The opening scene of the third to last episode ever of Breaking Bad, titled “Ozymandias”, brought us back to that first season innocence of Walter White. Parked inside the old creaky RV Walt was right at home lecturing Jesse about his forgotten chemistry knowledge. This Walt, back in his white briefs with a full head of hair, was dealing with a less cluttered life.
The moment with the clearest display of old Walt was his lie prep work before calling Skyler. This was a man who needed to rehearse his lies over and over before even thinking about attempting them. Walt’s lies to his wife are his only crimes at that point in his life. It’s amazing how far Walt has gone by the end of this episode.
The end of the opening scene meant we were right back at the firefight between Hank and Uncle Jack. The first shot of a dead Agent Gomez reinforced for the viewer that this wasn’t going to be a happy ending for Hank. There wasn’t a Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid type scene in the cards for Hank and Gomez. Hank, shot through the leg and out of bullets, crawls for Gomez’s shotgun before being stopped by Uncle Jack’s boot.
At this point in the episode a furious debate broke out in my apartment between my wife and I.
“Hank’s still alive.” She sounded so positive. “Walt will save him.”
“I just don’t think it’s possible.” I tried to soften the blow. At this point Walt started screaming for Jack to stop.
“See!” she was excited.
Walt then tried his best to save Hank’s life. He eventually reveals to Uncle Jack that he has eighty million dollars out here, which he’ll exchange for Hank’s safety. The whole deal is contingent on Hank playing along, but he resists. Hank couldn’t just walk away from a situation where his partner is dead, and act like nothing is wrong. Walt can, and has done that for the past four seasons. Hank isn’t going to make a deal with a murderous white supremacist. In his last moments he snarls that he knows Uncle Jack decided to kill him “fifteen minutes ago” and ends his run on the show with a triumphant and audible “Fuck You”.
Hank is dead, and Uncle Jack and Todd still find all of Walt’s money. They take it all, but leave one barrel for Walt because of Todd’s love and respect for him. In that scene Walt is forced to shake the hand of Uncle Jack to resolve their bad feelings about Hank’s death. Even in the handshake there was sense that Walt was only doing it for survival and that he blames them for the murders. I wonder if that giant machine gun we saw in the Walt’s present day trunk is destined for Uncle Jack’s sensitive areas.
One other person Walt seems to blame for the death of Hank is Jesse. It took a while to answer why Walt is so intent on Jesse’s death, but my only thought is that Walt has to blame Jesse for Hank’s death in order to avoid dealing with his own role in it. If Jesse hadn’t worked with Hank and flipped on him then none of this would happen. Walt has to think that if only Jesse didn’t cross him then Hank never would have been drawn into this battle.
Jesse is then condemned to death by Walt, (are there really people out there still rooting for Walt?), but saved for the moment because Todd wants to interrogate him back home. Sounds like a fun afternoon. We later find Jesse in a scary underground box that will haunt my dreams. He’s broken and chained. Todd returns to him, and drags him upstairs. Seems they need Jesse to cook. That blue color Lydia ranted about isn’t going to happen without him. The big question thought is if Jesse can find a way to survive what I think is the inevitable shoot out between Walt and Uncle Jack.
Besides Hank the other major death occurred in the White family. No one person died, but the family unit itself was burned to the ground. The catalyst was a visit to the car wash by Marie. She was coming to tell Skyler about the call from Hank about having Walt in custody. Oh how tragic that call became by the end of this episode. Marie thought Skyler deserved a head’s up on this, and demanded she tell Walter Jr. We didn’t get to see the actual talk between them, but Junior’s reaction is one of disbelief and horror. Then Skyler and Junior arrive home to a mysterious pick up truck.
Walt is inside the home furiously packing, and we know from previous episodes he is making a run for it. Walt orders his family to pack, but neither of them moves a muscle. Skyler asks where Hank is, and figures out the horrible truth. The show then gave us a great shot of the butcher block in the kitchen. On the block was the cordless phone and a set of knives. As Skyler made her way towards the block the viewer was given the choice by the show of rooting for what object they wanted her to grab (I was Team Knife).
Skyler grabs the largest knife she owns and finally stands up to the man she used to know. She slices Walt’s hand, and then a fight for the weapon breaks out between the two. During this moment I was so nervous the blade would accidently hurt Skyler, but this show is never that cliché. Eventually Walter Junior comes to his Mom’s rescue by throwing Walt off of her. He grabs the phone and calls 9-11 to alert them to his Dad’s evil deeds in the house. Walt flees the house, but not before grabbing Holly, the baby and driving off with her.
In a truck stop with the baby Walt is brought back to reality when Holly cries for her mother. In a final call with Skyler the new Walt is fully on display. Far gone is the man who needed to prep his lies before a call. Now Walt is capable of anything. Skyler lies to him at the start of the call and says the Police aren’t listening to them, but Walt knows they have to be there after the 9-11 call. He then goes into a savage rant against her that implicates only him in the crimes. I felt that Skyler even knew what he was doing by the middle of the call, which made it even tougher to watch.
The call ends, and Walt breaks apart his phone. He leaves baby Holly at a local fire station, and then is seen waiting outside the row of almost headstones we saw Jesse waiting at earlier in the season. This is the pick up spot for the guy Saul knows who can get you out, and once you go there is no coming back. The red van approaches and Walt gets in with a bag of clothing and a drum full of cash.
Even though we are told there is no coming back, we saw a bearded Walt pretending to be a guy from New Hampshire. Why then is Walt back in town? We’ve seen him go pick up the ricin from his house to go with the machine gun in the trunk. It seems too easy, but the ricin has to be earmarked for Lydia, and the machine gun for Uncle Jack and Todd. Is there anyone viewers want to see die more than a group of evil white supremacists that killed Hank? We have two episodes left to find out exactly why Walt’s back in town.