Spoiler Alert: I will be revealing a major portion of Breaking Bad’s final season. If you have not seen it or plan on seeing it, stop reading here and click on other links. For those who have seen the show, I have a little commentary on the episode called “Ozymandias.”
In one of the final scenes of this episode, Walt realizes that he was cornered and his capture was imminent. Walt’s wife and son turn on him after a terrifying knife fight. With the knife in hand, he stands up and yells, “What the hell is wrong with you…we’re a family!! At this point in the series, Walt realizes that everything he had been working on is lost. Walt picks up their 18 month of toddler Holly out of her crib in a fit of rage, walks out the front door, puts her on his lap in the front seat of his truck and drives off recklessly.
Later, Walt feels ashamed after the kidnapping when the toddler asked for her mother while he was changing her in a bathroom. Walt calls back to the house. During the conversation, Skyler says, “You took my child.” Walt responds with, “Because you need to learn!” Skyer shouts, “You bring her back!” The last we see of Holly is the toddler in a car seat at a fire station. At this point, we know the child will be safe.
If you saw the scene, how did it make you feel when you saw Walter kidnap Holly? Were you shocked? Were you enraged? I’m positive that the mothers who watched this scene felt strongly about what they saw.
The feelings of despair we saw in Skyler as she was crying helplessly on her knees as the truck turned the corner is similar to the range of emotions many men feel after a visit to family court. Fathers usually have a profound feeling of loss after so much is taken from them due to outdated laws that govern domestic relations. One day we could be in charge of our surroundings and family, the next, the state has power over the father and all of his assets…and children. It is quite fitting that the title of the episode is called Ozymandia because it is a poem about loss. The mighty king has literally fallen, and so has everything he accomplished.
The knife scene is one of the most intense ones I can remember in the entire five seasons. I don’t want to get too deep into the plot of the show and its deeper meaning. Other people write about this show on a daily basis much better than I ever will, but I do feel a few things from this episode really stood out.
When Skyler tells Walt he took HER child, I wondered how amnesia took hold of her brain cells. She suddenly forgot the little fact that Walt helped with the creation of this little human being. Many women seem to feel that a child is theirs when things fall apart in a relationship. The father of their children suddenly vanishes from the entire creation process, especially when they plead their case in court for custody.
The other thing that plucked a nerve was the fact that Holly was used as a pawn. This time however, it was the father who took the child. I thought it was an interesting twist on the tale of the mother “taking” the kids away from the father. What are people really thinking when they use children a pawns?
Here is a little fact that many people probably don’t know. A spouse can take their child anywhere at any time for any reason. I found out the hard way during my divorce. I came home from work one evening to our apartment with no future ex and no children after an intense fight. No, it wasn’t nearly as intense as the one I described above. My ex-wife took our children to her mother’s house in Philadelphia from our home in New York City. There was very little I could do except go retrieve them, or file for a writ of habeas corpus. I chose to wait until our court date two weeks later. But, the range of emotions I felt after I realized my wife took our children away from our home, and the helplessness I felt, was similar to what I saw on Skyler’s face on Breaking Bad.
My ex did not fare too well after the supreme court judge in our case realized what she had done. The judge was visibly angry and put the hammer down on her lawyer. She used our kids as pawns in a futile attempt to manipulate the outcome, but I saw the long term goal and won the chess match. Our kids are better off because of it because I am a major part of their life.
Did you notice how I used the word OUR children in the preceding paragraphs? I had to remind my ex of this fact during the entire time we were in court. They were never her children, and never will be. This is one of the reasons we have joint custody and I pay her nothing in child support and alimony. I remind her every day that these are our children and we will share them. It seems that many parents get extremely possessive during custody battles and lose all sense of reality.
I know from several stories I have heard over the years of mothers taking children away from fathers. As we all know, our family court system is still biased in favor of mothers. It seems that we still have an uphill battle when it comes to custody issues but fortunately, the tide is turning.
Watching a father doing the kidnapping and hostage taking of a child was pretty remarkable, especially on a show as popular as Breaking Bad. I hope more people felt Skylar’s pain as they watched this show. Perspective taking requires humans to exit their self-centeredness and egocentricity to see the real world from another’s vantage point. What I liked about the fight scene was that I know it caused many mothers to gasp once they saw Walt run out the door. In the heat of a battle, our emotions tend to get the best of us. It is clearly not wise to make major decisions in this mindset.
The decision Walt made in that moment had potential long-term consequences. Fortunately, he realized his mistake as soon as Holly asked for her mother. Most people never see the mistake they make until it is too late. The long lasting effects of rash decisions in family court rear its ugly head every day. The evidence is the epidemic of widespread fatherless homes in our country.
It’s true that when it comes to custody and divorce, some people are clearly pathologically narcissistic. At times, there is little one can do but to hope an adversary comes to their senses or a judge on a higher level than family court sees the truth. Some people are just not compassionate and there is little that can be done to change their mind. But the truth is this; fathers love their families just as much as mothers do. We do not want to be manipulated and have our children used as pawns.
Breaking Bad is arguably one of the greatest TV shows ever made. There are many details that are discussed about this phenomenal show on a daily basis. Writing a scene where a father kidnaps his own child to use her as a pawn was one detail many followers might have overlooked, especially since the exact opposite that occurs every single day.
Editor’s note: feature image by Fern&o Palacios