Breaking Bad Recap, 5×14: “Ozymandias”
Gilligan appears to be taking the "despair" part of "Look on ye works, ye mighty, and despair!" real seriously.
When last we left the gang, OHMYGODWHATTHEHELL.
But that’s not actually where we’re starting — which didn’t surprise me at first, since this show really likes to build up tension by not immediately coming back to the cliffhanger it set up in the previous episode. Instead of a terrifying shootout, we open with a close-up of boiling water… in a meth lab. It’s the RV meth lab! Oh, look, there’s Walt with hair and snarky antagonist Jesse and everything. It’s a flashback!
Hey, that’s the face I’m making right now! What the heck, guys?
Walt and Jesse bicker over exothermic reactions and smoking cigarettes (aw, look at them talking with only a minor amount of contempt for each other!), but it feels so foreign now, even though I’m reasonably certain that we saw all of this in the pilot. “The reaction has begun,” Walt says, which is even more ominous and makes all that’s come after feel even more inevitable. He puts on that green shirt and goes outside to practice his lie to Skyler — the “lie that started all the lies,” as Aaron Paul reminded us on Twitter during last night’s viewing. They talk about naming the baby Holly and what their weekend’s going to look like, and Walt looks weirdly happy about his situation.
Then we pan out, and Walt slowly dissolves into the desert scenery behind him — and then the RV does soon after. That order, Walt and then the meth lab, is definitely not an accident.
And that’s the cold open. Yeesh.
After the commercial, we come back to a whole bunch of gunfire. Yeah, this feels much more familiar. The gunfire halts suddenly, though, and there’s yet another eerie silence as the camera cuts across the scene at different angles.
Hank is bleeding from a wound in his thigh. Gomez is dead. NO, GOMIE! We hardly knew ye. His shotgun is lying next to him on the ground, but there’s no way Hank’s going to get to it in time. We watch him struggle along the length of the car he’s hiding before while the prison gang comes up from behind and stops him. “Whoah! Simmer down there, sparky,” Jack says. Todd mentions that he can’t find Jesse anywhere, which is surprising. One of the other gang members gets Hank’s badge out and confirms that he’s DEA, which they all agree means they have to kill him.
Except wait! Walt suddenly remembers that he is still alive and starts freaking out all over again. He makes his way out of the car and tells Jack to stand down. “No, he’s family!” he says. Jack is not pleased that Walt kept this from him, and he’s especially not game to let a DEA agent walk away after what just happened.
Of course, Walt still thinks he can take control of this situation, and tries to convince everybody that Hank won’t say anything. “Nothing can change what just happened, but you can walk out of here alive if you’ll promise us that you’ll let this go.” But Jack’s still not convinced, and in a fit of desperation Walt even offers to give Jack all of his $80 million he’s got buried here. All of it! He even gets mad at Jack for not referring to the guy in front of him as ‘Fed.’ “His name is Hank,” Walt says defiantly. It’s oddly reminiscent of “My name is Heisenberg,” but it definitely doesn’t work this time around.
Meanwhile, Hank keeps egging them on to shoot him. “You’re the smartest guy I ever met and you’re too stupid to see he made up his mind ten minutes ago?” He says to Walt. And then he says to Jack, “Do what you’re gonna–” BANG.
AUGH. It happened in a WIDE SHOT. In the middle of a SENTENCE. HANK.
As Walt collapses to the ground in what looks like real honest-to-God anguish for once, Jack realizes how odd it was that they were given such exact coordinates for their destination. Perhaps the money that’s buried here in the To’hajilee desert can be found at such a specific location, he ponders aloud. And look! They brought a shovel for just such an occasion! What a crazy random happenstance!
After they dig up one of the barrels and revel in the insane amount of money they’ve got, there’s a cut to a giant hole — now all the barrels have been dug up, and the gang is throwing Gomez and Hank’s dead bodies in their place. Speaking of which, did you guys notice yet that Gomie and Hank are wearing the same black and burnt orange? Between the cars, the guns, and the ground, there’s a lot of black and burnt orange in this scene. Guess all us color theorists should really have seen this coming, like, a half hour into last week’s episode.
