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Breaking Bad - S5E14 - Ozymandias

Previously, on Breaking Bad: “To’hajiilee

Last week, we left off right in the middle of a gunfight, so of course, we kick this week off nowhere near that gunfight. Where this week does begin is with a flashback to right after Walt and Jesse first started cooking together. They’re out in the desert, in the RV, and we see Walt go all chemistry teacher on Jesse. When they walk out of the RV, Walt is already all too comfortable in those tighty whities. While Jesse wonders off and dicks around in the desert, Walt walks off muttering to himself. No this wasn’t an early sign he was going insane; he’s practicing the lie he’s about to tell Skyler on the phone. He calls her, they share some quick marital banter we haven’t seen from them in a few seasons, and then Walt hangs up. The camera pans out, and the scene fades forward to present time (or present time within the series, at least), and we see that it’s To’hajillee; where that gunfight is taking place.

That’s the cold open.

After the credits, we pick up right in the middle of raining gunfire. Gomez is dead, and Hank has been shot. Jesse’s gone, too; he ran. Jack is about to shoot Hank when Walt jumps out of the SUV he was ducking in and begs Jack to stop. Walt bargains for a solid five minutes, but Jack knows Hank is DEA now, and there’s no way they’re letting him go, even after Walt reveals to Jack that he has $80 million buried under their feet and offers to trade it for Hank’s life. This is a crazy emotional scene because you see how much Walt still cares for Hank, and Hank gets to see it, too. Jack keeps calling Hank “Fed”, and Walt is all, “His name is Hank!” After everything, Walt still views Hank as his family and will do anything to save him. Jack won’t listen, though, and Hank knows it. Hank looks at Walt and goes, “You’re the smartest man I’ve ever met, and you can’t even see he made up his mind 10 minutes ago.” After Hank tells Jack to go fuck himself, Jack shoots him in the head.

This levels Walt; he drops to his knees and then down to his face in the dirt. That’s where he lays, as Jack opines aloud that he realized the directions Walt gave him were very specific. He grabs his own shovel, and they use their own GPS device to find the exact location of the money. They begin to dig and almost immediately hit pay dirt, literally. Now Jack has the money, and all this time, Walt has stayed right there on his face. After Jack’s boys dig up all the barrels of money and load it onto their truck (after throwing Hank and Gomez into the hole), Jack and Todd are talking off to the side; we don’t hear what they say to each other, but it results in Jack telling his Nazi pals to unload one barrel and load it into Walt’s car.

That’s when Jack tells Walt that he’s leaving the barrel for him because Todd respects Walt and wants things to end on good terms. After forcing Walt to shake his hand, Jack begins to walk away, but Walt stops him with one steely word, “Pinkman.” Jack still owes Walt Pinkman. Jack tells him that, if Walt can find him, they’ll kill him. Walt has found him. As the camera follows Walt’s gaze, we see that he’s staring right under the car Jesse had been in; he’s been hiding there this whole time.

Jack’s guys pull Jesse out from under the car, and Jack uncharacteristically waits for a moment before shooting Jesse in the head. Just as he’s about to do so, Todd interrupts; he actually has a smart comment: if Jesse was working with the DEA, then he must have told them some stuff. Todd thinks, given the history he and Jesse have with each other, he can convince Jesse to tell them what he told Hank. Now, the plan is to take Jesse back to their hideout and torture him into spilling his guts. Jack likes the plan, and Walt is cool with it. As they’re taking Jesse away, Walt stops them. Has he had a change of heart? Of course not, he rightly blames Jesse for Hank’s death, so he’s fine with them doing anything with Jesse. The reason he stops them is so he can tell Jesse one last secret; the last secret Walt has with him: “I watched Jane die. I could have saved her, and I didn’t.” That’s a cold-ass honky.

They take him away and leave; Walt meanders off into his car and drives out into the desert. He doesn’t make it very far, though, because the car’s gas tank was a casualty of the gunfight. Without any gas for miles, Walt has only one option: he pulls his one barrel of cash (roughly $11 million) out of the backseat and rolls it across what has to be at least a few miles of scorching desert, until he comes across a lone home belonging to a Native American. He quickly barters for the man’s truck (with monies) and drives off once again.

