The Telefile

Breaking Bad: Our Weekly 8 for 8

by Ethan Alter September 16, 2013 11:24 am
<i>Breaking Bad</i>: Our Weekly 8 for 8

Um, so yeah… some stuff went down on Breaking Bad's third-to-last episode, "Ozymandias." Pretty major stuff. Pardon us while we pick our jaws up off the floor, slow our pulses down and then just single out a mere eight highlights from this lungbuster of an episode.

8) Fat Boy and Hairy Man
Seeing Walt with hair in that cold open flashback was disconcerting enough, but did you notice how puffy Jesse looked a year ago, before the repeated drug binges, girlfriend deaths and ricin poisonings of cute kids took their toll? Dude's practically John Goodman in Roseanne days as opposed to John Goodman in Red State. (Although, if you look back at the actual pilot that restaged scene was referencing, Jesse's face is more youthful than puffy. Either way, he's visibly been through hell since then.)

7) My Brother-in-Law and His Partner -- They Dead, Like OMG Dead
Barring the last-minute arrival of a back-up DEA squad or the Harlem Globetrotters, it was obvious that Gomez and Hank were goners after the violent close of last week's episode. But Gilligan couldn't resist giving Agent Schrader a hero's farewell, as he stoically asks his keening brother-in-law to STFU because Uncle Jack made up his mind to put a bullet in his brain ten minutes ago. (Slow clap to Dean Norris for playing that scene so brilliantly; now we feel worse than ever about the fact that he's stuck on Under the Dome for the foreseeable future.) But boo on Vince for not allowing ol' Gomey an on-screen death! Dude's been a staple on this show since Season 1; he deserved a (slightly shorter perhaps) version of the Hank farewell.

6) Sweet, Sweet Jane
They say confession is good for the soul, but sometimes it's even more effective when wielded as a weapon. That's certainly how Walt chose to employ it when he informed an about-to-be-hauled-off-to-a-Nazi-torture-pit Jesse that he could have saved Jane from her drug-induced death by asphyxiation… and chose not to. That revelation hurt more than any of the punishment Jesse later took at the hands of Todd & Co. At least, we're assuming so. Maybe not.

5) Rollin', Rollin', Rollin'
We've chatted with episode director Rian Johnson, so we know he's a super-smart guy. (Not to mention super-crafty; at the time of our talk, he told us that he wouldn't be directing any more Breaking Bad, which was either a flat-out lie or a bit of misdirection to avoid even the potential of spoilers. We'll choose to believe the latter so our feelings won't be too hurt.) Given that, he almost certainly knows the Ancient Greek myth of Sisyphus, condemned to push that bolder up the hill over and over again for being a giant asshole. So we're fairly confident in saying that's an image Johnson was referencing with the sequence of Walt rolling his sole remaining barrel of money across the unforgiving -- though, thankfully, mostly flat -- New Mexico landscape. (Well, that and the Shelley poem about the fallen wanderer that the episode took its title from, of course. Also, as per Johnson's Twitter feed, a dung beetle.) Too bad Skyler didn't stab anyone's eyes out when she got her hands on that knife later on: that really would have put a bow on the whole Grecian thing.

4) Bring out the Gimp
Given Todd's hilariously awkward attempt to put the moves on Lydia last week, you'd be forgiven for wondering whether that handcuff get-up he had in his meth lab wasn't some elaborate form of S&M foreplay that he wanted to test out on Jesse first. (Dude clearly has some disturbing thoughts locked away in that head of his.) But no, it's actually (almost) worse than that. Instead of being put down as Walt requested, Jesse will be allowed to live… if you can call being chained up and forced to cook meth all day everyday lest Brock and his mom get a pair of bullets in the head living. Forget this whole "Mr. White is the devil" stuff -- this diabolical move basically reveals that freakin' Todd is the Lord of the Flies.

3) Tackle Hug
Flynn's disability has obviously limited him from some of the show's more action-oriented material, but Walt Jr. got his chance to play action hero last night during the epic and absolutely terrifying knife fight that's the best bit of swordplay we've seen since the final duel in Rob Roy. Abandoning his crutches, Flynn dives on top of his father while he temporarily has Skyler at a disadvantage and rolls him off her, then going into Mama Lion mode in front of his own Mama. We're starting the campaign here: RJ Mitte for the lead in that new Rambo series.

2) Diaper Rash
Having changed a few diapers in rest stop bathrooms ourselves, we know what depressing places they can be. Even more depressing? When your baby starts pitifully asking for the parent that's not currently wiping their bottom. At least Holly's plaintive voice broke shattered Walt's delusion that he was going to be able to take her with him into exile. Give that baby an Emmy already.

1) Cry, Cry Again
Walt's episode-closing phone call to Skyler was already powerful stuff, vocalizing all the ugly things that Skyler haters have posted in talkback threads about the character over the years and (we hope) making them realize how petty and pathetic they sound. But Cranston, Gilligan and Johnson add another layer to the scene, as, in a tight close-up, Walt's rageful face cracks as he continues hurling abuse into the phone, tears rolling down his cheeks as he perhaps tells his last and meanest lie -- one that could help shift any blame off her and onto him as he becomes the villain the survivors need to hate. It's not unlike the ending to Chris Nolan's The Dark Knight come to think of it, complete with Walt fleeing town for an extended exile. (Though not one that lasts eight years.) He's the Heisenberg Albuquerque deserves, after all.

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