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You know that after DVD marathons I always do Top 10 episode posts? Well, my favourite episode celebration for Breaking Bad is a little late - or a little early seeing as I should really wait till the end of S5 - but here it is. I'm sure I'll end up posting a fresh list some time after the last eight airs next year.

But these are my most treasured episodes so far. 


My Top 10 Favourite Breaking Bad Episodes


10. Bullet Points (4x4)

sky

"Maybe I'll tear up a little. I don't know. I'll just have to see what happens in the moment." (Skyler White)

I'd always wanted to see Skyler's creative writing talents put to good use. Give this woman a mask and she'll tell you the truth. Never have we seen Skyler be more brutally honest with Walt about how she feels about her secrets as when she translates them into a piece of fiction to present to Hank, Marie and Junior. This episode is full of theater and performances, with Walt numbly watching Gale's karaoke video and then having a tantalizing discussion with Hank over whether he's found his Heisenberg. Then there's Jesse, the one character who is rebelling and refusing to follow anyone's script, shaving his head like a condemned man and being driven out into the desert by Mike. With the introduction of the Super lab cameras there was much more of a big brother element to S4 and this episode was a great exploration for the performances these people have to keep up and the perils of letting their masks slip.   



9. 4 Days Out (2x10)

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"I have it coming. I deserve this." (Walter White)

You know, I always think of this as the happy Walt and Jesse episode. Which probably says a lot about how fucked up Walt and Jesse are on a regular basis because this is an episode about them almost dying of dehydration way out in the boonies. But there's so much screwball black humor to enjoy (even if I felt they slightly overdid the stupid!Jesse moments) and it's clearly influenced by The Sopranos 'Pine Barrens' episode which is no bad thing. I've always loved the montage sequences in Breaking Bad and the montage to 'One by One' is probably my all time favourite. This episode also has the happiest and saddest ending I think I've ever seen with the White & Schrader family celebrating the miracle of Walt's tumor reducing by 80% followed by Walter angrily beating the metal tissue dispenser. At this point, Walt was still moral enough to know what he deserved or at least he realizes that he's lost his heroic justification.  



8. Half Measures/Full Measure (3x12 &13)

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"I took a half measure when I should've gone all the way." (Mike Ehrmantraut)

Yeah, I'm sneaking two episodes into this spot, because given the titles they are clearly intended as a two parter, both framed by Mike's "No more half measures" speech. When Mike tells the story to Walt he's implying that Jesse is the drunken deadbeat husband who he should have killed before he caused any further damage. But Walt interprets the story as if Jesse is the beaten wife who Walt will need to take 'full measures' in order to protect. Walt has seen Jesse beaten up and threatened by drug dealers (and the DEA) countless times too and now feels like he's powerless to stop Gus from killing him. It's more than Walt wanting to save Jesse; it's Walt need to stop being powerless after a season of enslavement. In contrast, Jesse's own full measure of murdering Gale to save Walt is far more servile and sacrificial; a horrific act of loyalty that takes away the last of Jesse's innocence and leaves him with nothing.         



7. Crazy Hand Full of Nothin (1x6)

crazy

"Sometimes you gotta rob to keep your riches." (Tuco)

Over the seasons, Walt's alter-ego Heisenberg has become a feared and loathed monster of a man. Yet when Heisenberg is first spawned in an explosive cloud of fulminated mercury was there anyone who wasn't cheering? The chemical reaction of cancer eating away at Walt's body and lifespan creating this new powerful being, this Ubermensch (thanks as always to lenina for my literary terms education). I loved every episode in S1 but this was the one that really blew my mind and gave me a clear shattering view of where this show was headed. 
     


6. Peekaboo (2x6)

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"It's just part of the game. You wait right here. Just don't go back inside." (Jesse Pinkman)

If Walter is trapped in the false role of a good man in an ordinary life who can't keep his inner darkness from peeking out, then Jesse seems equally trapped in his false role as "the bad guy" in a rotten world who can't keep his heart from hurting or his inner goodness from peeking out. Peekaboo indeed. This episode more than any other shows the parallel paths of Walt and Jesse as they struggle against their true natures and worlds that they don't wish to belong to. It's also the first episode that really raises Jesse above being Walt's sidekick. We get Jesse rescuing the methhead's child from horrible life of neglect, while Walt is saying "fuck you" to his concerned family and friends. It feels like the first hints that Jesse will eventually become the protagonist of the show and Walt the villain.   