Back in the heart of Albuquerque, Skyler is still busy at work with Junior, when Marie comes pulling up. She and Skyler go into the office, and that’s where Marie informs Skyler of the phone call she received from Hank saying he had arrested Walt. Marie says she’s only there to give Skyler one last chance to come clean to Junior and help them with the case against Walt.

Meanwhile, we see Jesse is being held in an underground cell; his face bears the tell-tale signs of abuse, and you can tell he’s been broken. Todd opens the door; as the light creeps through the darkness and lands on Jesse’s face, he cowers in the corner. Todd gets Jesse to his feet and forces him outside; all the while, Jesse is pleading with him that he has told them everything. Todd then leads Jesse to a building, opens the door, and guides him inside. It’s their new cook room. Todd, the psychopath he is, Buffalo Bill’s around and hooks Jesse into a runner system on the ceiling, so he can’t get away. As Jesse explores the room, he comes across a picture of Andrea and Brock on the wall; it’s there to remind him why he has to cooperate with them. With that, Todd says, “Let’s cook.”

Back at the car wash, Skyler and Marie have told Junior everything, and this is when the episode gets laughably bad for roughly ten or fifteen minutes. First, Junior is predictably incredulous, but it’s in a way that just seems like canned anger. He actually says something like, “You’re a liar! How can I tell if you were lying then or if you’re lying now?” Well, the thing she’s doing now is admitting to a major crime, so I think it’s safe to assume this one’s the truth. Anyway, the kid’s not 12. Then Marie is all, “Just take the kids home”. Sure thing. As they’re heading home, we do get a funny moment when the car won’t quit alerting them that Junior’s seat belt is not fastened, so Skyler tells him to fasten it because not doing so is unsafe. Junior goes, “You’re shitting me, right?” That. Was. Hilarious. It didn’t really fit with anything else in the episode, but it was very funny.

When they get home, they see that Walt is there. How? As far as both of them were aware, he was somewhere in custody, right now. They go inside, and Walt is packing. He keeps telling them to grabs some things because they have to leave right now, but Skyler won’t shut up repeatedly asking “Where is Hank?”, and Junior follows his dad around like a sick puppy dog (looking for breakfast? I don’t know). Walt says a few times that it’s fine, and they just have to leave, but Skyler again asks about Hank, and Junior grabs a bowl of cereal, or something. They’re just doing everything except grabbing shit and leaving. Walt tells Skyler about the money outside, and she finally realizes that Hank is dead; she immediately jumps to the conclusion that Walt killed him. A fair conclusion, but Walt doesn’t do much to convince her otherwise. He doesn’t even mention the truth and merely says “I tried to save him!” Now, of course they wouldn’t just believe Walt (especially Junior) because the cat is fully out of the bag, now, but this whole series of scenes just feels like an episode of Days of Our Meth. It doesn’t mesh very well, at all, with the fantastic first half of the episode, and it gets worse.

Walt disappears down the hall to grab some things for them, since they won’t do it; Junior follows him, of course, and that’s when Skyler takes this opportunity to grab a knife and jump between Walt and Junior. She tells him to leave. When Walt steps closer, she swipes at his hand, and the camera dramatically reveals the cut like, “Oh snap! She done did it now!” A scuffle ensues, and you just know someone is going to end up accidentally stabbed; the knife even shoots up into the air, with Junior out of focus behind it, as if they’re about to unintentionally fling the knife into his gut. That doesn’t happen, though; what does happen is Junior dives onto his dad’s back, wrestles the knife away from him, and gets between his parents. While Junior and Skyler are on the ground, Walt finally says what I’ve been thinking for what feels like thirty minutes, “WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?! WE’RE FAMILY!” (or something to that effect). Junior pulls out his phone and calls the police. Walt quickly runs for the door; on his way, he stops to grab Holly. That’s right; he’s taking the baby. Skyler realizes this and melodramatically chases after the truck (although, Anna Gunn does make a bit of a mistake, when she hesitates to pull up her sleeve that falls down as she’s running). This whole sequence felt so… TV. There should have been a laugh track underneath.

