Breaking Bad Recap: Look on My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair [Updated]

Breaking Bad Season 5 RecapThere are two very good reasons AMC chose to promote Breaking Bad by having Bryan Cranston recite Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem “Ozymandias.”

First, the verse chronicles the way that all empires, no matter how grand, inevitably crumble into dust and nothingness. (Cautionary tale, Walt?)

Second, if you’re going to hype the final episodes of a well-crafted drama, you might as well do it by highlighting the title of an episode that is arguably one of the best in TV history.

As Breaking Bad hurtles toward its finale – can you believe there are just two episodes left?! – let’s review the major developments that took place in “Ozymandias.”

RELATED | Breaking Bad Prequel Spin-Off Better Call Saul Ordered to Series at AMC

EVERYTHING FADES | The episode begins not in the middle of the shoot-out that ended last week’s installment, but with a flashback to the events around the pilot. “The reaction has begun,” a nearly nude Walt tells an insolent Jesse as the meth starts to percolate in their RV, which is parked in the desert. Walt steps outside in tighty whities, trades his lab apron for his green shirt and then steps away to call Skyler.

As he walks, he practices the lie he’ll tell to explain his late return. Remember when the falsehoods didn’t trip so easily off his tongue? Preggo Skyler picks up and they have a loving, lighthearted discussion as they plan pizza for dinner and some “family time” the following weekend. They’re cute as they talk about maybe naming the baby Holly. (Jesse being an idiot in the background is pretty great, too.)

Walt fades away, as does Jesse and the RV, but the landscape remains as we return to the aftermath of the shootout. All of Uncle Jack’s gang is fine, but Gomez is dead and Hank is shot in the leg. Hank makes a valiant attempt to belly-crawl for his colleague’s weapon, but Uncle Jack gets to it first. Upon learning that Hank is DEA, Uncle Jack prepares to finish Hank off, but Walt pops up from his backseat hiding place and starts hollering for Jack to stop. He outs Hank as his brother-in-law and offers Jack and his gang all of the money in the barrels, desperately pleading with Hank to “promise us you’ll let this go.” Absolutely no one present thinks that’s going to happen, least of all Hank, who earns his way into the badass section of the great beyond when he tells Jack exactly what he can do with himself. Then Schrader turns his attention to his brother-in-law: “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—” but he’s cut off by Uncle Jack killing him (and me sobbing).

PARTING SHOT | Walt collapses, ugly crying, as Uncle Jack realizes that the coordinates Walt gave him are probably where the money is buried. The crew finds the cash easily enough, digs it all up and drag Hank and Gomez into the hole left behind. Throughout, Walt’s lying like a carp on the sand. Todd uncuffs him, saying “I’m sorry for your loss” (I’ve said it before, but the kid scares the bejesus out of me), and Jack levels his conditions: He’ll leave Walt a barrel of money and his car in exchange for Walt talking off and never coming back. But first, Walt wants Jesse dead. “If you can find him, we’ll kill him,” Jack says jovially. “Found him,” Walt says flatly, directing their attention to a hole under the car in which Jesse had been sitting.

The gang drags Jesse out, kicking and crying, but Todd stops the execution: They should find out what Pinkman told the DEA, he reasons, then they can kill him. As the goons take Jesse to their car, Walt has one more thing to say to his former protégé, and it’s been seasons in the making: “I watched Jane die. 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.” The thrill in Walt’s voice, the destruction on Jesse’s face… it’s all a lot to deal with in a scene that’s already been really hard to handle. (I think it says something that I looked at the clock at this point, thinking that 10 minutes had passed, and the episode was nearly half over.)

COOKING LESSONS | When we later see Jesse, he’s being kept in a cell adjacent to Lydia’s cook site. Todd has done a number on his face; one of Jesse’s eyes is swollen shut, he’s covered in bruises (and acting like a rib is broken), and he makes it clear that he’s already coughed up the location of the tape he made for the DEA. But Todd has another use for the sobbing, cowering former drug dealer. He brings Jesse into the lab and attaches him to an overhead leash like Rover in the sideyard, then allows Jesse to see a photo of Brock and Andrea before giving a simple, menacing command: “Let’s cook.” In this hour of sorrow, is it completely ridiculous of me to hope that Jesse will get out alive?