Walt has still not gotten up, and from his position on the ground he can see movement beneath the other car — Jesse’s been hiding under it this whole time. As he’s figuring this out, the gang removes his handcuffs and tells him that they’ve left him one of the barrels. In fact, Jack says, the only reason they’re letting him live is because of how much Todd respects him. Yay? It’s real sicking how often Todd’s the one who gets his way, guys.
Begrudgingly, Walt shakes Jack’s extended hand (and there’s a close-up on the guy’s swastika tattoo for good measure), but tells him that he’s still owed a dead Jesse Pinkman. There’s a cold malice in his voice — is he blaming all of this on Jesse for luring him out here in the first place? Because yeah, no, Walt. Nobody told you to sic the Aryan Brotherhood on your former business partner.
“If you can find him, we’ll kill him,” the guys say. And without missing a beat, Walt points to the car. “Found him.” SHIT. I’d already forgotten he was down there in those three seconds. Two guys grab Jesse by the legs and pull him out from under the car, and oh my god is it agonizing to watch Jesse feebly plead for his own life. They sit him up and Jack puts the gun to the back of his head, but waits for Walt to give him a nod.
But then Todd pipes up! He suggests that they don’t know what he told the DEA before they came out here, so they should try to see how much information they can get out of him just in case. “I could do it,” he says like, he’s offering to mow the lawn instead of torturing another human being.
Walt seems okay with this, but stops the guys taking Jesse away to tell him, “I watched Jane die. I was there and I watched her die. I watched her overdose and choke to death. I could have saved her. But I didn’t.”
WALT. WHAT. THAT WAS UNNECESSARY. I mean, guess I understand it from a “you took something of mine so I’m going to take something of yours” perspective, I guess? But really it’s more like “you took something of mine so I’m going to remind you of this thing I took from you that you don’t know about, which I only took because I’m a heartless monster who cares more about myself than other people.” You’re the worst, is my point here.
As they tow the Feds’ car away, we see Jesse in the back on the Aryan Brotherhood’s car, seated between those same two guys. He looks pretty… well, already dead.
Commercial break! Walt finally gets into his own car. Close-up on the rearview mirror, which he turns to give us all a nice glimpse of where those bodies are buried. While he’s driving along the , we hear that car beeping again — is he not wearing his seatbelt? Nope, it’s the gas. How ironic. ESPECIALLY because the reason he’s out of gas is that his tank got hit with a stray bullet. Ha ha. Ha.
Next we cut suddenly to Walt rolling his barrel across the desert (right past his freaking pants!!!) as this song plays in the background:
Christ, it’s like this thing was written for the show! Genius. Full lyrics are here, speaking of which.
There’s an oddly jarring scene in which Walt comes across what I think might be the show’s first Native American character and asks to buy his truck. “It’s not for sale.” Of course, that doesn’t stop Walt, who holds a huge wad of cash and walks towards the camera. There’s an ominous cow skull in the foreground.
Look, it’s symbolism. It means, “Don’t ever trust shady looking white people.”
Speaking of ominous foregrounds, Marie is walking up to the carwash. Oh no. She needs to talk to Skyler, so they go into the office — Skyler dressed in white and Marie in black again. Marie says that Hank and Gomez arrested Walt three hours ago, with Jesse Pinkman’s help. Oh no. “I don’t know if I can ever trust you again,” she tells Skyler, but she thinks there’s still hope that “whatever he did to you can be undone.” All she wants is for Skyler to destroy all the copies they have of that blackmail DVD from two episodes back. Oh, and also, Skyler has to tell Walt Jr. about how the father he’s looked up to all his life is totally a monster. Aaaaah.
Even the set design has Skyler closer to the light window and Marie towards the dark furniture.
Meanwhile, the guy that Walt’s actually been treating like a son this whole time has definitely already been tortured a whole bunch. He’s lying in some sort of a cage in the ground with a tarp over it; his hands are cuffed around his waist to some kind of harness, and he’s got scars and bruises all up and down the right side of his face (it looks very similar to the injuries Gus sustained right before dying, albeit a little less intense). Todd removes the tarp from the top, throws a ladder down and retrieves Jesse, sobbing and whimpering the whole time about all the stuff he’s already told him.
