Editor’s Note: For eight weeks, WarriorsWorld’s Jesse Taylor will speak to Harrison Barnes about each episode of their favorite current TV show, Breaking Bad, as it completes its fifth and final season. This installment covers Season 5-B Episode 6: Ozymandias. WARNING: These are episode reviews, so there will be SPOILERS …
Jesse: The single greatest episode of TV you have ever seen. Agree or disagree?
Harrison: Definitely the greatest Breaking Bad episode ever. Without a doubt. I need to think about best episode in all of TV ever. Game of Thrones “Red Wedding” is up there too. But this one might have been the best ever.
Maybe it’s because it’s fresh in my mind, but, personally, I’m giving it that title. I might be forgetting something from Season 4 of The Wire with the kids or Sopranos, but I can’t remember ever being so tense for one full hour of TV. Without spoiling anything, the big Ned episode of Game of Thrones stands out for me because it was so shocking.
Let’s get going through the Breaking Bad episode. Last week, you predicted it wouldn’t pick right back up with the shoot-out. In one way, you were right. But you thought it would be a flash-forward. Instead, we get a flashback. What did you think of the contrast between that opening scene and the way things are currently?
Everything is so different now. The stakes were much lower then. Things were more peaceful. Walt is practicing his speech to Skyler, potentially his first of many lies. They are much more loving and appreciative of each other. At ease.
The other thing I noticed was they set up the phone and the knife-set in that opening scene. Skyler answers the phone at the exact same counter as later on in the show and the knives are in the same position.
So that scene ends and then the tension kicks in. The cook spot where the RV was slowly fades away and the Nazi vehicles appear in that exact location in the desert. The gunfight is over.
We both felt Hank had to die this week for the show to maintain credibility. We got what we wanted.
Gomez is already dead. Hank is quickly surrounded with no weapon and nowhere to go. He knew right away they were going to kill him. I thought it was interesting the way Walt kept begging and trying to find a way to keep them from killing Hank. He was so desperate and couldn’t accept Hank was about to die.
To Hank’s credit, he went out like a G.
“My name is ASAC Schrader.” That was great. Walt wanted Uncle Jack to make sure he called him Hank, but Hank wanted his last reference to be his work name: ASAC Schrader.
Walt just crumbles when Hank dies. Like Hank’s death causes the impact of everything he has done to hit him all at once and he can no longer stand. He stays down as the Nazis track down the money. Thanks to Todd, they leave Walt with his life and $11 million. As Walt stands back up, it’s like Heisenberg has now taken over. He reminds them that they still owe him Pinkman. Walt has spotted Jesse under the car and sells him out. Did you see that coming?
Not at all. I thought maybe Todd’s crew would leave, then Walt and Jesse would get together and try to figure things out from there. Man, that was just brutal to call Jesse out like that.
I was convinced Jesse was dead at that moment. Gun to his head, the cut-away to birds flying above in the sky.
Me too. I was waiting for that gunshot to go off when they cut to the birds.
The acting in that scene by Aaron Paul was amazing. He really looked like he convinced himself he was about to die. The way he was looking at Walt, silently begging for his life. I think I looked about the same sitting at home on my couch.
He couldn’t even walk and had to be carried from under the car, and then carried off by Todd’s crew. Like he lost control of his legs.
But psychopath Todd comes to the rescue. I wasn’t sure I bought Todd’s story about needing Jesse alive for a while longer. But I sure bought it later when I found out what Todd really wanted Jesse for.
Creepy Todd never fails to deliver on the creepiness.
But before we go there, let’s talk about Walt making things even worse for Jesse. He tells him he watched Jane die and could have saved her but chose not to.
I almost called you when that happened because you talked about wondering when that might come up again. Walt is putting all the blame on Jesse for Hank’s death, and he takes it even further than just making sure Jesse dies. He wants him to suffer even more. And that’s why he let it be known about Jane.
Walt gets to leave the desert – no Hank, thinking Jesse’s about to die and $11 million in the backseat. But a bullet hole causes him to run out of gas. A few things from that scene of him rolling that barrel through the desert. The title of the episode, Ozymandias, speaks of a king with nothing remaining but despair, decay and a colossal wreck. That scene of him alone in a vast desert sums up those thoughts pretty well. Also, he rolled the barrel by his old pants that flew off the RV in the first episode.
What?! I hadn’t heard that. I need to check that out. What I did read was that, earlier, when Walt ran out of gas, he got out to look at the bullet hole, and the reflection from the car put the bullet hole right on his forehead. I don’t know if that’s foreshadowing, but I do know that Vince Gilligan didn’t do that by accident either.
Also, when he bought the car from the guy who lived in the middle of nowhere, that house seemed really familiar. It looked like a place the twins went to at some point earlier in the series.
