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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-???

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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...

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  • Let me say one more thing about Hank's death. I thought Walt's offer of $80 million for Hank's life was completely unbelievable. Walt's offer meant he was giving up all his hard won gains, not to save Hank, but just for a CHANCE to save Hank. To succeed both Jack AND Hank had to agree to something that really couldn't - and I think Walt would've known that.

    And further, Hank has just arrested him, gloated, and done a little victory dance in Walt's face. Jesse has spited on it. Is it really realistic, that Walt would suddenly turn into Hank's fairy God mother, willing to give up his hard earned fortune, simply for a CHANCE to save his life?

    Posted by rcocean, 18/09/2013 2:44am (6 years ago)

  • Loved this episode! I really liked how the writers already gave us a dramatic, heart-wrenching scene with Holly being nearly taken by Marie earlier this season, without us realising it was foreshadowing a much worse scene where she is abducted, this time by her own father. The difference was Marie was trying to keep her out of danger and Walt was bringing her towards danger (he is after all the self-proclaimed DANGER). If Marie had successfully taken her, which at the time didn`t seem to be a good thing, Holly may have been safe this time. Last time Holly was stuck between Skylar and Marie screaming, which was in itself really awful, but could not be as gruesome or dangerous as the knife fight that took over the whole White household.

    Viewer score: 90 / 100

    Posted by Mike, 17/09/2013 10:16pm (6 years ago)

  • I thought last week was a rollercoaster ride but this was something else. I don`t even know what to score it yet and will need some time to take it in, but all I can say is I loved it. To think Hank dying was almost the least of the drama is a compliment to the writers. So many things paid off in this episode, eg Hank`s death, Jane, Jr finding out and the flash forward and yet it seemed completely organic, nothing was done just for shock value but it did manage to shock, deservedly. I was completely absorbed during the knife fight that I didn`t realise how much time had passed and honestly thought the episode was about to end when Skylar ran into the street in despair. I couldn`t believe they had the balls not to end there and give us more.

    I`m glad the writers had a storyline to follow up on Hank`s call to Marie to make her think he was absent as he had arrested Walt and it nicely tied in with Marie telling Skylar what to do and the reveal to Junior. Also like how the Jane reveal was handled as from so many examples we know Walt holds grudges and does things out of pride or spite and Jesse`s betrayal would be the worst of anyone. So to get back at him he used the only card left to truly hurt Jesse. We already got a scene of pure outrage when Jesse realised about Brock, so I think the way he reacted here was a nice contrast, just too hurt to say anything.

    I liked the podcast last week how you talked about the review. Reading it directly or talking both work well. Cheers :)

    Posted by Kay, 17/09/2013 9:55pm (6 years ago)

  • I want to add to my previous comment. There have been many questions about Uncle Jack's motivation to give Walt the barrel of money.

    While Uncle Jack's crew are burying the bodies, we see Todd talking with Uncle Jack in the background. Then, just before Uncle Jack tells his men to load a barrel into Walt's car, Uncle Jack says "OK" to Todd. This strongly implies that Todd talked with Uncle Jack and convinced him to give Walt the barrel of money. It's obvious that Jack loves and respects his nephew and might have gone against his better judgement to satisfy Todd.

    Posted by Justin, 17/09/2013 5:16pm (6 years ago)

  • The richness and complexity of “Breaking Bad” becomes fully apparent in this antepenultimate episode. Harking back to Walt and Jesse’s first cook on the To’hajilee site was genius – a poignant bookending of the comparatively innocent figures of Walt speaking lovingly to Skyler on the phone and Jesse cavorting joyfully in the background fading away and being replaced by the grim reaping of the Nazi gang. Crime doesn’t pay, Gilligan is telling us – at least not crime committed by a hungry ego like Walt’s. All of our actions have repercussions on others.

    As always, my thoughts on “Breaking Bad” revolve around Jesse, my favorite character. It’s no wonder Jesse has such an affinity with children and they with him – he’s straight out of “Peter Pan” – Peter himself at times, a Lost Boy at others. Intended or not, I’m beginning to see Jesse’s character as a commentary on our society, which can’t appreciate or tolerate this kind of beauty and innocence. You might ask why Jesse doesn’t just “grow up,” but growing up entails some kind of acceptance of or resignation toward the status quo, and Jesse’s playful spirit is too pure for this. Children need guidance, but Jesse’s wild anarchy couldn’t accept the rote strictures of his typical, “nice” middle-class parents. The only positive guidance he received growing up was from the high school shop teacher who encouraged him to care enough about artistic vision and craftsmanship to finish a beautiful little wooden box – a gem, like Jesse himself, with nowhere to go in this society. His instinct was to give the box to his mother, but she wouldn’t have appreciated it, as she only valued what society told her to value, and Jesse knew that. So he sold his soul for “weed,” a few hours of distraction, just as he distracts himself later with video games, rap music, and strippers: the play of a “man” in our superficial culture. Then this directionless, unconscious child re-meets another teacher – the overly purposeful and even more wounded Walter White, so consumed by the loss of monetary reward for his creativity and intelligence that when cancer frees him from his normal routine, he jumps through the wormhole into a freedom not of play, but of inflated ego, seeking such proof of its value that it has to amass seven barrels of hundred dollar bills, the only currency this society recognizes.

