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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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  • Too often the greatest shows on TV end up writing checks they can't cash. Too often the stakes are inflated with what turns out to be a lot of hot air. In the episodes following big cliffhangers, we tune in hoping to see that "inevitable resolution we never saw coming" -- the ones we used to always see as youths, before we realized the same stories keep getting told and retold. We watch the the episode and as good as it may be, it never really approaches what we *hope* to see, because we hope for an ideal. And we enjoy it anyway for its little twists and turns. We acknowledge and perhaps apologize for its imperfections. We settle.

    Ozymandias came as close as any episode I've ever seen to actually meeting my idealized expectations of a resolution. This was an emotional drubbing. Mesmerizing, disturbing. It convinced us anything could happen, and then toyed with us.

    My only concern is how the next two episodes could possibly top what we have seen here.

    Viewer score: 97 / 100

    Posted by jeremy, 16/09/2013 2:34pm (6 years ago)

  • This was "The Red Wedding" for Breaking Bad and it was glorious. I wasn’t quite as overwhelmed with last week’s episode as everyone else but this time everything changed, literally. It felt like the payoff episode for five seasons of Breaking Bad and I guess while it felt a bit rushed on some parts the overall experience was undeniably great. I especially liked Skyler’s return to the good side and Walt Jr’s quick realization of what his father had become. Walt’s abduction of Holly was unexpected yet believable especially after the flashback scene. She was the last bit of family he had left at this point. The only thing that felt a bit too much was Holly saying “Mama” all out of a sudden. I guess it was totally “in character” but a bit too on the nose regardless.

    Finally I hope that Breaking Bad will not only have a satisfying ending story wise (which I am sure it will) but it could also have a deeper meaning about society and our relationship with drugs in general. If any show can have a distinct moral than this one. Absolutely fantastic episode!

    Viewer score: 90 / 100

    Posted by Robert, 16/09/2013 12:44pm (6 years ago)

  • I now appreciate waiting an episode to finish the shoot out. Hank's character deserved to be appreciated for the quiet dignity he showed right until the end.

    Walt's carefully constructed empire is literally buried with Hank (and poor Gomey!)'s bodies while his ill gotten booty is stolen by the Nazi pirates.

    The White family unravels spectacularly as Marie deconstructs Skyler's A1 façade and forces her to shatter Walter Junior's World,

    Their confrontation with Walt was heartbreaking for them all topped with Walter's abduction of the innocent baby. I couldn't help tearing up as Walt drove away from Skyler and when little Holly called for her Mom, I needed a tissue.

    I didn't need the delay that teased back to the first cook but understand the impulse to include this visual touchstone. Look how far we've come!

    And poor Jesse is handed over to the Nazi's to literally become a Meth cooking puppet. It seemed Walt was getting revenge for Jesse's betrayal by giving him up to the Nazi's and this time it's Todd that spares him. But one could argue that Walt calculated Jesse would somehow be spared by them, or could be used in some other way that would favor Heisenberg.

    There were many brilliant moments throughout this episode. What a show!

    Viewer score: 89 / 100

    Posted by Yogabon, 16/09/2013 9:35am (6 years ago)

  • This was the most harrowing episode of television, I've ever watched.

    The Good:
    - Every character decision and reaction felt real, from Skyler's breakdown to Walt's tragic nod.
    - The central plot tension was entirely released in an explosion of action, emotion, and irreversible consequences.
    - Walt feels so real. He needs so desperately to believe that if everyone had just listened to him, none of these horrible things would have happened. He's so hurt that nobody, not even his wife, gave him the respect he deserved. Walt is not a sadistic villain. He's an old man, bitter about the way he's been treated his entire life, and tortured by the fact that even as a drug kingpin he still can't command the respect he wants.

    The Bad:
    - The dialogue was pushing the cheesy envelope during Hank's last moments alive.

    The Unknown:
    - It seems easy that Jack would leave Walt alive with a barrel of money. He hasn't had enough characterization to make me say that this was bad, but it certainly felt convenient.

    The Best Moment:
    - Jesse. His mangled face; the cage; his agonizing cries; Todd; the chains. I almost turned the TV off. It was horrifying.

    This episode was so good, I feel like my heart has been ripped out of my chest. I'm going to go curl up into the fetal position and cry myself to sleep now.

    Viewer score: 93 / 100

    Posted by Scott, 16/09/2013 6:34am (6 years ago)

  • I had mixed feelings about this episode. Obviously, it was very dramatic, but something felt off. I think it might have been the acting in many of the scenes. I am sorry to say it but the kid who plays Walter Jr. is a terrible actor, and even Bryan Cranston didn't seem on top of his game, until the phone call to Skyler, that was a great scene. And one that, after reviewing people's comments of twitter, i see most people has misinterpreted. Walt clearly was saying what he said because he knew that the cops were listening. He was giving evidence that Skyler could rely on to say that she never went to the police because Walt had threatened her. He didn't want her to get indicted as a coconspirator. He gave her an out. But for some reason most people, at least on twitter seemed to miss this point, which is important because it shows that while Walt basically had reached complete Monster status, he managed to salvage a little bit of his humanity by taking actions to protect Skyler. The way they played the scene you could see Skyler start to understand this midway through the call. But Many on twitter seemed to miss this. Now, I am sure no one who watches as closely as your readers/listeners do, would have missed this but I just want to comment on it. All told I did like the episode I really did, but the acting at different points pulled me out of it a little. Also, I didn't totally buy Walt's extreme actions towards Jesse. I guess he blames Jesse for going to Hank which led ultimately to Hanks death and prevented Walt from living a happy ending with his family and his money. But throughout the show he had a fatherly relationship with Jesse and so it made it hard to believe that his anger at Jesse for going to Hank would turn into such extreme hate that he wanted to see him killed felt the need to tell Jesse about Jane to hurt him even more. It seemed more like the writers wanted to put that in there just because it was the one thing that Jesse didn't know that was still hanging out there, instead of it flowing naturally. Now, obviously Walt had hired the nazis to kill Jesse, but he did so reluctantly, and then when Hank died he automatically turned into actively blaming Jesse for everything and wanting him to die and bring up Jane to rub salt in his wounds. I guess it makes sense it just seemed quick and not quite in keeping with the rest of the show where Walt had a fatherly, albeit a manipulative father, relationship with Jesse. The episode was one of the most dramatic things I have ever seen on tv, just a few things to me seemed a little off and at one point when Walter and Skyler were having the knife fight it sort of went off the rails, like they were just trying to shock us at that point instead of it flowing naturally from the story. I think the reason though the acting wasn't good enough to sell it. Ramble over. Reading back it sounds like I didn't like the episode, but I did , I just had some complaints that took me out of the moment when watching. Cheers, Can't wait to hear your review.

    Viewer score: 70 / 100

    Posted by dsm, 16/09/2013 4:38am (6 years ago)

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