Emmy Episode Analysis: Bryan Cranston (‘Breaking Bad’) watches empire crumble in ‘Ozymandias’

Bryan Cranston is hoping to win his fourth Emmy for Best Drama Actor for playing chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin Walter White on “Breaking Bad.” He won the category three years straight from 2008 to 2010, and won as a producer last year when the show took Best Drama Series. He also had three previous nods for Comedy Supporting Actor on “Malcolm in the Middle.”

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SYNOPSIS: Cranston has submitted the episode “Ozymandias,” which begins with a flashback to Walter’s first cook with Jesse. During a break in cooking, Walter calls his wife, Skyler (Anna Gunn), to tell her he’ll be home late. They also discuss possible names for Skyler’s baby and agree on Holly.

In present day, the shoot-out from the previous episode between the DEA and Uncle Jack’s neo-Nazi gang has ended. Hank (Dean Norris) has been shot, and his partner, Gomez, is dead. Walter begs Jack to spare Hank’s life and lets it slip that he has $80 million buried in the desert. Jack murders Hank anyway and takes all but one barrel of Walter’s money. Walter then hands over Jesse (Aaron Paul) to the gang, but before they take Jesse away, Walter cruelly tells Jesse that he let Jesse’s girlfriend Jane die when she was choking back in season two.

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Back at home, Walter starts packing suitcases when Skyler and Walt Jr. (who now knows about his dad’s business) arrive. Skyler quickly deduces that Hank is dead, grabs a knife, and tells Walter to get out of the house. A physical fight breaks out between Walter and Skyler, but their son breaks it up and calls 911, causing Walter to panic and kidnap his infant daughter.

Later, Walter calls Skyler at home, and while the police listen, Walter berates her to make it look like he was an abusive husband and that Skyler never knew the full extent of his criminal actions. Walter then leaves Holly in a fire station so she can be returned to Skyler, and Walter is finally picked up on the side of the road so he can disappear with a new identity.

Will the Emmy voters reward Cranston with a fourth acting trophy? Here are the pros and cons:

PROS

This is similar to Cranston’s winning submissions in 2008 and 2009. He gets to show great range as an actor, from desperation in trying to save Hank’s life to coldness in telling Jesse the truth about Jane.

Cranston continues to rise in industry esteem. In addition to all the honors he’s won for “Breaking Bad” over the past several years, he just won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for “All the Way.” That notoriety certainly won’t hurt with Emmy voters.

Cranston is also still riding high from wins earlier this year at both the Golden Globes and SAG, where he not only won Drama Actor, but also Best TV Drama Ensemble as part of the “Breaking Bad” cast.

CONS

If voters on his judging panel know that Cranston has already won three Emmys for this role, they might look to reward someone else.

“Breaking Bad” has been off the air for almost a year and several other shows, like “True Detective” and “House of Cards,” have developed just as much Cool Factor in its absence.

Seeing Walter tell Jesse the truth about Jane’s death is very disturbing. Everything else Walter has done has been under the pretense of supporting his family, but that was done only to hurt Jesse, and it might be a step too far for some Emmy voters.

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Cranston is currently in second place in our predictions center with 3/1 odds. Can he pull off one more win for playing Heisenberg? Make your predictions below.

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