Thankfully, we jump out of that, as we see the police have set up shop in the White residence, and they’re investigating an abduction. That’s when the phone rings, and it’s Walt. He very clearly makes his intentions clear by plainly “making sure” Skyler is alone; with “No cops!” What he’s really doing is making sure there are cops there and that they are listening because he needs them to hear what he’s about to do. First, he lays on very thick that Skyler never supported him in what he did for their family, then he makes sure to mention that she had nothing to do with his empire and that he built it all by himself, and then he finishes up his fake confessional with the little nugget that he killed Hank because he crossed him. See, what Walt was doing is making sure the police put everything on him and left Skyler alone. He can’t fix their family completely; Skyler’s relationship with Marie and Junior will never be the same, but Walt can make sure none of them go to prison. This scene is wonderful, as Bryan Cranston perfectly portrays Walt’s final act as a part of his family and how this curtain call destroys him as a person. The phone call ends with Skyler asking for her baby; with tears streaming down his face, Walt hangs up the phone. Then he immediately snaps it in two, and this seems to represent just how severely he has now severed himself from his family.

We’re taken next to a firehouse where nothing much is happening, until the lights mysteriously turn themselves on in the garage. When one of the firefighters goes to investigate, he finds a crying Holly sitting in the seat of the firetruck. This is such a sad scene because you see her face, and you just know-even though we don’t see Walt leave her-he must have had such a difficult time walking away from his crying daughter.

After this, Walt is now sitting on the side of that very same road by which Jesse found himself standing, just a couple of episodes ago. The familiar red van pulls up; Walt climbs in and heads off to where we know he’s going: New Hampshire. The Granite State, and that is the next episode; the penultimate episode of the series. “Walter White” is officially gone.

Say what you will about everything Walt has done and what his intentions have been, but this episode repeatedly demonstrated that Walter White is still, at the base of everything, committed to his family, even when every single member has turned against him.

About John Elrod II (285 Articles)
John is currently untitled. This complete lack of definition would drive most into abject bitterness and utter despair, but not someone of John’s virility. No, John is the picture of mental stability and emotional platitude.

8 Comments on Breaking Bad - S5E14 - Ozymandias

  1. I KNEW that this episode was going to make me cry. It was SO quiet in my living room last night because neither my husband or I could breathe, let alone make any type of conversation. I was balled up on the couch with my hands over my eyes peeking through my little finger holes.

    Hank. dragging himself across the desert. Gahhhh!!! I love that he stayed true to character and did not beg.

    Jesse. His eyes looking out from under the car, I wanted to puke so bad! Why did he stay under the damn car. I hated Walt in the moment that he “found” Jesse more than any other time in this series. I know he blames Hanks death on Jesse because Walt can never take the blame for anything himself, but still. How does he allow torture?

    Holly. That baby. I watched in the background when he grabbed her and I was screaming before Sklyer. GET THE BABY!!!! How did she NOT get in that damn truck? I would have been all over that! No one takes my baby and just drives away while I cry in the middle of the road.

    Marie. I freaking hate Marie. I felt bad for her last week for the first time ever. Thank you to this episode for reminding me why I have always hated her stupid face.

    Walt Jr. what the hell? he should have just taken a nap during this whole episode.

    • I didn’t cry, but I was definitely sitting there with my mouth agape at how awesome the first half of the episode is. That first thirty minutes is so freaking good. Then the final ten minutes or so is great, too.

      • I never wanted to kick Marie so much as I did in this episode. I was feeling for Walt jr/Flynn (I hate that) and that kid can be annoying. I guess that was necessary, but so annoying and cringe-worthy. Why am I hoping that Jesse will be ok in the end all of a sudden? Skyler was an idiot. Then again, maybe not. I understand Walt’s frustration with her. Maybe she will get to keep the car wash? Oh how the mighty have fallen.

  2. I don’t want to read your recap, just yet, because it’ll morph what I think into a reaction to what you’ve written about what we both observed last night. I promise I’ll go back and read it after I post this.

    This series is incredible. I always knew that it was going to be, basically, a question about morality. When I first started watching the series, I also first discovered nihilism, moral relativism, and, ironically enough, Ron Paul (how much did I love seeing a campaign sticker in Gale’s lab notes!). Of course, Breaking Bad and college have both made me question my place in the world and my notions of right and wrong, but, as great art should, it also is just a reflection of that one individual from the audience who takes the time to look and absorb. That’s why some people will see Walter White as a monster and others, like me, will still see him as someone who tried to do the right thing, to reach the right ends, just through the wrong means. Then again, I must ask myself what “wrong” really is and I’m no longer a black-and-white type of guy (although I really am, instinctively) so it bothers me that they tip-toe around it all the time.

