Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Breaking Bad - Ozymandias Recap

I have a serious case of PTBBD.  Post Traumatic Breaking Bad Disorder.  This week the house of cards that Walt had attempted to maintain for the entirety of the series swiftly and surely collapsed.  And collapsed.  And collapsed.  The episode may have well been titled ‘Consequences’.  We all knew it was happening.  But truth be told, even with the knowledge that things were about to go horribly wrong I literally needed to catch my breath multiple times during this episode.  Those crafty BB writers packed numerous reveals into the episode, and each one hit at full force.  At the end I felt like I needed a hug.  And there’s still two episodes left.  I need to process.  Let’s get through this together, shall we?

Ozymandias begins with a deep flashback to the first time Jesse and Walt cooked in the desert, a stark ‘Before’ picture to the ‘After’ events about to unfold.  As the chemicals start to burble in the pilfered beakers and flasks, Walt says to Jesse “the reaction has begun”.  Oh, stupid Walt, if you only knew what that reaction would bring.  We are treated to a panoramic view of the To’hajiilee landscape as Walt wanders a distance away from the RV, practicing his excuse for running late to Skyler out loud.  He calls her up, and once the lie lands smoothly, the conversation between the two comes easily.  Skyler asks Walt if he can bring a pizza home, and they decide on Holly’s name.  Walt says “I love you” and as he hangs up, he fades out, followed by Jesse and the RV.  The stark landscape remains.

Fade in to the present moment.  Hank appears to have been shot badly in the thigh, and Gomie is dead. (GOMIE NOOOO!!!)  Hank heroically attempts to crawl over to Gomie’s gun, but Jack gets to it first.   Jack’s sidekick finds Gomie’s badge and announces that Hank and Gomie are DEA.  Immediately Jack cocks his gun and puts it to Hanks head.  He is interrupted by Walt who is in the midst of throwing a fit in the SUV.  They let Walt out of the vehicle, but don’t unbind his hands.  Walt protests, telling Jack that Hank is family.  He says “I told you not to come!” to Jack, and Jack dismisses Walt, saying that it seems as if he needed their help.  There’s some back and forth between the three men, and Walt begs Hank to tell Jack that he’ll let everything go.  Hank scoffs at the idea, and as Jack trains the gun back on Hank’s bald head, Walt goes mental.  He pleads with Jack, and offers up his ace in the hole.  He has 80 million dollars buried in the desert. 

Wow.  Hank’s life is worth quite a lot to Walt.  In actuality it’s probably priceless, but no matter.  Jack flippantly asks Hank if he should let him go, to which Hank replies, “My name is ASAC Schrader and you can go fuck yourself.”  With sadness in his eyes, Hank turns to Walt and says, “you’re the smartest guy I ever met….and you’re too stupid to see.  He made up his mind 10 minutes ago.” 


Hank.  Hank.  NO HANK NO!!!   He’s gone.  Walt collapses on the ground, his mouth open in a soundless scream, stricken with shock and sorrow.  Jack wastes no time and quickly goes about adding insult to injury.  He knows the coordinates that Walt had given him on the phone mean so much more than simple directions to a location.  For being racist loose cannons, those Nazis are pretty cunning.  Sidekick whips out his smartphone and starts digging, quickly locating the money.  Walt is still on the ground, too paralyzed with grief to care. 

As the Loose Cannon Gang unearth the barrels, and unceremoniously bury Gomie and Hank in the hole, I quickly decide that I HATE THEM.  Yeah, yeah, I know that it’s Walt’s doing that brought them to the table in the first place, and that Walt is just getting his comeuppance for all the horrible things that he did, but I can still hate them.  First, they’re Nazis.  Who likes Nazis?  No one, that’s who.  Second, since the beginning of the 'Confessions' episode I predicted that they would be Walt’s undoing.  Yet, I didn’t see them betraying Walt this completely and totally.  The BB team has set them up to be the new ‘bad guys’ and have given us an out so we can still root for Walt.  I truly hope those bastards feel the full force of Walt’s trunk of death in the next two episodes.

