The end here is here. This coming Sunday marks the last new episode of Breaking Bad ever, and we here at Collider are more than a little broken up about it. Over the past 61 episodes and five seasons, we’ve come to know, love, and loathe these wonderful characters that sprung from the twisted mind of creator Vince Gilligan, and to mark the series finale occasion, each member of the Collider staff has singled out his or her favorite moment from the show. It was no easy task, but hit the jump to see what Matt, Adam, Dave, Brendan, and Allison chose. Obviously, spoilers follow.
Matt’s Pick: “Crazy Handful of Nothin” – Fulminated Mercury Explosion (which is also the name of my new band)
In this episode, Walt shows up at Tuco’s and demands not only the money he’s owned from the previous batch of meth, but also payment for a new one. For me, this scene is the true birth of Heisenberg. A previous episode had Walt blowing up the car of a loudmouthed jerk, but he didn’t take credit for the explosion or confront the guy. It was passive aggressive (or at least as passive aggressive as a fireball can be). The Walt who steps into Tuco’s office is a different man. He’s confident, determined, and is willing to act without hesitation. As far as Walt’s come with his evil acts, the Heisenberg personality remains fairly steady. It’s a tough guy act, and it’s terrifying. What’s more, he has the science to back it up, and when Walt throws down the fulminated mercury to show he means business, that’s the moment where we respect him as a force to be reckoned with.
Adam’s Pick: “Buyout” – Dinner Scene
Breaking Bad is a very, very dark show, and Gilligan has shown over and over again how important humor is to keep things from becoming too depressing. Following the tragic events of “Dead Freight,” this dinner scene in the next episode perfectly exemplifies the kind of levity that BB excels at, while also showcasing Aaron Paul’s excellent comic timing. Skyler and Walt’s marriage is utterly failing, Jesse wants to get out of the meth business for good, and Walt is more alone than ever. And yet, in the middle of these events, there’s still time for Jesse to compliment Skyler’s Albertson’s-bought green beans and go on a rant about microwave dinners.
Brendan’s Pick: “Face Off” – Gus’s Death
My favorite Breaking Bad moment is Gus’s death scene. His doom hid in plain sight in the episode title, “Face Off” (a strong contender for My Favorite Episode Title Ever). Less than twenty seconds pass between when the somehow indestructible Gus walks away from the explosion to the instant when he thankfully, mortally falls out of frame, but it lasted ages in my head in that first viewing. I rewinded a dozen times to rewatch the scene, getting back in line again, and again for the WTF roller coaster. I paused the episode and walked out of the house, muttering to myself, trying to process where Vince Gilligan and Co. go from here.
It was a bold move to kill off Walt’s most iconic foil with sixteen episodes to go, but the vacuum allowed for the rise of the true villain of the series: child poisoner Walter White.
Dave’s Pick: “Dead Freight” – Train Heist
While Walt bugs Hank’s office and Mike deals with Lydia (their supplier) early in the episode, the real treat of season five episode “Dead Freight” comes by way of the train heist. It was an Ocean’s Eleven moment in a series that normally reserves its most intense sequences for explosive escapes or bullet-ridden attacks. The planning stage starts at about 18 minutes in with Lydia laying out the plan, Mike spoiling the fun with a laundry list of complications, Walt using his chemistry knowledge to figure out how to boost 1,000 gallons of methylamine without anyone noticing and Jesse saving the day. It’s one of the most anxiety-inducing sequences in the series while being a hell of a lot of fun, at least until Todd shows up and ruins the party. Fucking Todd…
Allison’s Pick: “Hazard Pay” – Skinny Pete Plays Piano
Here’s a small moment that really means something big when it comes to the undercurrent of Breaking Bad. For a show with so many gut-punches (of which I have many favorites), the comic relief always stands out because of how much we need it. It’s also something the show does exceedingly well (along with how it gives even small characters such depth). What is great about a scene like Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) playing Bach’s Solfeggietto in C minor, though, or any of his epic conversations with Badger (Matt Jones) about Star Trek, Star Wars and zombie-themed video games, is how bittersweet they are. Skinny Pete and Badger have survived while so many others haven’t, but there’s no triumph there — their lives are incredibly tragic, and are a kind of casualty. They make us laugh because of the juxtaposition of their own brand of intelligence versus their scumbag ways, but that illustration of a loss of potential makes it all the more heartbreaking. It also represents the show’s great legacy — no matter how far Walt goes, we want to go with him, because we desire redemption despite everything. Inside Heisenberg, there’s still Walter White. Right? Unless Heisenberg drowns him out like Badger’s discordant bass. For now, play on, Skinny Pete.