Revisiting Breaking Bad's Ozymandias: 7 Key Things That Happen During This Incredible Episode

 Bryan Cranston glares angrily in the desert in Breaking Bad.
Bryan Cranston glares angrily in the desert in Breaking Bad.
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Want to feel old? It’s been a little over a decade since Breaking Bad ended back in 2013.

And yet, I still find myself (frequently) thinking about the best episode in the series, “Ozymandias.”

I don't want to hear anybody saying “arguably” the best episode, since I'm pretty sure it's unanimous that “Ozymandias” is not only the best episode of Breaking Bad, but also quite possibly the best episode in television history. So, what key things happened in those incredible 47 minutes of television? Well, here's a recap.

Oh, and MASSIVE spoilers up ahead for a decade-old episode of Breaking Bad. Duh. 

Dean Norris in Breaking Bad
Dean Norris in Breaking Bad

Hank Is Killed (And Walt Couldn't Stop It)

Here's the thing. When I ranked the best Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul characters, I didn't include Hank. That isn't because Hank wasn't a standout character. He was! He definitely was. But, it's just that I thought his death in “Ozymandias” was so real -so final! - that I kind of try to blank out his character because of the emotional gut punch that his death gave me all of those years ago.

In the previous episode, “To'hajiilee,” Hank, with his partner, Gomez, finally caught Walt, only for the Brotherhood to arrive, despite Walt's trying to cancel their meeting. The Brotherhood then engaged in a firefight between Hank and Gomez, and it wasn't until “Ozymandias” that we learned of their ultimate fate, as Gomez was killed, and Hank got shot down like a dog right in front of Walt, who couldn't do anything to stop it.

Jeez, if not for this article, I would have happily kept that memory out of my head, as it still gives me chills.

Jesse Plemons in El Camino
Jesse Plemons in El Camino

Todd Saves Jesse's Bacon...But At What Cost?

Who knew what a magnetic acting force Civil War’s Jesse Plemons would eventually become back in the Breaking Bad days? In this haunting scene, Walt was so angry at Jesse for ultimately bringing Hank and Gomez to the spot of their execution that he told Jack of Jesse's location so that he could be killed. But Todd (of all people!) saved Jesse’s bacon by telling his uncle not to shoot him.

His rationale was that Jesse probably gave away some crucial information about the Brotherhood, and that he should be questioned. Todd also thought that Jesse could make some meth for them, which ultimately leads to some of the flashback scenes in El Camino. It seemed like Walt couldn’t be any more cold blooded to his former partner than basically throwing him to the wolves. That is, of course, until…

Aaron Paul on Breaking Bad
Aaron Paul on Breaking Bad

Walt Spills The Beans About Jane's Death To Jesse

In the episode, “Fly,” which my colleague, Alexandra Ramos, considers “a masterpiece” (I’ve always been more on the fence about that one), Walt almost spilled the beans to Jesse about not intervening when Jesse’s girlfriend, Jane (played by Jessica Jones herself, Krysten Ritter) OD’d and choked on her own vomit. And, in that episode, it was super tense since we all knew how catastrophic it would have been to their relationship if Walt had told Jesse that he could have saved Jane, but didn’t. Jane’s death was, after all, one of the biggest deaths in the series.

However, since Walt was so salty about what happened to Hank, he couldn’t just let Jesse be taken away by the Nazis. No. He had to twist the knife even deeper and reveal that he watched Jane die, and did nothing to stop it. I honestly believe that Walt was truly dead to Jesse at that moment – even more so even than when he tried to burn down Walt’s house – and he was at the point of no return. But, Walt still had some heinous acts left to commit in this riveting episode.

Anna Gunn on Breaking Bad
Anna Gunn on Breaking Bad

Skyler Pulls A Knife On Walt

In probably the tensest scene in the entire series, Walt went back home, and everything exploded in his face. Marie told Skyler that Hank arrested Walt (Since she didn’t know yet about the horrible outcome for her husband), and then Walt burst into the house like a bat out of hell, telling them that they had to get out of there. This was after Skyler told Walt Jr. about his father’s criminal ways, mind you, so Walt Jr.’s mind was a whirlwind of emotions, and he didn't know what to think.

But, when Skyler came to the realization that Hank was dead (and even assumed that Walt KILLED Hank, which he kind of did, in a roundabout way), Walt Jr. just couldn’t take it. The look on his face was devastating. When Walt stormed off to get their bags, and Walt Jr. followed him, Skyler got a knife, and actually cut Walt, leading to them wrestling over the knife.

Let me tell you. When I saw this scene all those years ago, sitting with my friends in my buddy’s living room, we were dead silent and couldn’t believe what we were seeing.

By the time it went to a commercial, I was the first one to break the silence and said, “That was intense.” And, indeed it was.

Anna Gunn talking on the phone in Breaking Bad
Anna Gunn talking on the phone in Breaking Bad

Walt Jr. Calls The Cops On His Father

One of the most heartbreaking things about Breaking Bad was that Walt Jr. learned to hate his father. Yes, as viewers, we all came to our own conclusion as to when we finally realized that Walt was, in fact, the bad guy, but it wasn’t really until this episode that Walt Jr. came to that conclusion. And man, was it heartrending.

For it was Walt. Jr. who actually wrestled his father off of his mother, and then called the cops on him.

The look on Walt’s face truly said it all, as even he knew that he was completely beyond the pale at that point. This was also the moment that Walt truly realized that he had lost everything. Or at least, that’s what we intially thought…

Bryan Cranston on Breaking Bad
Bryan Cranston on Breaking Bad

Walt Kidnaps Holly!

The episode started with a flashback (which was just RIFE with foreshadowing since the camera stayed level with the knives that would eventually be used against Walt), and we learned that Skyler wanted to name the baby Holly, to which Walt said it was a nice name. This was all while he stepped away from Jesse as they were just cooking up a batch of meth.

So, being that the episode started this way, you would THINK that the viewer would be well aware that the baby would be an important element of this episode. That said, so much stuff happened after this scene, that the viewer could be forgiven for forgetting this pivotal moment. But, it all led up to Walt, who was happy to think about his unborn child at one point, kidnapping Holly as his son and wife were cowering in fear and talking to 911.

Now, as somebody who has seen this episode a number of times, I go back and forth on just why Walt took Holly. A part of me believes that his mind was racing so quickly that he did it without thinking. Another part of me thinks that he did it because he knew he had lost both Skyler and Walt Jr., and the baby was his last connection to his old life, so he was clinging to that.

But, since Walt called the police later and berated Skyler over the phone because he knew the cops were listening, only for him to leave Holly at the fire station to be picked up, a third side of me thinks he did it so that he could eventually clear Skyler of culpability. Whichever option it was though, it was one of the most shocking moments in the entire series, and one that I will never forget.

Robert Forster in El Camino
Robert Forster in El Camino

Walt Meets With The Vacuum Man

Lastly, Walt met up with Ed Galbraith, played by Robert Forster (RIP), and also known as the Vacuum Man. Saul would require Ed’s services himself, which would eventually lead to the black-and-white, present day scenes in Better Call Saul, but at this point, Walt was going to use the money he had left to disappear.

This brought us to the last two episodes of the series, and ultimately to the startling conclusion when Walt returned and eventually took revenge against the Nazis. But, that’s an article for another day.