“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.’ SPOILERS.
Strong performances by all
Rian Johnson’s directing
Previously on Breaking Bad: Jesse Pinkman has teamed up with Hank Schrader in order to take down the meth kingpin, Heisenberg, aka Walter White. After a game of cat and mouse from both sides, Hank lurers Walt to where he has buried millions of dollars in order to catch him with the best evidence he could have. Walt’s hired out Nazi killing party shows up out in the desert as Hank has Walt handcuffed in the back of the vehicle. Tempers flared and then the bullets started flying.
MY NAME IS ASAC SCHRADER
Last episode Jesse recognized the place Walt had buried all of his money as the same location that the pair used for their first meth cook ever and that scene is exactly how Ozymandias opens up. After Walt puts a few finishing touches on the meth and the old team exchange a few quips, Walt walks to the top of a bluff to start, what would turn out to be, one of the first of an extremely long line of lies he tells Skyler. As the conversation finishes all of the elements in the scene fade away; first Walt, then Jesse, and finally the RV.
Scene elements began fading back in, but these images are from the present time and are accompanied by the ringing of gun shots. As the firing stops, the culmination of five seasons of plot start wrapping up like bombshells falling from the sky. First, we realize that Agent Gomez is already dead and that Hank has been shot. Walt begs Uncle Jack to spare Hank’s life by offering him the 80 million he has buried in barrels, which prompts Hank to speak the line that completely defines Walt: “You are the smartest guy I have ever met. And you’re too stupid to realize that he made up his mind ten minutes ago.” Or as I like to phrase it, “You are the smartest guy I haver ever met, but you’re too stupid to realize the damage you have done.” And with that Uncle Jack shoots Hank through the head.
Walt never wanted Hank meet his end like this, in fact, I don’t think that Walt ever wanted Hank to die at all, due to his belief that he has done everything for the benefit of his family. Walt is distraught over having to witness the murder of his brother-in-law, but the punishment continues to pour on as Uncle Jack figures that the extremely specific coordinates that Walt gave him lead exactly to where Walt buried his money. With approximently four digs of a shovel the barrels are found as Walt can do nothing as he watches all that he has worked, killed and sacrificed for be loaded up into the back of a truck. Ultimately, Todd’s respect for Mr. White makes him convince Uncle Jack to leave one barrel for Walt and let him live. This is all fine for Walt, but the Jack’s crew still owe him one thing: Jesse Pinkman’s life.
Jesse, not found after the shoot out, has been hiding underneath Walt’s car this entire time and Walt is willing to point him out for Jack to finish off. Todd steps in once again to save Jesse’s life so that they can take him back to their base so they may interrogate him to learn what Jesse has divulged to the DEA. Before Jesse is taken away, Walt says the worst thing he possibly could to Jesse. He walks right up to his former partner and bluntly tells him that we watch Jane die; that he watched her choke on her vomit from overdosing; that he could have saved her but instead let her die. Walt was just forced to watch his brother-in-law be shot through the head and he attributes this as Jesse’s fault for teaming with Hank in the first place, so believing that this will be the last time he ever sees Jesse, he wants to hurt him as much as possible.
A large character trait of Walt that has been evident throughout Breaking Bad is that Walt never accepts his responsibility for poor outcomes, instead placing the blame on those surrounding him. Walt is too self-consumed to see that he is the one that set events in motion that led to Hank’s death. He is perfectly fine accepting those deaths that he planned as apart of his grand plan, but he is unwilling to accept that the decisions he has made have repercussions that he can’t completely control.
As Walt is driving back to Albuquerque with his barrel filled with 11 million dollars, his car runs out of gas and is forced to start rolling his barrel as he crosses the desert. A wonderful choice of music was selected for this montage scene with a song that comes from the band The Limeliters titled ‘Take My True Love By The Hand.” It is a cover of a folk song titled “Times Are Getting Hard, Boys” with lyrics that include the lines “Take my love by the hand, lead her through the town. Say goodbye to everyone.” Those two lines are repeated more than any other during this scene forcing the viewer to contemplate on what Walt truly values in life right now: his money. Money has always been the goal for Walt since the beginning as he saw that being the only way that his family could be taken care if he were to pass due to his cancer. Walt has placed more care into money than he has his family, willing to sacrifice human life to gain more. I believe that Walt thinks that he deserves all the money, not completely because what he has done in cooking meth but because of him accepting the buyout from Grey Matter; a company that he helped found and even name.
AND YOU CAN GO F*** YOURSELF
Now, the final two scenes might be the most important of the entire episode. Walt is changing baby Holly in a restroom and as he finishes up, she stands and as he is talking to her, Holly breaks the collective heart of all Breaking Bad fans and begins calling out for her mom over and over. It is at this point that I believe Walt realizes he has in fact done the opposite of his original goal by effectively splitting up his family. His own daughter, barely more than a year old, doesn’t want him because what has he done for her? Skyler has been there for her day in and day out, always looking out for her needs, putting Holly before herself. Walt’s belief that money will show how much he loves his family begins to crumble down and he realizes what he must do.
In a phone conversation between Skyler and Walt initially comes off as Walt being the worst person to ever walk the Earth, but upon reflection is in fact the one act that Walt needed to take to hopefully secure his family’s safety from the coming police investigation. Walt of course knew that the entire conversation was being listened in by the police despite what Skyler told him and that is exactly what he wanted. He essentially professed that anything his wife has done in connection with his drug empire has been under direct threat from Walt. Walt’s actions have caused his family to be left with nothing, currently, but through his actions ending the episode they will be together again, without him, and that is exactly what they need.
I hope that nothing I have said about Walt throughout this review has led you to believe I in anyway think that Walt has been in the right this season, or any season for that matter. Walt has constantly made selfish decisions that have ruined lives and his family, all while believing he was making the correct choices. But, viewers have to continually remember this throughout the show because we have followed Walt through the entirety of the show, which, historically, means that he is the hero we are suppose to root for. That tension is exactly the reason fans are so passionate about Breaking Bad, the confusion of who exactly we are suppose to be rooting for.
BOTTOM LINE: RIAN JOHNSON FOR THE WIN
Rian Johnson is a name that you might recognize as the director of last year’s time travel film Looper. What you might not know about Rian is that this is his third Breaking Bad episode to direct. His previous episodes include The Fly and Fifty-One, with The Fly being one of my personal favorite episodes of Breaking Bad. Rian is great at giving the audience time to breath, think and analyze what is happening inside the characters’ minds, which is exactly what this episode needed. Ozymandias wrapped up story lines for characters while still developing others in a completely engrossing episode that leaves me wondering what will happen in the final two episodes.