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Breaking Bad: Ozymandias, actions have consequences

Hank Schrader and Steve Gomez, in happier days. Perhaps discussing a fish Hank almost caught, a mineral he nearly found, or something slightly obscene about Hank's manhood.

Hank Schrader and Steve Gomez, in happier days. Perhaps discussing a fish Hank almost caught, a mineral he nearly found, or something slightly obscene about Hank’s manhood.

`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.

The words of Percy Bysshe Shelley, from his poem Ozymandias, the title of last night’s episode of Breaking Bad.

Warning spoilers ahead.

Breathless and numb.

That’s all I can say about the third to last episode of the best TV drama of all time. Vince Gilligan and his writing team are working hard to tie up loose ends and they are going out with a bang. Speaking of which, Hank and Gomez went out with a bang.

Hank’s (Dean Norris) final scene was one of the most dramatically tense ever. Noble and brave to the very end. He didn’t get to finish his final sentence. When a commercial came on and my husband switched to the Red Sox game to see how it was going, I piped up, “Hey turn it back, I don’t want to miss one second!”

When Walt fell to the ground sobbing, his face showed that, like Ozymandias, “King of Kings,” his once mighty empire was now a colossal wreck. All he worked for was gone.

Lest we feel the least bit sympathetic for Walt because he begged Jack to spare Hank’s life, he outs Jesse who is hiding under his car and spitefully tells him the truth about Jane. Another very loose end tied up with a beautiful but ugly bow.

Actions have consequences.

That has been the theme of this show from the beginning, and Gilligan has remained true to it. The poor unappreciated science teacher who is dying of cancer has to face the consequences of his actions to manufacture methamphetamine.

Still, Gilligan likes to toil with good and bad. And that’s what we love about this show. In “the phone call,” when Walt asks Skyler if the police are there, and she says no, he knows they are. He confesses to everything in order to clear Skyler. He also gives Walt, Jr. peace of mind, saying repeatedly how he had threatened Skyler for “a year” not to tell anyone, including Junior. He let everyone know Hank was dead by threatening that Skyler would wind up “like Hank” if she said anything. Skyler has tears in her eyes, she knows what Walt is doing. Now Jr. can forgive his mother. He thinks he understands. Walt says all this with great pain but it’s the one final thing he can do to help his family.

Now how about that knife fight?

Not since the famous “Thanksgiving” scene on Dexter, below, have we witnessed such an unexpectedly intense and violent family breakdown.

Dexter is also in its final season, and it couldn’t be more different than Breaking Bad. A show that started out so brilliantly has turned into mindless mush. Simplistic writing with one-note villains. Plots that start and end quickly just to rack up Dexter’s body count. Had Dexter ended in the season featured above, with Rita’s death, it would have gone down as the best series finale ever! But it dragged on season after boring season, like a dark, back seat passenger crying to slow down.

Breaking Bad on the other hand has gotten better and better. Kudos to the writers for tying up loose ends in a creative and engaging fashion. We’ll be sorry to see the show end, but unlike Dexter, at least it’s not going out with a whimper.

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