5. Salud (4x10)

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"Fill your pockets and leave in peace. Or fight me and die." Gus Fring

Gus's massacre of the Cartel was like something I'd expect to see in a Tarantino film, not a TV show. It's another one of those incredible episodes which tells us so much about Walt and Jesse's relationship without them needing to be onscreen together. Jesse is facing the terrifying challenge of having to cook chemically pure meth in front of the heavily armed Cartel and the only way he can get through it is by going into Blowfish mode and running a lab the same way that the iron chef Mr White has taught him. That is -  by ranting over contaminants, allowing no margin for error and mercilessly insulting his lab assistants. Back in ABQ Walt's remorse over his fight with Jesse and his fear that he may never return from Mexico is played out beautifully in Walt's breakdown in front of his real son, Junior, who Walt accidentally refers to as "Jesse" as he is drifting into a drugged sleep. And all this would be epic enough for me but then we get Gus's mass poisoning and the desperate escape from Mexico to cap it off.



4. One Minute (3x7)

1.hank

"I think the universe is trying to tell me something and I'm finally ready to listen." (Hank Schrader) 

Poor, poor Hank has never been closer to catching Heisenberg and he blows it all by losing his shit and beating Jesse to a pulp. I don't know if we ever see a character break bad then immediately after break good like Hank does in this episode when he accepts responsibility for his act of police brutality even though it may ruin his career and his life. And what thanks does poor Hank get? He has one minute to prepare to fight for life against the psycho killer cousins. There's also poor poor Jesse and the epic tragic moment when he finally tell Walter off for ruining his life only to fall back into loyalty with him after Walt offers the slightest hint of a fatherly compliment. Despite the violent incident that links them in this episode, one of my biggest wishes for the final season would be for Hank and Jesse to become unlikely allies and bring down Heisenberg together.      




3. Grilled (2x2)

3. Grilled

"Crack him over the head with something and I'll go for his gun." (Jesse Pinkman)

A bouncing red car full of bullet holes and the ding of a little gold bell have never been more disturbing. You know, as much as I love it when Walt saves the day with his scientific brilliance or his bursts of Heisenberg badassery, I loved that in this situation it was Jesse's desperate human "Let's just bum rush him!" plan that ended up saving them. Walt and Jesse have been through a lot of life threatening ordeals together, but I still think being held hostage in the desert by batshit crazy Tuco, mad dogging Uncle Hector and that bell was the scariest of them all. But in a way I relish their suffering because they are trapped in the company of an insane man who is becoming more and more unhinged as he keeps snorting their product. This is why we don't cook meth, kids. I think this was also the first episode where I truly fell in love with Skyler as she sets off on her little mission to cover the town with Missing Person posters. Bless her.



2. ABQ (2x13)

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"Whatever it is...I'm afraid to know." (Skyler White)

I for one loved the answer to the Pink Bear mystery. The S2 finale for me is one man's personal apocalypse. Everything that Walt has been clinging to and fighting for since the beginning suddenly all bursts into flames and rains down on him. He has finally earned the money to provide for his family only for his web of lies to fall apart and Skyler to flee in fear and disgust. Walt has also come to the realization that he counts Jesse as his family too, so Walt makes it his duty to rescue Jesse from self-destruction. Jesse calling Walt after waking up beside Jane's corpse and crying in Walt's arms as he is being carried off to rehab seems to confirm that Jesse has come to see Walt as a surrogate father too, though tragically Jesse has no idea how much Walt is responsible for his guilt and devastation. The final butterfly effect of Jane's grieving father causing a plane crash and over a hundred innocent deaths right above Walt's head was the perfect operatic climax to the tragedy that Walt himself set in motion.     



1. Fly (3x10)

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"If I had just lived up to that moment and not one second more...that would've been perfect." (Walter White)

Who would've thought that Walter White who once spent an entire day and night chasing one house fly around the Super lab would later choose to cook meth in cockroach invested houses? I've heard many suggestions for what Walt's "kafkaesque" fly really represents. For me, it's what Walt says it is - a contamination, a dirty drop of poison in his perfect formula. This episode is NOT filler. For me, 'Fly is maybe the last moment we see Walt as a tragic hero, lamenting the evil deeds that he can't take back or confess to. As much as Walt has rationalized Jane's death and the plane crash that followed it, there is still that endless buzz in his ears, telling him he is responsible, he is the criminal. By S5 Walt has accepted his true nature and become the contamination himself, but in this episode he is still horrified and haunted by it and regretful that he lost his perfect moment to die and be redeemed as a hero to his family. This is probably the last episode that I want to cry for Walt though not that last episode I want to cry over Jesse's devotion to Mr White. And honestly, I don't understand any BB fan who doesn't relish a full bottle episode with Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul working their magic together.



Honorable Mentions

The Pilot and ...the Bags in the River (S1)
Negro z Azul and Phoenix (S2) 
Sunset (S3)
Problem DogEnd Times and Face Off (S4)


Please share your own BB faves in comments!
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