SLASH AND BURN | Marie forces Skyler to admit everything about Walt and the meth business to Flynn. Naturally, the teen doesn’t believe his mom… until they get home and Walt is there, scrambling to pack their lives into a couple of suitcases. Flynn peppers his dad with questions, but Skyler (looking like a sickening realization is settling over her) has only one: If Hank had Walt in custody, where is Hank now?

Walt tries to distract them with talk of a new life. “You killed him. You killed Hank,” Skyler says, causing an even bigger family freakout than was previously taking place (and that’s saying something). Though I have often hated Skyler, I will love her forever for grabbing a knife from the butcher block, getting between Flynn and his dad and ordering Walt out of the house. When he won’t leave, she slashes his hand, leading to a wrestling match for the weapon. “What the hell is wrong with you? We’re a family!” Walt cries, smearing blood all over his wife’s sweater as they tussle, and I laugh in part because it’s funny and in part because ohmyGodSkyler’sgoingtotakethisknifeinthegutatsomepointsoonisn’tshe? and I’m grasping at whatever break in the tension I can find. Flynn jumps his dad from behind, separating his parents, and calls 911. So Walter grabs Holly, backs his vehicle into Skyler so hard they both reverse out of the driveway, and takes off with Holly’s mom screaming in the rearview mirror.

MEA CULPA | Walt gets cleaned up and changes Holly in a public bathroom; when she starts calling for her mama, tears fill his eyes. He phones home not long after. Marie and the cops are there, though Skyler lies to Walt that she’s alone. He rips into her with a litany of how stupid she is and how she never had any clue about anything he did and… Oh wait, he totally knows that the cops are recording this. Though he’s giving Skyler what she needs to absolve herself of guilt in his meth business, he very much means it when he says “You never believed in me,” and I don’t think it takes him much thought to do an airheaded impression of her. “I built this. Me alone. Nobody else!” he growls, adding, “Toe the line or you will wind up just like Hank.” Marie falls apart as she realizes her husband is dead, and on the other end of the line, tears stream down Walt’s cheeks as he informs Skyler that he can’t come home because “I’ve still got things left to do.”

He hangs up, then leaves Holly at an Albuquerque fire station with her home address pinned to her chest. The next day, Saul’s guy pulls up in that minivan Jesse didn’t get into a few episodes ago, and Walt climbs inside.

As of last week, more of you thought Walt would be dead by the end of the series – but the “Walt survives” faction is growing steadily. Where do you fall? Based on this week’s episode, vote in our poll below, then hit the comments with your thoughts on the episode!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Bmass87 says:

    Horrific. Nostalgic. Sometimes funny, but mostly heartbreaking. And altogether perfect.

  2. I think Walt’s gonna go out ScarFace hinted at it when Walt was watching Scarface with Walter Jr. that episode long ago~hence the purchase of the ginormous machine gun in the opening teaser trailer when he returns from New Hampshire presumably..He wants revenge on Uncle Jack and his psycho nephew Todd..although the gun may be to go to war against Jesse…I think Jesse may find his way out of this mess..He and Walt may patch things up though{somehow?maybe if he saves Jesse} and they might team up to kill Jack and Todd and friends thus bringing the dream team back together one last time..there’s still the question of who he’s gonna use the poison on he retrieved from the house..

  3. Ba_Ba_Barbie says:

    Walt will end up saving Jesse and exacting revenge on the Uncle and crew in the process. I wouldn’t be surprised if somehow Skyler or Walt Jr end up taken ( remember Jesse told them the tapes are at Hanks house, and I’m sure Marie will make Sky and the kids come stay with her) too. Don’t forget about the Ricin either. I believe Walt will confess or pull some sort of redeeming ploy, then either kill himself or give himself enough to fool others into thinking he is dead.

