Breaking Bad: Walter White is ‘Ozymandias’


Ivy Nguyen, Staff Writer

The following contains spoilers for Breaking Bad: “Ozymandias.”

If the previous episode, “To’hajiilee,” was meant to be gut-wrenching with intense anticipation, “Ozymandias” was somehow impossibly more brutal in the best way possible. Throughout the episode, it continually seemed as if the situation could not possibly get worse, but this episode managed to twist the plot in every way possible. This was a realistic, jarring, cruel, and wonderful episode that transcended fiction.

This episode had a lot of information to digest—Hank died, Gomez died, Todd and his neo-Nazi gang kidnapped and tortured Jesse, Skyler and Marie fought, Walt, Jr. learned about his father’s crystal methamphetamine empire, Skyler tried to kill Walt, and Walt took on a new identity and disappeared. The writers paced the entire season well and brought an emotional bullseye to this final stretch of the ultimate season.

Walt’s ambiguous moral decline can be seen through the episode’s title, which comes from the poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley; it is also the Greek name of an Egyptian pharaoh.

And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Out of context, the first few lines speak of greatness, but in context, the words are written on a broken statue of a pharaoh that lies in the desert in disrepair and nothingness. It implies that all power collapses and that all great men break bad. In fact, Walt collapsed into the sand in despair similarly to how the statue is said to have done.

“Ozymandias” was a powerful beginning of the end of the family that millions of viewers have gotten to know. The consensus of critics and students agree that this episode was well done; everyone is simultaneously dreading and excited for the finale. It is a testament to the fact that Breaking Bad is storytelling at its finest.

Breaking Bad airs on AMC on Sundays at 6 p.m. PST.

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 9.12.37 PM

Screen Shot 2013-09-18 at 3.10.59 AM