AMC’s Breaking Bad is soon to come to an end. The much lauded series has generated huge critical acclaim, scooping up dozens of awards, and achieving unprecedented review scores on review aggregator sites, such as Metacritic. With this in mind, we wanted to take a look at some of the most iconic moments and quotes from the formidable series and pay our respects to Vince Gilligan’s sublime masterpiece.
***WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD! If you have not yet seen all of the Breaking Bad series, you may want to reconsider reading on.***
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Set in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Breaking Bad tells the tale of an ordinary man undergoing extraordinary change. As a high school chemistry teacher, who is struck down by terminal lung cancer, and beset by financial difficulties, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) turns to a life of crime to provide for his unsuspecting family, prior to his inevitable departure.
Recruiting a former high school dropout, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), the pair embark upon one of the most surreal television experiences presented to date. The duo begin cooking up methamphetamines in a desperate bid to rake in cash. However, as their clientele expands, the complexity of their operations booms, along with their mounting troubles.
Show creator and producer Vince Gilligan, has managed to craft an engrossing storyline, and an array of intriguing, unique characters, topped off by natural, believable dialogue. However, being able to achieve and sustain this level of unparalleled quality throughout five seasons, whilst maintaining the audience’s suspension of disbelief, is a stroke of utter genius.
The series is interspersed with a range of fantastically executed conventions and consistently toys with a variety of subtle themes, principally centering around the morality of criminality; Walter White makes some truly reprehensible decisions, casting a domino effect of destruction and violence over many of the innocent denizens of Albuquerque; ultimately, however, these actions have a trickle-down effect and Walt’s ill deeds always catch up with him.
So, without further ado, let us explore some of the greatest Breaking Bad moments and quotes.
Walt Attempts to Assemble a Joint (Season One; Episode: Cat’s in the Bag…)
During season one, Walt is a solitary, upstanding citizen. Perhaps having never encountered a run-in with the law, it seems an out of character decision on his part to take up smoking pot. What’s even stranger is his feeble attempts to do so.
The Bathtub Incident (Season One; Episode: Cat’s in the Bag…)
Next up is the bathtub incident, where Walt entrusts Jesse with the responsibility of disposing of the bodies of Emilio Koyama and Krazy 8, two subversive drug dealers. In doing so, Jesse fills his porcelain bathtub full of acid and patiently waits for the corpses to dissolve. Suffice to say, the aftermath is messy.
Frankly, the bathtub scene is an iconic moment in the Breaking Bad series, and showed the world that this was going to be a series with a difference.
Walt Junior and Hank Talk to a Streetwalker (Season One; