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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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  • Hello Robin,
    This was a tremendous episode of television for me. It ranks among my best episodes of television, right up there with the Buffy’s Once more with feeling and The wire’s season four finale. The sense of dread I had coming into the episode is something I have come to associate with this season. It was even more distinct this time given how the last episode ended. This ranked a nice 93 for me.
    I do agree that the last episode ended in a somewhat strange way. Maybe it should have ended when all the guns were drawn, but this was Breaking Bad. It would have seemed like a cheap trick on any other show, but I had no doubt about the intentions of the producers of this show. Any fan of the show knew that phone call was the call of death for Gomie and Hank. Did we really need to see a pointless shootout? This wasn’t going to be OK Corral, no heroes were going to emerge from this beautifully deadly landscape. No, we all knew what was coming. Walt thought he was building his family’s future in this inhospitable landscape, like we were reminded in the beginning, but like his fortune he was actually burying his family right there. The seed was already planted all those months ago; he just didn’t realize he was only here to reap it.
    Walt knew his life was over the moment Hank died and in a very Walt way he lashed out at the only person he could harm at that point. The Jane episode was something I never thought would come out. I could never see Walt confessing to it, because he has always justified it as the right thing to do. Remember when he stood in the school gym and tried to trivialize the tragedy? I liked the way the writers were able to close that last piece of the past. The look on Jessie’s face was soul crushing as his body was about to be. I like the subtlety of simply having Jessie seeing the picture of the only people he cares about and Todd coming in and just saying, “Lets cook.”
    Breaking Bad has always been at its best when it reveals the consequences of its character’s actions. The events that unfolded as a result of Hank’s phone call was something I never anticipated happening. The disgust of Walt Jr. was so real and cutting and my heart bled for him. The actor portraying him showed how much he had learned from the master actors around him and delivered when his number was finally called. He finally shook Skylar out of her malaise, but it was already too late. Hank’s death was a bridge too far as Walt already knew.
    I was already off the Walt bandwagon a while ago, but I admit I still had some sympathy toward him and on some level I might have wanted him to have some kind of success. But that scene of domestic violence was horrifying to watch. In a way too real scene, I cursed as Walt stole his child and I don’t think my skin stopped crawling at the sight of him until that amazing scene in the fire truck. Seriously, where did they get that baby from, she acted her little heart out.
    I am surprised people didn’t realize what Walt was doing with the phone call soon enough. He did the only decent thing he could, saving whatever shard of humanity he had left. It also struck me how he said the word most Skylar haters had been using for so long. I hope everyone realizes what a monster Walt really is now.
    I could go on forever, so much happened in this episode. All I can tell you Robin is that I couldn’t sit through the entire hour. I was on my feet pacing as the show wrung all kinds of emotion from me, none of them joyful. Mostly rage and utter sadness. Wonderful storytelling, incredible acting. Simply fantastic.
    As always thanks for the forum
    Kayode

    Viewer score: 93 / 100

    Posted by Kayode from Baltimore, 17/09/2013 2:47am (6 years ago)

  • I grade this episode I little lower than some of the other commentators but it was very good.

    The Good - Walt's telephone "angry confession" - it took me awhile to figure it out. I initially thought it was Walt's "Heisenberg side" side coming out. But then thought, "he's not telling the truth", "he knows the police are listening", what the... light bulb comes on. I watched it the 2nd time and the brilliance of the writing and acting really came through. You can actually see the light bulb come on as Sklyer realizes what Hank is doing. I'd rate it up there with Walt's "Fake Confession" video as the highlights of the season.

    The Bad - I agree with your comments on Hank's death. In ye olden days, the last two episodes of BB would've been shown the same night as part of a special two-hour episode. But in 2013 AMC couldn't do that.

    And not to emphasize the negative too much. I think the Neo-nazi's are a rather bland bunch of bad guys. Its too bad Walt isn't up against a more attractive and intelligent group.

