Breaking Bad Triple-Decker Recap/Review: "Tohajiilee", "Ozymandias", and "Granite State"

Chandler Kilgore-Parshall ’16/ Emertainment Monthly Staff
Things have been heating up for Walter White (Bryan Cranston) since the “Rabid Dog” episode. Jesse (Aaron Paul) has double-crossed Walt far too many times, and now Heisenberg wants him out of the picture. In exchange, Walter must leave retirement to help Todd cook (who seems to have a crush on the snobbish Lydia…yikes) and please the Czech cartel’s need for quality meth.
The timer continues to tick down as Jesse and Hank’s partnership wears thin. After an unsuccessful ploy to get Walt to confess everything, Jesse takes additional precautions. After getting Huell to confess where Walt hid his millions, Jesse and Hank threaten to burn the cash up, to lure Heisenberg into a trap. While this ingenious ploy was clever, it was the bitter phone conversation between Walt and Jesse that really brought the dramatic tension. It was so tense that you could cut that tension with a knife. Walt tries to manipulate Jesse once more with his “humble teacher” persona. But Jesse doesn’t buy it and bites back. Walt spites him and is so conceited that he’s convinced that his crimes were for the greater good.  It all ends in a dramatic showdown between Walter White and Jesse along with Hank.

Walter White (Bryan Cranston) in Breaking Bad. Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/AMC.
Walter White (Bryan Cranston) in Breaking Bad. Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/AMC.
There are no moments of embrace or camaraderie like in “Confessions”. Quite the contrary. When it seems like the great Heisenberg has been arrested, Jesse spits on him and a fight breaks out.  If you were rooting for Jesse, this scene was probably a moment of catharsis. Ironically Walt’s arrest is at Tohajiilee, the first site where the duo first cooked in the very beginning. Guess things ended where it all began?
Yet it’s too good to be true. Todd, Uncle Jack and the Neo-Nazis arrive at Tohajiilee, packed to the teeth with semi-automatics. Despite Walt’s objections when he had a change of heart, the Neo-Nazis unleash a bullet storm upon Hank and Gomez. Bam. “Tojajilee” ends. Huge cliffhanger.  Who lives and who dies?
“Tohajiilee” is the calm before the storm. Walt learns that all of his actions have deadly results. It’s time Heisenberg reaps what he has sown.
As Bryan Cranston said in a Behind-the-Scenes interview on AMC’s website, “The whole fabric is unraveling. It can’t happen any other way.” “Ozymandias” is the ultimate moment of Walt’s downfall.  We start off with a flashback with Walt and Jesse’s first cooking session in the RV. The teacher-student dynamic found in the pilot brings a sense of nostalgia for the viewers. Yet a sense of sadness and lost comes with this scene and makes us wonder: How did it all go so wrong?
Hank Schrader (Dean Norris) and Steven Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada) in  Breaking Bad. Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/AMC.
Hank Schrader (Dean Norris) and Steven Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada) in Breaking Bad. Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/AMC.
Then it jumps back to the present day, Gomez is killed in the line of fire, and Hank is at the mercy of Uncle Jack and Todd. Walter is begging to spare his brother-in-law, even offering him the $80 million dollars. All of the destruction that Walt has done cannot be wiped away with money. Hank is shot and killed. And Jesse is captured and forced to cook with Todd. But before that Walt heartlessly admits that he didn’t stop Jesse’s former lover, Jane, from overdosing. No fists were flown and no other words were spoken. Walt has broken Jesse’s spirit and leaves him to die. At the end of the fallout, Uncle Jack steals Walt’s cash, except for one barrel of millions. They allow Walt to keep it. See? Uncle Jack’s not so bad!
Yet the episode does not end there. First Walt’s empire has crumbled, and now his domestic life is in shambles. When news of Hank’s “disappearance” reaches Marie (Betsy Brandt) and Skyler (Anna Gunn), the White-Schrader family has dissolved. Walt Jr. learns the truth about his dad at long last and is completely devastated. Both Skyler and Walt Jr (RJ Mitte) rebel against Walt’s authority when he returns home. When he cannot answer to Hank’s whereabouts, Skyler takes action. A raw and emotional struggle between an estranged couple and one bloody kitchen knife has spiritually broken the White family forever.
Skyler and Walt have blood on their hands, and their son calls the police on his father, who is now a stranger to him. In a desperate attempt to have a small piece of his family, Walt takes (more like abducts) baby Holly from the house. It’s sad to see Walt on his hands and knees and when the baby cries for “Mama,” he realizes there’ nothing left for him in Albuquerque.
Walter White (Bryan Cranston) in Breaking Bad. Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/AMC.
Walter White (Bryan Cranston) in Breaking Bad. Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/AMC.
After returning Holly and making a Heisenberg-esque call to his wife, accusing her of never supporting his criminal activities (thus absolving her of collaborating with him), Walt calls Saul to give him a new identity and place to live.
“Ozymandias” had death, sadness, and drama; everything you’d expect from Vince Gilligan and the brilliant cast and crew of the show. Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn and RJ Mitte delivered such heart-wrenching performances as their household was finally divided due to Walt’s actions. The episode was like the climax of a Greek tragedy, as Heisenberg has finally lost everything he cared for: his family, his empire, and his livelihood. This was arguably the best episode of the Breaking Bad series to date.
Last night’s episode is the set-up to the grand finale of Breaking Bad. “Granite State” shows us where the devastating effects from the wake of “Ozymandias” have left our characters. Walt is sick and on the run, Skyler is under a microscope by investigators, and Jesse is being held against his will. But more importantly, the penultimate episode finally glues the fragments together to understand the flash-forwards.
Now in New Hampshire, Walt is hiding out alone and dying. His family means a lot to him and the unbearable reality of losing them is as cancerous as his actual disease. When Walt Junior tells him to go die, Walter realizes that he can never go back to his former life as a family man before. The scenes of a man with no future were tragic, and surprisingly a guilty pleasure. I couldn’t help but enjoy Walt’s loneliness as we’re witnessing how this man is going to rebuild himself up from the wreckage. With one episode left, and knowing how clever the writers are in delivering a solid story, a lot can happen to Walter White.
Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) in Breaking Bad. Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/AMC.
Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) in Breaking Bad. Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/AMC.
Jesse is between a rock and a hard place. Essentially a slave to Todd and the Neo-Nazis, Pinkman has no options but to cook meth. When he rebels and tries to break free from his shackles, Todd shows how despicable he is. Yet while maintaining his kind exterior. Knowing Jesse’s love for Andrea and Brock, Todd kills Andrea in front of him. Nobody is safe from death in the final hours of Breaking Bad.
Honestly, Jesse Pinkman’s future is in the hands of Vince Gilligan and the staff. It seems like they could flip heads or tails in where Jesse’s story ends.
“Granite Site” was a breather from all of the fast-paced action and game changers that the past three episodes have delivered. There’s no possible way to know how Breaking Bad ends. When you think you’ve an idea of what happens next, the show throws another curveball. The coordinates of every character and plotline are up in the air, and anything can happen within the final hour. Walt has caused so much destruction in his wake. But will he redeem himself, or go out with a bang as Heisenberg? One episode left until we find out!

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