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The 12 Essential 'Breaking Bad' Episodes (According to Flavorwire)

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"Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: you should just watch all of the episodes of Breaking Bad, and I’m going to presume that you have. Making the deliberate choice to forgo the experience of watching television’s best drama, and to instead pick and choose and shortcut, is a shameful activity. This isn’t The Iliad, and these aren’t Cliff Notes. No, the idea behind this guide to Breaking Bad’s essential episodes is not to suggest that these are the only ones you should watch — but merely to nominate the show’s finest hours, and the ones you might choose to revisit in preparation for the final season, since every episode to date is currently streaming on Netflix. So they’re chosen for plot progression, yes, but also for providing the series’ finest moments and its characters’ key points of evolution. And with that, may I humbly offer Breaking Bad’s dozen essential episodes. (Note: there will be spoilers. I told you that you should’ve already seen these!)"







“Peekaboo” (Season 2, Episode 6)

Forgive the personal sidebar: my wife does not watch Breaking Bad. We got to it separately, her a few months behind me (and on my recommendation), and “Peekaboo” was the episode where she had to stop. She’s basically a sunny person, kind and wonderfully sweet, and this was the point at which the show had become, for her, “too much,” “too dark,” and “too sad.” I can’t fault her response — this is the episode that spends much of its running time excruciatingly detailing Jesse’s attempt to collect stolen money from a drug-addled couple with a hijacked ATM in their living room. But for me, this episode spotlights one of the primary draws of the show’s early seasons (before Walt and Jesse became the high-tech cooks of Gus Fring’s industrialized lab): the lifting of rocks, and the observation of the various vermin scurrying underneath.



“Phoenix” (Season 2, Episode 12)

If you’re tracking the show via Walt’s steadily declining morality, here’s a big thumbtack on that particular corkboard: the episode in which Walt, while attempting to rouse Jesse from his drug-induced slumber, accidentally causes the choking death of Jane (Krysten Ritter), Jesse’s neighbor, girlfriend, and partner in addiction (and roadblock to Walt and Jesse’s lucrative association). Well, to be clearer, an accident precipitates her death, but Walt clearly could prevent it — and chooses not to. Cranston does some of his most bracing acting in this scene, torn between doing what’s right and doing what’s (maybe) smart, and realizing immediately the weight of his decision.





“Box Cutter” (Season 4, Episode 1)

The introduction of Giancarlo Esposito’s Gus Fring late in Season 2 was important to counterbalance the deadening of Walter White: if he was going to do bad things and maintain at least some degree of viewer empathy, it would help to situate him against a character even more ruthless and coldblooded than he. Any questions about who was the more dangerous human being were laid to rest by this terrifying episode — particularly Gus’s deployment of the titular tool.




“Face Off” (Season 4, Episode 13)

But all good villains must meet their maker (presumably; we’ll find out for certain at the end of this season), and few have done so as memorably — and literally explosively — as Gus. “Face Off,” written and directed by creator Vince Gilligan, is like a master class in suspense storytelling, revealing just enough information to propel the narrative, then revealing its master plan nanoseconds before the big payoff. But that’s not enough for Breaking Bad; the episode’s quiet closing shot is like an extra, unexpected punch in the gut.




“Fifty-One” (Season 5, Episode 4)

Throughout the run of Breaking Bad, Walt’s wife Skyler (beautifully played by Anna Gunn) has remained one of the show’s most enigmatic characters, and her moral ambiguity has led to no shortage of jeering from viewers — weirdly, it seems like she gets more flack online than Walt himself. This most recent season allowed Gunn to dig even deeper into the conflicted fear and emptiness of Skyler, a mental state indelibly dramatized by the unforgettable image of her descending, wordlessly and fully clothed, into their backyard pool.

REST OF THE LIST AT THE SOURCE

What do you think ONTD? Which eps are missing in your opinion?




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