This is a tough idea for any serious fan of Breaking Bad. How can one choose their favorite episode at all? It’s easy to see that anyone that has ever watched the show will have many episodes they love. Yet answering that question takes some time and I have thought about it for a while. I had to actually set myself some criteria on which to judge my favorite. I had to decide, did I want to go for the most surprising or the most jaw dropping moment perhaps? Or, did I want to look at episodes that may have had more to do with the story? It’s something I have struggled with, but I have an answer for myself.
First, I have eliminated all of season five. Yes, that includes the “first” part of season five. There have been some amazing episodes. However, I think one of those might be a bit of a cop out for me personally. I have definitely spent a lot of time with my mouth hanging open watching these final episodes. I don’t think it is fair though. I have waited with anticipation for over a year. At this point, every episode feels like a thrill ride. With that being said, I think I’m too involved with the current story to pick one as my favorite.
The episode “Face Off”, where Walt gets the best of Gus is definitely up there as one of my tops. I think it was a high for everyone. Walt seems to be at the end of the line. He uses a poison on an innocent kid, gets Jesse all worked up, and uses an old man in a wheel chair to take out “the man” Gus. It’s a cool episode, but this one I don’t have as my favorite. It was shocking, and showed how ruthless Walt had become. However, let’s be honest, it was a bit over the top. I loved the episode, but I was looking for more than over the top, and half a face walking out of a room.
Another great episode was “Half Measures”. In it, Walt saves Jesse from death by two drug dealers. If you aren’t familiar with the episode, he runs them over. He jumps out, and puts a couple bullets in there almost lifeless bodies. Many will say this episode was intense, because Jesse had been stealing excess meth and is incensed his friend has been killed by a young kid trying to get a job from the two dealers. It’s also intense because the two dealers work for Gus, landing Jesse in hot water and Walt even more so. All in all, a great episode. It had my heart racing, and showed the love Walt had for Jesse in the earlier seasons. It also showed the brutal killer he had become. Still, it wasn’t quite my favorite. At this point, he was a murderer and a drug dealer to one degree or another. He was a predator, protecting his own. Many might say he “became” the man in this episode. However, I think he was already well on his way.
A final criteria, I don’t really have any of my favorite episodes involving Jane. The fact is, she is more or less a way for the writers to create drama. It’s easy because it works, but still there doesn’t seem to be a huge need for her. Okay, Jesse is a screwed up meth head dealer. He’s a borderline junkie. Throughout season Two, we see him start to clean up, get away from the business a bit. Then comes “Jane.” She happens to be an ex-junkie, who gets Jesse hooked on something worse, heroin.
If that isn’t enough, it almost ruins Walt’s chance of making any real money with Gus. On top of that, we also have Jane coming between Walt and Jesse, with the whole blackmail thing. Look, the season was intense. I was into it. The fact is I had my mouth hanging open through pretty much all the final episodes. However, it seems like a shortcut. Instead of developing something more between Walt and Jesse, the entire season seemed to focus on the antagonism caused by Jane.
I can hear it now. “What about the leaving Jane to choke? What about the conversation with her father at the bar? What, what about the crash?” What about it? Yes, it made for good drama. It also led to a lot of the things in the final seasons. All I’m saying, they’re not really any of my favorites. I think it could have been done without Jane, it just would have taken a bit more work. Though when it comes to television, adding a woman between two male protagonists almost always makes them have conflict. Again, I can’t fault the easy setup.
Well, what is the favorite episode then? My favorite episode is one from the first season. My favorite is “Crazy Handful Of Nothin’” If you don’t know, that is when Walt tells Jesse that he is a silent partner. Jesse can’t sell enough on his own to satisfy Walt. Jesse gets the hell kicked out of him by Tuco, a man he was trying to sell their meth too for mass distribution. In the end, Walt meets up with the psychopath himself. He introduces himself by his now infamous moniker “Heisenberg”. Walt uses a mercury mixture to cause an explosion, tells Tuco he is going to pay for the meth, and the pain he put Jesse through.
In the closing of this episode, there is something that happens that is very important. Walter White, walks out of Tuco’s building with a boatload of cash. He had just faced down one of the most dangerous drug distributors in the area. Not only did he make it out alive, he came out on top. His shock and excitement can be seen in the final minute. He slaps and grabs the steering wheel, grunting and screaming in triumph.
This is probably my favorite episode mostly for the last few minutes. Walter White, a mild mannered family man. He’s a school teacher. He’s had life walk all over him for fifty years. It shows throughout flashbacks that life had a way of kicking him in the face. He had walked in, demanded what he wanted, and got it. It was the beginning of “Heisenberg”.
Yes, I know he killed Krazy 8, but he was going to let him go. He did have him chained up and when Walt released him, Krazy 8 was going to stab him. He killed him almost as much out of instinct as he did to silence him. I know in the moment it might not have looked like it, but it was an act that wasn’t planned or calculated.
In “Crazy Handful Of Nothin’”, we get calculated. We get a planned and executed negotiation. Walter White is ice cold and dons the Heisenberg identity for the first time. He walks into the lion’s den and walks out the other side with the gold. However, this is not the beginning of the “fall of a good man”. That was what the rest of the episodes lead up to. This episode was the birth of the bad guy. This was the birth of Heisenberg, the kingpin of the blue meth.