In Breaking Bad‘s promotional material for its final run of episodes, there was a video that featured Bryan Cranston reading Percy Bysshe Shelley’s short but powerful poem “Ozymandias” over stark scenes of the arid New Mexico landscape. Those scenes fit the poem well, which speaks of a desert where a fallen statue rests in pieces as “the lone and level sands stretch far away.” The poem is about the decline and fall of a leader with an empire that, as all empires eventually do, has turned to dust. Remember the poster for last season that showed Walt in full King mode, ready to rule as the new Gus? And what does he have left now? What has all of this been for if, in the end, he walks alone? Hit the jump for more.
Surely neither of the remaining two Breaking Bad episodes could be as explosive as this one was. “Ozymandias” was the culmination of everything that the series has been building to, as illustrated in the cold open which showed how much things had changed from the days when Walt had to practice his lies, where he wooed Skyler and she joked with him on the phone lovingly, and where a snarky Jesse Pinkman mumbled and smoked and attacked rocks with sticks. Flash forward to two years later, and Walt has kidnapped his own child, killed his brother-in-law, threatened his “stupid bitch” wife, and ordered Jesse’s death. And after all of that, he is left with one barrel of money. For whom?
Those who speculated last week that Hank would live haven’t been paying attention. No half measures. Hank wouldn’t have just been wounded again — it was because of Walt he was crippled before. The show wouldn’t retread there, but also, this is the end. There’s not another dance for these two to have. The weight of all of Walt’s decisions are coming down, the price is going to be paid now. One after another.
In “Ozymandias,” everything was laid on the table, things we’ve been both waiting for and dreading since the beginning, and things that Walt has done everything possible to hush up and avoid. Walt, Jr was told what his father does, Hank — Walt’s main adversary — is dead, and Walt reveals his final secret: he tells Jesse he not only watched Jane die, but that he could have saved her and didn’t.
At that point, did it matter to Jesse if they killed him? He looked up into the sky before the first time Jack tried to execute him, and there were two birds flying together. Did that represent two birds with one stone (Walt order his death and Hanks together), or the fact that the final bond between Walt and Jesse was forever broken? Walt just stabbed him in a way that will never heal.
Through the horror and the carnage and the pain and the emotion, the episode ended with Walt where Jesse had been — waiting on Saul’s associate to pick him up and give him a new life. Next week it looks like we get the details of it, but the very final frame showed something, a dog? a wolf? trotting across the street behind the van taking Walt away. After having dropped Holly off to be returned to Skyler and knowing there is no way home again, he’s truly a lone wolf. He has himself and the money. What was the point of it all for him? He’s on his own now. Where does he go from here? “How much time do you have left?”
Episode Rating: A+
Musings and Miscellanea
— I have been stabbed in the heart. Goddamn you, Walt. Goddamn you.
— The reference in the cold open to Bogdan was a nice little moment, as were the tighty whities and the fading in/out of the past and present scene.
— Todd is one sick fuck, isn’t he? But he has a cruel streak of brilliance. He got all of the info he needed from Jesse, then continued to exploit him to cook, using a threat towards Andrea and Brock as the stick. Dear God.
— Walt giving up his fortune to save Hank was one of his most sincere moments, and Hank knew it while also chiding his stupidity. He would have given it all to save Hank — nothing is worth the death of family — but his compromised emotions (like when Jesse fooled him regarding the money) meant he didn’t see what Hank saw, which was that Jack knew he would kill Hank, but happened into $60 million while he was at it.
— R.I.P. Gomey.
— Walt’s face after Hank’s murder was so incredibly powerful in its deep horror.
— If you’re curious, most of my notes for this episode are just “omgomgomgomgomgomomggggggg,” amid me holding back tears.
— Walt’s car running out of gas reminded me of the broken RV back in the day. And thank the lord for that tiny smidge of comic relief when Walt rolled that barrel and bought that car.
— Holly saying “mama” cut to the bone. Walt leaving her at the fire station and turning the light on was brilliant and sad.
— Marie’s speech, with us knowing the truth, was ruthless.
— I still stupidly wanted Walt, Jr and Skyler to heed and pack up and get the heck out of Dodge. Of course, that would have been a terrible idea (…right?)
— “I’m sorry for your loss” – Todd.
— “If all this is true and you knew about it, you’re as bad as him” – Walt Jr to Skyler
— The knife fight. The knife fight!!
— How awful was Walt’s speech to Skyler where he called her a nag and a whiner and a stupid bitch who needed to “learn to respect” him, and then that if she crossed him again she would end up like Hank (he says as tears stream down his face). OH GOD THE EMOTIONS …
— Purple count: 1 — the orchid in Skyler’s office.
— “We’re a family” – Walt
— “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”