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 rewatch 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 best to worst would switch up my typical TV review formats, 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 fourth season ranked from finest to dullest — as if any of these installments are actually “dull” though.
#13 – Episode 3: Open House
Ayy, Fever Ray’s “If I Had a Heart.” Good song choice!
A pretty eventless episode besides the fact that Skyler scores the Car Wash and proves Walt wrong in the way she negotiates for it. Hey, at least the two seem to be making amends now. And, yeah, Jesse is still a sad boy. Poor dude; his house is becoming a methhead hangout lobby now. Hank has Gale’s lab notes now too!
#12 – Episode 2: Thirty-Eight Snub
Jesse vigorously attempts to party his troubles away. Walt almost attempts to murder Gus until he’s stopped by Mike. Mike gets his kicks in on Walt for putting him through choosing between two sides — and well-deserved kicks, in all honesty.
#11 – Episode 9: Bug
Hank singing “Eye of the Tiger” is probably the most sinful thing that’s been done on this show yet. It’s literally more indecent than slitting your employee’s throat in front of your other employees.
If Mike tried pushing Jesse out of the way one second later, Jesse would’ve totally gotten sniped. Dramatic timing be like that sometimes. Secondly, Gus must have the biggest balls on the planet. There was no fear in him when he walked directly towards a sniper with his hands out — he knew exactly that this was just a warning sign.
Walt and Jesse have a cute cat fight too. Gus’s YA-novel-leveled plan is low-key working out excellently.
#10 – Episode 6: Concerned
Yes, this is the episode with the infamous “I am the one who knocks” scene where Walt scared Skyler into realizing that he is the true person that the drug business should be fearful of.
Gus’s plan is revealed to Walt. Gus is attempting to pull Jesse and Walt apart like in one of those friendships gone split tales in your typical YA high school drama. Skyler goes to the 4-state equator just to confirm her already predetermined decision.
Mike is confirmed proud of Jesse though! Yipee! Gus’s plan to win over Jesse is slowly working.
“Someone has to protect this family from the man who has to protect this family.”
Now that line was hardcore, Skyler.
#9 – Episode 7: Problem Dog
Walt blows up another f**king car. Jesse goes to therapy one last time to get his spill on the dilemmas of “accepting” all possible ends — A-1 acting from Aaron Paul, by the way. And last, but CERTAINLY not least, Hank exposes the living devil out of Gus Fring in front of his DEA friends with evidence galore. 100 points for Hank, damn! What an eventful episode, sheesh.
#8 – Episode 5: Shotgun
“Since when did vegans eat fried chicken?”
Hey, really dope time-lapse scenes, yo! The shots are looking a lot cleaner and a lot nicer these days!
Walt and Skyler are becoming lovers again; it’s a well-deserved positive-side to look forward to while dealing also with Jesse’s well-being. Jesse and Mike become money-smuggling amigos, and even end up in an incident together where Jesse quote on quote “stops” themselves from getting mugged. Do you think Mike was actually proud of Jesse for it though? I think so. Gus is a smart dude, man, for testing to see if Jesse’s loyalty is real.
And, thennn, Walt’s cockiness gets so big-headed that he implants the idea that Heisenberg is still out there to Hank. Walt really is looking for trouble!
#7 – Episode 4: Bullet Points
Mike loses a piece of his ear. Walt and Skyler go through a meta script read. Hank share’s Gale’s cursed video to Walt as well as Gale’s legendary notebook with the initials “W.W.” on it. This was the key clue that would later help Hank figure out that Walter White was Heisenberg this whole time, and it’s so pleasing to see it in this particular scene considering how cheery Hank is to share all this information with Walt. Walt played him like a true fool.
Walt has a bit of a mental breakdown in front of Saul. Jesse hits maximum “I don’t care about my life anymore,” angst-mode on Walt, Mike, etc., leaving Gus and Mike to suspect him as an enormous threat to their operation. The acting in this episode is pretty top-tier compared to most; the characters are getting either seriously tied here, or seriously just done with the current situation at hand. Walt threatening the security camera though… 100% pure, crystalized badassery.
Also, I’ve noticed that the soundtrack here has gotten a lot slicker and a lot less stock-sounding. The compositions are very synthetic BPM sounding, and even sometimes are eerily synth-heavy, yet the simplicity of these styles are certainly enough to rack up an acceptable amount of intensity in a couple scenes here.
Sonic-cart(?) and chill is a total vibe. I feel that, Jesse.
#6 – Episode 12: End Times
The episode where Walt outwits Jesse.
I can’t give the episode all the credit, because we don’t learn certain elements about its context until the next episode, but I can tell you that End Times is an excellent effort at keeping the audience wondering. Walt’s story that he conveys to Jesse on how Gus must’ve been the one to poison Brock is so damn convincing and logical that it even fooled me the first time I saw it.
In addition to this, Walt’s first attempt to kill Gus goes wrong. Welp, hopefully plan B will be twice as badass as simply blowing up his car at a hospital…
Mind blowing acting from Aaron Paul, here, by the way. Did this dude seriously not take any acting classes ever? How???
#5 – Episode 11: Crawl Space
Why is Ted actually an idiot, LOL.
Also, introducing Bill Burr to the show, yippee! What an entrance!
