The reason to adore Breaking Bad so much has revealed itself again, finally. This reason keeping everyone on the edge of their seats is the “feeling.” This “feeling” is what truly distinguishes Breaking Bad from each and every other show that has been on television, and when it goes that “hard” it is unrivaled in raw intelligent malevolence in the entire history of entertainment. The only possible comparison on that level would be David Lynch and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks, but one could certainly write volumes on that show as well.
After an episode delivers that “feeling,” little can be done to suppress the urge to just aimlessly walk around the house or apartment, stopping only to quietly smile or look to the sky and cheer. The writing, acting and story development hits a point so pivotal in the perception of everything that one purely can lose their identity within it. The “feeling” was touched upon in the early seasons, but started really hitting harder and harder as Walter entered into a violent intelligence war with Gus. If someone has not seen Breaking Bad up until last night, then they can stop reading this right now because what follows will regard some specific plot points.
One of the first and most aggressive hits of this “feeling” was when Walt watched Jesse’s girlfriend Jane die from a heroin overdose in bed and did absolutely nothing to save her knowing Jesse would share the same fate days, weeks or months later with unlimited money and an intense addiction to a needle drug. The “feeling” was evoked on so many levels, pondering all the thoughts in Walt’s mind: is this his way of letting go of the junkie version of Jesse he knew who was addicted to meth, giving him salvation through allowing the death of another? Was he playing the role of the creator, deciding things that a year before this event he would never have imagined he was capable of, let alone thrive in the heartlessness of it all? This event was a thesis to that unique “feeling” that only Breaking Bad can seem to create. It directly set the stage for last night’s episode “Ozymandias.”
Ozymandias, which has long been one of the most idolized works of poetry the world over, by Percy Bysshe Shelley, not only titled but defined this episode. Word by word and line by line, it explains so much of how and why Walter White arrived precisely where he did by the end of last night’s episode.
Ozymandias is the leader to end all leaders in the firmest metaphorical sense of power; a cold sense of command that leaves everyone in fear of everything, finally leaving his entire empire, absolutely everything he had worked for, in decay-the same “empire of dirt” from Trent Reznor’s eternal ballad Hurt. The entire thought structure behind what it truly means to “break bad” has been answered and when Walter looked Jesse in the face to tell him he watched Jane die, it connected that exact “feeling” from so long ago. In that moment Breaking Bad accomplished something that never even seemed possible for a television show- they have gotten Americans to truly appreciate poetry once again, whether they realize it or not.
By: Michael Blain