As the LCG prepares to leave, Jack instructs them to put one of the barrels in Walt’s car.  He walks over to Walt and extends a hand, asking if they’re square.  Walt begrudgingly shakes on it, while staring intently at something in the distance.  He says, “Pinkman.  You still owe me Pinkman.”  Jack shrugs it off, saying “If you can find him, we’ll kill him” and starts to walk away.  Walt stops him in his tracks, saying, “Found him.”

Jesse is yanked from his hiding place from under Walt’s car.  After a small amount of struggle, Jesse appears to accept his fate.  He glances skyward at a few vultures circling above, and closes his eyes, readying himself for the shot.  Todd interrupts, making a good point.  Maybe they should find out what Jesse knows about the DEA agents to tie up loose ends before offing him.  Todd cheerily mentions that he and Jesse have a history together, his tone suggesting that maybe he and Jesse should go halvsies on a six-pack, not enter into a contract of torture and eventual death.  Jack likes the idea, and Jesse takes an opportunity to look pleadingly at Walt, shaking his head ‘no’.  Walt nods, indicating that he is done with Jesse.  Jesse got his wish from a few episodes ago, and Walt’s “concerned dad act” is certainly a thing of the past.

As the gang leads Jesse away, Walt stops them to deliver a blow.  He gets right up in Jesse’s face and says the words, “I watched Jane die.”  He details the play by play without trying to justify any of his actions, and relishes in watching Jesse’s reaction.  Jesse visibly gives up, slumping lifeless into the gangster’s arms.  They drag him away and drive off.

Walt leaves alone, but not before taking a long look at Hanks final resting place.  He drives off, but his car conks out, one unfortunately placed stray bullet from the shoot out having pierced his gas tank.  Looks like Walt’s luck is starting to turn.  He clumsily rolls the barrel through miles of Indian desert to a lighthearted song, honestly the only moment of levity in the episode.  He comes upon a small house.  A Native American man greets him.  He seems unfazed as he sizes up Walt through a barbed wire fence outfitted with a large bull skull.  (Side note - Lately Walt has been conspicuously framed via a variety of different shots, likely foreshadowing possibilities for his future.  Last week it was the ‘bars’ of the car wash vertical blinds, this week a skull.  Suffice to say, things aren’t looking so great for Mr. White.)  Walt offers the man a wad of cash in exchange for his old truck. 

Skyler calls Walt from the car wash, leaving a concerned message just as a jubilant Marie breezes in and hugs Junior.  She and Skyler speak privately in the car wash office, and Marie breaks it down for Skyler.  Hank caught Walt, “dead to rights”, and Marie couldn’t be happier but she is there to salvage their relationship.  They’re still sisters after all.  But she has conditions.  She wants all copies of the blackmail DVD. Also, she wants Skyler to reveal everything to Junior.  Right that minute. Skyler protests, but gives in.  

We are spared seeing Skyler tell Junior all the gory details, so we don’t really know exactly what was revealed.  Apparently it was enough, because Junior is hyperventilating and throwing a tantrum.  He’s all confused, his happy perfect family is crumbling.  Of course, a world with no more family breakfasts is his nightmare, so his reaction is totally understandable.  Marie tells a weeping Skyler to take the kids home to “regroup”. 

In another part of town, Jesse is being held in the bottom of some sort of cell.  Whoever worked him over evidently wanted him to look like Two Face, because exactly one half of his face is mangled to a pulp.  Todd, ever the polite psychopath, gently extracts Jesse from the cell and steers him towards a door.  He brings him into the makeshift meth lab and chains him onto a dog run.  Jesse sees that theres a picture at the opposite end of the room, and lamely limps toward it.  As it comes into view, it’s clearly a surveillance pic of Brock and Andrea.  Jesse has found himself smack dab in the middle of a horror movie.  His ever cheerful captor Todd comes in, zipping into a yellow suit and says, “lets cook”.  

