watch the final two back to back as I think it will be more of an experience and also will drag out the end just a little longer(in a way if u get what a mean) will you robin be doin this? Or anyone for that matter was just curious as I really want to view the end the best way possible. I researched it again and I'm sure the final two will see us in the flash forward timeline. I thought that Walt comes back for Jessie but that does not make sense. He hates him and condemned him death. So I've racked my brains and now I am sure that Marie may be in trouble. Jessie told Todd that the confession tape is at Schrader HQ so I think possible they try to get it? Maybe not but I really can't figure it out and its going to be a long wait. Love the site

    Viewer score: 91 / 100

    Posted by adam g, 19/09/2013 8:20pm (7 years ago)

  • This was an amazing episode. Good enough to make a lurker like me want to weigh in with a few observations:

    1. Maybe this goes without saying, but I think we saw Walt cross a line a long time ago that he didn't see himself cross. Killing a family member, or allowing a family member to be killed, was the point of no return in Walt's mind. The realization that his decisions and actions had set this chain of events in motion was too much for him to bear. When Walt collapsed in the sand and lay there looking as dead as Hank and Gomez, he was feeling the weight of his own mistakes. The only thing to pull him out of this emotional anguish is transferring the blame onto someone else:n Jesse. That is why he lamented Hank's death and damned Jesse to an even worse fate.

    2. In the flashback and during the past few episodes, there have been a lot of references to how stupid everyone thinks Jesse is. I can't help thinking that this is foreshadowing a turn of events in which Jesse outsmarts everyone.

    3. I wondered at first why the Uncles were letting Walt go instead of making him come back and cook for them as planned, but then I realized that they've just been in it for the money this whole time, and now that they have so much of it, they might not see a problem with just "smoothing things over" with Lydia and the buyers in the Czech Republic. It's Todd who still wants to cook, and to bring the meth back to Heisenberg-worthy quality and color, and I think this has something to do with his fascination with Lydia... That seems to justify the sudden development of that story line, and I wonder how much of a role the Todd-Lydia thing will end up having in these final episodes.

    4. I don't have a problem with the cliffhangers in this second half of the season. I think they are presenting this as one story, and to cut things off unpredictably further points to the show's cinematic quality - it is meant to be watched as a whole, not just as a series of individual episodes.

    I can't wait to see how the ending plays out; so far, I have found it to be an extremely satisfying process of tying up loose ends and knocking down everything that has been set up over the course of the series.

    Viewer score: 95 / 100

    Posted by Shannon C., 18/09/2013 8:24pm (7 years ago)

  • The more I've thought it over the more I believe that the opening flashback was a key scene. Yes it was a "look how far we've come" moment, and a snapshot of better times, but also changed the way I viewed the events as they unfolded. By showing us the beginnings of relationships and the initial choices Walt made that led us here, the creators really had me thinking about the entirety of the story. You used the word inevitable to describe the moment hank was shot. I also never doubted it was going to happen for a second, but I feel that this was the point. In the pilot episode Walt chose to enter a life of crime and lie to his family. In every hour of every season since then he has managed to get deeper and deeper into the underworld and simultaneously cover his tracks, but someday it was all going to catch up to him. And as soon as we saw Walt, Jesse, and the RV fade away into a shot of an empty desert, I knew that this was going to be THE episode, and today was that inevitable day. Early on theres a moment where a real world Jack would have shot Walt and buried him with the 2 other bodies, but on the show he leaves him a single barrel, something that has been used throughout Breaking Bad to dispose of the dead. Walt then proceeds to crush the soul of his surrogate son and hand him over to neo-nazi's, show his real son that he's a monster, get into a knife fight with his wife, and kidnap his infant daughter. We began the episode with Walt calling Skylar and telling her a lie, his first performance. We end with another phone call to Skylar and his final performance. His last action is to return Holly to his wife and then he's gone. When it's over, a person is still breathing and on his way to New Hampshire, but the life he had is gone forever, as if Walter White jumped into the barrel by his side and disappeared.

    Posted by Dan B, 18/09/2013 6:42pm (7 years ago)

  • Ozymandius might be the single most devastating episode of a TV show I've ever seen. It's such a beautifully crafted tragedy. I loved the symmetry of beginning the episode with Walt's first lie to Skyler and ending it with one final lie that might save Skyler from prosecution. I also loved the way the knife fight was foreshadowed in the teaser. I was screaming for Skyler to "Call the cops!" when I saw that phone on the counter, but when she picked up the knife instead it rocked my world. Also bravo to RJ Mitte for doing a convincing job with poor Flynn having to deal with the 'Your Dad's a murderous Drug Lord / Your Mom knows your Dad's a murderous Drug Lord / Your uncle has been murdered and your baby sister has been kidnapped' bombshells all in the space of about five minutes. The moment when Flynn shields his mum and called the cops on Walt was the one moment I cheered in this episode. Walt seeing another one of his "sons" turning him over to the police seems to wake him up to what a monster he's become.

