One of the finest features of AMC’s critically-acclaimed hit Breaking Bad is that there has been a flood of memorable moments and scenes. It started in the very first episode and has continued right on through the third season. With fans (like me) anxiously awaiting the start of the fourth season on July 17th, I need a way to tide myself over for the next 10 weeks. Here’s a list of the eight best moments on Breaking Bad. Why only eight? I could’ve named 30 best moments on my favorite show, but wanted to leave lots of room for discussion.
Warning: spoilers for all three seasons of Breaking Bad
8. Season 3, Episode 2: Walt Delivers a Pizza
So much of season 3 deservedly revolved around the aftermath of Skyler leaving Walt, and Walt’s attempts at making it work. The eighth best moment came as a result of those efforts. It’s one of many examples you’ll see of the show’s dark, off-the-wall humor. The high angle rooftop shot from the pizza’s point of view of Walt driving away? Hilarious. It narrowly edges Walt throwing a potted plant at Ted Beneke’s office to make the list.
7. Season 3, Episode 5: Flashback, or Jesse’s Rich, Bitch!
There are a million ways the show’s writers could have introduced how and why a photo of Jesse Pinkman with Combo could have ended up in Combo’s home. There are a million ways they could have moved the plot ahead with Hank discovering ties between Combo and Jesse. They chose to do so with an extremely clever flashback to the very first episode. It featured Jesse taking Walt’s money to sell him Combo’s RV, and promptly using that money on lap dances and champagne at a strip club. In other words, they found yet another way to make us laugh and built it perfectly off of Jesse’s character.
6. Season 1, Episode 1: Walter White, Avenging Angel
In the earliest parts of the show, Walter is shown as even-tempered, mild-mannered, concerned about veggie bacon and the like. But in the middle of the first episode, Walter, Jr. (who has cerebral palsy) is catching grief from some punks over his disability. Walt walks out of the store, leaving Sklyer and Walter, Jr. disappointed. Then in a split second, Walt bursts back in through the doors and metes out cold vengeance on the bullies. Walter White, you see, is a man who is undergoing the chemical process of change. It was a transformative moment very early on and it turned me into a super fan of Walter White:
5. Season 2, Episode 7: Hola, DEA
This was such a notable moment for so many reasons. First and foremost, it’s shocking to see anyone’s severed head stuck to a turtle, especially considering it’s the severed head of Danny Trejo. If you’re not aware, Danny Trejo is one of the world’s biggest badasses. To see that he’d been defeated was a surprise. Second, the viewer didn’t have a moment to breathe because it was instantly followed by an explosion that demolished Hank’s peers. Third and most importantly, it was a pivotal moment in the Hank Schrader character arc. From that moment on, he ceased being the bald, goofy Keystone cop and became the tortured DEA agent capable of just about anything.
4. Season 3, Episode 7: One Minute
Exactly one full season later, we get to see how far Hank has developed. In the seventh episode one season prior, he couldn’t handle seeing a severed head. One season later, Hank is capable of single-handedly defeating the nefarious and indestructible twins, even after being shot multiple times. Using the phone call as a set-up, the constricted timeframe, and a continuous car alarm along with some very clever editing weaves Hitchcockian suspense. Scenes like this are why I think it’s the best show on TV.
3. Season 1, Episode 6: This Is Not Meth
Walt had been fighting his transformation from suburbanite do-gooder to criminal throughout the entire first season. At the beginning of episode 6, he even points out that he wants to be a “silent partner”, and doesn’t want bloodshed. He is only the chemist, he insists, rationalizing his bad choices. But Jesse gets destroyed by Tuco, who is half pit bull and half insane drug kingpin. Tuco also takes Walt’s top-shelf batch of meth, hitting him in the wallet (which is, theoretically, the reason he’s become a criminal). Walt’s response is to take a gigantic step closer to his full transformation:
2. Season 2, Episode 12: Walter White, Cold-Blooded Killer
The most pivotal moment of the entire series happened as the end of season 2 approached. Jesse had paired up with Jane, a self-destructive force who posed serious threats to everything Walt and Jesse had built. Needing to speak to Jesse immediately, Walt encounters Jesse and Jane passed out from a binge. In her unconscious state, Jane begins to vomit and choke. Walt then makes the decision that has set every other series event since in motion. It was a new level of depravity for Walt.
1. Season 1, Episode 2: The Bathtub scene
This has been my favorite moment ever since I first saw it and will likely remain that way until the show’s finale. If you’re a fan of the show, you simply must have a soft spot in your heart for this scene. It’s most likely the exact moment you fell in love with the show. It had everything we’ve come to expect. Jesse’s amusing ineptitude? Check. The once straight-laced Walt standing amid a sea of grizzly, uncomfortable things? Check. Chemistry? Check. Dark humor? Check.
I won’t mention the rest of the huge list I compiled while pondering the best moments because I hope that readers can add their own. What is your favorite Breaking Bad moment to date?