Ozymandias Raises the Bar
Spoiler Alert: Don’t read if you are not caught up on Breaking Bad. Also: catch up on Breaking Bad. Now. Hold off on the article and watch them all. You’re only about 58 behind.
About a year ago Breaking Bad was wrapping up the first half of its final season. Walter White (Bryan Cranston) was officially done with the meth business and resigned to a quiet life at the car wash and $80 million in a storage unit. Then Hank (Dean Norris) took what may be the most cinematic and shocking dumps in the history of storytelling.
The second half of the final season aired a little over a month ago. Since then viewers have not been given a chance to breathe. The inevitable confrontation between Walt and Hank took place in the very opening episode, with it’s climax airing Sept. 15, in the brilliant episode “Ozymandias.”
As much as fans were cheering for Hank to come out on top, Breaking Bad is Breaking Bad for a reason. This show isn’t about Hank’s victory. It’s about Walt’s descent into darkness. And what better way to complete that than by destroying the only tether to morality Walt held left: family.
Hank is dead, Walt Jr. is told the truth about his father, Skyler took a stand. So much happened last episode.
For starters, The cold open flashback to the very first episode was a bit jarring, but in a good way. Having spent six years with these characters and seeing the show grow progressively darker with each passing episode made the opening scene all the more fascinating. The character dynamic between Walt and Jesse (Aaron Paul) was so light hearted compared to the very next scene.
What may be the most distressing development is for poor punching bag Jesse Pinkman. As soon as Hank is buried, Walt loses his sobs and turns full on Heisenberg. He tells his Aryan partners where he’s hidden and orders his death.
Having watched the show since the beginning, and experienced every single trauma right alongside Jesse, left me reluctantly hoping that they would just put the character out of his misery. So when creepy Todd (Jesse Plemmons) postpones his death to be tortured and turned into a meth cooking slave, I buried my face in my hands. Why Vince Gilligan? Why do you do this to us?
But the real kicker of the episode was the long awaited reveal of Walt’s culpability in Jane’s death. Since it happened in the second to last episode of season two, fans have been speculating on just how it would be revealed. Would it be the final straw between Jesse and Walt? Would it be revealed at all? No. Just as Jesse’s being taken to his Todd induced hell, Walt stops them and tells Jesse everything with sickening delight. Jesse’s screams turn into light sobs and he’s dragged to his fate.
“Ozymandias” was directed by Rian Johnson (Looper, Brick) who also directed my favorite episode of Breaking Bad, “Fly.” Under his direction, the desert has never looked as simultaneously beautiful and terrifying. The long wide shots of Walt rolling his barrel of cash alone deserves an Emmy. However, by far the most gripping shots were during Walt and Skyler’s fight for the knife. The way the camera moved and focused on the knife left millions of viewers at home waiting for someone to die.
Since the beginning of the series, the popular line has been taking Walt “from Mr. Chips to Scarface.” The evolution of Walt’s character has fit that mission statement. But, the one thing people seem to forget is that Scarface dies in the end.