Before this episode even started we knew it was going to be a big one – not only were the fates of many characters hanging in the balance following last week’s Mexican stand-off, but Vince Gilligan had stated that ‘Ozymandias’ is “the best episode we ever had or ever will have”. Strong words for a show which has brought us the likes of ‘Face Off’ and ‘Dead Freight’. But, my God, he wasn’t kidding.
As predicted, Gomez had been killed and Hank had a nasty gunshot wound in the leg. All that remained was for Uncle Jack to finish him off, which he did, despite Walt begging for mercy. It was a brutal scene, made all the more worse upon the gang discovering Walt’s money stash – with that gone then everything he has done has been for nothing. Suddenly that assault rifle in the flash-forward seems like it may have a purpose.
But despite just witnessing his brother-in-law’s murder, Walt’s mind was firmly made up with regards to Jesse. After Jack promised he’d still kill him, if he could be found, Walt’s reply of “found him” was absolutely terrifying – not only was he condemning his former partner to death, but he was going to enjoy watching. The neo-Nazis had other plans though and decided to interrogate Jesse about just how much he’d told the DEA, before they kill him. Deprived of his chance to see him shot, Walt swooped in for one final gut punch and calmly told him the truth about Jane’s death. It was utterly heart-rending.
The episode continued to ratchet up the pressure though and it was the confrontation between Walt and his family which really took your breath away. Believing Walt to be in custody, Skyler tells Walter Jr. the truth about his father and they return home, only to find Walt frantically packing and telling them they need to make a break for it. But Skyler has had enough – driven to breaking point and knowing that Hank must be dead, she picks up a knife and tells Walt to leave. What follows is one of the most horrific and heart pounding sequences in the show’s history; the knife flashes back and forth as all three characters end up on the floor, desperately struggling for control. When Walt jumps up, furious that they won’t just do what he says, the image of Walter Jr. protectively crouched over his bloodied mother is one that will sear itself into your memory.
Walt flees, taking baby Holly with him, but soon realises his mistake and so decides to try to do one last thing for his family. He calls home, knowing full well that the police will be listening in, and adopts his Heisenberg persona, taking the blame for everything and exonerating Skyler from any involvement in his actions. It is a true masterstroke and one that is played beautifully.
After all this time, it was inevitable that Walt’s carefully constructed pack of lies would come tumbling down around him, and it was brilliant to watch. It made for a magnificent instalment of a show which has already been praised till the critics are blue in the face and is the first episode of a show to achieve a 10/10 ranking on IMDb. After watching, it’s easy to see why; “Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair” indeed.