When Vince Gilligan said recently that "I think people are going to have trouble breathing after this thing airs," regarding "Ozymandias," he wasn't speaking in hyperbole.
There were moments in this third to last episode of Breaking Bad that had me holding my breath, there were moments that had me gasping for air and there were those that had me spit taking. It was THAT crazy of an hour of television.
Last week's "To'hajiilee" ended with Uncle Jack and his crew opening fire on Hank and Gomey, and I was disappointed at the time that their arrival didn't bring a surprising one-shot murder of Agent Schrader.
Then, it seemed a swift killing of Hank would have been the more thrilling choice and would have made more sense coming directly after his call to Marie.
However, my tune changed quickly after seeing what Gilligan came up with for Hank's demise. Watching Walt beg Jack for his brother-in-law's life was emotionally intense, while hearing Hank tell the bad guy to "go f*ck yourself" was almost the perfect ending to the character's arc.
And that was just the start of it all! There was the pain on Jesse's face when Walt came clean about Jane, that ridiculous song that was playing while Walt trekked it with the barrel of cash in the middle of nowhere and, of course, Marie acting all high and mighty telling Skyler that Walt was locked up.
Todd, who has easily become the second best character in this back half of season five (yes after Walter), continued to be cool, calm and collected in the face of danger. His decision to keep Jesse alive, and then have him help him cook, was not only smart, but it also made for one of the hilarious moments from the episode.
After letting others (I assume) beat the living snot out of Jesse, Todd quietly gets him out of the hole in the ground, cuffs him to the ceiling, puts on his yellow jump suit and simply says, "Let's cook." Perfect timing Todd. Perfect timing.
With Jesse locked up by Todd and company, and Skyler and the kids seemingly safe, we have to assume that Walt's ensuing move with that trunk machine gun is to rescue his former partner from indentured servitude, correct?
Before we get there, which may not be until the finale two weeks from now, we have to discuss the moments that led to Walt getting out of town with his new identity.
The frustration that was pouring out of Walter as he screamed at his family to pack and get in the car was at an all-time high, and it was carrying over to me as a viewer. I was ripping my hair out with annoyance that Sky and Walt Jr. weren't listening to him. I understood why they wouldn't, but a watcher of Breaking Bad isn't expected act with understanding, right?
You could quickly throw all the rules out the window, though, when Walter and Skyler started wrestling with that knife. It was absolutely one of the most intense scenes I've ever watched in my life.
Anything could have happened. That's how high the stakes are at this point. Of course Walt wasn't going to die, but Skyler could have. The knife could have flown out and hit Walt Jr. It was insane.
It quickly became one of the funniest moments I've ever witnessed, however, when Walt screamed "WE'RE A FAMILY!" In that second it hit me what I was watching. A flashback to Walt as the nerdy high school teacher jumped into my brain - which may be one of the reasons they used that flashback to start this episode - and the fact that he has become a ruthless drug dealer that was fighting his wife with a kitchen knife overwhelmed me in that moment.
I burst into laughter.
Things quickly became serious and intense again when Walt Jr. called the cops and Walt Sr. left with a stolen baby.
But the comedy returned after the commercial break when they opened with Walt talking in a baby voice to Holly, basically saying "goo goo gah gah" to his child.
In that moment, it reiterated once again why Walter White has been such a great character over the last six years. He is still that dorky but loveable dad trapped in this vicious murderous drug dealer. And we love him for that.
He started doing all of this for his family. He may have become one of the most selfish people of all time during the process, but even to the end, he was always looking out for the people he loved.
Whether it was attempting to keep Hank alive at the opening to this episode, or laying it on extremely thick when he knew the cops were listening to his conversation with Skyler, he did everything he could to help his family.
I wonder what, if anything, he will do to help Jesse.
Like Vince Gilligan, I thought this was one of the best episodes Breaking Bad (or any series for that matter) has ever made. What did you all think of "Ozymandias?"
Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.