2nd Viewing; SPOILER WARNING!
Admittedly, I was never supposed to rewatch Breaking Bad at this very time. I wanted to do some research for my media writing project, so I decided to revisit the pilot episode of the show to gain inspiration, but as one may expect, I got sucked in. It’s been more than six years since I binged Breaking Bad for the first time, and after years of praising the program like a pathetic addict, I decided to give Vince Gilligan’s hit piece a second analysis. In doing so, I’ve decided that ranking the episodes each season from worst to best should switch up my typical TV review format and add a new perspective to the show that I haven’t already preached on before. With that being said, here’s every episode of Breaking Bad’s first season ranked from dullest to finest — as if any of these installments are actually “dull” though.
#7 – Episode 4: Cancer Man
Jesse reminisces the past as he spends a couple days at his childhood home after going through a life or death situation. Oh, and Walter blows up a f**king car in this episode too, so, there’s that.
Nitpicks that put the episode behind: In general, Cancer Man is the most uninteresting episode in the season, with minute plot knack. It’s meant to develop Jesse primarily and showcase his rough connection with his family, and in at least that aspect, it serves its duty sufficiently.
#6 – Episode 7: A No-Rough-Stuff-Type Deal
Everybody in the White family does something illegal in this episode — minus Walter Jr., of course. Hank smokes a Cuban cigar. Marie’s robbery is discovered; Skylar nearly gets arrested because of it. And, Walt, well… Walt did more than one illegal thing in this capper to season 1. Tuco steals the episode’s spotlight, nonetheless, and that’s probably the main reason why this episode is rated so highly.
Nitpicks that put the episode behind: the methylamine security guard decides to take his s**t break, which gives Walt and Jesse the chance to lock him in there, at the exact moment Walt and Jesse decide to break in and set off the alarm. Bad writing or is it just Chipotle night?
#5 – Episode 2: Cat’s in the Bag…
Two amateurs attempt to hide a body by melting it down with hydrochloric acid. One of these amateurs is so amateur, however, that he uses his bathtub to melt the body in. Big mistake.
It took Walt and Jesse only two cooking sessions to get into deep trouble involving life or death; this is a great mirror image of how even if you want to be a “professional cook” and not a true, sketchy dealer in the meth industry, just being in the business in general still entails you to do immoral things you would’ve never considered committing in most ordinary, legal jobs.
Nitpicks that put the episode behind: Skylar coincidentally intruding on Jesse at the worst possible moment for light comedic effect. Jesse and Walt walking in right as the deconstructed body drops from the second floor for light shock value.
#4 – Episode 5: Gray Matter
I forgot Jessie leaves Badger in a f**king desert in this episode. HA.
It’s so surreal to think that the following events of Breaking Bad could’ve been avoided if Walt had accepted the Gray Matter job from Elliot or simply accepted their offer to pay off his cancer treatment. Skylar gets the piss blown out of her too while Walt asserts dominance to the cancer situation poignantly in a terribly gone south intervention sequence — which is an A-tier Breaking Bad moment by the way. He does, however, simp literally a scene later and retracts basically everything he said, but his speech is way too godly not to mention still. In the end of the episode, he’s accepted to transition into a life of crime, so the treatment he dreads wouldn’t hurt to do as long as it pleased his family.
Nitpicks that put the episode behind: Walt doesn’t epically powder red phosphorus upon two fools trying to kill him in an RV. The next episode on this list just simply has that advantage…
#3 – Episode 1: Pilot
Opening scene perfection, and one that initiates this entire show’s inception. Despite a lot happening in just a single episode, it never feels bogged down by events. If anything, it makes the show right from the gecko excessively addicting. Walt learns about the amount of money made in the meth business, he finds a cooking partner, and he gets in his first jam of trouble. Starting the pilot off with the last chronological event in the episode was a hooking way to get viewers on board, as well.
Nitpicks that put the episode behind: The firefighters don’t question the crashed RV that came from the direction of the fire and the DEA somehow weren’t able to trace the RV to the fire or drug evidence that was found in spite of all the witnesses that saw the RV. The character Chad’s “chaddily” cartoony presence doesn’t meld with the show’s realism, also.
#2 – Episode 6: Crazy Handful of Nothin’
“Yeah, well, nothing personal, Walt, but you wouldn’t know a criminal if he was close enough to check you for a hernia.”
Cooking meth becomes therapeutic for Walt now. The crime world has engulfed him alas — Heisenberg is born. Walt becomes a badass too! And holy shit, can we talk about how incredible Raymond Cruz is as Tuco?
But letting poor Hugo get pinned? Now, that’s just too cold man…
#1 – Episode 3: …And the Bag’s in the River
Walter truly breaks bad, kills a man for the first time, and neglects the soul all in the process because under the curtains he’s always been a cynical monster waiting for his moment to shine in the light. The part where he attempts to create peace with Crazy-8 is one of the greatest scenes in Breaking Bad history, showcasing a fast yet significant growth in our lead antagonist(?). The imposing flashback scenes with him and Gretchen are just the cherry on top of a near perfect episode.
Season 1 Overall Verdict: A-
“Breaking Bad” season 1 is now available to stream on Netflix.