  4. Gordon says:

    Rolling the barrel across the desert (Walt’s typical luck) with the music was perfect and helped set us back down in our seats to get ready for the next set of twist and turns!!! Goes to show anything can be bought!!

  5. tamihagglund says:

    Can’t quote from my iPhone but Zombie Hank would make a great segue into The Walking Dead.

  6. Bark Star says:

    Coming back after one week to find that Gomez is already dead was seriously disappointing and a bad narrative move. Luckily it got better after that. But that incredible blunder alone keeps this from being “the best episode”. (Still very very good though)

    • Blow says:

      It wasn’t a blunder that I saw. They faded in on the end of the shootout, we didn’t see the entire thing, it just happened “off camera”

  7. Sarah says:

    This is totally random and ridiculous- but I always thought it was “tighty whities” not “tidy whities” like the recap says. Yes, I know, I am a loser for even noticing and thinking about that. Amazing episode though!

  8. Anna smith says:

    Please remove the Hank Dies spoiler. It comes up on google when searching for bb season 5.

    • Absolutely. I keep saying this and no one listens. Just name the article title AND the link text with the episode title. breaking-bad-ozymandias-season-5-recap. It’s not a difficult solution and it would make everyone happy. But I still see this stuff pop up where they say exactly who dies or what happens.

  9. chloe says:

    The hour wasn’t an hour…it felt like 5 minutes max! Such terrific writing and brilliant acting all the way around. Between tears and yelling at the TV when Hank died and Skyler came running after the van, not to mention each and every scene …this show continues to be the best dramatic series ever written and acted. It was riveting.
    Congratulations Vince and Bryan Cranston for paying attention to every minute detail right down to the beeping of the not wearing a seatbelt and ALWAYS having the cuts and scrapes and bruises looking so real continuing far into the episodes making it all so believable. I don’t know what I will watch after the finale short of going into major withdrawal from the best series I’ve ever watched. As for the outcome I don’t want Jesse to die although my husband does and Walt just can’t get away with it all now or can he??? I don’t know what I want I don’t want Jesse to die or do I want Walt to live? Or both?? What I do know is this : I will miss Walt and his undies.

  10. DH says:

    Jessie’s captivity in the meth lab + Uncle Jack and crew’s refusal to wear gas masks = Jessie gassing them like Walt did in the first episode. Of course, he’ll have to deal with Todd (who does wear a mask) some other way. Other than that, I won’t even try to predict what will happen because “the exact reverse opposite” is bound to occur.

  11. Sophie says:

    The best episode so far! How lucky are we in Australia to watch it the same time as the US. I don’t want it to end. Breaking bad is probably the best show on TV.

  12. renfro says:

    Walt in some ways is the least bad character.
    All his deeds are in fact a ‘reaction’ to the actions of others that threatened to bring down his operation, expose him and ruin his original goal in this of providing for his family. Yes his actions were in essence evil but there is difference in evils–one done because the person enjoys the evil he does, and evil done for his own survival. Walts’s ‘fault’ was he was sucked into the ‘high’ of the power/ control he created and earned the hard way. Walt was mainly a man who’s strengths—as in coping with every threat to his empire—-and his weakness—-as in becoming addicted to his empire—combined to ruin him
    A complete story of ‘unintended consquences’.

  13. Orphan says:

    I’m surprised there’s been no love for Mendez in these posts. I liked his character. My heart dropped when I saw him lying dead in the sand yet no-one on the show even mentioned it, so sad. How about this ending? Because Skyler saw Walt’s plan in the phone call, she’ll forgive him, he’ll find a new identity and she and Holly (after an appropriate time) will go and live happily ever after with him (cancer in remission, of course). Meanwhile Junior will become Jesse’s new cook partner, after Jesse “takes care of” Todd. OK, maybe not that last part.

  14. Captain Crunch says:

    So did Walt’s ploy of moving blame off of Skyler work? If so, what are the theories about why the house was seized/abandoned? They had the house for a long time before Walt’s drug operation–was it still seized as profits of a drug operation (and presumably the car wash)?

    I can’t imagine Skyler thinks she’s in danger from Walt just by staying in the house, and there’s also no money now to buy a different house — do they move in with marie?

