To celebrate the 10th anniversary of “Breaking Bad,” we looked back and ranked the 10 best episodes of AMC’s critically acclaimed series.
Beware of spoilers for the entire series ahead.
Season 2, Episode 13
We’d seen Walt “break bad” a few times before Season 2’s finale, but watching him let Jane die — with Jesse passed out next to her — truly solidified that he was willing to do whatever it took to get what he wanted.
Plus, talk about a payoff to those mysterious cold opens throughout the season involving a burned bear. After Jane’s death, her father — an air traffic controller — returns to work only to flub his duties and cause to planes to crash mid-air and rain debris into the White’s pool. Walt’s decisions are having long-reaching effects. And if you put together all the episodes the plane debris appear in you get “Seven-Thirty-Seven” “Down” “Over” “ABQ.”
Season 4, Episode 10
If there was any doubt about the cunning of Gus Fring, this episode put those doubts to rest. Gus, Mike, and Jesse fly to Mexico at the behest of cartel boss Don Eladio. While Jesse is initially told he will be staying in Mexico permanently, Gus turns the tables when he wipes out most of the cartel leadership with a poisoned bottle of tequila. This episode also sees Skyler give away a massive portion of the money Walt made cooking meth to her former boss, Ted, in order to cover up the tax fraud she committed on his behalf.
8. Full Measure
Season 3, Episode 13
After a season of mostly separation, Walt and Jesse are reunited and team to save latter’s life. Realizing he’s soon to be killed by Gus, Walt has Jesse head to Gale’s home and kill him first so that Gus will need Walt alive to cook the meth.
Killing Gale changed Jesse for the remainder of the series, but solidified the realization that he and Walt needed each other to survive in the meth business.
7. 4 Days Out
Season 2, Episode 9
Walt, fearing that his cancer is moving more aggressively than anticipated, convinces Jesse they must use all of their remaining methylamine in a marathon cooking session. They drive deep into the desert in the Winnebago, but Jesse leaves the keys in the ignition, draining the battery. Nearing total exhaustion and out of water, Jesse inspires Walt to create a makeshift battery to jumpstart the RV. The episode infamously ends with Walt, finding out his cancer is actually in remission, battering a paper towel dispenser in his doctor’s bathroom with his bare hands.
6. Face Off
Season 4, Episode 13
There’s so much to love about Season 4’s finale: Gus becoming Two Face, Walt and Jesse’s team-up, the final realization that Walt poisoned Brock to coerce Jesse to help him. The greatest moment, though, is Walt’s conversation with Skylar after Gus’ death. He lets her know that they’re safe, but more importantly that he won. At this point, it isn’t about protection anymore for Walt, it’s about being the best.
Season 3, Episode 10
In an episode directed by “The Last Jedi” director Rian Johnson, Walt is consumed with catching a fly that is buzzing around the lab underneath Gus’ laundry business. He goes so far as to tell Jesse they cannot cook until they have caught it. They spend an entire day trying to catch it, and in their downtime, they discuss their families, with Walt verging on telling Jesse how he directly contributed to Jane’s death.
4. Dead Freight
Season 5, Episode 5
“Breaking Bad” featured more than one heist episode, but none top Season 5’s “Dead Freight.” Running dangerously low on methylamine, Walt, Jesse, and Todd decide to think bigger than stealing a couple barrels and opt for robbing a train with an entire car full of the stuff. And guess what? It goes perfectly. That is until — during their post-heist celebration — the three notice a kid saw the entire thing. Todd kills him without saying a word.
3. Say My Name
Season 5, Episode 7
This episode features perhaps one of the greatest scenes in a show filled with great scenes. Here, Walt negotiates the distribution of his blue meth to Declan, the competitor to whom Mike and Jesse were going to sell the remaining methylamine. It also features Walt’s final confrontation with Mike, who is in danger of being nabbed by the DEA. When Mike refuses to give up the names of the Fring associates he has been paying off, Walt shoots him and watches him die by a river.
Season 5, Episode 14
Almost every “Breaking Bad” thinkpiece ever written cites “Ozymandias” as the finale of “Breaking Bad,” with the final two episodes serving as an epilogue. That’s not necessarily true — the ending of “Breaking Bad” is the actual ending of “Breaking Bad” — but the episode does mark the death of Heisenberg. Every decision Walt had made as Heisenberg this season came tumbling down on him — Hank was killed, Jesse was taken by the Nazis, Walt Jr. learned who his father really was, and his family finally pushed them out of their lives for good. All of that together crashed down atop this alter ego and destroyed it, leaving only a battered Walter White — which was almost worse.
Season 5, Episode 16
Hailed as one of the greatest series finales in television history, Walt returns to New Mexico to settle all of his old scores. He intimidates his former business partners, Elliot and Gretchen, and gets them to agree to give his remaining earnings to Walt Jr. and Skyler. He then secretly poisons the duplicitous Lydia, says a powerful farewell to his wife, and prepares for his final showdown with Jack and his white supremacist gang. He manages to kill all of them, freeing Jesse from his life of servitude under the gang in the process. Jesse makes his escape, while Walt walks into the gang’s meth lab and lays down to die.