    Viewer score: 85 / 100

    Posted by rcocean, 17/09/2013 2:47am (6 years ago)

  • What a scene with Walt acting the bad guy on the phone to Skyler. I think this was as much for Walter Junior as it was for the police. Walt once said to his son that he only had bad memories of his own father, and that was the last thing he wanted for Walter Junior. Now it is the only thing he can give him. To Junior, maybe if he sees Walt as such a monster, Skyler's victimhood appears more real. And he can still have one parental figure to look up to. The look of puzzlement and then realisation on Skyler's face as she realises she is still Walt's accomplice even at this late stage was perfect. And for Walt to speak those despicable lines effectively as the good guy, while Skyler played dumb as the bad guy - I thought this was masterful. Extraordinary TV.

    Posted by Howard, 16/09/2013 11:07pm (6 years ago)

  • One of the most intense and gripping things I've ever seen on television, easily topping Lost in terms of how deeply I still care about the characters so close to the end.

    I loved how Walt's lie to Skylar in the flashback to their first ever cook (Walt's first ever act as Heisenberg?), in it's calm, rehearsed delivery contrasted to the very different but brutally honest and sacrificial lie he was telling her in that final phone conversation. Walt's speech letting Skylar off the hook was amazing work from Bryan Cranston, I had tears in my eyes as I realized what he was attempting, despite hating his guts and wanting him to get his comeuppance.

    I love how that even now, still, this close to the end there can be two interpretations about why he comes back to Albuquerque on his 52nd birthday and arms himself with the machine gun and the ricin, because now that he's left his family behind, is he going back to rescue Jesse/Skylar/Walter Jr. in an attempted 'one last redemption attempt' like Darth Vader to sacrifice himself to eliminate Jack, Todd, Lydia and their racist friends? Or does he just want his money back?

    Favourite part of the episode: The 'Say Goodbye to Everyone' musical interlude as Walt walks through the desert. It was a perfect little breather after Hank's death and to reflect on how far we've all come since the pilot. Pure Breaking Bad style.

    Oh yeah, did any one else see Walt's trousers from the pilot while he was rolling the money barrel?!

    Viewer score: 89 / 100

    Posted by Josh Lyon Pryer, 16/09/2013 10:43pm (6 years ago)

  • I'm running out of ways to praise Breaking Bad.

    This episode both served up "bombshell" moments and moved us into the final chapter, just fantastic.

    Todd's manipulation of the scenario to imprison Jesse was not something I saw coming, and was my favorite part of the episode.

    Although I will admit I was worried someone was getting impaled by the knife, Skyler or Walter Jr.

    Still, now that we have almost reached the flashforwards, I still don't think they served a beneficial purpose to the story. It only served to make Walt's fate more predictable.

    Viewer score: 83 / 100

    Posted by Ben F., 16/09/2013 9:24pm (6 years ago)

  • To repeat for the seemingly millionth time, Breaking Bad shows the transformation of Walter White from Mr. Chips to Scarface. A common mistake of many other television shows/movies/literature is the treatment of similar character transformations as two-dimensional. The character is good, bad, or moving seamlessly through the spectrum between the two opposites. We know that in reality this is far from the truth. Human psychology is complex and nuanced, rarely as straightforward as simply one or the other or a neatly packaged combination of the two. This is where Breaking Bad has succeeded as a series and especially in episode 514: Ozymandias.

    The Breaking Bad writers and Bryan Cranston portray a complex and layered Walter White. We see glimpses of Heisenberg and Mr. White peeking through a tapestry of a tortured Walter White. In the opening act, we see the tortured Walter White pleading for the life of Hank. As the scene progresses, a pathetic, groveling Mr. White emerges, giving up the secret of his buried money to the neo-Nazis. Through the grief of his murdered brother-in-law, Heisenberg emerges as he orders the death of Jesse. The truly phenomenal aspect of the portrayal of Mr. White and Heisenberg is what is happening in the underlying layers. When Mr. White is groveling and pleading for Hank’s life, a subtle Heisenberg lurks in the background as he is trying to convince Uncle Jack to take the 80 million dollars. Additionally, when Heisenberg is walking over to tell Jesse that he saw Jane die, you can see the sorrow of Mr. White in Heisenberg’s face before he turns entirely to Heisenberg. To my knowledge, this is one of the most complex characters ever presented on either the big or small screen.