    • Sue says:

      She put some $800,000 into buying the car wash and I’m quite sure she could sell it for even more. By the way, am I the only one who finds it hard to believe that they put all their money (the cash, that is) in one place? No one with any money does that and as a book keeper she’d presumably know that (as should anyone as intelligent as Walt).

  15. renfro says:

    As for the other characters, consider:
    Skyler who wanted it both ways… condemn Walt, but not herself.
    Hank, who could have let it go after Walt was out of the business and his cancer returned but wouldn’t because of his own ‘ego’,– wanting to ‘bust’ a case knowing it would ruin Walt’s family and regardless of the fact that there was *no further good to be served * by doing so. He to me was one of the most despictable characters—-pure rotten ego that would only cause ‘more evil’ and chaos.
    And Hanks wife?—just like Hank except she was a “morality supremist” willing to inflict any kind of pain like she did in bullying Skyler into telling Walts son in the cruelest way about his father…she is a closet ‘sadist’ under the guise of a Mother superior.
    And Jesse?, so weak. All his regrets come after his weaknesses cause them and in his weakness also his inability to bear his pain and think thru the pain and destruction he was going to cause. Jesse coudnt take responsibilty for his own part, it became instead “self -pity” for his own actions and loses and revenge against Walt as the gulity of the two. The young boy didnt die from poisoning for instance because Jesse himself was ‘careless’ with the cig pack it was in–no it was Walt’s fault for giving it to Jesse to begin with.
    I think some people are completely missing what half this story is about–which is the smaller , garden variety evils and weaknesses in the other people around Walt that ‘kept propelling’ a lot of events and his evil actions. Every step Walt took to protect and cover himself and family from ‘their own actions and weaknesses were the ones that actually got him in deeper and deeper—–the bad drug guys he could handle, the DEA he could outsmart…..but the people in his own family circle and even Jesse, who weaknesses and egos he kept “trying to handle”–he couldnt handle because he wouldnt take the ultimate evil step against them. They were all Walt’s achelles heel–what brought him down.

  16. AnnieM says:

    People will poo-poo me for this, I’m sure, but I can’t help hoping that the final scene of the series reveals that it was ALL a dream had by Walt. I actually don’t feel we’d be cheated by that, at least I wouldn’t. ::shrug::

  17. Walkie says:

    Easily one of the best hours in the history of dramatic television. Breaking Bad is achieving things that no show, not even the Sopranos, was able to achieve.

    Walt’s call to Skyler with the police listening in was some of the finest acting you will ever see whether on TV or film.

  18. Curtis says:

    I don’t think Walt took Holly because he wanted to punish Skylar or anything like that. Walt’s motivation has always been his family (although to a lesser degree during the later seasons). When Walt Jr. called the cops on Walt, I think Walt realized that his famly was beyond repair, except for Holly. Being an infant, Holly wouldn’t grow up knowing what Walt did and wouldn’t be at odds with him like Skylar and Walt Jr. would. Holly was the only way for Walt to hold on to his family and took her in the heat of the situation. Once he calmed down and realized that Holly belonged with Skyler (or that she would just be a hinderance?), he left her at the fire station.

  19. chad says:

    Skler’s interrogation of Walt reminds me of one of televisions best killings -The Wire- Season 1 the killing of Wallace and the events that followed “where’s Wallace String?”

  20. Nancy says:

    My bet is Walt kills himself with the rison he hid behind the switch plate, and he’ll be slumped beneath “Heisenberg” spray painted on the living room wall. I just can’t decide whether it will be Flynn or Marie that does the spray painting.

  21. Admiral Crunch says:

    The author writes:

    “So Walter grabs Holly, backs his vehicle into Skyler so hard they both reverse out of the driveway, and takes off with Holly’s mom screaming in the rearview mirror.”

    Come on, Skyler’s put on some weight, but comparing her to a minivan is pretty hash. I still find her attractive. :_)

  22. James M says:

    I’m confused, what was Todd’s logic to bring Jesse back with them? What’s it matter what Jesse told the DEA? The two DEA agents that knew are dead.

