I recently finished up Breaking Bad. It was amazing. Easily one of the greatest TV shows of all time. There's tons of hidden symbolism amongst a great story and fabulous characters. I've been keeping a list of my favorite episodes since I began the show, and, since I finished it up, here are my ten favorite episodes of Breaking Bad.
10. Pilot (Season 1, Episode 1)
As an introduction to our characters and to the world of Breaking Bad, the pilot works extremely well. We see Walter White as a pathetic failure that wants to do something more important with his life. Right off the bat, he's a relatable and sympathetic protagonist that we want to see succeed...but then he turns to meth and starts the path to becoming Heisenberg. We also get great introductions to Jesse, Skyler, and Hank, who all begin as different people than they end up as. This pilot was a great hook for the show, and started its run as one of TV's greatest shows.
9. Confessions (Season 5, Episode 11)
The true climax of Breaking Bad was the conflict between Hank and Walt as Hank finds out Walt's true colors and realizes he's been toying with him the entire time. And this was one of the high points of that storyline. In Confessions, Walter takes another, more evil step as he threatens Hank and Marie with a video that he will release should anything happen to him. This cements Walter as the main villain of the next few episodes, and just goes to show how evil he becomes over five seasons of TV.
8. Crazy Handful of Nothin' (Season 1, Episode 6)
This is the first episode where we really see the menacing side of Walter emerge. Of course, this is the episode where he first refers to himself as Heisenberg, so that definitely means something. I think Crazy Handful of Nothin' did a great job of setting the stage for the future of Breaking Bad while also setting the stage for a great run of episodes with Tuco's storyline.
7. Crawl Space (Season 4, Episode 11)
The final few episodes of season four may be the best run of episodes in Breaking Bad. In this episode, we see Gustavo Fring become one of the biggest threats that Walt has ever faced. The tension is cranked up to 100 as all of our main characters are suddenly in mortal danger. The episode is capped off with an amazing performance from Bryan Cranston as he has a mental breakdown in the crawl space.
6. End Times (Season 4, Episode 12)
Once again, the end of season four was an incredible run of episodes. Tensions continue to rise as Gus becomes an increasing threat. Walt gets Jesse on his side when Brock is seemingly poisoned by Gus. The urgency and development of Walt and Jesse's relationship is what makes this episode great. All of the things set up here are paid off in one of the greatest season finales in TV history.
5. Full Measure (Season 3, Episode 13)
The finale of season three was when Gus transformed into a full-fledged villain that was out to get Walter and Jesse. Everything in here is thrilling and nerve-racking, while also having great character moments. This is the episode where Walt and Jesse are the most trusting of each other, and it's fabulous to see them rely on one another. The end of season three was when Breaking Bad really kicked into high gear, and this was the peak of the third season.
4. Grilled (Season 2, Episode 2)
What should've been the finale of season one, Grilled finishes off the Tuco Salamanca storyline in dazzling fashion. The simple plot device of Hector Salamanca's bell will make your heart beat rapidly. The constant sense of danger that Walt and Jesse are in makes this episode so much fun. It's made even better by the false sense of hope they get every time they think that they will escape from Tuco. This was truly one of the greatest and more underrated episodes of Breaking Bad.
3. Gliding Over All (Season 5, Episode 7)
Gliding Over All. The beginning of the best run of episode in TV history. Walter's character arc is seemingly completed when he decides to quit the crystal meth business and resume a life as a normal human being. His family begins to do well, the car wash is successful, and Walt seems to have escaped his life as a meth cook rather smoothly. Until Hank's faithful visit to the toilet. Where he reads the Walt Whitman poetry book and discovers a note from Gale Boetticher, prompting him to find out that his own brother-in-law, Walter White, is the notorious drug lord Heisenberg, and has been sabotaging him this entire time.
2. Face Off (Season 3, Episode 13)
The climax of season four truly has everything: thrills, character moments, great payoff, and a shocking plot twist that turns Walter White into a truly evil person. Walter's development into the drug lord that dominates the crystal meth industry is incredible to watch. I love the way that he manipulates pretty much every single main character to get what he wants: Jesse, Hank, Gus, Skyler, and more. Face Off pays off the Gus story in the best way possible, leaving a horrifying image seared into your mind as Gus walks out of Hector's room missing half of his face.
1. Ozymandias (Season 5, Episode 14)
Ozymandias is possibly the greatest episode of TV...ever. This was the peak/climax of Breaking Bad is everything a fan of the show would've wanted. It starts off with Hank's gut-wrenching death, then evolves into a poetic ending to the series. Although it is not the final episode, this is really where everything comes to a close. The next two episodes are essentially an epilogue. In this episode, Walter's arc finishes off. He understands that his family wasn't ever going to be mended, and Hank's death is the final nail in the coffin. Walt veers off of his evil path and frames himself to make sure the police don't catch Skyler, a final act of helpfulness for his family. Ozymandias brings together the best of Breaking Bad: thrills, surprises, sad poetry, and impeccable payoff. That's why it's simply the best.