As things fall apart for Walt in the desert, they quickly start to decay for his family too. Once again, Marie has to force the issue. I was fine with her telling Skyler about Walt being arrested, but she pushed it a bit too much talking a shocked Skyler into telling Junior everything prematurely.
You just feel so bad for Junior. That was an excellent scene. His reaction to everything was so real. Complete disbelief. Saying it was B.S. Calling his mom out on the lies. If she lied before, how does he know she’s not lying now.
He was also the cause of a turning point for Skyler. She was nagging him about putting on his seatbelt and he just called her out. Saying that if she knew everything about Walt then she was just as bad as him.
Exactly. That put everything in motion for her to finally say, “Enough is enough.” By the time she pulled in the driveway, she had already decided that she couldn’t go along with Walt’s lies anymore. And wouldn’t you know it, guess who’s home as she arrives with the kids?
And she’s completely in shock. Walt is supposed to be locked up. He’s frantic, trying to get them out of the house while convincing them everything is okay. They just need to rush. What really turned that scene was Skyler’s insistence on wanting to know what happened to Hank. And that’s what turns Junior. Walt can’t deny that he isn’t dead, Junior freaks out and Skyler grabs the knife to force Walt out of the house.
And yet another extremely intense scene ensues. Walt and Skyler hit the ground, wrestling and rolling, with the knife just waiting to pierce through a vital organ as baby Holly screams in the background.
I thought Skyler was about to die. Either on accident or Walt was just going to let her have it.
He might have, but Junior saves the day. My friend didn’t buy that Junior would turn on his dad so quickly. He saw Skyler as the aggressor and thought Junior would feel the same. My comeback was that a son has a natural instinct to protect his mom. Once he saw the weaker of his two parents in danger, he went to her aide. Also, if you watch that scene again, Walt gain controls of the situation and cocks back the knife like he is going to do something aggressive with it. That’s when Junior propelled off those crutches and potentially saved his mom.
I’m usually one of the most anti-Skyler people out there, but with the knife scene and chasing after her baby when Walt grabbed her and drove off, I might have been feeling a little empathy for her there. You had to feel bad watching her fall to her knees in the middle of the road after trying to chase down Walt in the truck.
In trying to justify Walt’s actions there, which obviously aren’t justifiable, I think what was going through his mind was that Holly was the last piece left of his family who didn’t think he was a monster. He wanted to hold onto that and take Holly with him wherever he was going.
At least Walt quickly realized his mistake. What I really enjoyed was the call he made to Skyler. I ended up watching it a few different ways. First, watching it live, it was obvious he was being so aggressive on that call to try to make the police leave Skyler out of his work. His words are saying one thing, but his face is telling a different story. Later, I watched it with a black screen to only listen to the sound. In that version, he just comes off as an awful monster. Saying terrible things to his wife. Then, I turned the sound off and just watched him. Everything you see is a man torn by what he’s done. His face is tattered and he’s fighting off tears. He’s lost his family and it’s written all over his face.
There was also a lot of truth in what he was saying to her. While his main point was to make sure the police thought Skyler to be innocent in all this, he actually felt a lot of what he said. Like Skyler never believing in him. That’s a huge reason why his ego got out of control. He had been screwed over by his friends in college and took a job that was far below his skillset. And he felt Skyler never gave him credit for his genius, even though Walt basically gave up and never reached his limits for reasons that were his own fault. But he blames others for his failures. And Skyler is part of that blame.
Let’s get back to Jesse. This poor guy has been through so many bad times. He was homeless and fell through the top of a port-a-potty and slept in the blue remnants of said port-o-potty. He was hospitalized after being beaten to a pulp by Hank. His girlfriend got high and died off his own supply. His family disowned him after he protected his younger brother. The list goes on and on. But of all these bad things, I’m not sure anything tops being a slave chained up in a warehouse forced to cook meth as a psychopath threatens you by hanging up a photo of the only two people in the world that you love.
Yeah, it’s not looking good for Jesse to say the least. As soon as I got a look at his face, I realized that Todd was going to use him to cook. Half his face was clean, while the other half was badly beaten; his eye swollen shut. Todd purposely made sure he could see out of one eye. He needed at least one eye for Jesse to cook, or to show him how to cook.
I didn’t even catch that. Maybe it was a way for Vince Gilligan to display that Jesse had sold out Walt. He’s now branded as two-faced.
So where do we go from here?
Man, I don’t even know. They have a lot of ground to cover in two shows. In the previews, they show what looks like Saul talking to Walt in person. So something has to happen for Saul to find out where Walt is and to go talk to him.
Also, what causes Skyler and the kids to abandon the house? Why’s Walt going back for the ricin? Why’s he have the gun?
So many questions. I can’t wait to find out.