It's nice to know Vince Gilligan isn't a liar, isn't it?
The Breaking Bad creator told TV Fanatic that "Ozymandias" was the best episode the show has ever done and, after viewing the intense craziness of last night's installment, would anyone care to argue that point?
Below, TV Fanatic staffers Matt Richenthal, Dan Forcella, Sean McKenna, Jim Halterman and Steve Marsi tackle the amazing episode, bidding farewell to Hank and wondering whether we'll bid farewell to Walt before all is said and done in just two weeks...
What was your favorite scene from the episode?
Matt: Walt's phone call to Skyler, with the police listening in. With respect to Chris Traeger, that was LITCHerally the best I've ever seen from Bryan Cranston, which is obviously saying a ridiculous amount. The combination of (fake) rage with (real) tears from Walt was simply astounding.
Dan: How am I supposed to choose?!? For an episode filled with great scene after great scene, my favorite had to be the knife fight between Walter and Skyler because it was such a "what the heck is happening?/what the heck is going to happen?" moment. Pure exhilaration.
Sean: A tough decision for sure, with an episode that left me emotionally drained. But I got to go with Hank telling Jack to go f-ck himself in his final moments. Agent Schrader went down true to his character and as much as I wish Hank would have survived, he got a great sendoff. But yeah… that whole episode was insane.
Jim: Tough call, but I'm going with when Jesse is taken out of the hole and is back in the lab with Todd. He's chained, of course, but I was just was wide-eyed as Jesse with 'What's coming next?' Second favorite was the opening where we went back to that first cook with Walt and Jesse. We've come so far since then!
Steve: From the way it was filmed to the lighter moments with Jesse, to the reminder that Walt is just a mild-mannered, nerdy family man trapped in Scarface's persona, I'll say the flashback at the beginning.
Was this the best episode in Breaking Bad history?
Matt: Yes. But I also said that last Sunday... and the Sunday before that... and the Sunday before that. We can argue forever about the greatest show in television history, but there is no debating the final season in television history. Not anymore. Not unless we learn on the finale that this was all in Huell's head.
Dan: You could argue so, absolutely.
Sean: There are so many memorable episodes, from Gus Fring biting the dust to Walter running the dealers over, even this final stretch has had me sucked right in. But, yeah, with this the most recent, and so close to the end, I'll go with best episode. One of the best shows for sure.
Jim: While a very good episode, the show still is going to unpredictable places; it's ramping up to so much more. I can't say it was the greatest but still a very exciting episode.
Steve: I'd say it's among the top five. With so many scenes, most notably Walt and Skyler wrestling over the knife, I couldn't believe what I was watching, nor did I have any idea how it would play out. Just an awesome viewing experience.
Pen a eulogy for Hank.
Matt: May the Schraderbrau run long and cold in the Great DEA Agency in the Sky. And may you never step foot on another purple carpet, big guy. Rest in peace.
Dan: Hank, you had quite a run on this television series. Down to your last moments you were fighting bad dudes. In the end, that fight took your life, but heck you should have been gone a while ago when the cousins had their sights set on you.
Sean: Hank, you may have had some bad jokes and been a bit annoying in the beginning, but you rose to become a true character to root, sticking to your code to the bitter end. I'll always remember watching you figure out Walter was Heisenberg on the toilet, that anger and determination when facing off with him and, of course, not giving an inch on with your last breath. You went out like a champ. Let's just hope Marie doesn't give you a purple coffin.
Jim: Here lies Hank, who caught his white whale (so to speak) but then it also became his dagger. He loved his wife and went through a lot, but he knew his end was near and didn't shy from it at all even as he knew his final moments were nigh.
Steve: Hank was everything we'd want from a man in law enforcement. Smart, steadfast and giving a new meaning to the word tough, he earned our respect and admiration even if we rooted for Walt, as the protagonist of the series, to evade capture. Not a small feat, and I'll be pouring out some of my Schraderbrau for him tonight.
Who do you feel worse for: Walt Jr., Jesse or Marie?
Matt: Walt Jr. still have a lot of life remaining. He can turn things around, as traumatic as things may feel right now. Jesse is an out and out mess, but the guy did commit some atrocities in his lifetime. But Marie? Poor, innocent, purple-loving Marie?!? She has been nothing but a sweet and supportive wife to a man who didn't always make it easy... and now she's all alone.
Dan: Oh, Walt Jr. in a landslide. Jesse is still a terrible person who has done awful things, and Marie... well... she just is too sassy to feel bad for. Walt Jr. likely never saw this coming, and then all of the sudden has to call the cops on his own pops?!? That's a terrible situation for the kid.
Sean: Jesse is getting owned right now for sure, and losing Hank for Marie has got to be heartbreaking. But Walt Jr. getting everything at once including watching a fight with his parents and seeing that dark underside to his father? He's going to need some therapy when all is said and done.
Jim: Definitely Jesse. The poor guy can't catch a break, so I feel he has a triumphant moment coming in the last two episodes Will he live or die? If he lives - and that's a big IF - he needs some redemption to be able to shed the guilt with which he's been riddled.
Steve: I'm going with Jesse. Yes, he is guilty of some unspeakable acts, but unlike Walt, he never felt good about any of it. What he did, he did out of manipulation and weakness, not malice. The guilt ate away at Jesse from the start and ruined his life. He is also enslaved by Todd at the moment, a problem Flynn and Marie don't have.
Do you want Walt to die on the finale?
Matt: [Cop Out Alert!] If it serves the story, sure. I don't think he has to die and I don't want to see him make some grand sacrifice just to be redeemed. But him going down in a blaze of Jesse-saving glory - or maybe taking the Ricin for himself after rescuing his protege - would certainly make a lot of sense.
Dan: Sure, I think Walt dying would be a satisfying ending for this series, but am I rooting for him to die? Absolutely not. I am without a doubt rooting for Walt to live out his life in retirement on some remote island. He has become one of the worst people ever, but I still can't help but cheer for him.
Sean: I don't know. He's a fantastic character who, for moments, you feel sorry for and others you just want to watch him burn. I guess I'll put my trust in Gilligan and the crew to close the whole Breaking Bad story in a satisfying manner no matter what Walter or anyone's outcome will be.
Jim: Good question, but I'm still pulling for Walt to come out the other side of this. He's basically lost everything at this point and he's remained human through it all, which we saw when he was changing Holly's diaper. And the fact that he didn't take her with him shows that he hasn't lost all his humanity. Do I think he will die? I do.
Steve: Want is a strong word, but I'm entirely convinced that he will and it's just a matter of how. Is it possible he survives in an ending that makes sense for a show of this caliber? Possibly, but very unlikely given the truly epic downfall of Heisenberg we're already watching unfold.