“Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem about the inevitability of the fall of empires to hubris and time seems exceptionally apropos here, as one survey’s Walt’s desert meth empire and despairs over the loss of life and the venality of it all. Like the proud Pharaoh, Walt demanded respect more than anything else — and it would appear that like the proud Pharaoh, Walt stands to end up with nothing but dust.
Hank is gone — but in a terrible irony, Walt proved that his humanity is not entirely gone. Faced with the ruination of everything he had worked so hard to build, Walt did not think selfishly. He did what he could to push Skyler out of his shadow and try to get the police to believe she was innocent of his Heisenberg empire; and he returned his daughter before striking off on his own. Those were two very decent things Walt did to wrap up the episode. And, perhaps, to begin wrapping up his life.
It’s too much, at this point, to expect Walt to redeem himself, but in pleading for Hank’s life, returning his daughter and trying to protect his wife, Walt has proven that not every part of the man he once was has been taken over by Heisenberg.