Breaking Bad provided one of the best episodes of modern television in its third to last episode, titled “Ozymandias” in reference to Percy Shelley’s poem of the same name.

Like in Shelley’s "Ozymandias," an empire is crumbling – Walter White’s (Bryan Cranston) meth empire founded in the name of family. The episode begins with a flashback to Breaking Bads first season. Walter and his former student Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) are out in the New Mexico desert cooking up their first batch in the RV. In his signature tighty-whiteys and a green shirt, he calls up Skyler (Anna Gunn) while the meth begins to percolate. Lying to his beloved wife was tough for the chemistry teacher in the early days of his enterprise, but he manages to help plan dinner and chat about naming the baby that had yet to be born.

The cute, if disconcerting moment, dissipates fragment by fragment until all that’s left is the background, which serves as the setting for the burial of Walt’s cash and the shootout between Todd’s (Jesse Plemons) uncle’s gang and Hank (Dean Norris) and Gomez. The shootout is over. Jack’s gang is still standing, Gomez is dead and Hank is immobilized with a shot to the leg. For a moment, he futilely tries to grab hold of Gomez’s gun, but is beat to the firearm by Uncle Jack. When Walt realizes what’s about to happen, he tries desperately to dissuade Jack from finishing off his brother in law.

Hank knows that nothing Walt says will keep him alive, and tells his former BBQ buddy as much. “You’re the smartest guy I ever met, and you’re too stupid to see: He made up his mind 10 minutes ago. Do what you’re gonna d—” he says, before Uncle Jack silences the DEA agent for good. Walt falls to the ground in tears while Uncle Jack has his men dig up Walt’s drug money and drop the dead agents in the remaining hole. They offer Walt a barrel of his cash and tell him to get lost. Walt seems willing to comply, but only if they kill Jesse, who’s hiding underneath the car. Todd decides they should interrogate him about what he told the DEA before they kill him. Before leaving him to his fate, Walt has one more wound to inflict upon his former meth partner – the knowledge that his girlfriend Jane never had to die.

“I watched Jane die,” Walt admits. “I was there, and I watched her die. I watched her overdose and choke to death. I could have saved her, but I didn’t.”

Later on, bloody and bruised, Jesse reveals that he made a video recording for the DEA, which accounts for all of the crimes relating to Heisenberg’s meth empire, and tells them where it is. Todd is still not ready to kill him. He collars and leashes Jesse inside of Lydia’s cook site and orders him to help with a new batch of the blue meth.

Back at the White residence, Marie (Betsy Brandt) tells Skyler that Hank has Walt in custody and that it’s all over and that she has to tell Flynn (RJ Mitte) all the horrors about his father. Skyler obliges, but Flynn finds the whole thing impossible to believe – until the pair arrives home to meet a frantic Walter. Covered in dirt and sand, Walt tries desperately to get his family to pack up so that they can flee. Skyler, however, quickly puts it together that something terrible must have happened if her husband got out of Hank’s handcuffs.

“You killed him,” she says to Walt. “You killed Hank.” Pain is written all over Walt’s face as he can’t find it in himself to make excuses or offer an explanation; he just continues to insist she come with him. There’s a knife set and a phone on the kitchen counter, and Skyler choses to wield the knife, slashing at her husband as he moves towards her. The two then fall to the ground, wrestling for control of the weapon. Flynn eventually steps in, spreading himself out in defense of his mother and picking up the phone to dial 911.

Aware that pleas of familial love and protection won’t move his wife or son, he picks up his infant daughter and takes off, as Skyler chases him down the street screaming. Once he gets to a gas station, he changes Holly who’s crying for her mother, and calls Skyler. Knowing full well that the cops are listening in, Walt chastises her with all the vitriol and malice of Heisenberg for being ignorant and naïve as he earned money in the meth business, thereby exonerating her. He then threatens her life, while admitting Hank’s death and informing Skyler that his dirty work isn't yet completed.

Walt hangs up the phone and leaves Holly with their home address pinned to the front of her clothes. Skyler and Marie, knowing Hank is gone, dissolve into tears, as a confused Flynn looks on in anguish. The following day, Walt gets into the minivan that Jesse refused a few days before and disappears.

– Chelsea Regan

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