    That being the case, I did not like last night’s episode as much as others seem to. They have called it “the best hour of television” or “the best episode of the entire series” and I’m not seeing it. It was good, but not that good. I’ll start with the opening scene. As soon as I realized we were inside of the R.V., I knew it was going to be a terrible scene. Why? I knew they didn’t have the forethought to shoot it during the first season, so the actors would look different and act different than they had at the beginning. I wasn’t disappointed. The scene that the crew loved, listen to the Insider Podcast on AMC’s site, was one of those examples of when the writers and actors believe in their hype a little too much. They didn’t pull it off and it wasn’t great, as Vince called it. It was manufactured!

    This brings me to my problems with the series since it has exploded with a new audience. It is more focused on the celebrity than the cerebral and, when it is cerebral, it’s only to throw in some “Easter Eggs” and “callbacks” to reward the audience. Fortunately, the story is still written well enough, and the progression of the events still interesting enough, that I cannot knock the series, the crew, or the cast at all. Maybe I’m just mad at the spoiler that didn’t pan out. Maybe I’m mad that this once felt like MY show and now it belongs to everyone. Or, and this is where it gets murky, maybe I’m mad because the audience now reacts instead of reflects.

    I enjoyed when people would sit around and think about everything that happened in the episode and what it really meant. The original audience never accepted anything on face-value and that’s why it was such an amazing series (Fly being the most exceptional episode for such contemplation). We had convinced ourselves that Vince and crew were writing gods and capable of making every single thing mean something that it didn’t really mean. Then, they got wind of their brilliance, noticed the reactions, and tried to live up to expectations that . . .

    I pause, now, to watch the very first episode, because I have to.

    I’ll come back later and continue not making sense for no apparent reason.

    • Okay. I have seen what I needed to see from the first episode.

      He thinks, seriously, about meth, before he knows he has cancer. I had forgotten about a lot in the first episode, but I didn’t forget that the surprise party and his inquiries into the cash seized in a raid were before his diagnosis and prognosis.

      They framed it beautifully. He is already stressed, lying awake before the alarm goes off, looking at a plaque signifying his former glory as he walks on a mini-stepper (I guess he’s not allowed outside), being fed bullshit veggie bacon, and abused by an asshole student outside of class as Mr. White kneels down to clean his wheels. The student has money; Walt’s working there because he’s broke. Beautiful.

      See, a lot of people have bought into the narrative that he starts cooking because he will die and he wants to take care of his family, but they’re missing out on the fact that he was looking for an excuse to break bad as soon as he saw those rolled-up bills on the news. There’s something more to be said about that, but I don’t know what it is. I just think it’s important to look back at the beginning to understand the end (what they tried to do with the heart-warming R.V. scene).

      Y’all hurry up and cast some pod.

  3. Alright, LOTN, I’ve read your recap and you’ve outdone-did yourself again, brother. I really do like reading your recaps and your quips, but I was right to wait until I said what I thought I needed to say before reading it because you’ve just made me feel better. Had I read that first, I wouldn’t have felt bad, so I wouldn’t recognize the difference.

    • Thanks, Joseph.

      I agree that they do seem to have bought into their own hype a bit; it’s probably very hard to not do so, when you’re routinely referred to as one of the best television series in the history of television. I’m also in agreement that their realization of their reputation has resulted in them trying a little too hard at times to live up to their image; in reality, they don’t have to try so hard. The show has been so good, so well-written, so well-directed, and so well-acted organically that all they have to do is show up, and it’ll be great.

      That’s pretty much the main complaint I’d say I have about the scenes with Skyler and Junior standing up to Walt; those scenes just feel very “try hard”. Those scenes seem like everyone tried very hard to make them seem real that they ended up seeming like scenes they tried really hard on. We discuss this more in this week’s podcast.

      I think that is similar to what you were feeling with the RV scene in the beginning.

      • I think you’re right. On all counts. “What do you do when nobody’s watching?” “I do good.” “What about when everyone’s watching?” “I do better?”

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