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 fifth season ranked from finest to dullest — as if any of these installments are actually “dull” though.
#16 – Episode 3: Hazard Pay
I kind of hate how the quarrel between Jesse and Andrea is just magically resolved in this episode, like it never happened. It’s just a nit-pick, though, nothing major.
Pest-control meets the meth-cooking business! This new plan of Walt, Saul, Mike and Jesse’s is sheerly brilliant. The gang is going back to DIY workshopping, but with a fresh sense of security, plotting their station in a different house each session while being concealed by the pest-control team.
Lastly, Skyler pulls a Philip Seymour Hoffman from Punch-Drunk Love on Marie. “SHUTUP.”
#15 – Episode 6: Buyout
Todd is low-key building himself up to be a serial killer. Him collecting that dead boy’s spider as a memoir — RED FLAG. The dinner between Walt, Skyler and Jesse was possibly the most awkward thing that’s ever happened on this show. Walt confesses to how power-hungry he is, wanting to redeem himself for ditching Grey Matter by finding a way to birth an empire in the meth business, despite Jesse and Mike wanting to leave the project. Walt’s so damn big-headed now that he’s going to need a cart to start caring that noggin around.
#14 – Episode 12: Rabid Dog
“He can’t keep getting away with it!” (x2)
Half an hour later…
“Yeah, Mr. White is gay for me.”
Skyler pushes Walt to consider killing Jesse. Hank and Jesse become roomies. Hank himself is beginning to break bad, using Jesse as bait to possibly get killed on camera — yo, Mr. White, you’re making everybody now a bad person. Jesse gets paranoid and decides to threaten Walt over the phone instead of negotiating with him in person. Walt officially plans on hiring Uncle Jack to kill Jesse now. We’re finally being lead to the moment when the two infamous BFFs want each other legitimately dead — and I’m not talking metaphorically; they’ve seriously gotten to a point where they have to clash with each other whether that be with murder or imprisonment.
#13 – Episode 10: Buried
Walt tries to hide all his money. Hank confronts Skyler about the situation — we surprisingly then learn that Skyler wants Walt to win this rivalry. Marie finds out and attempts to take Skyler’s baby. Lydia sends Uncle Jack’s crew to wipe out Walt’s old business partners. Lydia not wanting to see the mess she made tells us a lot about her character. Todd’s little crush on her also starts. Hank prepares to interrogate Jesse after he gets arrested for throwing millions of dollars across Albuquerque.
S**t is seriously starting to hit the fence now.
#12 – Episode 2: Madrigal
Walt makes Jesse go through emotional self-guilt by forcing him to think that he lost the ricin due to his own mistakes — when, really, that’s just a fat cover-up. Agent Merkert speaks on how his friendship with Gus was all along a lie, foreshadowing what Hank’s very own situation with Walt will come to. Mike is interrogated by Hank and Gomez, impressively, but not nearly to a point that could break him. Walt and Jesse are now planning to build their own independent meth empire. Mike has to make a tough decision and murder one of his men, since our newest character Lydia put a hit on them.
That Walt coming onto Skyler scene though was seriously unnerving. GTFO of there, Sky!
#11 – Episode 1: Live Free or Die
Season 5 starts off with a scene that’ll play a role in the very last episode of the show. It takes place at Denny’s — cause those seem to be the only diners that exist in the Breaking Bad universe at this point — and Walt seems to be picking up a M60 machine gun from a dealer. What a manner to tease us fans.
“Yeah, bitch! Magnets, oh!”
And, in all seriousness, the Mission Impossible-type magnet plan and execution was absolutely epic. Also, Skyler is now genuinely scared s**tless of Walt and I don’t blame her.
But holy moly, that “act of God” on Ted was insanely cruel, jeez.
#10 – Episode 15: Granite State
“If I’m lucky, best-case scenario, I’m managing a Cinnabon in Omaha.”
LOL! Your wish came true, Saul!
Walt decides to wait out his revenge day by day, up in a cold, snowy mountain cabin. Todd kills Andrea in front of Jesse after Jesse attempts escaping Uncle Jack’s facility. Jesse’s life can seriously not get any worse than this; the poor dude has been through hell and back about a gazillion times now. Walt starts simping for company and pays Ed 10k to play cards with him for an hour — sheesh. Walt calls his son and tries to convince him to let him send him money, but, of course, his son denies it considering who he thinks his father really is. In that fleeting moment, Walt decides to call the DEA and give himself up. Then suddenly, as if it were divine intervention, a particular television program inspires Walt to leave the scene before the police arrive and try winning the game of life one last time. Ooh, baby, and the Breaking Bad theme begins playing in the actual episode!
That one television station chose the worst possible time to show Elliot and Gretchin’s slander of Walter White though, huh? Heisenberg is coming for those two now!
