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Breaking Bad "Ozymandias" Recap: The Pinnacle Of The Walter White/Heisenberg Power Struggle

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“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away”

To be honest I don’t give a fuck about spoilers or anyone who hasn’t watched. But full recap after the jump. Its long as fuck, so if you can’t read more than a paragraph its not for you

Perfection. The perfect hour of television. The best episode of the best series of all time. I know that people gush so much about Breaking Bad that its almost a joke now. I know it doesn’t have the same impact anymore because literally every week people are praising this show to a ridiculous extent. But I can’t stress enough how perfect Ozymandias was. If that was the finale, I would have been perfectly happy. It could have ended just like that and I would have been satisfied. It could have ended with Jesse as a Nazi drug slave, Hank in grave in the desert, the White family in shambles, and Walter White driving off to a new life, and it would have been a fantastic conclusion to the whole saga. But the main reason I think it was so good was that it was the pinnacle of the Walter White/Heisenberg struggle. Breaking Bad has told a ton of stories over the course of 5 seasons, but what it always boils down to is the internal struggle of one man with 2 personas. The family man Walter White vs. the selfish, power hungry, egotistical, drug lord murderer Heisenberg. We’ve watched the Dark Side take over Walter White little by little over the course of the past 5 years. In the early going, it was like 95% Walter, 5% Heisenberg. And we’ve watched it slowly shift to a 50/50 split and as we reached season 4 and 5 Heisenberg eventually consumed Mr. White. Last night in 64 minutes, we got to see the whole transformation – that whole internal battle – play out from start to finish. The episode was a microcosm for the whole show in a way.

The show started with a flash back to the the very first cook. The beginning of it all. The Lie That Started All Lies as Aaron Paul described it. And it fades to the desert shootout conclusion where Walter’s entire empire finally comes crashing down. From there on out, we watched a series of moments where one dude battled back and forth between his own 2 personas. Walter White moments vs. Heisenberg Moments where you realize that despite every heinous crime Walter committed, every atrocious immoral act, he still has that good side to him:

Walter Moment – Despite everything thats gone on, Walt opens the episode trying to save Hank.  Willing to give up literally everything he earned and his entire empire’s worth for Hank to live. The man trying to take him down – the man who hates him more than anyone – Walt still sees him as family and will do anything to save him.

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Heisenberg Moment – After the death of Hank, Walt’s anger takes control. He blames Jesse for the demise of his brother in law, and not only does he basically sell Jesse into Nazi slavery, he admits to watching Jane die. It was the moment every Breaking Bad was waiting for. There were three truths that would forever crush the White/Pinkman duo – the poisoning of Brock, the murder of Mike, and the death of Jane. 2 of those 3 had already been revealed, and in the most vicious, spiteful, vindictive way imaginable, the third finally came to light as Walter confesses he neglected to save her and watched her die. Just twisting the knife and throwing salt on the wound as he lets white supremacist murderers take away his former partner. In my opinion, the darkest moment of all time for Heisenberg.

Walter Moment – A truck filled with $12 million. Blood on his hands. Nothing left for him to do. Nowhere to turn. He could have just disappeared at that moment. Left forever. But he returns for his family. Still concerned for Walt Jr and Holly. Still wants his partner Skyler by his side. He returns to take them with him – to start what he always wanted for them – a new life with endless possibilities and endless money. What he could have had for them if Grey Matter worked out. What he could never provide for them as a lowly, sickly Chemistry teacher. What he can finally give them now.

Heisenberg Moment – Has a full blown fucking knife fight with his wife. Brawling with his handicapped son. Screaming under the delusion that they’re still a family despite the fact that he’s responsible for the death of Hank and the endless pain and suffering. Kidnaps his own infant daughter daughter as he flees from the police his son has just called. The show opens up with him and his wife naming their baby girl, and as it concludes he’s snatching her. Gus Fring used to threaten to kill Holly and now he, himself, is putting her in harms way. Cold blooded. 

