Just a few weeks ago, I said part of me was glad Jesse found out about Brock and didn’t get into that van to go to Alaska because I felt like he deserved to know. I wanted the fulfilling satisfaction of Jesse knowing just how responsible Walt was for the pain in his life. And of course, the biggest part of that is Jane. Would Jesse ever know about Jane? It seemed as if there was no way it could come out, unless for some reason Walt decided to tell him, and in what circumstances could that happen? Still, I wanted it to come out. I wanted Jesse to know.
So Breaking Bad delivered, and then asked me, tauntingly, “Was it worth it?”
Jesse is now chained in a lab, the rabid dog on a leash that everyone has made him out to be, cooking for Todd under the watchful eye of Andrea and Brock’s picture. With his face beaten to a pulp and his gait reduced to a shuffle on a leash, it is as if the last bit of him is now broken. One father figure dead, the other, responsible for his condition in life down to his very imprisonment. Jesse is well aware of how badly Walt has treated him.
Isn’t this what you wanted?
The same concept holds true for Skyler. Two men voiced to Skyler what much of the audience has said about her throughout the entire series.
The first comes after Marie, in a gesture that is both arrogant and merciful, goes to the car wash to brag about Walt’s arrest and offer her sister a way out. One of her conditions–they have to tell Walter, Jr. After listening to their explanation, Junior understandably freaks out, and says, “If this is true, how could you keep it a secret?” How could you go along with this, Mom? You’re just as bad as he is. Isn’t this what much of Breaking Bad‘s audience has said of Skyler all along? She’s a hypocrite. She’s just as bad as Walt. She’s a liar and morally corrupt, too.
And then in darker scene, after Walt has kidnapped her child and the police have arrived at the house, Heisenberg himself calls Skyler to tell her what an aggressively hateful portion of the show’s audience has been saying for years:
“Maybe now you’ll listen. Maybe now you’ll use your damn head. You know, you never believed in me. You were never grateful for anything I did for this family. ‘Oh no! Walt! Walt! You have to stop! You have to stop this! It’s immoral! It’s illegal! Someone might get hurt!’ You’re always whining and complaining about how I make my money, dragging me down while I do everything. And now, now you tell my son what I do? After I’ve told you and told you to keep your damn mouth shut? You stupid bitch. How dare you?”
Walt, aware that the police will be listening, uses this last bit of contact with his wife to clear her name. Walt asserts Heisenberg to his fullest potential and acts every bit the abusive husband. But isn’t this what some have said Walt should have said all along? “Stop holding me back from providing for our family, you ungrateful bitch.”
Are you happy now?
It was the episode of no turning back. An episode of choices that weren’t really choices at all. “You’re the smartest guy I ever met,” Hank tells Walt as his last words, “but you’re too stupid to see he made up his mind ten minutes ago.”
And that’s the case in “Ozymandias.” Walt can’t see that all of this is inevitable. You cast the die a long time ago, and now we’re just watching it land.
I loved this shot of Skyler approaching both the knife and the phone–for a moment, you’re unsure of which she’s going to choose. Is she going to realize this situation is desperately out of her control and call for help, or will she fruitlessly attempt to win the control back with the help of a kitchen knife? She has too much of her husband in her and she goes for the knife.
It is a gesture not unlike Walt frantically telling his family to pack and get in the car–he has 11 million dollars! They can go anywhere! They can have new lives. (He uses this exact argument to try to get Todd’s uncle Jack to save Hank.)
It is their son who finally reaches for the phone and all but says, “Our family is out of control.” Walt keeps shouting, “We’re a family!” like that still means something, but it is their 16-year-old son who realizes it doesn’t.