With last week’s nail-biting cliffhanger ending; Hank and Gomez crouched behind Hank’s SUV, with Walt huddled in the floorboard of the vehicle and Jesse cowering in Walt’s car, things looked pretty bleak for everyone at the To’hajiilee shootout. This week’s Breaking Bad episode, Ozymandias, could have been titled, We All Fall Down. As everyone in the show comes to some sort of end; death for some, or the tragic finish of a life lived. There is a difference, but the result is the same.
Ozymandias opens at the beginning of of Walt and Jesse’s first cook, the pilot episode, and we are treated to the two men interacting and White talking to Skyler and discussing the new, yet to be born, Holly.
The cycle for Walter and Jesse has come full circle. The flashback occurs at the spot where the current shootout took place. Took, as in past tense. When Ozymandias starts properly, the shooting has finished – almost – and agent Gomez is dead, Jesse is missing and Hank is down.
Walter, like the show’s events, has come full circle and relinquished his inner Heisenberg. He is now fully Walter White. The family man. He desperately bargains for Hank’s life, even though his DEA brother-in-law was ready to lock him away forever, with extreme prejudice.
When Hank tells Walter, that he is the smartest man he knows but he is too stupid to know that “Uncle Jack made up his mind 10 minutes ago,” Heisenberg has left the building. When Hank is taken care of, he falls to the ground, heartbroken and upset that as Walter White he could not save a member of his family.
After being robbed by Uncle Jack and given a $12 million nest-egg, Heisenberg reappears and reminds us that Jesse Pinkman is no longer considered family. Walt reminds Jack that Jesse is still alive and points out the hidden Pinkman under his car.
He passes sentence on his former partner and then cruelly tells Jesse that he watched Jane die. Less to be cruel, perhaps, than a way to let Pinkman know that for him, there was nothing left.
For viewers of the show, and those who write about it, the prediction of this week’s events were spot on. The use of Shelley’s poem Ozymandias was a brilliant signpost as to what this Breaking Bad was all about. While other titles could have served, like All Fall Down, the Shelly reference of a kings shattered and ruined domain works not only as a parallel for Walt, but for every character still alive in the show.
While Walt digs deep for his Heisenberg steel and tries to salvage his barrel of money, Skyler’s sister, Marie stops by to gloat about Water’s arrest and lay some rules on her errant and now criminally inclined sibling.
Despite her assurance of support for her sister and her kids, she is enjoying the fact that Walter, as far as she knows, will get his just desserts. In another crushing blow to Walt, Skyler tell Walt Jr the truth about his father and it destroys his love for dad.
Jesse, who had his sentence delayed by Todd, is now a captive meth cook for Jack, Todd and Co. For him there will be no easy escape from his personal hell and he will be kept in line by the implied threat to his loved ones.
Skyler and Walt Jr takes sides against Walt. After getting slashed with a kitchen knife, Walt’s son calls the police while his parents struggle for control of the blade. Dad grabs baby Holly and escapes into the night amid Skyler’s screams.
After making one of the most incriminating phone calls possible, in an effort to take blame from his wife, – Walt knows damned well the police are there listening – he leaves Holly behind and uses Saul’s escape plan that Jesse should have taken before his own personal epiphany.
At the end, we see a Walter White who has lost everything but what he can carry. He is the king in Ozymandias. All he has built lies in ruins; shattered and destroyed. His family might be safe, but he has lost them. All the survivors in the Breaking Bad verse are surrounded by their losses. Marie, Skyler, Walt Jr, even Holly have all fallen down. Their lives destroyed by Walt’s actions and the consequences of same. With only two episodes left, and that tantalizing teaser that Gilligan shows us of Walt and the big gun, the next title could be a reference to Humpty Dumpty, All the Kings Horses…
By Michael Smith