    • Admiral Crunch says:

      The video tape that Hank and Gomey made presumably (though we don’t know for sure) contains Jesse describing Todd’s murder of the kid during the train heist. When the DEA finds out Hank is dead, his house will be searched and the tape discovered. Therefore, Todd was right to be concerned.

  23. Patricia says:

    I broke down like a baby- again! Holy Sh*% I don’t know how can they top themselves, but they keep doing it!

  24. Cate Amos says:

    Just a few questions that keep me awake at night: What is going to happen with Jesse’s taped confession? Will Marie take it to the DEA? Will Todd’s gang locate it before anyone else and destroy it? Will there be a clash between Marie and the gang when they come looking for the tape and she ends up dead or in danger? Does Jesse know the extent of Skyler’s involvement with the business, and if so, would that negate the comments Walt made about knowledge of his illegal enterprise? What could Walt possibly have to gain by telling Jesse he was present for Jane’s death and could have saved her?

    • JOey jo jo says:

      Most of your questions are up to the future episodes.

      Walt wanted to hurt Jesse more, so he told him about Jane, Walt was “mad”

    • Admiral Crunch says:

      If Todd didn’t *immediately* go to Hanks house (bringing his buddies) break in, and steal all the tapes and video equipment in the few hours where Marie was out talking to Sklyer and convinced Hank was OK, Todd and his gang are screwed. The place will be under surveillance by DEA for weeks and the evidence brought back to DEA headquarters for examination.

      So hopefully (from Todd’s perspective), he’s already retrieved the tapes by the time we see Jesse pulled out of the cocrete pit to help Todd cook.

    • “What could Walt possibly have to gain by telling Jesse he was present for Jane’s death and could have saved her?”

      Jesse committed the unforgivable sin of hurting Walt’s one true love, his cash. Jesse is dead to Walt. Walt just wanted to twist the knife.

  25. Colleen says:

    This episode was freaking incredible! Just tremendous. Absolutely the best episode of the series! So, so, so depressing and horrific. It was like the worst nightmare of every character all played out at the same time in the same episode. I could barely breathe during the whole thing. I am still thinking about it this morning. I actually dreamed about it last night!

    Directing, acting, script, cinematography…everything! Wow!!! Absolutely an A+ episode in every way.

    The scene at the White home was just phenomenal! Bryan Cranston was utterly brilliant in this scene! (Well, everyone in it was.) When Walt shouted, “We’re a family!” and the camera showed him standing over them as they cowered on the floor in terror…. OMG, outstanding! The look on Cranston’s face there was devastating as Walt realized he had lost his family, and it had all been for nothing. I gasped in horror when he grabbed Holly and left.

    I just can’t stop raving about this. There is no way they can top this in the final two episodes, right?? They just blew up the entire story of the series. Smashed into dust in this episode. All that’s left is the fallout. All I need to know now is what happens to Jesse.

  26. Allo says:

    I bet that Walt retrieves the ricin so he himself can commit suicide after taking out the white supremisists

  27. Captain G says:

    BB is the best series since ‘The Wire’. So long as the Whites are not seated at a little booth in a diner with “Don’t Stop Believing” playing on a jukebox as the t.v. screen abruptly fades to black, I can accept any conclusion.

  28. makaveli777 says:

    hank isnt dead , you know why …. in the flash forwards of a few episiodes back you saw walt buying a machine gun and you saw hank in that picture to , so that was future takes , so i think he will crawl out of the sand pit , he is still alive

  29. sgw says:

    Uncle Jack and the boys are gone, they split the 80 million and went on their way, Todd stayed back because he loves Lydia.

  30. Pail says:

    I think Walt will be the sole survivor. Uncle jack Todd kill Jesse and can’t find Walt s

  31. sam says:

    thanks for the spoiler in your metadata. fangoddamntastic.

  32. Pail says:

    I think Walt is the sole survivor. Todd kills Jesse and can’t find Walt so they kill his family so Walt kills them. He’s all alone thinking I did it for my family. A real mindf**k!!

