Breaking Bad: “Ozymandias” Recap
Breaking Bad delivered, hands down, its most devastating and sickeningly emotional episode yet as we picked things up right where last week’s violent cliffhanger left off.
Holy s***, that phone call. At the end. By now, we (and the Emmy voters) know how great Bryan Cranston is as an actor. But as Walter White’s character has significantly darkened over the years, the sympathy once held for him has slowly vanished and with it the layered dichotomy that award shows appreciate. But I’ve never ever seen anything on TV like the phone call Walter made to Skyler at the end. The phone call where he, with tears in his eyes, berated her in front a room full of cops (AND HIS SON!) so that he could simultaneously vanish and exonerate her from being an accessory to his crimes. And the way she picked up on it. The way she knew. The way we knew. It makes other TV dramas, who insult their audience by relying too heavily on exposition and obvious visuals, feel like brazen child’s play.
And with that scene, Walter managed to atone slightly. Proving that he was still the man, even as close back as Season 4, who was ready to sacrifice himself for the good of his family. To die unappreciated by his family if only to know that they were safe and secure. During “End Times,” Walter, believing Gus was going to hurt everyone, told Skyler to take the kids and leave. So that he could face the consequences for his actions alone. This was the man who returned tonight. Not fully perhaps, but enough. There was still a good amount of malice in Walter when he handed Jesse over to Jack, Todd and the rest to be beaten and killed, but this came after Hank had been killed and Walter lost close to 70 million dollars.
Before that even, and before he, out of spite, told Jesse straight-up that he watched Jane die and did nothing to save her, Walter was ready to part with 80 million to save Hank. There was still a strong part of him who refused to see Hank get killed, no matter how much of a danger Hank was or how much hatred he held for Walter.
Quite simply, “Ozymandias” delivered blow after blow and left us all with nothing to cling to. It killed off Hank and shoved him into a lonely, sun-scortched grave with in the first five minutes. It robbed Walter of the fortune he so desperately wanted to hide and protect. And, from the looks of it, condemned Jesse to a life of meth-making servitude. Or at least until Todd is able to pick up all the details.
And even after all that, Flynn/Junior wound up learning the truth about his father and then watched his mom and dad role around on the ground, wrestling for control of a kitchen knife! Can you imagine finding out all of that about your dad and then, like, a half hour later learning that your dad killed your uncle? This was the least-gentle information dump in TV history. And the most jarring learning curve you could ever think of for the only innocent character left on the show.
And there are still two episodes left, for crying mercy! Two episodes that will take place, I assume, six or so months from now with Walter returning home to enact revenge on Jack and his kin. Jack who, and this is a credit to the show as well, isn’t all-devil. He could have been drawn up to be a lot more cold-blooded than he is, but there are moments when he shows us that he’s not sadistic for the sake of being sadistic. He tends to, well, prioritize things appropriately.
So what did you guys think of the episode?
Matt Fowler is a member of the Television Critics Association. Follow him on Twitter at @TheMattFowler