Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 14: Ozymandias
WARNING: If you’ve not seen episode 14 of season 5 of Breaking Bad then beware because this review definitely contains spoilers.
This week’s episode of Breaking Bad is directed by Rian Johnson (Looper and Brick) and it’s another phenomenal episode. Ozymandias is a very apt title for the episode, in fact it’s a very appropriate name for the entire series, as the poem (where the episode gets it’s name) is all about building a great and powerful empire, thinking that you’re invincible and the inevitability of it all crumbling away. Yeah, that sounds like Walter White alright.
The episode this week opens up with a flashback to the first time that Jesse and Walt cooked meth together, and it makes you realise how far (or low) the characters have come. They were just muddling through back then, but they were still normal people at heart. It really underline just what they’ve both become. It’s a nice set up really to bring us back to the present day as the RV fades out and is replaced by the slow fade in of cars and gunfire.
Things aren’t great for the good guys, Gomez is dead and Hank is out of ammunition and hit in the leg. Walt doesn’t seem to quite grasp the situation though, he’s still trying to control things and thinks that Jack and the rest of his gang are there to do his bidding. It’s a real shift of power, Jack is holding all of the cards and whereas before Walt was Heisenberg, a drug dealer with a huge empire, now he’s just Walter White with delusions of grandeur. It even gets to the point where Walt is begging Jack to spare Hank, and offering him all of his $80 million. What he fails to realise is that Jack can (and will) take all of his money and there’s nothing Walt can do about it. Hank is typically Hank throughout, he won’t beg and grovel for his life and for once he’s smarter than Walt. He could tell from the start that there was no way he was getting out of the situation.
I guess that Todd does still have a soft spot for Walter and he does respect him because he manages to convince Jack to let him keep one barrel of money. Yeah it’s $10 million which isn’t a bad day’s work really but he has just lost another $70 million to Jack. There’s been very little sign of Jesse up to now, I was hoping that he’d managed to get out of there. Unfortunately he was just hiding under Walt’s car, and after seeing Hank gunned down Walt somehow blames Jesse for it all and sells him out. Of course Todd being the psychopath that he is he doesn’t want to just kill Jesse, no he wants to take him home to make Jesse tell them what the DEA know. That and he needs someone to help him cook blue meth, and it really doesn’t seem like Walt is going to be up for that anymore. As if it wasn’t enough to sell Jesse out to crazy Todd, Walt has to go over to him (as he’s being dragged away screaming) and he drops a huge bombshell on Jesse. Walt tells him how he was there when Jane died and he did nothing to save her. Nice.
It never seems to be simple for Walt, he’s just seen his brother-in-law gunned down, he’s sold his partner down the river and he’s just lost $70 million. Even that’s not enough, just as he’s getting out of there in one piece it turns out he’s out of petrol (thanks to a bullet in the gas tank) so he’s got to roll a huge barrel of cash across the desert. Thankfully he manages to find a house and buy an old truck, which he really paid over the odds for but I guess with a barrel of cash you don’t really haggle.
I thought that might be it for the episode, after the gut punch of Hank dying and Jesse being taken away, for what looks like a certain and unpleasant death, that things might slow down a touch. This is Breaking Bad though so there was no chance of that happening. Marie is over at the carwash because as far as she is concerned Walt is in custody and Hank is the all conquering hero. She’s there to confront Skyler and basically offer her the olive branch, but it comes with conditions; the first being that she destroys all of the copies of the ‘confession’ and the second is that Skyler has to tell Walt Jnr everything.
Jesse really can’t catch a break. He seems to have become less happy as the series has progressed, at the start of the very first season he was admittedly a loser, but he seemed to be happy and carefree. He definitely has a lot more money now (well he did until he Paperboy-ed it) and he’s shown that he’s actually really bright and switched on. The only thing is that success (well success of sorts) has made him utterly miserable and every time he was close to finding something to be happy about (Jane or Andrea and Brock) Walt manages to pull him down again. The only thing is that now Walt has no use for him he’s sold him out to the Nazis. So here it is, Jesse is in pretty bad shape, chained up in some kind of basement cell and it looks like Todd has really gone to town on him. Jesse’s face looks even worse than when Tuco ‘tuned him up’ back in the first season. It’s not even the end of it for Jesse now, Todd isn’t going to even put him out of his misery, instead he’s got him locked up in the meth lab and he’s forcing him to cook. It makes sense really, Jesse knows how to make it to Walt’s specification and he was actually pretty good at it. I can’t decide if the picture of Brock and Andrea in Todd’s meth lab was there as a motivator for Jesse or just because Todd is a genuine psychopath and it’s there for his own amusement. Hopefully we won’t find out, but I get a feeling we will in the next two weeks.
Marie and Skyler sit Walt Jnr down and tell him everything about Walt. Walt Jnr doesn’t take it too well, he does idolise his Dad so you can’t really blame him when he just won’t believe it. I think he needs a nice breakfast to cheer him up. Walt Jnr and Skyler head back to the house to collect some things, because at this point everyone thinks Hank has Walt in custody. At the same time Walt is back at the house to pack up everything to make a run for it and start a new life. For a second I thought Skyler might possibly go along with it and go with Walt, until the subject of Hank came up. Skyler thinks that Walt killed him, whereas Walt is convinced that he tried to save him. It seems a lot like Walt is trying to clear his own conscience and justify it to himself, when in actual fact he did kill him. It was all his fault, the moment he started to work with the Nazis things went beyond his control. Gus was very careful about who he worked with, he kept a separation between him and his employees (Mike usually) and only worked with people he could control. It took time for him to find the right people but he was a patient man. Walter is arrogant and impatient, he got rid of Mike (who would have been pretty useful these last few weeks) and he took up with Todd, his uncle and their gang and things haven’t really gone great since then.
Skyler is finally at breaking point with Walt, despite the fact that earlier in the season she was pretty much telling Walt that they would deal with Hank. She pulls a knife on Walter and tells him to get out. There’s a tussle, which ends with Walt on top holding the knife. It gives Walt Jnr the moment to shine as he takes Walter down and then follows up with a swift call to the police. If he didn’t believe everything about his Dad, he definitely does by the end of the scene. There is a great line from Walt, in the midst of the standoff with the knife, he’s just had his hand sliced open by his wife, he’s held a knife over her and been tackled by his son. Walt is standing dripping with blood and yells ‘we’re a family!’. It’s a brilliant moment of dark comedy.
So Walt gets away, and he takes Holly with him. As he has time to cool down it looks like he knows he’s gone too far and he knows what he has to do. He calls Skyler at the house, and I think he knows the call is being monitored and traced, Walt goes on to berate Skyler for sticking her nose in, that the business was all his, that he built his empire from nothing, that he killed Hank because he was in his way and that she needs to give him the respect he deserves. It’s Walter trying to redeem himself, he’s taking the blame for everything while also finding a way to get his daughter back to Skyler (without being arrested).
At the end of the episode Walt is sat on the side of the road, with his bags and his barrel waiting for Saul’s guy to help him disappear and get a new life.
It looks like everything is set up for the last two episodes now. We know why the house is abandoned, although I hope we find out why ‘Heisenberg’ is graffiti-ed on the walls of the house. I’m still pretty convinced that Walt is getting the gun and the ricin for one last showdown before the series is over. I think that the gun is for the Nazis, and that Walt is after one more piece of redemption. I’m certain (or hoping at least) that he’s going to try and save Jesse. I really don’t want this episode to be the last we see of Jesse, he can’t go out beaten and chained up, forced to cook meth.
Only two more episodes left!