Walter moment – He comes to his senses after realizing Holly needs her mother. Returns her to safety, and in possibly the best scene in the history of the series, exonerates Skyler with the police listening. Feigning rage and anger as he chokes back tears, takes all the blame and makes sure to explicitly say how Skyler begged him to stop and told him his life was immoral and illegal. Walter realizes that he, and he alone, created this despair, and sacrifices himself to make sure his wife and family aren’t implicated. Its the most selfless thing he’s done in the past few seasons.

The show ends with Walter driving off with the Vacuum Cleaner Repairman. I personally don’t think you can be sure who he is at that point. When Hank dies and Walter collapses to the desert floor, you might have witnessed the death of Heisenberg. That may have been the end for him, when he realizes he has lost everything. Or it could have been the official moment when he was Full Heisenberg, 100% evil. I think the point is moot – as he’s driving off to become Mr. Lambert from New Hampshire, a new identity all together. Maybe he’s neither Mr. White or Heisenberg anymore. Its not clear what he’s gonna return for with the guns in his trunk and a cigarette full of ricin. Skyler and Walt Jr don’t want him. It would appear he doesn’t care about the fate of Jesse, whatever it may be. No matter what his identity may be, I have no fucking clue whats next. Like I said, Ozymandias could have been the finale for me. I got no idea what to expect now.

Just a few more moments to hit upon from last night since there was so many:

– Anna Gunn’s acting during the scene when Walter kidnaps Holly: I can’t imagine how hard it is to capture the essence of a woman who’s just had a knife fight with her husband and watched her daughter get kidnapped, but I’d imagine the way Anna Gunn collapsed to her knees in the street with a look of total rock bottom despair is pretty fucking close to it. Just tremendous acting.

– Jesse enslaved by Nazis – Can you think of one fate worse than being enslaved to Nazis? The demise of Jesse Pinkman has been one of the most depressing things I’ve ever seen in any entertainment – TV, movies, books, whatever. Its the darkest, most hopeless scenario you can imagine. Chained up like a dog on a leash, forced to cook meth for the most evil people on earth or face more torture or risk the lives of Andrea and Brock. Jesse has redefined rock bottom like 10 times in this series, each time it gets exponentially worse than the last. And that psychopath Todd with his “Lets cook!” all chipper and bubbly is just the perfect juxtaposition. I don’t know how the Jesse story ends but I do know that scene of him imprisoned and enslaved was dark as fuck.

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– The Phone Call Scene – My favorite moments of Breaking Bad was “I am The Danger, I am the one who knocks,” Walter losing it with his maniacal laugh in the crawl space, Jesse giving his speech about Hank when hes in the hospital brusied and battered, and when Walter runs over the drug dealers shoots them and tells Jesse to Run. But the Phone Call Scene is right up there. It was absolutely top notch. Not only for the Walter White vs. Heisenberg dynamic I mentioned earlier, but just the delivery and the acting as well. The tears, the look on Skylers face where you realize she knows whats going on. The whole scene was top 5 in the whole seris.

– Hank went out like a boss. Loved how he knew what was coming the whole time. I never was Team Hank but I was happy to see him go out like a man.

– Last but not fucking least, Holly White. I mean Jesus Christ even the infant on this show can act. Amazing.

Couple cool things from Reddit/r/Breaking Bad:

Everyone is saying these are Walt’s pants from the first episode:

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Bottom left, I guess? I don’t know if I’m blind or what, but I don’t really see it. But that would be another cool little nuance to show how everything came full circle for Walter in this exact location in the desert.

Very cool symbolic screenshot of the Walter White Duality:

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The 2 reflections of Walter White? One with a bullet in his head? The death of Heisenberg or Mr. White? Sometimes I think we read into too much on screen subtlety shit with Breaking Bad but this one looked pretty cool.

So that’s Ozymandias to me. My favorite episode of TV ever. Gold standard from here on out. The bar has been raised, TV industry. The only 2 questions that remain are – 1) Why is Walt returning the following year, and for who? and 2) Has anyone told fucking Huell its safe to come out yet?

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