Trying to break down a series as good as Breaking Bad down to 10 episodes is no easy task but in the world of “best of” lists being comprised out of every trivial thing in the world, who are we to not do one on the this show’s 10th anniversary. Before I begin, let me just say that this list is made up of MY favorite episodes. I’m not expecting you to agree with all of them and by all means, if you disagree, please feel to email, dm, or tweet someone who cares because I don’t. Ok, maybe that was a bit much, but I tend to get a little personal when it comes to Breaking Bad. Seriously though, if you disagree comment below or tweet us.
10. Pilot (S1E1)
This is an obvious choice. The series’ first episode starts off with the cliche “I bet you’re wondering how we got here” moment. Walt is frantically driving the RV thru the desert with 2 bodies and Jesse passed out in the passenger seat. He then crashes and hears sirens on the horizon. Thinking he is caught before he could even get started he pulls the gun from one of the bodies and points it towards the sirens as if he intends to go out shooting. After that opening, they flashback to a day in the life of Walter White, A chemistry teacher in ABQ, New Mexico.
9. A Crazy Handful Of Nothing (S1E6)
This is my favorite episode of the first season. The Heisenberg moniker is introduced. Walt and Jesse are producing a pretty large amount of meth and have no way to distribute it. They’ve already killed Jesse’s former connection so now they have to go to the man that took his place, Tuco Salamanca. Tuco is a crazy wired up loose cannon who, they’d later find out, should’ve never been dealt with. In this episode you get your first real villain, nobody remembers Krazy 8 and Emilio, in Tuco, Walt brings out his bald head, awesome pseudonym and his expert knowledge of chemistry are yet again shown.
8. Over (S2E10)
I have this episode up here mainly for the ending. Walt catches a guy in a hardware store buying ingredients to cook meth. He confronts him outside and warns them to “Stay out of my territory”. It’s the first time we see how much Walt enjoys being a bad ass for once.
7. Better Call Saul (S2E8)
Badger gets arrested and for fear that he might turn, Walt and Jesse hire Saul Goodman to represent him. They don’t know that Goodman has already agreed to represent Badger and is going to advise him to flip on Heisenberg. Walt offers Goodman a bribe but he refuses. Walt and Jesse then kidnap Goodman and thus beginning their wild relationship.
6. Mandala (S2E11)
After realizing they aren’t built for being actual drug dealers they look to find another distributor. Saul attempts to connect them with a businessman named Gustavo Fring. Fring is a very cautious man and is reluctant to do business with Walt and Jesse. Walt’s persistence pays off.
5. Grilled (S2E2)
Tuco has kidnapped Walt and Jesse and taken them to a house in the desert. Tuco plans on taking them to Mexico. A key figure in the series is introduced in this episode, Hector Salamanca. Hector is a former cartel boss who is now incapacitated due to a stroke. He communicates only with a bell attached to his wheelchair. With Walt missing, Hank sets out looking for him and eventually tracks down Jesse’s car which is parked at Tuco’s hideout.
4. Felina (S5E16)
Another obvious choice. If you have the pilot episode you have to have the series finale. Quite a few people didn’t care for the finale because they didn’t wanna see Walt go on what can only be called a redemption tour. He starts off by making sure his family is taken care of financially then he provides closure for Marie. He then tends to Lydia and sets Jesse free. The show ends with Walt in the lab admiring the tools that made him.
3. Fly (S3E10)
This is episode most won’t agree with. To most, this episode was boring and unnecessary but they couldn’t be more wrong. This episode is needed because it further cements the relationship between Walt and Jesse. It also shows Walt’s need to control everything and how meticulous he is when it comes to his work. This trait doesn’t really show in other aspects of his life as you can easily see throughout the series. Another thing people don’t realize is how cerebral he can be at times and albeit high from sleep meds, he shows that the work certainly affects him and that he really does care for Jesse.
2. Ozymandias (S5E14)
Couldn’t decide between this and “To’hijiilee” (S5E13). For me, the events that occurred after the shootout are more important than the actual shootout. Walt shows compassion and for his family but then shows how vindictive and evil he can be when he confronts Jesse. I know I know I JUST said he cares for Jesse in the episode above BUT Jesse had really disappointed him at this point although he had a good reason.
1. Face Off (S4E13)
The finale of season 4 has to be my favorite season ending episode of all time. Walt knows that Gus has it out for him and there’s only a matter of time until he kills him so Walt has to strike first. Walt finally finds Gus’ weak spot and attacks in his most brutal way yet. The title of this episode is quite literal.
I can’t even begin to choose but I’ll try anyway. It’s almost sacrilegious to even pick apart Breaking Bad episodes individually because seasons have a shared motif but these episodes all had standout moments. I could honestly list 15 of my favorite episodes but for the sake of brevity, I’ll do my top 5.
5. Better Call Saul (S2E8)
Saul Goodman was never supposed to be around for so long. Bob Odenkirk was just that good. The introduction of Saul Goodman added a new quirk to Breaking Bad. Badger gets himself into a bit of a bind and Saul Goodman is hired to get him out of this jam. Who knew this moment would make Saul the shopping center consigliere?
4. Hermanos (S4E8)
Gustavo Fring is one of the shows most interesting characters. He was clean-cut, organized and polite but almost too polite. So polite that you knew it would be rude or even life-threatening to disrespect him. Gus flashed his dark-side and by-any-means attitude by this point but “Hermanos” shows what made him tick.
3. “Half Measures” (S3E12)
“Half Measures” provided my first “WTF” moment of the show. This episode is pretty thrilling. Gus always served as Walt’s buffer into the criminal underground due to his investment in the product. Walt has slipped out of tricky situations before but this episode was the first time I truly thought he was not only in over his head but made the fatal choice that would bring him to an end. You can see that choice in the beautiful gif above.
2. “Ozymandias” (S5E14)
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings;
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Walt, Heisenberg rather, has always been the king of the desert. He has made his empire and transformed into a monstrous kingpin. “Ozymandias” is where his kingdom turns into dirt. He indirectly kills the only good man on the entire show and the money he’s worked hard for is now gone. This episode is key because it raised the stakes even higher before the dramatic conclusion.
1. “Crawl Space” – (S4E11)
There are plenty of episodes better than “Crawl Space” top to bottom but no episode of TV has ever made me feel this way after it closed. The phone is ringing, Skyler is yelling, Walt is laughing. Although Walt began to turn to the dark side far before this episode, I truly believe this is when he made the plunge. Plus this closing shot is one of my favorite shots, period.
This concludes what I believe to be Breaking Bad’s greatest hits. If you disagree hit us in the comments. Don’t expect me to care what you think though because this list is solid. Since this post is indeed named “Greatest Hits”, we couldn’t leave you without actually giving you a few of Breaking Bad’s best musical selections.