Todd pays him no mind, however, and takes him into a warehouse — oh, it’s the meth lab from last week! Then he locks Jesse’s harness onto a zipline. Wait, what? Jesse is confused, until he walks down the length of the zipline and sees — ugh, god, it’s a picture of Brock and his mom outside of their house. “Let’s cook,” Todd says from behind him, zipping up his own yellow suit. Oh my god, this was totally Todd’s plan all along. He wants that blue meth so maybe Lydia will bone him or whatever. At least Jesse’s not dead yet, I guess?
Back to the carwash office, as Jr’s getting told about his dad. He is understandably upset. “WHY WOULD YOU GO ALONG WITH THIS,” he yells at Skyler, who’s visibly shaken by this turn of events. Now, you know I love me some RJ Mitte, but I can’t help feeling like his performance right here was kinda weak. Which isn’t entirely fair, since we’re comparing it to Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul and Dean Norris, all of whom are much more experienced actors who got way more camera time to allow their emotions some room to evolve. For Jr’s big “sadness” scene, we’re coming in en media res here, which is much harder on him. Anyway, he doesn’t know what to make of this information at all, as you can imagine.
Walt, meanwhile, is totally in the house packing all of their suitcases. You know, the one that Skyler, Jr, and Holly are driving towards in their car right now. Jr refuses to put his seatbelt on, so we get that annoying beeping again. He tells Skyler that she’s as bad as Walt is for keeping this secret for so long, which is not entirely inaccurate.
“Whose truck is that?” Skyler changes the subject. It’s Walt’s new truck, silly! And he wants them all to help him pack so they can get the hell out of Dodge (which once again reminds me of the pilot flashback — he’d been talking about them getting out of town and taking a road trip for the weekend. Gilligan, why?) He refuses to answer any of their questions, until Skyler brings up the big elephant in the room. “Hank wouldn’t just let you go. where is he? Where’s Hank?”
Silence. Uh oh. “I negotiated–” Walt starts.”What does that mean?” “It means we’re fine.” LIES. And now neither Skyler nor Jr will let this go, and Walt’s still ignoring all of it and keeps trying to sell them on this fresh start plan he’s got, and then Skyler finally puts words to the obvious: “You killed him. You killed Hank.”
“WHAT?” Jr says. See, now RJ looks sufficiently devastated. Actually showing him hear the bad news sure works wonders, guys. Walt turns his attention to his son to try to calm him down or avoid his questions or something — we really don’t know, because we’re all watching Skyler as she slowly walks towards the kitchen. There’s a block of knives and a cordless phone in the foreground. Oh my god, she’s definitely going for one of those things.
With an amazing amount of deftness, she stops RJ behind her and holds the knife out towards Walt. “Get out.” The others both protest. “Don’t say one more word. Get out of here now,” She says, and to make her point completely clear she slashes at him with the knife. There’s a sudden pause, and then everything goes to hell as Walt and Skyler struggle for the knife, and Holly is crying and Jr’s freaking out and no no no no no no Walt’s got his hand on her throat and THEN JR TACKLES HIM OUT OF THE WAY AND TAKES THE KNIFE AND GETS BETWEEN THEM AND JR IS MY HERO NOW.
“WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU WE’RE A FAMILY,” Walt shouts, real convincing-like. Jr responds to this by whipping out his cellphone with one hand and calling the police. “My dad pulled a knife on my mom and attacked her,” he says. Walt decides to bolt, but stops to take Holly with him. Because he’s the worst. Skyler follows him out to the front yard in time to watch him rear-end her car out of the way and drive off with their baby. She runs behind the car screaming until they turn the corner, and then she collapses to her knees in the middle of the street, her hands shaking and her sweater covered in blood.
Can’t say I didn’t see this coming considering the earlier Holly foreshadowing — plus the sheer amount of times people have tried to take her out of that house leading up to this point — but it’s still real gut wrenching.
Last commercial break. Walt is changing Holly’s diaper in some kind of a public bathroom. His wound is held in place with duct tape. Also, as Bill Hader noted in last night’s Talking Bad, that’s the most attention he’s ever given that baby.
