Season 2, Episode 6: Peekaboo
Directed by Peter Medak
Written by Vince Gilligan & J. Roberts
Directed by Peter Medak, known for such hidden gems as Let Him Have It, Romeo Is Bleeding and The Krays, ‘Peekaboo’ is technically my favourite episode. This episode is all about family, and not just Walt’s family, but Jesse’s family and a third family: that of Spooge, his woman and their kid, introduced for the first and probably only time. It’s interesting to see the opposite ends of the spectrum and the in-between. On one side you have Walt cooking the meth that gets distributed by Jesse to Spooge and his woman. Walt lives the good life, with a house, two kids, two cars, a white picket fence and is a respected, supposedly law-abiding citizen. Than you have Jesse, whose parents turn their back on him, leaving him to find his own method of survival, thus selling the meth. And finally you see how the decision from the people on the top, so greatly effects those beneath them. A classic case of the rich getting rich and the poor getting poorer.
Skinny Pete has been ripped off by the aforementioned drug-addicted couple and Walt has made it plain to Jesse that unless he does something about it, word will get around pretty quick that they are an easy mark. But Pinkman, as hard as he tries, is no true criminal. He’s more the product of bad decisions, and being in the wrong place surrounded by the wrong people, time and time again. If there is ever one episode that asked the audience to accept a character and love him for who he is, despite all his faults and mistakes, it is ‘Peekaboo’. As I mentioned earlier in this list, the audience needs to side with at least one of the protagonists. After three seasons of Breaking Bad, there is no liking Walt. Walt is one of the most irredeemable characters in the entire series, perhaps in the history of television. Here, Jesse gets to show his big heart and unlike Walt, who only destroys lives, he saves one, that of the little red-haired boy. His sensible side shows every time when the little kid shows up — and we get a deeper understanding of his character that plays a big part at the end of season three. Jesse might be a meth dealer but he has his rules and beliefs, and one of this is that children should be left out of the game entirely.
Aside from being a heart wrenching episode, ‘Peekaboo’ also offers yet another “WTF” moment, with the ATM machine tipping over on Spooge. I don’t think any of us saw that one coming.
On a side note, I love that Jesse was angry that Spooge had stolen an ATM machine that belonged to Jesse’s bank. Classic.[vsw id=”-oHyJEaqmOg” source=”youtube” width=”500″ height=”425″ autoplay=”no”]
Season 3, Episode 7: One Minute
Directed by Michelle Maxwell MacLaren
Written by Vince Gilligan & Thomas Schnauz
Hank, outraged over having been tricked into thinking that his wife has been in a horrible accident, goes after Jesse and gives him a severe beating. He has bigger problems, however, when Gus points the Mexican cousins in his direction. Who could ever forget the showdown between Hank and the Mexican brothers armed with guns and that shiny axe? But that wasn’t the only unforgettable moment in this episode: ‘One Minute’ also opens with a flashback of the cousins learning the importance of family.
Season 4, Episode 10: Salud
Directed by Michelle MacLaren
Written by Peter Gould
Salud was well – incredible! Remember the nice tequila box, tied with ribbon, that Gus presented to Don Eladio. Remember the dead bodies falling like leaves from a tree in the autumn days. Remember Mike pulling Don Eladio’s necklace off the corpse floating in the pool. This episode felt like it was lifted from an outtake of Scarface. Absolutely brilliant. Swimming pools tend to equal some form of death on this show, and Salud was a prime example.[vsw id=”68P6nfhdlLc&feature=related” source=”youtube” width=”500″ height=”425″ autoplay=”no”]
Season 3, Episode 10: Fly
Directed by Rian Johnson
Written by Vince Gilligan & Sam Catlin
It is a shame that while so many people spent six long years awaiting the series finale of Lost, those very same folks were missing possibly one of the greatest bottle episodes ever aired in Breaking Bad’s Fly, directed by Rian Johnson (Brothers Bloom, Brick).
Fly was a major change in pace for Breaking Bad – part slapstick comedy, part psychodrama – yet is incredibly moving. It was also one of the more hyper-stylistic episodes of the show, contained almost entirely in the “super” meth lab, and focusing exclusively on Walt and Jesse’s relationship. For an episode that featured about 40 minutes of Walt and Jesse trying to swat a fly, it also boasted some of the show’s most unbearable tension throughout. The fly itself was a clever and unique device to bring the two into a locked room, place their relationship under stress, and with nowhere to run, have them face each other’s issues.
