Breaking Bad bows out for good on Sunday night with its final episode, titled “Felina,” and while there’s also a chance we’ll get a final episode that everyone hates, the assumption is that, no matter what happens to Walter White, the series’ legacy is secure.
That’s because, of the series’ 62 episodes, there have been a whole lot of legitimate, re-watchable classics. It all fits together as a whole, sure, but these ones in particular are special. Click the links to order the episodes from Amazon.
Note: These descriptions all contain lots of spoilers of Breaking Bad episodes to date. And if you’re hoping to catch up, it is my strong recommendation that you WATCH EVERY EPISODE. Not just these ones.
1. “Ozymandias” (Season 5, Part 2.) The one two weeks ago, featuring the desert shootout, the death of Hank, Walt’s kidnapping of Holly, and his fleeing to New Hampshire. And that’s on top of about ten other classic scenes and moments. Vince Gilligan calls this the best of the series and I agree.
2. “One Minute” (Season 3.) For a long time I didn’t think this one could be topped. A tension-packed hour in which we know all along that the Cousins are coming to kill Hank, and the tension remains palpable the entire time- leading up to the parking lot shootout that’s the series’ best action sequence.
3. “Face Off” (Season 4.) The Walt vs. Gus bottle that consumed most of Season 4 had quite possibly the best payoff imaginable. The tie-straightening was just so perfect, as was the “I won,” and the final reveal of The Lily of the Valley.
4. “4 Days Out” (Season 2.) Some favor the next season’s “Fly” as the best Walt-and-Jesse episode, but I prefer this one, in which the RV breaks down in the middle of the desert.
5. “To’hajiilee” (Season 5, Part 2.) Beautifully photographed desert vistas have long been a big part of Breaking Bad’s visual style, nowhere mores than in this episode from a few weeks ago, featuring the beginning of the shootout. This one made me think that director Michelle McLaren really should be getting deals to direct movies.
6. “Gliding Over All” (Season 5, Part 1.) Like a lot of the show’s seasons, the beginning of the fifth moved chess pieces around, before delivering payoff after payoff later on. There were some great moments, mostly around the endgame of Jonathan Banks’ Mike character, but the finale was the true knockout, featuring an uncharacteristic time jump and perhaps American fiction’s greatest-ever toilet-bound epiphany.
7-8. “Half Measures“/”Full Measure” (Season 3.) The last two episodes of Season 3 finished out the series’ best stretch of episodes, at least until this year. Brilliantly constructed plotting with Gus trying to kill Walt before he can kill Gale, lest the Superlab close down even for a day. Also memorable: The great Jonathan Banks monologue that gives the episode its name.
9-10. “Hermanos“/”Salud” (Season 4.) These two episode give us both the Gus Fring origin story (part of it, anyway), and his ultimate, super-violent revenge on the Mexican drug cartel that wronged him.
I see I’ve left out “Fly,” “Bug,” “Peekaboo,” “Blood Money” and, oh, the entire first season. Breaking Bad is good, folks, You should watch it.