If you haven’t watched the latest episode of Breaking Bad, then stop reading this, watch it, read our recap, and then return to this post. Ready? Okay, let’s dive in! Like most episodes of the AMC drama, “Ozymandias” is brimming with Easter Eggs and clever hints recalling past and future moments of the series. This week featured monumental events (Hank! Gomie! Flynn!) as well as these smaller, subtler beats. Here are ten nitpick-y tidbits from last night’s epic episode — many courtesy of our very own EW recap commenters.
1. As Walt rolls his last remaining barrel of money, he passes shrubs, cacti, and clumps of rocks through the vast New Mexican desert. At a closer look, we notice that he also passes what appears to be a pair of worn khakis. In another nod to Walt’s modest or rather immodest beginnings cooking meth, the pants that flew away in the first shot of the pilot episode make their return. “Ozymandias” director and longttime Breaking Bad contributor Rian Johnson confirmed the cameo on Twitter shown below.
8. Callback! (mild spoilers) pic.twitter.com/SOuNh1AzpK
— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) September 16, 2013
2. As we know officially from Vince Gilligan, this episode’s title is inspired by 19th century poet Percy Shelley’s sonnet, “Ozymandias.” The poem — and the show — are ultimately about the prideful and mighty’s fall to power. Breaking Bad obsessives can — and will — spend hours analyzing just how well Shelley’s poem fits with Walter White’s story, but at least at the surface it’s obvious that the loss of Ozymandias’ riches and power relates well to Walter White a.k.a. (former?) King Heisenberg. Plus, if you bring in Watchmen’s Ozymandias for analysis, then that’s a pop culture column waiting to happen.
I met a Traveler from an antique land,
Who said, “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings.”
Look on my works ye Mighty, and despair!
No thing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that Colossal Wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
3. In the flashback cold open, we see a very pregnant Skyler packing away a figurine as she talks to Walt on the phone. The camera pans up to Skyler at the kitchen counter, pausing briefly — but purposefully — at the knife set placed on the counter. This tiny moment of camerawork foreshadows Skyler’s confrontation with Walt. Now over a year later, the phone and knife set remain at the counter but this time Skyler chooses the knife — and her children over Walt’s destructive presence. Shout out to commenters Breshvic, Adlib, Rudeboy, and Christine for noticing this ominous foreshadow! As Breshvic wrote, “And if they show you a weapon on Breaking Bad, that weapon is going to be used.”
4. The Crying Clown figurine Skyler packs away during the flashback could foreshadow a similar boxed away end for our antihero. Or it could reprsent the situation he is already in as eveything he has built implodes. Or it could just be an ugly figurine expressing Walt’s terrible taste for art. Who do you think is the Crying Clown? (I have a feeling we as the audience will be the collective Crying Clown by the end.) Kudos to commenters Heather, lisbeth borden, and Capt. Obvious (really!) for connecting the Crying Clown to the characters.
5. Commenter Francois pointed out Walt’s outburst — “Hank. His name is Hank!” — references one of his most character-defining moments. Walt’s preoccupation with names reaffirms his obsession with power and identity. But those Nazis could care less what ASAC Hank Schrader’s name is. In the end, a name is just a name.
6. Walt begs and pleads to save Hank’s life even when the Nazis, Hank, and the audience know that it’s all over for our favorite DEA agent. Shocked by the death of his brother-in-law, Walt collapses on the desert ground and wails — just as Gus cried as he was forced to watch his partner Max die before his eyes. Thanks JB and Jim for being amongst the first commenters to spot this!
7. Jesse may have averted death in the desert (Thanks psycho Todd!) but his fate may be much worse. After being tortured to the point that he reflects a faceless Gus, Jesse is forced to cook with Todd in order for Todd to be able to raise the meth’s purity. In this way, Jesse becomes part Gus and part Walt, as Walt was similarly forced to cook by the then fully faced Gus.
8. In the continuing saga that is Breaking Bad’s use of color and character, the color symbolism this episode is greatly stressed. From Walt and Skyler’s light blues and whites to Hank and Gomie’s burnt oranges and blacks, the dichotomies between both sides reflect the opposing hues of the landscape and sky. This season’s use of color to express themes, character traits, and even future events — Marie starts to wear all black right before Hank is killed — complete the seasons-long color story of the series. Check out TDYLF’s Breaking Bad color infographic for the changing character color palettes through season one to the first half of season five.
9. After a change of heart, Walt decides to leave Holly at a fire station in order for her to return to Skyler. The establishing shot of the fire station is a lone white king chess piece. The “White” king is poorly defended and vulnerable echoing the desperate Walter White.
10. The last shot of the episode features a single stray dog romping across the street as Walt drives off to his new life and identity (presumably in the Granite State.) The lonely, mangy dog reflects how much Walt has lost due to his pursuit for money, power, and respect. In a span of less than two years, Walt has managed to transform himself into Ozymandias, King of Kings, and then fall to become the stray dog.
Did you catch all of these hints, PopWatchers? What are some of your favorite Easter Eggs and motifs from the series? Sound off in the comments below!