“Breaking Bad” has become a phenomenon in the world of cable television. The series is critically acclaimed and followed fervently by its fan base that has been steadily growing with each season. It’s the story of Walter White (played masterfully by actor Bryan Cranston) and his journey from mild mannered chemistry teacher to meth cook kingpin, all spurred by his cancer diagnosis and fueled by the want to know his family will be well taken care of when he inevitably succumbs to stage four lung cancer.
10. “Pilot”: Ah where it all began, the first episode of the series. From its opening moments the viewer just knew they were in for a wild ride! You see a flash-forward of a pant-less Walter confessing his future sins, and the ride there. It set the tone for the whole series, showing the drama, action, and bits of comedy that Breaking Bad is known for. Some of the characters may seem a bit cookie cutter (like Hank), but it’s a great episode to watch in hindsight to see just how far on the journey the viewer has come.
9. “…And the Bag’s in the River”: This episode is another gem from the first season. Here we’re still dealing with the fallout created by Walter and Jesse’s actions from the first episode. One of the pillars that strengthen Breaking Bad is how its characters actually have to deal with the consequences of their actions and not have them conveniently squared away. The viewer experiences just how hard it is to kill a man, even when that man has no qualms with killing you. We got a peek into the super brain that Walter possesses as he pieces the puzzle (and the plate) together to realize the man whom he was holding hostage was lying in wait to kill him. Walt’s murder of him was serious, cold blooded and a very pivotal scene to the whole series. He had blood on his hands now; there was no going back. These series of actions got him locked into the sights of the Mexican drug cartel, a real nasty group to be entangled with.
8. “Better Call Saul”: Breaking Bad succeeds not just on the laurels of Bryan Cranston’s acting (the man has won an Emmy for Best Actor for the character for Seasons 1-4), but for its excellent supporting cast as well. In “Better Call Saul” we are introduced to one of them, Saul Goodman (played by Bob Odenkirk). He’s a lawyer so sleazy that he pretends to be Jewish just became he knows the “homeboys” prefer it. He does prove his usefulness in the end, and has been instrumental in Walter and Jesse as they climbed up the rungs of drug-based success. As Jesse said, when you need a criminal lawyer, you’re going to need a criminal lawyer.
7. “Bit by a Dead Bee”: Ah, the tangled web we weave when we learn to deceive. We all know that Walter is a genius, and he puts that mind to many uses. In this episode (season 2, ep 3), Walter is thinking of just how to explain his disappearance and reemergence from his desert kidnapping to his family (especially his increasingly suspicious wife). He connives and lies and so does Jesse. It almost all came to head when Uncle Tio came into play yet again, but old school gangsters don’t roll on anyone, even if they’re confined to a wheelchair. It wasn’t the most action filled episode, but a great one that helped show that Walter was becoming addicted to this lifestyle.
6. “One Minute”: This is a show that loves to pace itself. It places lulls followed by poignant and extreme action. Here we see Hank yet again think quickly in the face of danger and show the type of man he really is. He was lucky enough to get the drop on those menacing brothers thanks to an “anonymous” type. We also get insight into the other mastermind and great thinker in this show, Gustavo Fring. Not only did we get to see Hank in one of his most badass and life changing moments, we saw another move in the “chess match” between Walt and Gus.
5. “Crazy Handful of Nothin”: This episode contains arguably the best moment in the first season of the show: the real introduction to Walter’s alternate drug persona: Heisenberg. After Jesse failed to get the job done in getting them a deal with the distributor Tuco, Walter puts on his signature hat and gets to work. To see him walk in and display such courage was fascinating. The only way to gain such respect from an insane man was to do something as crazy as blow up his headquarters. Heisenberg was just the man for the job.
4. “Half-Measures”: No more half measures. The tension between Gus and Walt has only been building because of the friction Jesse causes, and it came to a head here. The subject deals with the touchy subject matter of the use of children in drug dealing (a grim reality). The rebellion was building in Jesse long before, but all the information he gained put him over the edge. We see Walter still ever the father figure to Jesse and his protector do his dirty work. Jesse was never killer before this, and Walter still wanted it to be that way. It shows how strong their relationship is, and how the deeper Walter gets into this world, the further away he is from his real family.
3. “Hermanos”: In “Hermanos”, we get more of an insight into what made Gus… well Gus. A glimpse into his past and just why he hates the cartel so much, and how all their bad blood came to be. We also learned why his chain of restaurants was named Los Pollos Hermanos as we meet his partner in chicken and crime who was tragically killed because of him. His spirit lived on in those chicken eateries and in Gus’ heart that promised vengeance. It was a humanizing episode to see what drives a villain, something most shows don’t bother with and are happy to have a one-dimensional character. Breaking Bad delved deep, and it made his eventual vengeance (and even downfall) more satisfying as all plot threads were tied together.
2. “Crawl Space”: The journey to the top isn’t easy, and at times you may even end up hitting rock bottom. Such is the case in crawl space, as nothing is going Walt’s way. The man fears for the life of his family and his own as tension with Gus is very palpable. It was tense and masterful work for him to race home to his hidden stash of cash under his house, and to hear the bad news from his wife Skyler where it all went. He went mad, all he could do was laugh like a madman at the news eerily and spine chilling it was, to hear that cackle, as he was framed in the shot. A virtual dead man buried beneath the weight of it all.
1. “Gliding Over All”: Walt had done it. Through hook and crook, he had finally made it to the top. All the hard work over the past two years of his life had paid off, and he had decided for the sake of his marriage to leave it behind. The moment featured a bloody montage of prison killings necessary to get there framed to lovely tunes. There was more provided though, as we see him push his production through to get there and letting Skyler know he was done. They were rich and with no worries. That is until, while on the commode, their family member and DEA Agent Hank, had finally pieced Walt’s true nature all together. A cliffhanger that won’t be dealt with anytime soon, “Breaking Bad” yet again found away to keep fans wanting and awaiting more.