    I had been bracing myself for Hank's death all week and it still hit me hard when it came. Hank being killed in the shootout was one thing but Hank being shot in the head execution style pushed me over the edge. Walt begging for Hank's life and his stupid futile offering up of his 80 million dollars did nothing to comfort me. Just like poor Mike Ehrmantraut before him, Hank has to spend his final moments listening to Walt blather on about how he didn't really mean for this to happen. He really is the stupidest smart guy ever. Hank's "He made up his mind ten minutes ago" line was the moment I started crying and basically didn't stop until the end of the episode.

    Then there's Jesse. Since watching this episode, I feel like I have to keep reminding myself that Jesse Pinkman is not a real person. Because I feel deeply upset every time I think about Jesse chained up in Todd's meth lab purgatory. I really need there to be some form of salvation for this character. I wasn't expecting that Walt would coldly order Jesse's execution and I was even more sickened by Walt signing off on Jesse being tortured first. Apart from being a shocking act of cruelty, doesn't Walt foresee that whatever information is forced out of Jesse could be harmful to his family too? Looks like Uncle Jack's gang are going after Jesse's confession tape and so Hank may not be the last of the Schrader or White family who are harmed by the Nazi thugs. And only two episodes ago Walt was the one protesting that "Jesse is a person!" We've seen Walt being ruthless, greedy and manipulative, but until this episode I never took Walt for a sadist. But that's what Walt became when he told Jesse he watched Jane die just to break his spirit.

    I'm sure one day I'll be able to look back and appreciate Ozymandias as one of the best episodes of Breaking Bad (and indeed, of TV) ever. But for now I'm just feel shaken and disturbed. I'll still give it a crazy 96 rating because it must be something special if it's affected me this much.

    Viewer score: 96 / 100

    Posted by Kelly, 18/09/2013 6:06pm (7 years ago)

  • The gun is not to rescue Jesse. It is for the Nazi's, Todd, and Jesse. The goal: To desperately retain what legacy he has, which is the blue. No Jesse and No Todd - No blue.

    Viewer score: 75 / 100

    Posted by Ben, 18/09/2013 4:35pm (7 years ago)

  • Walt grabbing Holly was such a strange thing to do. Did he really think he was going to go on the run with a baby?

    Then, as soon as I heard him start to abuse Skyler on the phone, I got it: as soon as he realized they were lost to him, and he knew that he had to run, he figured out the phone call ploy. How to make sure the police would be there when he called? Kidnapping Holly would do it perfectly. He thought it all out in a few seconds, something Walt/Heisenberg has done countless times through the show, and executed his desperate plan without hesitation.

    He lovingly changes her diaper - he loves her, after all - takes tender care of her as he waits long enough for the police to have set up the trace equipment at his house. He makes the call from across the street from an occupied fire house on purpose. He then calls and begins abusing Skyler. As he has never spoken to her like this before, after a few sentences she, and we, realize what's going on. She is able to transmit back to him her concern, and acknowledgment of what he has done for her. All in her brilliant performance.

    As soon as he hangs up, he crosses the street and delivers his baby back to Skyler via the firemen. Mission accomplished.

    He never intended to keep Holly, that's crazy talk.

    Viewer score: 80 / 100

    Posted by Bruce Caward, 18/09/2013 2:27pm (7 years ago)

  • As a filmmaker I often ask myself, how could it have been better? Which ideas could I add, how would I have filmed it differently or what was missing for me.

    There has never been an episode where I was free of this thoughts.

    Especially when it comes to End times, movies and series always come to the point of going into the wrong way and I get totally bored and unsatisfied.

    No this time.

    The reveal with Jane.
    Could there be any way, this secret could be used in any other way, that it would have been stronger. Could they acted the scene any better?

    Vince Gilligan has spoken:
    "My name is Vince Gilligan, look at this Episode and despair."

    In contrast to the king´s statute in the poem, Breaking Bad will remain and I will despair over my work, thinking: I can never do anything this good in my life.

    95 because I nevertheless will try to get the 100 myself.

    Viewer score: 95 / 100

    Posted by Mr. Linda, 18/09/2013 6:22am (7 years ago)

  • This was a nice comeback for the writers from my perspective; I was fully engrossed in the story - before I knew it the episode was over. I love that Breaking Bad gives the viewer enough credit to catch on to a scene like Walt's insulting phone call to Skyler. He almost had to force some of the words out, knowing that this may be the last time he speaks with her. Walt points out Jesse to the Nazis and approves Jesse's execution - this is consistent with last week's episode when a rage-filled Walt calls his former partner a coward. The soundtrack, cinematography, and acting were all stellar, as usual. At this point it's hard for me to believe that Mr. Lambert is coming back to save Jesse, but what else would he be doing with that machine gun?

    Viewer score: 80 / 100

    Posted by B. Rob, 18/09/2013 5:56am (7 years ago)

1 2 3 4 next »

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments