Our guest reviewer Charles Ward turns his attention to the small screen and one of the most popular series to arrive in this country.
In the run up to the final eight episodes of Breaking Bad I thought it necessary to celebrate the show in all its glory. Below lists the top ten moments or scenes from the first season up until the penultimate fifth season.
I am fully aware I will have missed out other great moments, as Breaking Bad is full of them, however within the number constraints I have to be selective. I am certain some of my choices will be met with a level of contention however feel free to comment with what you feel is more suitable and spark a discussion.
Hank’s fight with the brothers – Season 3
Exciting and action packed, this scene was fraught with tension as the odds were in the brothers’ favour in addition to the element of surprise. However, Hank survived with the viewers cheering the particularly visceral deaths of the two brothers with only one surviving but losing his legs in the process. This was Breaking Bad at one of its most intense moments.
Walt’s ‘I am the one who knocks’ speech - Season 3
Another step in Walt’s journey to becoming a much darker character. Skyler is finally included into Walt’s world and it’s beginning to have a dramatic effect on her psyche as well.
She is paranoid at this point about the danger Walt’s business poses her family and security, epitomized through her speech about danger at the door. Walt responds -‘I am the danger’ - queue speech. At this point Walt has accepted his change and with this speech he is effectively boasting to Skyler about his growing influence and power. The first of many scenes to come.
Jesse’s loss of girlfriend through overdose – Season 3
Both graphic and heart-breaking in equal measures, this scene charts a huge hit to Jesse’s character in terms of responsibility and guilt. This by no means the last of Jesse’s relationships but serves as a wake-up call to his actions and behavior which results in a much more stern, sombre Jesse in later episodes and seasons in contrast to the care-free rebel we are introduced to in season one.
Walt’s collaboration with cartel to bring down Fring - Season 4
Gus Fring’s particularly explosive end was most certainly one of the biggest highlights of season four. Walt’s biggest adversary was finally dealt with and in spectacular fashion. That final ring of the bell of the ageing cartel boss masterfully blended together the humour of his character and the violent form of justice that was exacted.
The ‘fly’ episode – Season 4
Whilst not as action packed as other entries on this list, this episode is more notable for its seemingly incongruous content. It nearly all takes place inside the lab with Walt desperately trying to kill a fly who has somehow got into the lab over concerns of potential contamination. Whilst these moments are hilarious there are also moments of further insight into both Walt and Jesse’s state of mind and raise questions in that particular season of where things will go from here. As time goes by this episode is becoming more favored in a ‘classic’ light and I will have to begrudgingly agree.
Shooting of boy + disposal of evidence – Season 5
One of the notably darker scenes from the series as a whole as it involved the death of a child that was for the most part avoidable. This takes a heavy toll on Jesse’s character and subtly conveys Walt’s continuing spiral into a darker more calculating individual. No one can forget the chilling sound of Walt’s carefree whistling straight after his exclamation that the boy’s death has, in fact, had a profound effect on him as well. This in combination with the long drawn out close shots of the disposal of the boy’s body marked this scene as the darkest and most uncomfortable in an episode yet.
Walt’s ‘say my name’ speech - Season 5
In this pivotal rendezvous scene with Mike’s drug pushing contact, the viewers get a more clear contrast with Walt from his original season and the results are barely recognisable. In my opinion, in early seasons, the scales of Walt’s psyche and personality were balanced/teetering on the edge of a psychotic, unstable criminal as opposed to more sane desperate school teacher turned meth cooker. However, in season five, this particular episode is a great example of showing how far Walt has gone to ensure success and how that has irreparably changed him. The scales completely tip in favour of the cold and unstable psychopath with an insatiable ego. The lines ‘Say my name’ and ‘your damn well right it is’ go down as some of the most impressive. You can literally feel Walt’s pride and ego expand. Finally, after all this time of struggle and near-death experiences he comes out on top and in the dominant position he has been craving. No wonder he doesn’t want to give it up!
Mike’s ticking time-bomb’ speech – Season 5
Spoken a short while before his death, this warning to Jesse hangs ominously as its blends perfectly with what (I believe) both myself and the audience have been thinking all along. Since season three and the reveal of Walt’s involvement in the poisoning of Jesse’s girlfriend’s son, Walt has changed in many ways, particularly his psyche. He no longer thinks of people as human beings but more disposable tools/assets to utilise to get what he wants. The whole contrast in the scene with Walt’s argument to Jesse about the merits of staying in the partnership with him conveys this perfectly. Powerful, negative emotions are revealed to be driving him in season five such as greed and shame over having lost his ‘son’s birthright’. After that talk, we know that no amount of money (despite Skyler’s insistence) will be enough to satisfy him. It has become more than mere survival and a means to and end. It is now about status and power. Remember, he isn’t in the money business any more; Walt is in the EMPIRE business.
Mike’s death - Season 5
Mike’s death is one of the more depressing/frustrating moments of the series. Mostly due to the fact it was unnecessary and completely avoidable (much like the child’s earlier on in the series). In this sense it helps to add to Walt’s character trait of unpredictable rash decisions. There is also the factor that Mike was the clear–headed one of the trio and becoming very likeable as he moved more into the forefront this season. Again we see Walt slowly removing all the obstructions and threats in his path, Mike being a particularly large one.
Hanks discovery of Walt’s secret – Season 5
Probably the most unexpected, but at the same time inevitable scene, is Hanks discovery of Walt’s true identity. This ended season five with a bang and left us all craving an answer as to what he will do next. Whilst Hank may now fully suspect Walter, whether he has realised the full extent of Walter’s entrenchment in the criminal underworld remains to be seen. Roll on season 6!