#9 – Episode 9: Blood Money
Took me a while to realize it, but Season 5 of Breaking Bad arguably started Gilligan’s present to past time frame writing style that he later on carried into Better Call Saul — a show where we know what ends up happening to our main character, but we don’t exactly know how it happened. Well, I suppose the pink teddy bear in season 2 could count as that too, but season 5 makes it much more obvious that Walt ends up failing near the end.
Episode 9, the halfway mark in this season, starts off by showing us the future. Walt returns to his home, which has been ransacked and taken over by some skater kids. He’s not there for reminiscing, per say, but there to pick up the ricin he hid in his electrical socket, for reasons currently unknown.
Hank’s putting together Walt’s correlation to being thee Heisenberg. Jesse wants to get rid of his blood money. Jesse wanting to donate the money to Mike’s granddaughter though was low-key sweet of him… awweee.
“If you don’t know who I am then maybe your best course would be to tread lightly.”
A threat. Hank confronts Walt about his true identity and it is bonkers surreal to see it finally unveil. Dean Norris’s acting in this scene is, furthermore, insanely convincing — I’ve never seen the dude act this good on the show than in Blood Money.
#8 – Episode 8: Gliding Over All
“Tagging trees is a lot better than chasing monsters.”
…and Hank said that right in front of Heisenberg’s face.
Walt orders the BRUTAL death of ten men in prison like it’s nothing. I’m telling you, montaging death sequences with Nat King Cole’s “Pick Yourself Up” playing in the background automatically grants extra points to any form of art’s quality. Skyler wants Walt to finally realize that they don’t need anymore moolah. Jesse’s officially scared of Walt after the hit he put on the prisoners. And, of course, almost like destiny, just when Walt decides to leave the meth business, Hank finds out who Heisenberg truly is… on a toilet.
Gale came back from the dead to bite Walt in the ass — and, believe me, he 100% deserved it. Not only because he, or course, ordered Gale’s death, but, secondly, because he was that darn ignorant not to even open or start reading the book Gale had gifted him.
#7 – Episode 7: Say My Name
“Being the best at something is a very rare thing.”
Walt makes Mr. Seventy-Percent Pure submit to his knees and screech the all-powerful name “Heisenberg” in front of his goonies. Jesse and Walt have a heated “we’re going to Hell anyways”-type argument because Jesse refuses to continue with Walt’s meth business venture — an expertly written conversation by the way; it’s just more proof to add that season 5 features Gilligan’s best writing more so than any other season on the show.
Also, I think Walt hiring Todd to be his new partner speaks plenty enough on the case of whether or not he actually cared about that kid dying during their train heist. At this point, I’m not surprised Jesse is finally starting to pick up on Walt’s lies.
Mike gets his two-cents out on Walter and how he royally screwed-up everything for everyone when he joined Gus’s crew. Walt returns the favor with his rash thinking by shooting Mike out of anger, which ultimately kills Mike too. Again, Walt is getting too big-head and out of control as he treads down this desperate attempt to produce a successful empire. “Shut the f**k up and let me die in peace” is a killer sentence to go out on though; I’ve gotta give Mike credit for that line. Cheers to one of my favorite characters in the Breaking Bad universe. You will be missed.
#6 – Episode 4: Fifty-One
Bro, WTF was that opening car-buying scene. I legit couldn’t tell if I was watching Breaking Bad or a GTA V cutscene.
In other news, Mike gets woke and calls himself a sexist. LOL. Jesse giving Mr. White an expensive birthday present was also Walt’s signal to who his “real” family was at the moment. What an interesting duo those two are.
“The person who gave me this present wanted me dead too. Not that long ago, he pointed a gun right between my eyes, right here, and he threatened to kill me. He changed his mind about me, Skyler, and so will you.”
That piece of dialogue gave me chills down my spine. What an ingenious psychopath Walt is.
For those who’re saying that Skyler is just an attention hog now, well, yeah no s**t. I would be too if my husband blew up three people in a nursing home. Her walking into a pool and possibly trying to drown herself is clearly a gargantuan cry for help to her sister and brother-in-law, and I can’t believe I’m defending Skyler, but I feel so sorry for her, especially now that everybody thinks she’s the cuckoo, bad guy who cheated on her husband. Walt’s obliviousness to this whole entire affair until he had to have it verbally explained by Skyler furthermore showcases just how far the crime world has driven him from reality. The s**tty and disappointing nature of how his birthday ended up being should’ve showcased plenty enough on how much of an ass Walt has become to those who surround him, but at this rate, he’s too blind to even acknowledge it.
Walt vs. Skyler has become super real at this point. Walt has officially ruined his family for good. Fifty-one is an insanely crucial episode in my book! He’s 99% pure evil now! 99%!
