Wednesday, September 18, 2013

'Breaking Bad' "Ozymandias" Review

by The Professor

First of all, I'd like to get this out of the way before I begin the review...


Alright, now that I got that off my chest...

"Ozymandias" first came to our attention during a teaser trailer released a few weeks before the season premiere, in it's original form, a poem, by Percy Bysshe Shelley, recited by Bryan Cranston, where it sent a chill straight to my bones.

The theme of the poem "Ozymandias" is centered around the concept that despite how mighty a kingdom or empire may be in its prime, it will eventually fall; leaving their leaders in the shadow of their former glory.

Parallels? With Walter White entering the "Empire Business" in this (first half) season's infancy, he currently finds himself at his lowest point as he rolls the last of his cash through the desert, while also losing the family he fought so desperately to preserve. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

"...Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away"   -"Ozymandias" 

The decision to entitle this very climactic episode after this poem was extremely fitting. The theme contoured to the plot seamlessly, and it is truly a testament to the writers' attention to detail and subtle foreshadowing.

Golf Clap

On to the content of the episode. In addition to the intelligent choice of title, the episode did an exceptional job of making me feel... well, feelings. It was one of the most emotional roller coaster rides I have ever been on; forcing me to experience so many in such a short time. I thought it'd be fun if, as I reviewed the rest of the episode, I'd take you on the emotional ride I went through.


The episode opens with a flashback of Season 1, and I couldn't help but reminisce. Seeing the family where they were, a mere two years ago, really makes the later scenes hurt that much more, and it served as an excellent reminder of how drastically Walt's character arc has changed him. It brought us back to the days where meth-cooking was just an innocent side job, before Walt got in over his head. Juxtaposed to that final phone call, you can see how evolved he has become as a manipulative liar. In this first scene, it is the first "lie" he has to come up with in regards to his meth business. He carefully plots and structures his lie before making the call, and throughout the series we have seen him become a master of this. Here, he is "pretending" to be "Mr. Rogers" whereas the later phone call shows him having to "pretend" to be the monster he became.


"My name is ASAC Shrader, and you can go fuck yourself"

Ah, the conclusion of last week's cliffhanger ending that had all of us on the edge of our seats. Who's gonna die? Well, that was answered pretty promptly as we immediately saw Gomie's corpse lying in the sand, and Hank's fate hanging in the hands of a hit-man. My anxiety kept climbing as Walt continued to desperately bargain for his brother-in-law's life. Walt's desperation to keep Hank alive was redeeming, in a way, and granted him my sympathy for the remainder of the episode; he showed us that there is, at least, a glimpse of the Walt we saw in the flashback still in there. I knew in my heart of hearts that Hank wasn't going to make it, but 'Breaking Bad' still didn't fail to keep me in suspense. Hank went out the way he was supposed to, hunting Heisenberg, in the line of duty, and like a bauss.


Despite how tense and tragic the last couple of scenes were, "Ozymandias" was still able to evoke some laughter out of me. The music was spot on, and it was able to alleviate some of the tragedy of Walt's current situation. I forgot, for a moment, that a major character had just died, and I was able to laugh at a middle aged man, with cancer, as he struggles to roll a barrel through the desert during the lowest point of his life. Thanks 'Breaking Bad' you've turned me into an asshole.


As if this kid hasn't been through enough. Jesse Pinkman was just told by his 'mentor' of sorts that he watched his first love die (and chose not to save her despite having the opportunity to do so). He then gets beaten to a pulp and traded into meth cooking slavery. Suddenly, I don't feel like such an asshole anymore. You, Mr. Gilligan, are a giant dick. If anyone deserves a happy ending, it's this kid; and if anyone deserves an Emmy, it's Aaron Paul, based off of his performance at the beginning of this scene alone. I know we here at The Web are highly anticipating Jesse's escape from this slavery, and the satisfying gun shot to the head of Todd Alquist, that is so long overdue.


This is how Flynn/Walt Jr. finds out. His mother tells him? A route so basic I never saw it coming. But, watching Junior stammering in disbelief had me right there with him. After all this time, the most innocent character gets dragged into this mess, flipping his entire world upside down. This kid LOVED his father, like LOVED him. This was just a life shattering revelation; you can't help but feel for him.


The reckoning of the White family begins as Walt's lies finally catch up to him. Everyone knows the truth, and he is backed into a corner he (for once) cannot lie his way out of. The scene takes an unexpected turn as Skyler grabs a knife and slashes her husbands palm. More domestic violence ensues as Skysenberg battles it out for control of the deadly utensil. Flynn even gets involved in an attempt to save his mother (a gut wrenching thing to witness).  By the end of the bout my heart was racing, and I was kind of expecting Skyler to die. What I was not expecting was for Walt to "pull a Marie" and straight up jack Holly. Totally gripping from beginning to end.


God, this was so hard to watch. Walter has almost lost it all: control of his empire, most of his money and the love of his family. The only thing he had left was Holly. Out of pure selflessness, he not only gives his daughter back but he tells one final lie, one that will keep him out of his family's life forever.

Everything from that phone call to leaving Holly at the fire station was heart wrenching. It showed that even though Walter White has been acting like an evil tyrant, as of late, he still has his family's best interest in mind; even if that means severing all ties, and never seeing them again.

For a moment, I forgot that these people were actors at this point during the show. With the situation at hand so intense and the performances of Anna Gunn and Bryan Cranston so compelling, I felt as if Skyler and Walter White actually existed in our world. Emmy's all around.

And you get an Emmy, and you get an Emmy, everyone here gets an Emmy!

This concludes my emotional tour through "Ozymandias", I hope you shared at least a couple of my feelings as you watched the episode. Feel free to tell me in the comment section below.

The penultimate episode of 'Breaking Bad' airs this Sunday, September 22 at 9:00PM on AMC.

Until then...I've still got things left to do.

Score: 10/10

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