    Jesse resists Walt’s control every step of the way, but admires his brilliance and dedication to purity of product (excellence). He takes the opportunity to learn how to “be good at something” and to be noticed and needed by a father figure. He forgets that Walt started by coercing him and doesn’t realize, at least early on or consistently, that he’s being played and used. Though the relationship includes some real love and caring, both ways – as in the wonderful “Four Days Out,” it’s ultimately incredibly abusive. (As is, one might note, Walt’s relationship with his own son. Both Walt and Skyler treat Flynn not as an individual with needs of his own, but as a foil for their own egos.)

    Having glimpsed or suspected Walt’s evil several times before, Jesse finally – for the sake of Brock, another innocent child – breaks from him irrevocably, going so far as to do what we thought he’d never do – rat him out to the cops. Jesse’s been concerned about morality and justice for a long time, seeking, in a childlike way, consequences for actions. Now he has a chance, with Hank’s help, to bring consequences to Walt. But it’s too late – Walt’s ego has allowed him to consort with the true scum of the earth, and they roll in and kill Hank, capture Jesse, and take most of Walt’s money. Jesse is beaten bloody yet again, and re-captured, with no hope of escape or even non-cooperation, lest Brock and Angela pay the price.

    I’d hoped for more growth for Jesse’s character, but there’s not much time left and little hope for rescue, unless Walt’s going to recognize the error of his ways and come back to rescue his adopted son. Besides, Jesse’s committed crimes, too, whether at Walt’s behest or not, and wouldn’t he be held accountable for them, if rescued? He’s already paid enough along the way, in my opinion -- in guilt, beatings, and the loss of people he loved – his aunt, Combo, Jane, Angela, and Brock.

    I wish the series hadn’t been so rushed. I would have liked to have seen 13 episodes in season 5 and a full 13-episode sixth season. Maybe we would have lost some of the intensity of these last episodes, but there would have been time to develop things more fully. I would have liked it if there’d been time for Hank to develop some liking and caring for Jesse, for example. And there wasn’t much time to see Jesse’s reaction to the long-awaited revelation of Walt’s complicity in Jane’s death.

    Jane’s death is another example of the show’s amazing richness and complexity – kind of like life. Walt was a monster not to have rolled Jane back onto her side after causing her to fall onto her back. But she had greedily threatened and blackmailed him, and she was dragging Jesse down, maybe to the point of dying from an overdose. On the other side, Walt refrained from saving her for his own selfish reasons, completely without regard for the life of a beautiful, intelligent young woman who might come out right in the end. Back to the good, after driving a grief-stricken Jesse to the point of suicide by drugs, Walt rescued him from the drug den and took him to rehab. Nobody is pure evil, and even now we keep seeing some good in Walt.

    More bookending at To’hajilee, to get back to the episode: the money comes out of the hole in the ground and the dead bodies of Hank and the faithful Gomie go in. Even more than the White house, that place is going to be the iconic “Breaking Bad” location.

    Two more examples of things I’ve wanted to see happening too quickly to enjoy: the reconciliation of Marie and Skyler (and the heart-stopping, heart-rending flipflop of the fates of the husbands they were waiting to hear from) and Flynn finding out the truth about his parents. Flynn rose to the occasion – protecting the mom he’s resented and still has a right to be angry at from the dad he’s idolized, and, without a moment’s hesitation, doing what should have been done long ago: calling the cops on him. Something else I’d like to see, but doubt there’ll be time for: Flynn meeting Jesse. I’d like to see what they’d make of each other, and what notes they’d compare.

    The episode ends with the innocence of another child hurt by Walt’s machinations: Holly, the baby daughter he cares for so tenderly, but whom he exposes to so much danger. The expression on her face as she sat in the fire truck all by herself broke my heart. Largely unconscious of the drama up to now, she’s beginning to see, hear, and speak. (“Ma-ma?”) What will she say (or “say”) at the end, if there’s time to see, and if she – hopefully! – survives?


    Viewer score: 95 / 100

    Posted by Maggie S., 17/09/2013 4:20pm (6 years ago)

  • Very troubling start to this episode. The back to the future effect felt like it belonged in a different show and they might as well have changed the theme music that followed. I'm fine with VG wanting to give Hank his due, but why set up the shot like it was the finale of Bonnie and Clyde only to plunk us back down where he did with Hank simply wounded in the leg. I didn't buy him throwing Walt a bone with the "smartest guy I know" line either. Hank loathed WW in the same fashion that Heisenberg had come to despise Jesse. Walt chirping about Jane felt like they had run out of time to tie up an unnecessary loose end, while Jack giving Hank his disappearing money was dubiously convenient at best. The rest, however, was flawless.

    Viewer score: 82 / 100

    Posted by dbates, 17/09/2013 1:22pm (6 years ago)

  • So wait you cared more about a bland character's death like Vogel in Dexter than Hank's? Boo! And double boo on also never giving an episode of Breaking Bad higher than you gave Buffy.

