The 9 Best Television Episodes of 2013

Breaking Bad, Ozymandias (5.14): As a movie critic, I see well over 100 films a year, but it says something about the Rian Johnson directed episode of Breaking Bad that it was better than any movie I’ve seen this year. Or last. The episode took its name from the haunting, despairing poem from Percy Shelley, and the episode — which saw the death of one major character, and saw Walter White ruthlessly turn Todd against his own former partner, Jesse Pinkman — may well survive as long as Shelley’s sonnet. The words of Ozymandias — “Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair” — could have also been the thoughts of every other television showrunner looking upon Vince Gilligan’s finest episode in a series full of fine episodes. “Ozymandias” wasn’t just the best episode of television in 2013, it may well be the best episode of television we will ever see. — Dustin Rowles

Images by Mallory

5x14: Ozymandias

Observations: “About seven seconds pass between the time Walter White screams the words ‘we’re a family’ and the time he whispers them, and they are an eternity. They are everything. Those seven seconds are what Breaking Bad has been building to for the previous 59 hours. They are every illusion Walter White has ever had about himself being shattered. They are the terrified faces of his wife and son as they huddle together on the floor, trying to wish him into the cornfield. They are all the bogus self-rationalizations he has told himself and others being dipped in acid until they are no longer identifiable by forensic science. They are Walter White finally, after so much time and so much sin, coming to terms with everything he has lost. 'Ozymandias’ is the greatest hour Breaking Bad has ever given its audience. It is also the most terrible. It is unmerciful in what it does to Walt, what it does to Hank and Skyler and Flynn and Marie, and what it does to us." 

– Alan Sepinwall, Ozymandias review: Take two. Sepinwall was recovering from an appendectomy when he wrote his first review of this episode, and he didn’t quite feel he did it justice. So what we have here is our finest TV critic revisiting Breaking Bad’s greatest hour, and the end result is required reading. Enjoy.