This month marks the 10 year anniversary of Breaking Bad, one of the best series to grace our screens in the Golden Era of Television. For those who’ve been living under a rock for the past year, Breaking Bad is the story of a High School chemistry teacher who is dying of lung cancer and follows his plan to provide for his family after his death. Bryan Cranston plays Walter White and perfectly captures Walter’s descent into madness throughout the series’ 5 season run.
I recently rewatched the series and have rounded up my ten favourite episodes below.
10. 4 Days Out – Season 2, Episode 9
Walt fears that his cancer is progressing faster than he expected, and he becomes desperate to make enough money to provide for his family. He convinces Jesse to head out to the desert with him to use up their remaining methylamine in a marathon cooking session, where things immediately turn south.
In a series of unfortunate events, Jesse forgets the keys in the RV’s ignition, causing the battery to die. Throughout the bulk of the episode, we see them trying (and failing) to get out of their predicament. They ultimately succeed, but the episode doesn’t end there.
For me, the highlight of this episode wasn’t their success in escaping from the desert, it was when Walt found out that his cancer is actually in remission. Instead of celebrating with his ecstatic family, he pummels a paper towel dispenser in his doctor’s bathroom, filled with the realisation that his death will not be his get out of jail free card for his web of lies.
9. ABQ – Season 2, Episode 13
In the season 2 finale, Jesse wakes up to find Jane dead in her own vomit. We finally get closure on the scorched teddy bear we’ve been seeing in the opening scenes of some episodes this season, and we also finally find out where the debris came from. This episode was heartbreaking, to say the least, when we see how Jane’s death lead to her dad’s suffering and negligence. It shows us how Walt’s moral compass is deteriorating, and how his actions have devastating real-world consequences.
8. Full Measure – Season 3, Episode 13
Jesse and Walt have been separated for most of the season, and are finally reunited and team up to save Walt’s life. Walt realises that Gus is trying to kill him, and sends Jesse to kill his competition, Gale, which means that Gus needs Walt to continue cooking for him. This episode turned Jesse into a killer, which changes him for the rest of the series, and it also solidifies the fact that Walt and Jesse need each other to survive.
7. Salud – Season 4, Episode 10
Up until this episode, Gus was a bit of an enigma. Some viewers were still doubting how such a quiet, reserved man could be the leader of the biggest drug operation in the country, but this episode showed us exactly how ruthless he could be. While in Mexico to meet with the cartel boss, Gus poisons most of the cartel leaders with a bottle of tequila. We also see Skyler’s morality slip, as she uses a massive amount of Walt’s drug money in order to cover up the fraud she committed for her boss.
6. Phoenix – Season 2 Episode 12
Up until now, we’ve seen Walt commit some questionable deeds, but this episode truly cemented in viewers’ brains that Walt isn’t just a down-and-out chemistry teacher trying to provide for his family. In this episode, he solidifies his willingness to do whatever it takes to “win”. Walt is indirectly responsible for Jane’s death and watches her die next to Jesse. He doesn’t attempt to do anything to help her, in order to force Jesse to spend the future with him.
5. Say My Name – Season 5, Episode 7
Walt and Jesse reach a tipping point in their partnership when Jesse tries to “cash out” of the deal. This leads to Walt belittling Jesse and telling him that he has nothing and no one in his life. The best part of this episode is unquestionable Walt’s speech at the beginning of the episode which culminates in the memorable “Say my name”. After Walt murders Mike in cold blood for no reason, the viewer is left wondering how we could have rooted for Walt at all, and shows us again how ruthless he could be in his pursuit of notoriety.
4. Face Off – Season 4, Episode 13
There’s just so much to love about the season 4 finale. Gus’ death by bombing, Walt and Jesse’s teamwork and the realisation that Walt poisoned Brock in order to force Jesse to help him again. The best scene in this episode is Walt’s conversation with Skyler after Gus dies. Instead of comforting her, he tells her that he won. By now, it isn’t about protecting his family or providing for them; for him, it’s about winning.
3. Dead Freight – Season 5, Episode 5
One of Breaking Bad’s best heist episodes has to be Dead Freight. When Walt and Jesse are running low on methylamine, they decide to go all out and rob an entire train car instead of a few barrels. Their heist goes perfectly against all odds until they realise that a boy playing below the train tracks saw everything play out. The most intense part to watch was when Todd kills the child without saying a word.
2. Felina – Season 5 Episode 16
In the series finale, every loose end is tied up neatly and all the characters get exactly what they deserve. Skyler is safe from harm, Walt is dead and Jesse is finally free of his clutches. Walt also finally (finally!) admits to Skyler that everything he did was for himself, and not for his family as he’s been claiming for 5 seasons.
1. Ozymandias – Season 5, Episode 14
Some people cite this episode as being the “true” ending of Breaking Bad, with the last two episodes simply tying up the loose ends. All of Walt’s decisions leading up to this episode come hurtling down at him. Hank dies, Jesse is captured by Nazis and Walter Jr. sees Walt’s true self. Walt still somehow believes that Skyler and Walter Jr. would leave with him after all he’s put them through. By the end of this episode, Heisenberg is dead and the man we see desperately clinging to his barrel of money is Walter White, a High School chemistry teacher without family or friends.
What was your favourite Breaking Bad moment? Pop your thoughts in the comments section below, we would love to hear from you.
Main image sourced from Geektyrant.