Episode Review: Breaking Bad, "Ozymandias"

  • Publish Date: September 15, 2013
  • Comments: ↓ 15 user comments

Updated 9/16 at 8:50am

Breaking Bad, Episode 514: "Ozymandias"
Original airdate: September 15, 2013 on AMC

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Breaking Bad's final episodes:
509. Blood Money
510. Buried
511. Confessions
512. Rabid Dog
513. To'hajiilee
> 514. Ozymandias
515. Granite State airs September 22
516. Felina airs September 29

Spoiler warning: This page contains spoilers about this episode (though not future episodes).

Written by Moira Walley-Beckett and directed—like previous episodes "Fifty-One" and "Fly"—by film director Rian Johnson (Looper), "Ozymandias" might just be the most brutal, sickening episode yet (of this or any series), with the remaining major characters reeling from deaths, devastating revelations, or worse. Just two episodes remain, and next week's penultimate episode will air (in some time zones) opposite the Emmy Awards, where Breaking Bad is contending for eight awards (though, confusingly, not for this half-season, which instead will be eligible for the awards given out next fall).

What did critics think of this week's episode? Below are quotes from reviews and recaps of this week's episode. If a publication provides a grade or score for the individual episode, it is included below (converted to our 0-100 scale).

Great Extremely positive reviews

100 "This week? It's a horror show. All my fears come to life on the screen, and things too horrible for me to have contemplated."

— Donna Bowman / A.V. Club

"'Ozymandias' is one of the most emotionally destructive yet dramatically satisfying hours of television I've ever seen. Not just a standout scene, or a few peaks of excruciating tension. This is an all-around best-of from everyone involved, moving from unforgettable moment to unforgettable moment."

— Kevin McFarland / Boing Boing

"Hank's expected but nonetheless horrifying-to-watch assassination was like pulling a thread that unspooled the emperor's clothes."

— Lori Rackl / Chicago Sun-Times

"The episode is resetting the pieces for the grand finale, but it does so with incredible tension and suspense that is unrivaled on television."

— Zac Oldenburg / Cinema Blend

100 "Surely neither of the remaining two Breaking Bad episodes could be as explosive as this one was. 'Ozymandias' was the culmination of everything that the series has been building to."

— Allison Keene / Collider

"This was gut wrenching, almost sickening stuff."

— Chuck Barney / Contra Costa Times

"'Ozymandias' makes plain, in scene after brutal scene, what we suspected all along. Walt hasn't been saving his family. He has been destroying it."

— Andrew Romano / The Daily Beast

"Two episodes left and zero sympathy remaining for the desperate, sick, empire builder."

— Joanne Ostrow / Denver Post

"[Ozymandias] was a touch schematic, but it had the most powerful moments on television since Stringer Bell and Avon Barksdale faced off at the end of season three of The Wire."

— Alex Berenson / Esquire

"One of the most visceral and unpleasant viewing experiences I can remember enduring. ... No show in history has ever demonstrated the courage of its convictions like this before. No show has ever made us suffer through the flip side of our fantasy."

— Andy Greenwald / Grantland

"I didn't imagine 'Breaking Bad' could top the final sequence of last week's episode for tension and power and ability to induce a state of complete, nauseous panic. I was wrong. 'Ozymandias' is one of the very best episodes of this great, cruel show, but also one of the most sickening."

— Alan Sepinwall / HitFix

"We probably just witnessed the greatest Breaking Bad episode ever."

— Tim Goodman / The Hollywood Reporter

"Whatever can be said about tonight's 'Breaking Bad,' whatever words can be written, they won't do justice to this hour of television, which is without a doubt the hardest episode of TV I've ever watched. Every time you thought things couldn't get worse, they did. Every time you thought the lowest point had been reached, it hadn't been. There was more. It kept coming. It kept finding new ways to be mind-bendingly, soul-churningly devastating. ... So that was stomach-turning to witness, even as I could appreciate that the first third or so of 'Ozymandias' was one of the most well-written, well-directed and seamlessly edited things I've ever seen."

