The Best BREAKING BAD Episodes (Seasons 1 & 2)
This Sunday, Breaking Bad starts its death march with the final eight episodes of the series. To commemorate one of the finest television shows going off air, we’ll be celebrating Breaking Bad Week starting with our favorite episodes from each season. Check out what the Screen Invasion team had to say about the best episodes in Breaking Bad’s first two seasons. Stay tuned for the rest of our episode picks tomorrow.
The Best Breaking Bad Episodes in Seasons 1 & 2:
Pilot (Season 1, Episode 1)
I’ve never been more impressed by a pilot than that of Breaking Bad. Within the first two minutes of the episode, I was hooked. They waste little time jumping into the action, but it is not the thrilling chase of the drug game that is so appealing in this pilot. It’s the feelings you instantly have for these complex characters who are about to go on an epic, action filled ride throughout the show.
This isn’t to indicate that the pilot is full of simple family moments and dealing of course with the cancer diagnosis that Walt is given to start the show. What I love so much about this show is that it seamlessly navigates from crazy drug game drama to tragic family moments in nearly every episode. – Kevin Taylor
Crazy Handful of Nothin’ (Season 1, Episode 6)
Unlike Mad Men – AMC’s other flagship prestige drama – Breaking Bad didn’t launch with a torrent of media hype, instead gradually building its reputation by quietly establishing its cinematic vision and thriller bona-fides throughout its first seven episodes. “Crazy Handful of Nothing” was also edutainment at its finest, with the discussion of mercury fulminate at Walt’s high school paying dividends in the explosive climax of this George Mastras-written episode. (Those kids really should have been paying better attention…)
Unable to find a distributor since Walt killed their previous connection, Krazy-8, in “…And the Bag’s in the River,” Jesse suggests they hook up with the notoriously unhinged drug lord Tuco Salamanca. Presaging future mini-movies like the superb bottle episode “4 Days Out” and the train heist of “Dead Freight,” this episode introduced us to the bald, ruthless Walt – the alter ego he memorably dubs “Heisenberg,” after the scientist who theorized the famous principle about uncertainty. It’s a fitting sobriquet for a desperate, unpredictable man already far removed from the gentle science teacher of the pilot, and one whose future exploits would make this adventure look quaint by comparison. -Eric Ambler
Better Call Saul (Season 2, Episode 8)
“You don’t want a criminal lawyer, you want a criminal lawyer.” One of the most famous Jesse Pinkman-isms that isn’t punctuated with “bitch,” it’s a line that tells us volumes about Saul Goodman, one of Breaking Bad’s richest supporting characters – and one so beloved that a spin-off series is in the works. But when his dealer Badger gets busted, Walt has to wheedle – then strong-arm – his way into the good graces of Albuquerque’s most mercenary ambulance chaser. (Not even a rumpled-suit schlub like Saul takes Walt seriously until he reveals his badass Heisenberg side.)
Comedy veteran Bob Odenkirk helped the show tap into a vein of dark comedy that would be essential in mitigating the continued corruption of Walt’s soul. At the same time, Saul’s humorous introduction – featuring Jesse and Walt as the world’s worst kidnappers – belies the rapid expansion of the blue meth enterprise, ensnaring both savvy con artists (Saul, the jailbird-for-hire “Jimmy In-and-Out”) and tragic innocents like Krysten Ritter’s Jane, who admits to Jesse that she’s a recovering drug addict at the end of this standout hour penned by Peter Gould. -Eric Ambler
Phoenix (Season 2, Episode 12)
Everyone has their thoughts on when Walt turned into “Heisenberg”. Well I’m part of the majority who believe that it was this episode. Jesse is in the middle of a downward spiral now that his new girlfriend Jane has gotten him into heroin, and she is becoming a big pain in the ass for Walt.
While the episode also involved Walt Jr. making a website to pay for his father’s surgery, the main focus is on Jane and Walt. The whole season, the eye of a stuffed teddy bear in the pool was a consistent theme: a riddle that was going to take the entire season to answer. Well this was the first of the final steps. Donald, Jane’s father, discovered that she had relapsed, and orders her to go to rehab.
Walt comes over needing Jesse only to see the two of them passed out from using again. While trying to jolt Jesse awake, Jane begins to throw up, and since she’s on her back, she starts to choke. Rather than help her, Walt simply watches her die, losing any grain of humanity he made have had, transforming him into the flawed hero turned villain we love today, and also leaving a huge secret between our two main characters which is still under wraps as we enter the final season. – Kevin Taylor