Skyler straight-up told Walt she was “waiting for the cancer to come back.” Birthday roasts be a little too hard these days…
#5 – Episode 13: To’hajiilee
Todd begins simping to Lydia. In other news…
Walt sends a hit on Jesse but is interrupted by Hank and Jesse’s brilliant plan to lure Walt to his own money. Jesse persuasively cons Walt into admitting gallons of information over the phone because he is genuinely convinced Jesse is out there burning his money; Walt finally gets a taste of his own medicine! Jesse has finally outsmarted Walt… for now.
Unfortunately, shortly after, Walt commits the greatest mistake of his entire life and sends Uncle Jack directly to where his money is hiding. Hank then proceeds to arrest Walt at his 7-barreled cashes’ hiding spot, and when all seems to be going according to Jesse’s plan, Walt’s previously haphazardness actions come into play. There, Uncle Jack and his crew initiate a shootout against Hank and Gomez — Walt’s desires have swerved totally off course, and what he fears the most is quickly heading his direction.
#4 – Episode 11: Confessions
Hank, Marie, Skyler and Walt confront each other at a Mexican restaurant. There Hank and Marie receive the dirtiest piece of blackmail video ever to be conceived on planet Earth, where Walt describes in detail how Hank was the one who forced him to cook in his meth empire. Honestly, at this point, the video convinced me that Walt should’ve just become an Oscar-winning actor, because this man is the greatest liar ever.
Jesse cries in Walt’s arms too. Awe? Jesse’s right though. Walt can never ask Jesse for a favor; it typically has to be manipulation and lies in Walt’s book when it comes to convincing someone close to him.
It’s wild to think that Jesse was only seconds away from leaving his life in Albuquerque for good until he put together Huell switching his weed with cigarettes to Walt poisoning Brock. This leads to Jesse beating the crap out of Saul and threatening him with a gun to tell him the truth. On-edge stuff! Jesse is finally rising up to the years of abuse Walt forced upon him.
It gets better though. The situation escalates so extremely that Jesse almost burns Walt’s entire house. Guess that Hank and Jesse team-up is happening after all.
#3 – Episode 5: Dead Freight
“The point is, no one other than us can ever know that this robbery went down.”
And, at that moment when those words were spoken to Todd, we Breaking Bad rewatchers knew, Jesse had royally f***ked up.
Walt’s become such a great actor, conning Hank and whatnot at his own work place, that you can almost say he could go toe to toe with a performer like Bryan Cranston, huh?
Lydia gets forced to call the DEA at gun-point and proposes a new plan to obtain methylamine. Thus, the infamous train heist commences: a nail-biting, riveting and fresh television premise that only geniuses like Vince Gilligan could come up with. On top of that though, Dead Freight has one of the coldest episode endings yet, where out newest character Todd pulls out a gun and shoots the kid who saw the heist, a command encouraged earlier on by Jesse’s own words. Yet, at this point, we all know Jesse is going to suffer and disapprove the most from this tragically ill-minded incident.
That “good samaritan” really came in though at the perfect time so that the gang could struggle to finish the heist at the last second? Oh, Mr. Plot-device man; how else are we supposed to add tension?
#2 – Episode 16 – Felina
Vince Gilligan ought to direct more. Excellent framing in this episode, my golly.
Walt solves the issue of sending his money to his family by forcing Elliot and Gretchin to launder his money to them as a charitable donation. Using a fully equipped, convincing method though, Walt introduces them to fake hitmen (Skinny Pete and Badger) in order to ensure that they go through with his demand.
Walt finally uses the ricin to poison Lydia after teasing us with it for four whole seasons! He then begins building his automatic M16 machine gun.
“I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And, I was… really… I was alive.”
Walt finally admits to Skyler that he started his venture into the drug industry purely for his own selfish needs — something that will hopefully reassure her for the rest of her life. He gives up the burial sites of Hank and Steve too, so that Skyler can make a deal with the DEA. Walt has chosen to be honest during his last moments with Skyler out of long-deserved respect.
In the finale, Walt drives to Uncle Jack’s place, claiming he wants to strike a deal. Walt manages to get them to lure Jesse into the mix as well, and Walt attacks him to the ground right in front of the whole gang.
THEN ALL OF A SUDDEN, WALT PUSHES THE TRUNK OPENER ON HIS KEYS AND HIS VOLVO BEGINS SHOOTING MACHINE GUN ROUNDS INTO ALMOST EVERY CREW MEMBER OF UNCLE JACK’S, BLOWING THEM AND THEIR BUILDING TO SMITHEREENS WITH RED LASER ZOOM ZOOM ZOOM. UNCLE JACK AND TODD END UP BEING THE ONLY ONES ALIVE UNTIL JESSE FINALLY GETS HIS REVENGE AND STRANGLES PSYCHO TODD TO DEATH WITH HIS HANDCUFFS WHILE WALT PUTS A BULLET THREW THAT PIECE OF S**T UNCLE JACK’S HEAD. THIS IS SINGLE HANDEDLY THE MOST BADASS THING I’VE SEEN ON TELEVISION SINCE GUS FRING’S DEATH.
