Breaking Bad: Ozymandias (5×14)
Synopsis: This is Vince Gilligan’s favorite episode, directed by Rian Johnson, and perfectly constructed to leave me a shell of a human being. Things get impossibly worse for Hank, Gomez, and Jesse, while Marie tries to bring her sister back from Walt’s clutches.
With two episodes left, I’m not sure I’ll make it to the end of Breaking Bad – I’m not sure I even want to. If you’re like me, last night’s episode left you feeling… hollow is the best word I can think to describe it. All my productivity for the night was shot and I just laid in bed feeling weird and sad and empty. Rian Johnson directed this episode and he brought us back to the beginning with Walt and Jesse on their first cook. Remember when their banter was funny and everything was kind of light? Neither do I. We’re privy to Walt rehearsing his first excuse to Skyler, the phone call – where they discuss giving Holly her name (WARNING SIRENS GOING OFF RIGH THERE), pizza for dinner, and Bogdan – while Jesse does ridiculous martial arts in the background. When he hangs up the phone, Walt fades away, Jesse fades away, and the RV fades away, leaving the desert…
Coming back to the present, we hear the firefight stop and finally see what kind of massacre awaited us. Hank’s alive! He’s been shot in the leg and is out of bullets. Gomez is dead, but his rifle is right there. As Hank is crawling for it, Todd’s Uncle Jack stops him and takes the gun. He finds the DEA badge on Gomez and Walt tries desperate to keep Hank from getting killed, insisting that, “He’s family.” He offers them $80 million, Hank tells them the cavalry is coming and one of many of my favorite lines from the night, “My name is ASAC Schrader and you can go fuck yourself.” Walt insists that they keep him alive and Hank tells him, “You’re the smartest guy I ever met. And you’re too stupid to see, he made up his mind ten minutes ago.” And he’s resigned to his fate and my heart hurts and everything hurts and Hank was my favorite.
While a shocked Walt collapses on the ground, still in his handcuffs, Jack and his crew start digging up the money thanks to Walt’s awesome bargaining skills. They find the money easily and we’re treated to salt in the wound as they drag Hank’s body off. Jack decides to get “square” with Walt by leaving him one of the barrels of money. Walt reminds him that they still owe him Jesse’s life and points out Jesse’s hiding place under Walt’s car. Just as they’re about to execute him, Todd steps in and says they should take him home and interrogate him first. Walt allows it, but before they take Jesse he makes sure to get one last good knife twist in and tells him about Jane – how he watched Jane die, could have saved her, and didn’t. I’m not sure it’s possible to further break an already broken man.
After leaving in his shot up car, it breaks down on Walt and he’s forced to roll his barrel of cash – right past his lost pants from the first season – to a house, where he offers a stack of money for the beaten up old truck.
Meanwhile, Marie – unaware of everything that has just gone on – shows up at the carwash to confront Skyler. She breaks the news of Walt’s arrest and she tries to reason with Skyler, holding onto the hope that her sister can still be saved from whatever has been happening because she did show signs of remorse. She says Hank will help her as much as possible, but they have to get every single last copy of that DVD that Walt made… and they have to tell Walt Jr. everything. Initially, Skyler resists this, but Marie insists – he needs to know everything and he needs to know now, from family.
Jesse is on the floor of an underground cage of some kind, having obviously been tortured and handcuffed down there. Todd uncovers the cage while Jesse tries to crawl away, yelling and crying that he’d already told Todd everything he knew. Todd helps him up and pushes him up to the ladder, leading him out and hooking him up to a line by a chain around his waist. It’s something that you would set up for your dog to run around the yard. As Jesse limps forward, he sees a picture of Andrea and Brock, a silent threat, as Todd shows up behind him and tells him, “Let’s cook.”
Skyler has told Walt Jr. everything and he is freaking out. He tells them both that they’re out of their minds and lying and full of shit. He tries to call Walt and storms out when he does not pick up. Walt is at home, packing as much as he can into suitcases. Skyler, Walt Jr., and Holly are headed home to deal with the fallout of Walt’s arrest – with Walt Jr. cursing up a storm. Walt Jr. also manages to tell his mother that, “If all of this is true, then you’re as bad as him.” When they get home, they’re surprised by the truck in the driveway and Walt in the house.
He tells them all to come inside and pack right now. Skyler, shocked, asks him why he’s home and how he got there, knowing Hank had him in custody. Walt claims he “negotiated,” but Skyler isn’t buying it. She continues to question and Walt continues to press that they need to pack and leave right now. It finally dawns on Skyler: Walt killed Hank. When she accuses him, he yells out that he tried to save him! Walt Jr. seems most hurt by Hank’s death and is trying to get Walt to talk to him about what is going on.
In some tense staging, we see the phone and knife block in the foreground as Skyler advances on them. It could have gone either way, but she picks up the knife and tells Walt to get out. When he hesitates and begins to argue, she slashes at him, cutting his hand and they immediately begin fighting over the knife. Walt gets the upper hand and the knife, with Walt Jr. ultimately having to tackle him and push him away from her. He calls the police and tells them that his dad just attacked his mom. Skyler is crying and Holly is heard crying in the background. As they recover from what just happened, it takes Skyler a moment to realize that Walt has taken Holly.
She chases him into the driveway, but his doors are locked and he backs his car into hers – pushing it out of the way so he can leave. Skyler runs down the street after them, screaming at him to give Holly back. When Walt finally stops somewhere on the road, we see that he has duct-taped his hand and is changing Holly in a bathroom somewhere. It would be a cute father-daughter scene out of context. When he picks her up, all she says is, “Mama” repeatedly.
The police are at the house talking to Skyler about Holly’s abduction. Marie is there, confused and muttering about how Walt was in handcuffs. Walt calls the house while they’re all there and repeatedly tells her to pick up the phone over the answering machine. When she confirms that there are “no police” at the house, he goes on a diatribe against her. He tells her how everything is her fault for disrespecting him; how she was never grateful for the things he did for the family, he calls her a stupid bitch and when she tries to apologize he continues. Walt goes on about how he built this alone and he admits that they’re never going to see Hank again because he crossed Walt. Marie starts crying in the background and Skyler continues to beg for Holly back.
After the phone call, we see guys in a firehouse. One of them goes to turn off the lights in a truck and finds Holly in there, crying, with a note pinned to her. Elsewhere, we see Walt sitting exactly where Jesse was standing a few episodes earlier. He has three bags and a barrel. The same red van shows up, but Walt doesn’t make the same mistake as Jesse. He loads up his stuff and climbs in. Driving off, the credits roll.
How do you feel right now? Have you come to terms with last night’s episode yet? Nothing is ever going to be happy again. How scared are you to find out Jesse’s fate after all of this? What happened to Huell in the “safe house”? Can we just pretend this all never happened and watch Saul’s spinoff instead? Two more episodes before it all ends and I’m sure it’s not going to get any happier in the meantime, folks.