Okay, yeah yeah, I’ll move on. Let’s talk about those final twelve minutes. Pretty grade-a stuff, huh? I remember the first time I saw this accumulation of scenes back in 2014, I had more goosebumps over me than ever before. From Bryan Cranston’s freakishly convincing performance as a man gone completely insane, to Anna Gunn’s insane guilt + fear infusion look when telling Walt about the Ted situation, and, on top of that, the fear in Marie when she hears about the anonymous tip that the cartel is coming for Hank — sheesh. Sure, it’s a lot going on all at once, but for a season that has been leading us to the idea that Gus will eventually no longer need Walt, well, it seems like there was no finer way to exclaim vigorously that that point is about to make its dues.
#4 – Episode 10: Salud
Okay, I understand Skyler’s point that they shouldn’t keep Walt Jr.’s Dodger because they need to avoid suspicion, but to replace it with a Chrysler PT Cruiser? Out of all the cars in the world, Skyler, a Cruiser? Ugh.
Jesse goes full badass mode and bosses around tons of chemists to do his bidding as Gus and Mike observe proudly. Walt breaks down and cries in apologies right in front of his caring son. When Walt calls Walt Jr. “Jesse” though — s**ttt; someone’s got their “sons” mixed up. Walt, later on, gives his son an analogy, in an ingeniously written scene, about his own father to sort of admit to Walt Jr. that he isn’t as good of a person than what Walt Jr. thinks he is.
On top of this though, Gus Fring finally gets his revenge, poisoning the asshat who killed his partner long ago along with his many workers. The worst part about all this, however, could be that Jesse saves both Mike and Gus’s lives in the process of escaping. Is Jesse turning to the dark side? *Dunt dunt DUNT.*
#3 – Episode 1: Box Cutter
The opening of season 4 starts off with Gale signing off his death sentence, which follows nimbly after the last scene in season 3 being that of his actual death. Imagine convincing someone to hire the great Heisenberg to work with you; now that’s an L.
Skyler plays detective. Hank’s mineral collection begins. Gus reveals his true colors while showing who’s boss by patiently taking his time to slit Victor’s throat in front of Jesse and Walt, stunning even Mike as well. The best part is Jesse and Walt furthermore have to clean up after Gus’s mess. They may have dodged a bullet, but they’re certainly in some serious s**t now. At least the two get to have a Denny’s cleanse after the affair. Their matching outfits were cute too.
This is the finest season opener so far. “Exceptional,” as Gus would put it.
#2 – Episode 8: Hermanos
“I got some math for you: Hank catching us equals Hank catching us.”
Hey, that rhymed.
Bruh, Gus Fring is a flipping genius. The way he played off the DEA agents’ questions about his connection with Gale was insane. He had a little planner and everything ready at hand, as if he was prepared for the possibility of being questioned. What a god-tier villain, golly.
Hank is unknowingly out here putting Walt in the most uncomfortable situation possible, convincing him to put a GPS on Gus Fring’s car as Mike stalks them, utterly dumbfounded.
But, most importantly, this episode gives us gripping insight into the birth of Gus’s rivalry with the Mexican cartel — and possibly even the birth of his psychopathic tendencies. These final ten minutes of the episode are exquisite, showcasing a monumentally written sequence: a flashback where Gus and his partner anxiously discuss alliances with the Mexican cartel, ending with Gus’s beloved partner being murdered by Hector for almost no reason other than to send a message to Gus of their power. The best part is, it’s all intercut between the present, where Gus is taunting a crippled Hector, absorbing the revenge he continues to gain from the cartel that made him the relentless, cold-blooded man he is today.
Hermanos is primarily Gus’s episode, showcasing his intelligence, ambitions, and origins in a neatly displayed structure. I don’t think any other episode in Breaking Bad history has jabbed at the psychosis of this character better than Hermanos does.
#1 – Episode 13: Face Off
The episode where Walt outwits Gus.
I love how Walt has to risk his life to get at least 25k out of his house just because Francesca wanted it for information, but then ends up not needing it cause Saul is actually okay after all; HAHA. Anyways…
Remember the last thing Gus is told by Don Eladio before he dies? “Once every 20 years you forget your place… there’s no place for emotion in this. You of all people should understand. Business is business.” It’s a line that appears to define the stern, robotic Gus Fring, The Chicken Man persona to say, but not a line that reveals the truth: he is not as entirely bullet proof as we may think. His ambitions have been hidden in plain sight, all along — his ambition for revenge; to win. Him visiting Hector well-knowing that this could be a ploy by Walter White — a man he already has suspicions to be plotting his assassination — is a testament that there are always weak spots in what may appear to be flawlessly designed intellects. It’s Gus’s risk that proves not even the most professional and restrained of men can’t be subsided at times to the desire of letting personal endeavors react into the mix. Gus’s rivalry with the cartel is what created him and Gus’s rivalry with the cartel is what ends him. It’s a fitting and weirdly poetic/surreal way for him to go.
Hey, Gus technically got what he wanted after all these years: Hector looked at him. Oh, and of course, Gus’s death scene — easily the coolest s**t I have ever seen on television, hands down. The way he just fixes his tie still with half his body blown to bits… it’s just… ugh: perfecto!
This is also the episode where we learn that Walt really was the one who poisoned Brock to manipulate Jesse, and the redness in his eyes during the episode’s last scene where he finishes talking to Jesse was enough to tell you that he was hoping to God he didn’t have to kill a kid to win this battle. He got lucky, but only this time.
Season 4 Overall Verdict: A
“Breaking Bad” is now available to stream on Netflix.