    Throughout the episode, I perceived no weaknesses in the story. There were no loose, moving parts. Everything was tight and to the point, most likely due to the skillful direction of Rian Johnson. Within each plot point, there was no filler or devices only intended to move the plot from point A to B. I believe these strengths allowed the dramatic tension to hit a high point in the opening act and remain high to the finish. This made for excellent television, but a rough morning since I couldn’t get to sleep until 3am.

    Attempting to refrain from emotional hyperbole, I thought the entire episode was nothing less than spectacular. I’ve been watching since the pilot and this felt like an emotional payoff of a five-year investment. Ozymandias is the culmination of five years of consistently good writing and effective drama.

    Viewer score: 89 / 100

    Posted by Justin, 16/09/2013 8:41pm (6 years ago)

  • I thought this might be the episode to shatter that Robin Pierson 90 glass ceiling but alas it's not to be, I'll admit that the opening scene (in our time) fell a little flat. It gripped be back in with Hank's death and his final words to Walt but almost all of it could have been done at the end of last episode. It was exciting because I already figured all this was going to happen. Also any scene with the Nazi are featured heavily doesn't appeal to me because I think they are so poorly characterized.

    However that's really just a small complaint to the the rest of the episode which was among the best I've have seen. This episode did the impossible for me in that I find a way to find Walt sympathetic again. There was tinge of sympathy for me in when he watched Hank die but really it hit me in the scene where he changes Holly's diaper and on.

    First off I was actually legitmately impressed with baby Holly's acting. The casting on this show is so good even the damn babies have chops. But it wasn't just the fact that Holly calls out for Skyker but as far as we know those are the first words she ever says. That is something only Walt will ever know. In that moment you can see probably for the first time Walt realizing what he has done. Walt is looking upon his own works and despairing.

    The conversation was just mind blowingly well acted. The subtle shift in Skyler's face from anger to realization to a sadness knowing this may be the last thing her husband says to her. At the same time we have seen Bryan Cranston go from Walt to Heisenberg but we've never seen him be both simulataneously. The conversation as vile as it seems on the surface it is one of the truly selfless things that Walt has done for family. I would never blame Skyler for what happened and I would say she was a victim but this truly gives her and the children a new life. She can reconcile with Marie and Walt Jr. The only person Walt's really doomed here is himself and that's only fitting.

    Viewer score: 91 / 100

    Posted by Derek, 16/09/2013 8:05pm (6 years ago)

  • What a disappointment. Over the top acting, cheesy dialogue and unintentional humor. I found myself laughing at scenes that should have been agonizing. Suddenly Walt is willing to give up everything to save Hank yet he gives up Jesse and cruelly tells him about Jane?
    The phone call was exceptional scene even for Breaking Bad standards. Walt might be giving Skyler an out and letting Marie know Hank is gone, but at what cost? Does he think Walt Jr. will understand, like Skyler seemed to understand what he was doing? Or does he think Walt Jr. won't hear the call or find out what he said to Skyler? Leaving his son with this memory of him calling his mom a stupid bitch and kidnapping his little sister cannot be only option. Surely the genius Walt White could think of another way, right?
    If Walt's cancer is back and he really is dying, then what the hell was he doing trying to escape with his family? What reason could he have? So they can watch him die for months and have their lives forever ruined? He had to know they be better off if he left (alone) or killed himself as Marie suggested... If he really cared about their well-being those were the only two options.

    Viewer score: 60 / 100

    Posted by tevenauta, 16/09/2013 5:51pm (6 years ago)

  • An Amazing episode, one of the best in television history. Every criticism of last week's, especially about the outrageous shootout have been put to bed. I think they just wanted to give us a shootout, because it's pretty clear now that Hank and Gomez, rightfully, had no chance. And now looking back, It was foolish to think Gilligan and crew would let us down by letting something ridiculous happen where Hank escapes.