— Maureen Ryan / Huffington Post

100 "Everything about 'Ozymandias'... was cruel. ... And yet, they had enough time and dexterity in their writing to give us Walt comically pushing the barrel down the road. It was yet another brilliantly executed episode. "

— Seth Amitin / IGN

"The prior episodes have sometimes been mechanical to a fault, making sure that all of the pieces were in place for the fallout to come. Now that we're actually in the fallout, though, it's so rich that any minor missteps along the way don't matter."

— Todd VanDerWerff / Los Angeles Times

"If I'm honest, I want Breaking Bad to be over. I'm glad there are only two episodes left. The show's honesty about where greed and violence can take the lives of both the good and the not so good is unbearable, and its fairness in storytelling — its willingness to follow even the worst threads to their natural conclusions — is perfectly, rigorously heartless."

— Linda Holmes / NPR

100 "This is easily one that will go down as one of the great episodes of the show, not just because of the twists and bodies that stack up, but because it fully delivers on the arcs developed for the White family."

— Kevin Jagernauth / The Playlist

"The truly remarkable thing about this episode is the speed at which it escalated, or sank. It's as though the gunfight that ended last week's installment blew away the show's last vestiges of restraint in showing just how bad Walt has broken. Now, anything goes."

— Sean T. Collins / Rolling Stone

"It was an hour of television that demanded immediate access to an oxygen tank."

— Jen Chaney / Salon

"'Ozymandias' is classic Breaking Bad: a staggering, relentless nightmare that immediately announces itself as one of the best episodes of the entire series."

— Chuck Bowen / Slant

100 "There were brilliant performances everywhere you looked."

— Chris Harvey / The Telegraph

"If the end of last week's episode was a thousand-bullet fusillade, this one was like feeling every one of those bullets hit. It was relentless, intense, excruciating–and amazing."

— James Poniewozik / Time

"Maybe it's the morose air of 'Ozymandias' or the crushing feeling leftover from watching it, but this is feeling like more than an end to a series, this is feeling like the end of a part of me."

— Tim Surette / TV.com

"This might actually be the greatest episode of the series."

— Luke Gelineau / TV Equals

100 "One of the best episodes Breaking Bad (or any series for that matter) has ever made."

— Dan Forcella / TV Fanatic

"This was an agonizing episode of TV."

— Matt Zoller Seitz / Vulture

"One of the most wrenching hours of television in a long time, and one of the best episodes of a series full of great ones."

— Rick Porter / Zap2It

Positive Positive reviews

"Last night's 'Ozymandias' probably won't go down as any fan's most favorite episode ... There was just so much to absorb, deal with, comprehend, and process."

— Verne Gay / Newsday

Mixed Mixed/neutral reviews


Poor Negative reviews


What do you think?

What did you think of last night's episode of Breaking Bad? Let us know in the comments section below.

Comments (15)

  • LamontRaymond  

    The one downside to planing for a series ending (for a series like this) is that you KNOW certain people are going to be killed off. It's almost more interesting when it happens in the first season (Game of Thrones) or at random times. Otherwise, great episode. I did think that Jesse was a little marginalized toward the end. I wanted a bit more reaction when he heard that Walk let his GF die. They should have saved that, perhaps, for a critical moment at the end of the series after he uses his "science powers to free himself from the Todd forcible-meth-making chamber. Hank went out like a champ.

  • tns6152  

    for a second there I thought that Walt was pure evil, but he did one good thing; he made that call to Skyler which stopped her from being incriminated!

  • hamo0odi90  

    OMG this episode blew my damn mind away
    so much feeling

  • JRath  

    I've never been so panicked as I was with the whole Walt, Skylar, Walt Jr. showdown. I was worried for them as if they were real people

  • AmbivalentLife  

    Just agonizing...

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