TV Has Yet to Top the Horror of Breaking Bad’s “Ozymandias”

Breaking Bad’s “Ozymandias” is rightfully regarded as of one the best TV episodes of all time. One scene in particular makes clear why.

Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Skyler White (Anna Gunn) in Breaking Bad season 5 episode 14.
Photo: Ursula Coyote | AMC

This article contains spoilers for Breaking Bad season 5 episode 14 “Ozymandias.”

Breaking Bad’s final season is 10 years old. It’s hard to believe it’s been a decade since Walter White’s story came to a close. All of the deceit, violence, plot twists, and puzzling cliffhangers the series provided still occupy a mountain of space in our heads, just begging for yet another rewatch. In the time since the final episodes of the beloved crime drama aired, no show has quite matched the exquisite pacing and pitch-perfect tone of the eight episodes that concluded Walter’s time as the meth kingpin of New Mexico. Still, even amongst an array of masterpiece hours of television in the second half of the show’s fifth and final season, the Rian Johnson-directed epic “Ozymandias” stands tall above all else. 

“Ozymandias” starts with a nearly 15-minute scene in which Hank (Dean Norris) is killed by Uncle Jack (Michael Bowen) and his gang of Nazis, Jesse (Aaron Paul) is essentially sold into meth manufacturing slavery to Todd Alquist (Jesse Plemons), and Walt wanders through the desert in search of transportation back home. The sheer amount of action during this time period would be enough for most shows already, but Breaking Bad was just getting started. 

The scene when Walter arrives home to Walter Jr. (R.J. Mitte) and Skyler (Anna Gunn), apoplectic and deliriously wondering why they won’t believe him about Hank’s death, is where the episode truly enters the pantheon of TV greatness and even ascends to a higher legend regardless of medium. Skyler has decided that she simply won’t stand for Walt’s intimidation tactics and disregard for the White family any longer, and this is when “Ozymandias” turns into one of the most bone-chilling horror flicks of the 21st century. 


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