    "Is Walt still expected to give Todd cooking lessons or is the seventy million enough?"

    I think with Jesse being the neo-Nazis' meth slave, it's better having him cook for the rest of his life, since Jesse has the reputation that he's just as good as Walt when it comes to cooking meth than having Walt be there for a day or two to teach Todd.

    Posted by Funkhouser, 17/09/2013 5:41am (6 years ago)

  • I remember once going to the beach. I was around 17 or 18, and had been anticipating running into the water, jumping into the surf; knowing in my mind how awesome it would feel, and how much fun it would be. Little did I realize that the waves didn't share my emotion. I was tossed back like a rag doll, and only then did I finally realize that no matter what I thought would happen, I was powerless against the universe.
    Walter White finally reached that moment in "Ozymandias", and I loved this episode because, despite the still-obvious compression of plot due to the 8-episode format, we finally see the truth washing over Heisenberg. He finally realizes that you can't stand tall against the waves, you can only go where they take you. I have expressed previously that I am rooting for Heisenberg, and I see now that I want Walt to be allowed to pay his penance; in other words, I don't want to see Walt ceremoniously and dishonorably discharged from society. It would be much more satisfying to me to see the rest of the White family and Marie reunited, and Walt able to save Jesse, even if Walt dies shortly afterward. The castle built of sand by Walt, called Heisenberg, will be washed away by the never-ending surf...and time will go on.

    Viewer score: 80 / 100

    Posted by Matt E., 17/09/2013 5:21am (6 years ago)

  • I just hope it doesn't come down to Walt vs Uncle Jack and the Aryans. They're just not very interesting villains. They're like the Cousins in that they have only tangential connection with any important characters, and thus feel disconnected and inessential, but they don't even have the fun, over-the-top, Coens-esque flair that the Cousins had going for them. No, it better be Walt vs Jesse; I think it has to be now, with the Jane reveal and all.

    I agree that Hank's death lacked much weight as shown here. Maybe if I had watched the episodes back-to-back? But Hank was already shot by heartless, one-dimensional goons once before, and in a much more dramatic fashion. I had hoped his death (if it came) would be more personal, more epic. The similarity in foe just make the events of "One Minute," and Hank's whole redemption arc feel vaguely pointless, or at least unfulfilled.

    But... the knife fight, the knife fight. So simple, yet so freaking horrifically nightmarish. I think I was shaking in my seat. People keep comparing this to the Red Wedding. But I care about these characters and their fates about ten times more than anyone involved in that bloodbath. And Anna Gunn had her best, most heartbreaking moments yet, just when I was resigned to having lost sympathy for Skyler. So did RJ Mitte for that matter; terrific.

    So I had some problems here, but overall I was just glued to my screen. I often watch Breaking Bad while eating breakfast (hence my sympathy with Flynn?). My food went largely untouched for long portions of this episode.

    Viewer score: 84 / 100

    Posted by dfault, 17/09/2013 3:28am (6 years ago)

  • Glad you liked the episode so much! I was listening to today's Breaking Bad Insider podcast on the drive home and Gilligan and co were discussing the decision to kill Hank in the first act of this episode instead of the end of the last one. Part of it was for suspense but the main reason was that they wanted to give him a proper send off - not just a tacked on death scene.

    I don't mind this too much in theory but I agree, Robin, that his death lacked the emotion I would have expected. For a proper send off, that flashback at the beginning needed to be a Hank/Walt scene and not a Walt/Jesse scene. As it is, the flashback we got was fine. I thought it was a nice reminder of where the Jesse and Walt characters started out.

    I did not like that Walt told Jesse about Jane as Jesse was being escorted away by the nazis. I understood that he blamed Jesse in some way or another for Hank's death but it felt somewhat false to me the way it all went down. I got the feeling that this was the writers wanting to let the secret out as opposed to letting it come out naturally. Kind of a shame.

    I also have trouble believing that Walt and Jesse are both alive after that shootout. I suppose the neo nazis are such nebulous characters that it's hard to know why they would do anything that they're doing, but what possible circumstance do they see where it's a good idea to kill Hank/Gomez and allow Walt/Jesse to live? IMO, all they need is one guy to help cook meth. The other is expendable and very kill-able.

    Emotionally, the episode was very, very strong. I felt quite badly for Marie, Skylar, and Walt Jr. To see Marie so broken from Hank's death, Walt Jr hurt from the betrayal of his parents, Skylar regretful of her decision to protect Walt, and all of them so devastated from the carnage was incredibly sad.

    Favorite moment was a tie:

    1) the entirety of the scene at the Walt family home that escalated into a physical confrontation. I thought that the bit of acting where Walt professed his innocence in Hank's murder and said "I tried to save him" was beautifully sad and one of Cranston's best ever moments on the show.

    2) Walt frantically rolling the barrel across the field after his car broke down perfectly captured the theme of the episode. Walt, the fallen/broken god, desperately clings on to what he has left. In the blink of an eye he has lost tens of millions of dollars, his brother in law has been killed, and he's sent his surrogate son to his death. That's all on him.

    Viewer score: 74 / 100

    Posted by Romit, 17/09/2013 3:26am (6 years ago)

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