Breaking Bad is clever but a little too smug in its cleverness at times. This week's episode, "Ozymandias," opens with a beaker bubbling. A sharp contrast from the fire fight which ended the last week's episode.
Flashback to Season 1 when Jesse Pinkman and Walter White were just cooking at the deserted stretch outside New Mexico. Walt has plenty of hair and Skyler is still pregnant.
And now? Flash forward and Hank has been shot and uncle Jack is walking around looking for Jesse Pinkman.
Walt is thrashing about, trying to save Hank from Jack. Hank is on the ground, growling like a bulldog.
"Should I let you go?" Jack teases while waving a handgun.
"My name is ASAC Schrader, and you can go fuck yourself," Hank says while on the ground writhing. Walt pleads to both sides. Hank retorts: "What, you want me to beg? You're the smartest guy I've ever met but you're too stupid to see that he made up his mind 10 minutes ago."
And as a gunshot rings out, the audience watches as it is Walt who falls to his knees and onto the ground, moaning. Mouth open, Walt hears the shooters screaming "What is this, a barrel? Couple barrels? Hell yeah!" (Let it rain, baby.)
Hank and Steven Gomez are dragged off and dumped into their graves while we also see Walt corpse-like on the ground. The mirroring is striking. Walt looks like he could have been shot and killed too, for more than a few moments.
Soon, though, Walt is upright. And being told that all of his barrels of money (except one!) are getting taken. "No hard feelings, you understand me?" Jack says. "We square?" There's a handshake. In that handshake, there's no mistaking that between Walt and Hank, Walt is the far lesser man — groveling, weak, unable to stand up for his convictions, cruel in his selfishness.
All of this is amped up a couple notches when he mentions there's a part of the deal that isn't square — Jesse's life, or lack there of. He points out Pinkman, hiding under a car and the White Supremacist Gang drags him out ready to execute. (Et tu, brute?)
Evil Mastermind Todd (™) steps in and suggests interrogating Jesse first, since he was working with the Feds. "We can do it back home. You know, me and him have history." And so, Jesse is dragged away but not before Walt informs him that he watched Jane die and could have saved her life, but chose not to. Ouch, man. (Once again, Et tu, brute?)
Pretty soon, Jesse looks more like a Furby (read: puffy red face with an eye swollen shut from all the abuse) in a basement than a person. His zombieness sees a picture of his former girlfriend Andrea and her son Brock paper clipped to Todd's meth-cooking facility wall. There's a lot of despair in his invisible eyes.
Marie reveals to Skyler that Walt's arrest is imminent. Too bad Marie doesn't know that Hank is dead in the ground.
When Skyler comes home to Walt not in handcuffs, she insistently asks, "Where is Hank?" all hell breaks loose. (And right in front of the kids! It's a really hard day for Walt Jr. and Holly is crying up a racket.) She tells Walt to get out of the house, big knife in hand, and when Walt approaches her, slashes his hand. They wrestle with the knife right in front of Walt Jr. which culminates with Walt running away with Holly in tow.
Later that night, with police in the house, Walt calls and wins the crown for World's Worst Human. If Skyler ever deserved (and needed) some love on the show, it is right now. The call is brutal and verbally abusive ("this is what comes from your disrespect"). It all apexes at the line: "You mark my words, Skyler. Toe the line or you will end up just like Hank."
Like Ozymandias in the Percy Shelley poem ("My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!"), Walt tells Skyler on the phone, "I built this. I built this. Me alone."
As Walt rides away with three bags and a tub of money (he left Holly in a firehouse) in the van of the Master Disappearance Provider, we wonder if there's not going to be a trace of him in the desert soon enough either.