Back at the White homestead, Walt is quickly packing all of their belongings.  Seriously Walt?  Why even pack?  You have 10 million dollars.  Buy new things.  Better things.

Junior and Skyler get home, and they’re perplexed about the truck in the driveway.  As Walt frantically instructs his family to pack, Skyler slowly comes to the realization that Hank is dead.  She stops Walt, and demands to know where Hank is.  When he can’t give her a straight answer, she deduces that Walt killed him.  Walt sobs, “I tried to save him!” and the family has an answer.  Hank is dead.  Skyler slowly walks into the kitchen, staring at both the phone and the knife block on the counter.  She chooses the knife.  Shoving Junior behind her in the hallway, she brandishes the blade and takes the stand that it’s too late for her to take.  Walt advances at them, trying to make peace, and Skyler responds by slashing at Walt’s hand. 

Walt is mostly unharmed, but aghast at Skyler’s actions.  He grabs Skylers wrist, and wrestles her to the ground for the knife.  Walt overtakes Skyler and Junior quickly attacks Walt from behind, and Walt disengages.  He springs to his feet, screaming, “What the hell is wrong with you?!  We’re a family!”

Junior calls 911 and tells them that his dad pulled a knife on his mom and that he may have killed someone.  Walt quickly exits, snatching Holly on his way out the door.  Skyler realizes this too late, and runs after Walt, begging him to let Holly go.  Walt peels out of the driveway, slamming into Skyler’s car and pushing it into the street with his newly acquired truck.  Skyler howls in anguish, sprinting after him.  As the truck turns the corner, she falls to her knees, open mouthed with grief, almost mirroring Walts reaction to Hank’s death. 

(Various Notes – I believe that this was by far the most difficult scene in the series to watch.  The inevitable happened, and in a few minutes viewers witnessed the family literally fall apart.  Someone please give Anna Gunn her Emmy now for her stellar performance in this scene, because she did a phenomenal job expressing the sorrow of a mother who has been separated from her child.)

In a fancy looking restroom, Walt is changing Holly’s diaper.  She has her first lines on the show as she cries for her “Mama”.  And Walt sees what he must do.  His family is gone.  He hugs Holly, relishing in his last moments with his little baby girl.   His last moments of his old life.

Back at the White home, the police are there and Marie is reeling from the turn of events.  Walt calls and reaches the machine.  He calls out, “pick it up!”  Skyler picks up and the police record the call.  Walt asks if there are police, and she says “No police”.  Walt growls and hisses at Skyler, doing his best mobster impression. “I warned you, you cross me, there will be consequences.  You need to learn.  Maybe now you’ll listen.”  He lays it on thick, and Skyler slowly realizes what Walt is doing as he works his way up to “You stupid bitch.  How dare you.”  She says, “I’m sorry” as Walt chokes back a sob.  “You have no right to discuss anything about what I do. What do you know?  I built this, me alone.”   Walt effectively provides evidence to get Skyler off the hook with the police, while saying his goodbyes.  She asks him to come home, and he says, “I’ve still got things left to do", tears streaming down his face. 

Walt leaves Holly in an empty fire truck, and turns on the lights to attract attention. A fireman goes over to turn it off and finds lil Holly, whimpering in the passenger seat. 

Walt waits by the side of the road.  Everything Walt had worked for so diligently throughout the series summed up in a large plastic barrel and two suitcases.  He gets into the van, driving off into the sunrise to a new life.

This episode was rough.  I am left wondering a few things - Does anyone else think that Lydia may save Jesse?  After all, he was the one who voted to keep her alive back in 'Fifty-One' earlier this season...  In addition, isn't Marie kind of in danger now that the LCG know the tape that Jesse and Hank made is in her house?  

Lastly, because it's becoming apparent that we'll need a little levity to get through these last two episodes, I'm instituting a Tighty "Mr. White"-y Watch for the remainder of the season.  So far, we've seen Walt in his underoos in three out of six episodes this season.  Here's hoping at one more glance of those briefs before the end.  Or perhaps Walt'll shock us all with a switch to boxers?  Nah.  Probably not.

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