Moving on, Walt pressures Jesse into killing him, but for the first time, Jesse finally refuses a manipulative request that Walt makes, even after forcing him to say it with truth spun on it. After Walt tells Lydia over the phone that he poisoned her with ricin, Jesse drives away from the scene in an El Camino, laughing with joy as he does it — freedom alas! We make our way to the last scene of Breaking Bad from there on out, and Walt dies in Uncle Jack’s meth laboratory, looking fondly at the items he loved so dearly. Badfinger’s “Baby Blue” begins playing, literally the most perfect song to end Breaking Bad on lyrically and, well, in its title. I have personal ties to the song too, so me tearing up at the end could just be psychological or Vince Gilligan just ended the show that flawlessly.
#1 – Episode 14: Ozymandias
The acting in Ozymandias = a Golden Globe Award for everyone (x100).
The name Holly was conceived on the day Walt first started cooking meth. Curses ought to exist in the Breaking Bad universe, huh?
That fade in fade out of the past and the present out in Hajiilee is masterful. Rian Johnson shot this episode so optimally!
Hank is murdered by Uncle Jack in cold blood right in front of Walt. Uncle Jack and his crew proceed to take a majority portion of Walt’s money, leaving him with a fraction. Out of rage and anger, Walt gives up where Pinkman is hiding to Uncle Jack and the crew, as the selfish Heisenberg would do when he can’t accept that these consequences are pretty much at his own fault. He even straight up tells Jesse finally that he watched Jane die, as if he’s trying to even the playing fields after just witnessing his own brother-in-law die. Todd saving Pinkman’s life before he can be shot in the head is an irony in of its own though as we’ll learn in following episodes.
Playing The Limeliters’ “Take My True Love By the Hand” while Walt rolls a barrel of cash through the desert is one of the most fitting song choices for a scene ever. Golly, this episode is perfection.
Jesse’s face gets hideously shredded up by Uncle Jack’s gang, and his life as a slave begins from there on out; he’s even threatened with the fact that they know about his connection with Andrea and Brock.
Yet, somehow, the episode manages to get better even after all this chaos.
“What the hell is wrong with you! We’re a family!”
Skyler tells Walt Jr. the truth about Walt and they drive home. Walt arrives home, beginning to pack the bags for his family to leave for good. Then, madness escalates. Skyler and Walt Jr. are confused why Walt isn’t in cuffs by Hank like Marie told them he was, and begin putting together that Walt might’ve killed Hank. This forces Skyler to go into full mom-protection-mode and get out a slasher-sized kitchen knife and try to ward off Walt from them. This forces her to cut Walt deeply on his hand. The two begin fighting for the knife and even Walt Jr. steps in to attack his father when Walt has the upper-hand. Walt, in complete shock, learns finally that his family fears him when Walt Jr. calls the cops and lies to them that Walt tried to hurt them with a knife. Walt, with not much thinking built in his head at that moment, steals Holly, and runs his car into Skyler’s to drive away with the baby, leaving Skyler in utter desperation as her daughter is taken away from her. Even the greatest horror movies wish they could reach this capacity of plausible catastrophe.
But seriously, are you gonna tell me now that Skyler is still the b***h in this situation at this point?
The episode ends with possibly the most sinister phone call to ever be heard in fictional cinema, which is fitting considering the episode started off with Walt’s first, peaceful call with Skyler as a criminal. Walt goes on an absolute rant to Skyler about how she abused his rules and guidelines while being in the meth business, and how she’ll end up disappearing just like Hank if she doesn’t continue to follow. Obviously, part of me wants to believe that Walt had truly broken bad to a sharp 100% pureness rate, but part of me also knows that he likely did it to keep Skyler safe from being punished for his crimes — considering how he had cried over the phone. Walt knew what he was doing, and as surreally extreme as the situation is, he had to find one last way to protect his family from the wrongdoings he had committed; he had to make the police and media believe him to be an unadulterated monster. At that moment, Walter had to pretend to be Heisenberg.
Never could I have ever imagined a show hitting a level of sheer gut punch as Ozymandias packs. There’s a reason why it’s maintained its perfect 10/10 score on IMDb all these years — it really is the talk of the town.
Verdict: A+ (x100)
Season 5 Overall Verdict: A+
“Breaking Bad” season 5 is now available to stream on Netflix.