    I loved the imagery of seeing Walt rolling his barrel through the desert with all of the scenic shots. He didn't know it at that moment, but the things he did lost him everything except a barrel of cash. Keeping with the Western theme this season, it reminds me of the hero riding off into the sunset, only this time it's Walt, dirty and dethroned, carrying his "precious" with him.

    I also thought the teaser was brilliant, and it was a wonderful reminder of how far this show has gone. Juxtapose his phone call to Skyler then and at the end of the episode, it's chilling. Though I do believe much of the nastiness in the latter call was Walt alleviating Skyler's culpability.

    I blame AMC for making this a 90 and not higher. I think if they had given the show 2 seasons of 13 episodes as opposed to 16 final episodes, we would see more of Hank's pursuit and Jesse's downfall and ultimate hatred of Walt. Hank's death and Jesse's current fate would be that much more satisfying. I wish there would have been more time in this season to focus on Jesse, because while I accept what's happened this season is his ultimate consequence for his actions, It would be more believable if the writers had time to flesh it out.

    Viewer score: 90 / 100

    Posted by Gabe, 16/09/2013 3:49pm (6 years ago)

  • 99. Of all episodes previously viewed if you do not give this episode 99 points YOU HAVE NOT BEEN PAYING ATTENTION!
    I draw you to a few other television shows and movies for comparisons.
    GODFATHER PART II: Michael corleone asks his mother if you can "lose your family?" She is thinking he means about a baby that was lost by Kay his wife. His mother replies that "no you can never lose your family."

    Star Trek. The kobyashi Maru test. Captain Kirk resets the parameters for a no win situation. He gets a commendation & refuses to accept the death of valued crew member
    Star Wars. Return of the sith. Annakin skywalker in trying to protect his wife and unborn babies inadvertently kills her and loses the twins. Going from a very good person well thought of , to the most villainous person in that galaxy

    I mention those themes (& movies & TV shows ) only to say that Vince Gilligan has hit on some universal truths and done it spectacularly.

    Walter white can and does betray every one and everything he ever loved.

    All for green pieces of paper.

    Skyler white. Lost forever as his wife and mother of his children
    Walter junior. Loses a father and his last memory will be of his father holding a knife to his mother
    Baby holly. She will have no memory of this man at all.
    Marie schrader. Walter white is the man who killed her husband

    Jesse Bruce Pinkman. Will remember Walter white as his betrayer. I predict that the hidden genius that is Pinkman is not done with Walter white yet.


    Walter white killed every good think In his life. Because.
    Drugs are a dirty business. - Vito corleone
    My nit pickiness would be to say
    These episodes should run 90 minutes

    Missing in action
    (This covers both To'hajiillee & Ozymandias)
    I would have liked to have seen Pinkman being interrogated both by Gomez & schrader as well as later by Todd & uncle jack. Key scene. Missing was the true tension of watching Pinkman spill all information.

    Watching uncle jack shoot hank schrader in close up. I know it would be grim but to see schrader die like a man while Walter white has to witness it, I felt a little cheated of that moment.
    Walter white telling Jesse Pinkman that he watched Jane die of an overdose. Needed time to stop needed pinkman and white to recognize each others treachery

    The episode was only 48 minutes but packed a lifetimes worth of plot.

    Baby holly asking for her mother. Heart broken.

    Watching Marie schrader realize her husband is dead.
    Watching skyker white realize that she is married to satan and will kill him to save her children. Phenomenal.

    You naysayers and nabobs of negativity. Please realize this is a novel made in television form. Do not judge the chapters. Judge the entirety of it.

    Vince Gilligan you magnificent bastard. You've created the benchmark for which all future shows will be judged by.

    RIP AGENT SCHRADER


    Let everyone have a moment of silence for a good guy

    Viewer score: 99 / 100

    Posted by Bruce #1 reviewer Burtner, 16/09/2013 3:27pm (6 years ago)

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