Fly is completely distinct from the usual Breaking Bad episode – from the directing, to the dialogue and the look. At first, the episode teases us as to why Walt is losing his mind over a simple fly, but we quickly come to understand that the fly represents two things – his loss of control, and his guilt eating away at him for leaving Jane to die, choking on her own vomit.
Walt delivers his monologue about how it wasn’t supposed to be this way and how he was supposed to die months back – “you want them to miss you when you’re gone,” he notes. Walt is suffering from insomnia, worried about the choices he has made and the direction his life has taken. The final 15 minutes are unforgettable, with Jesse standing up on top of the ladder looking down at Walt trying to swat the fly – perhaps a physical manifestation of the conversation they’re having. Walt nearly comes close to confessing, but we all know that there is no way he will ever resolve the issue with Jesse nor himself.
Excellent directing and cinematography with superb camera work, including Sergio Leone-style long shots, various dutch angles, slow motion takes and some superb sound design. Fly accomplished next to nothing in advancing the plot forward, but takes us on a journey of self-realization, a journey well worth the time.[vsw id=”hv_SmDA3TwI” source=”youtube” width=”500″ height=”425″ autoplay=”no”]
Season 3 – Episode 12 – Half Measures
When Mike the Cleaner delivers his big speech to Walter about doing away with “half measures,” it’s clear what he means. Half Measures is the perfect reminder of why Breaking Bad is the best show on television. This specific scene was compelling enough to best most of the feature films released last year. The scene helped flesh out Mike’s character further and give us some understanding of why such a likeable character, who clearly has his head on his shoulders, does what he does. Mike is perhaps the one man in the entire show who hasn’t had one major misstep. He’s cool, calm, collected, smart, careful and and is bound to play a bigger role in season four. However that isn’t the only reason this specific scene was so crucial to the show. The conversation also acts as the trigger that will forever change Walt, and finally give the show the change it needs.[vsw id=”n3u-6UFLubI” source=”youtube” width=”500″ height=”425″ autoplay=”no”]
Walt claims he’s not a bad guy. Yet since the start of Season 2, he’s lied, manipulated, murdered and walked over everyone – all for his own selfish reasons. For two seasons we’ve witnessed Walt wrestle with his morals. At this very moment in the previous season, Walter was watching as Jane choked to death. By not acting, he wound up hurting everyone around him. Walt is like the black plague. No matter what he does (or doesn’t do), and no matter who stands in his way, he’ll end up fucking everyone over.
It’s ironic how at the start of the season, Jesse accepts that he’s the bad guy, as if he had realized what his role in life was – but it’s not really the case. He’s the moral one, he just doesn’t know who he is yet. Let’s face it, the entire series has revolved around bad decisions made by Walt. Jesse, although still responsible for all his actions, as actually been worse off since Walt stepped into his life. This specific episode begins with Jesse planning on murdering two men, but we all know that Jesse isn’t a cold-blooded killer. Right? Well, sort of. Why is it that Jesse decides on poison as the murder weapon? The answer is simple. We all know he couldn’t actually kill a man in cold blood, not unless he was pushed to the very edge, or unless it was in self-defence. So what does he do? He has his hooker friend Windy do the dirty work for him.
Without this episode, Season 4 might well have found itself replaying the previous three seasons in continuing to build those character arcs to where it needs to be, in order to hold on to our interests. Without this episode, the season’s final shot would have seemed uncharacteristic of Jesse and forced. This episode basically confirms, more or less unequivocally, that Jesse is the good, and Walt is the bad. If I had to place a bet on how the series will eventually end, I would put my cards on Jesse saving the day from yet another Walt fuck up. When this series ends, I guarantee you, Jesse will still be alive, but I can’t say the same for Walter Sr.
From the cold opening arresting montage, showing Wendy the prostitute turning tricks at the Crossroads Motel, set to the Association’s catchy pop hit “Windy” – to the final minute, chock-full of suspense and a shocking surprise, ‘Half Measures’ is without doubt a game changing episode. There are few shows that can deliver such jaw-dropping moments as seen in the final minutes of this episode, but more importantly, these moments don’t simply add shock value but also advance the plot even further. Episode 12 of season three is what took Breaking Bad from the second spot of my favourite TV shows to the first.[vsw id=”nJiYoNu-o3I&feature=fvst” source=”youtube” width=”500″ height=”425″ autoplay=”no”]