  33. Justin Burnell says:

    Reblogged this on thehiltonburnellfiles and commented:
    The episode of Breaking Bad was a classic. Poor Walt.

  34. So …

    Walt loves his cash more than anything. That means that Jack is dead to him. Walt has an M60. His next door neighbor Carol knows he is back. She knows he is a wanted man. If Walt does not kill her, she will call the police. So, Walt has only a small amount of time from the moment Carol sees him to use the Ricin and the M60.

    How about this scenario? Walt is finally bat-poop crazy and goes on a serial killing spree with the M60 and the Ricin. Who does he hate? Here is a list of possible targets:

    Heck, if his cancer is back and not cured, he might take the Ricin, start the 3-day death clock, and then use the M60 to go out in a blaze of glory.

  35. Maliza says:

    The only thing I don’t get: why would Todd and Co. Want to keep cooking meth when they have what, 55 millions dollars??? Doesn’t make sense to me! I’d be in a sunny country with new identities and a great house, living peacefully till my old days!

  36. Tremendous episode — completely blows away anything I’ve seen on TV previously.

    I’d like to suggest a tiny revision for clarification: “So Walter grabs Holly, backs his vehicle into Skyler ….”

    Walter didn’t hit Skyler with his vehicle. ” So Walter grabs Holly, backs his vehicle into Skyler’s …..”

    Understandable, and I think most readers understand the intent, but I certainly did a double take.

  37. Admiral Crunch says:

    Did Walt Jr. actually tell the police his dad had pulled a knife on his mom, because that’s not true at all. Walt was only trying to get the knife away from Skyler after she started slashing him. If he did get the knife, it’s highly unlikely he would stab anyone – his goal was to get his family into his truck; they’re not worth anything dead to him.

  38. Josh says:

    Good job on putting a MAJOR spoiler in the hyperlink to this web page. “‘Breaking Bad’ Recap: Hank Dies — Season 6 – TVLine” REALLY??? Who puts the spoiler in the hyperlink to the article?!?! You’re supposed to warn of a spoiler, NOT give away the spoiler!! What was originally me searching for a way to watch the episodes online, such as Hulu or, became horrific as I found out a major MAJOR spoiler. I mean, damn, all I did was search “Breaking Bad season 6” in Google. Now I know that Hank dies. Thank you for that.

  39. Hans Werter says:

    You are welcome! :)

  40. We absolutely love your blog and find almost all of your post’s to be just what I’m looking for. Would you offer guest writers to write content available for you? I wouldn’t mind creating a post or elaborating on most of the subjects you write related to here. Again, awesome web log!

  41. yami says:

    I just want to go on record with my view of what is coming and i havent seen the one that aired yesterday i have slow internet so anyway the point is that that when walt called skyler and took credit for killing hank is the detail that is very important to me he didnt mention it so he could go after them himself and since jesse is there the ending will involve them two my opinion walt will kill the neo nazi and TRy to save jesse out of pity? dont know BUT then Jesse will kill walt and jesse will go live with brock and her mom lets not forget side characters that are being dragged along for something right?

  42. NO SPOILERS!!! says:

    Way to go you numbnuts – seriously putting “Hank dies” in your title for Google search results? Have you people not done this before??

    Keep in mind the last half of the last season is not yet on Netflix, which means there are a LOT of us who haven’t seen it and are searching furiously for ways to catch the final 8 episodes. You’d think someone with a degree from Columbia J-school would be smarter than that…

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  44. deroldf says:

    Ok Walt gets caught. go’s to hospital and recovers from gunshot is cured of cancer. While in the hospital he escapes. Jesse becomes a dea agent. because he knows the meth world. Or when Walt escapes the feds want Jesse to help them catch Walt. But Jesse and Walt are Cooking Meth on the Side. He helps Walt evade the FBI. The Germans are mad about the loss of pollos chicken and the meth trade. Walt with his new identity as Walt whitesenburg hides as a chemist in a corporate lab that makes bio weapons for the government. This could go a long way. next episode coming soon!