Breaking Bad: S5E14 “Ozymandias”

10 Overall Score
Story : 10/10
Anticipation: 10/10
Cinematography: 10/10

Slick cinematography | Intense acting without teetering on soap-opera territory | Seamless plot development



“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone / Stand in the desert,” reads Percy Byshhe Shelley’s poem, which lends its title to this week’s vicious “Breaking Bad,” “Ozymandias.”

“Near them, on the sand, / Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, / and wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, / Tell that its sculptor well those passions read / Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, / The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.”

This is the story of Walt and Heisenberg.

In context, Shelley’s poem tells the story of a broken man,  “a shattered visage,” who looks to his creator, the one responsible for such states of decay all around him, and needs his help. Defeated, stripped of all humanity with a domino effect that would ruin what he’s tried to protect, he seeks the once-product of his imagination, now turned an omnipotent force, for survival.

Heisenberg snaps back into consciousness in the aftermath of last week’s shootout, where despite pleading and bargaining with the gang of hired white supremacists, Walt watches his brother-in-law die.

When the bullet hits Hank, mid-sentence, Walt can only collapse to the ground. He is broken and tormented like the “hideous crying clown” Skyler sold off in the episode’s opening flashback to Season 1, where Walt told his first lie.

ozymandias 1

Amid the grief and understanding that nothing would ever remain the same, Walt sees Jesse, very much alive, under his car. He warps the situation and instead of blaming himself, he blames Jesse, who ratted him out and brought them to the desert. It’s Walt that offered $80 million to Todd’s uncle if he let Hank live. It’s Heisenberg that gives up Jesse, stating they still owed him, and it’s a twisted, rotten version of Walt that shamelessly confesses he saw Jane die and did nothing about it. Jesse doesn’t explode; he just looks at Heisenberg incredulously. If Walt figuratively shattered into pieces, it’s Heisenberg’s job to make sure everyone around him feels a similar degree of brokenness.

The rest of the episode is a continually morphing image of Walt and Heisenberg. When one emerges and things get too hot, the other chimes in to take the load off a burning psyche.

But let’s talk candidly for a moment (Don’t we always?). This episode was heartbreaking from every angle, and it’s spectacular the amount of pathos being directed at each side of the drama so that we, as fans, can’t pledge an alliance. Everyone has a point and it doesn’t make sense to get mad at Walt Jr., Marie, Skyler or Jessie in the span of events. Walt Jr. lost both of his parents – his dad, physically, and his mom, psychologically. He is displaced, but ultimately sides with his mother upon seeing both parents have at it with eachother with a kitchen knife. Skyler slashes Walt’s hand in the only way she knows how to mean the words “get out.” Walt struggles to retrieve the knife in order to preserve the idea of a family, but it’s only when his face distorts back to tearful Walt that he realizes he is solely responsible for destroying what was dearest to him. It’s a last minute act of desperation to retain any shred of love that remains when he takes his 18-month-old daughter, Holly, still innocent and oblivious to her family’s crimes, away with him in hopes of starting over. The escape plan is nothing but a bandaid on a gaping, flushing wound and it’s evident when Holly’s only words are “Mamama” repeated over and over again.




Here comes one of Walt’s greatest performances in “Breaking Bad.” I say Walt, and not Bryan Cranston, because again Cranston is acting as Walt acting a certain way to set certain gears in motion. He calls Skyler, who’s at home with the police, Walt Jr. and Marie, who found out Hank died moments after promising to come home. He knows Skyler is lying about being alone, but violently spews out words of hatred in a scheme to let her and the rest of his family off the hook. It’s easy for them to hate him, most of them do anyway, but this phone call is vital because he’s essentially letting Skyler go with the excuse of hating him. He calls her a “stupid bitch” and threatens her life so that she won’t feel any moral ambiguity in moving on.

He knows that once he steps into the new-identity van, there’s no turning back.

He’s heartbroken and shows it when he breaks down into tears before breaking another burner cell phone. He knew the cops were listening the whole time, and he knows Skyler wont press charges. Everything is settled. This was his goodbye.

Skyler is heartbroken too, or at least feeling some sort of sadness when she hears these horrible words come from Walt’s mouth. Does she realize what he’s doing, or is she just hurt to hear these words? I think it’s a combination of both. Anna Gunn’s acting was incredible in this episode, if only for the scene where she mimicked Walt’s destruction in the desert recreated on their very public, suburban street when Walt drove away with Holly.  Gunn’s delicate balance between stern demands and broken plea is also commendable in this phone call scene.


She begs for Walt to come home, but it’s not out of love. It’s so he can be arrested and everything can be legally explained to her children in the future. She needs an end to this. Walt does too, and that’s why Heisenberg reemerged out of the most desperate times. It’s full-on vengeance at this point where there’s a new group in town. They’ve taken his money, killed his family, but they don’t know that he’s the one who knocks.

“And on the pedestal these words appear –
/ ‘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.”


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Author: Claudia Marina View all posts by
Journalism student at the University of Florida. Sally Draper is my spirit animal. I love writing about TV and how it affects culture. Occasionally I watch bad TV, but reviews make it better.

19 Comments on "Breaking Bad: S5E14 “Ozymandias”"

  1. Christopher Fadeley September 17, 2013 at 1:49 pm - Reply

    the baby deserves an emmy. just saying.

  2. Claudia Marina September 17, 2013 at 3:30 pm - Reply

    This baby beats the other baby Hollys

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