Season 5, Episode 14: “Ozymandias”
NOTE: This episode was nearly impossible to talk about without MAJOR SPOILERS!!!!! Read at your own risk.
And just like that, Heisenberg has taken everything away from Walter White.
When I describe this show to people that haven’t seen it yet, when masking my own disdain, I often tell them that it’s the single greatest character arc in television history. The transformation of Walter White into Heisenberg is a legendary story of a guy doing what he needs to survive, only to forget that he was once a human being and a good one at that. This episode brings you all the way back to the beginning, in case you didn’t want to revisit the early episodes of when Walter White was an honest man dealt a bad hand. Instead, this episode does the legwork for you, showing you what the man had at the beginning and what he’s destined to lose.
Back to the gun fight from the previous episode, and the cries from Internetville that there is no way Gomie walks away from the onslaught of bullets is satisfied; spoiler alert: he doesn’t. We don’t know how many times he was hit, but enough to make the declarations of improbability a moot point. Hank on the other hand, manages to survive the hail of gunfire, but only for so long. Hank’s no dummy, so when crazy Uncle Jack has designs on ending Hank’s life, he knows that the writing is on the wall for him… and he goes out like a champ.
Therein lies the difference between Hank and Walt. You can call Walt a survivor, but he’s forever been a guy that felt he could smart his way out of anything. He values his life to a selfish degree; he started a meth business so he could survive cancer for God’s sake and up until the very end of Hank’s life, Walt acted as if the life he’s decided to lead would never catch up with him because he was always the smartest man in the room. This episode, however, the life finally caught up with Walt.
This is the episode where Walt Jr. finally finds out what his dad has been doing for the past two years, and it’s heartbreaking. We’ve seen him give his dad every benefit of the doubt you’d expect from a loving son, but this time its different; this time he finally sees his dad for what he really is and Walt Jr. has his best moment of the show. When she finds out that Hank is dead, Skyler pulls a knife on Walt and kicks him out of the house. Refusing to leave, Walt struggles with her for the knife, until Walt Jr. pulls him away and protects his mother. There’s a single shot of Walt Jr. keeping himself between Walt and Skyler that sums up the family dynamic. With Heisenberg gone, his aftermath is finally starting to reach the White family and the distance between the former family man and his family is the size of the New Mexico desert.
In an episode where we see Walt at some of his worst (kidnapping, etc.), we also see the first bit of humanity we’ve seen from him in nearly four seasons. He’s a man that lost everything in one fell swoop and it’s his own fault. He’s destroyed the very fabric of his family and the only thing left for him to do is disappear.
I have no idea where this show goes from here, but Vince Gilligan and basically everyone else involved has yet to disappoint this season. What brings Walt back from his hiding? At first I thought it would be Jesse, but it’s obvious that there is nothing worth saving between the two of them anymore. Walt blames Jesse for Hank’s death and in his anger, told Jesse that he watched Jane die. Meanwhile, Jesse is now basically the prisoner of Todd and his uncle’s crazy gang. Is their relationship so beyond repair that Walt won’t come back for him? I can hardly wait to find out.