After he’s done changing her, he sits the baby upright. “Don’t you feel better? We’re going to get you a new carseat, won’t that be nice, Holly?” He asks. Holly responds with the only words that a baby ever knows how to say in movies and TV. “No mama. Mama. Mamamamama.”
Walt’s face falls. YEAH. WHAT DID YOU EXPECT. Not only is your name harder for a small infant to sound out, but this is the most attention you’ve ever given her. Because you’re too busy being the worst.
Cut to the White house, which is crawling with cops. They’re officially calling an amber alert on Walt and Holly. Marie is there too and does not look okay, so we’re all on the same page here, I guess.
The phone rings. “Were you expecting a call?” the detective asks, which as we all know is code for, “Yeah that’s totally the guy who kidnapped your child, for sure.” Which yes, it is.They start tracing the phone and tell Skyler to pick it up, which she does. “Are you alone? No police?” Walt asks. “No, no police,” she lies. Because of course there are police, you big dummy.
What Walt says next is… well, it’s alarming, to put it mildly. “The hell is wrong with you?” he says. “Why can’t you do one thing I say? This is your fault. This is what comes of your disrespect. I told you Skyler. I warned you for a solid year — If you cross me, there’ll be consequences. What part of that didn’t you understand? [I took your child] because you need to learn! Maybe now you’ll listen. Maybe now you’ll use your damn head. You know, you never believed in me. You were never grateful for anything I did for this gamily. ‘Oh no, Walt, Walt you have to stop! You have to stop this! It’s immoral! It’s illegal! Someone might get hurt!’ You’re always whining and complaining about how I make my money, just trying to bring me down while I do everything! And now, now you tell my son what I do? After I told you, I told you to keep your damn mouth shut? You stupid bitch! How dare you?”
So this is a very complicated scene. On the one hand, he has these moments were he looks completely devastated about what he’s saying, so you get the impression that he’s laying it on thick to take the heat off of Skyler and put all the blame for what’s happened on him. On the other hand, we know Walt’s got a horrible ego on him and probably has thought all of these things about his wife at once point or another. And on the other other hand, there’s a large contingent of pro-Walt fans who have all said this stuff on the Internet to excuse all of his deplorable actions and paint Skyler in a negative light — which we all know Gilligan hates, because he’s firmly in the anti-Walt camp at this point. (By the way, some of those Team Walt people are still tweeting. It’s a bit disconcerting.) So I think we’re ultimately supposed to be against Walt as an audience here, even though he may be trying to redeem himself a little bit.
He continues, “You had no right to discuss anything about what I do. What the hell do you know about anything? Nothing! I built this! Me! Me alone! Nobody else! You mark my words, Skyler. Toe the line or you will wind up just like Hank.” WHOAH! Yeah, this is definitely at least some part a ploy to draw police attention away from his family, because there’s no way Walt would actually take responsibility for that under any other circumstances. But we’ve heard him spew that “I did this me me me” stuff before. Dang, guys.
Skyler doesn’t let all this abuse faze her. “Tell me what happened. Where is Hank? Please. We need to know.” She says, perhaps trying to alert Walt to the fact that Marie’s also there?
“You’re never going to see Hank again,” Walt says, and here he looks even more upset. “He crossed me. You think about that! You let that sink it.” He ends the conversation by saying that he’s still got stuff to do, and destroys the phone.
We cut suddenly to a fire station, where a bunch of the guys on duty are hanging out when they see the lights flashing on one of their vehicles. A guy goes to check it and finds Holly in the driver’s seat. She is crying. Jesus, even this baby needs an Emmy.
Another cut to Walt waiting alone with all the suitcases. This is the same place where Jesse was supposed to meet the identity-wiping guy. Speaking of which, a car pulls up. He throws one of the bags into the car and gets in. They drive away in silence. A dog walks by. Cue end credits.
Guys, what if none of us can actually physically handle watching the finale? What if it’s so nervewracking that we all just spontaneously combust or something? It could happen. Really.
- Let’s all feel better with the Jimmy Falonw Breaking Bad parody
- Better Call Saul has the green light at AMC, and we’re thrilled
- Read the story of a real-life Walter White by the author of Argo
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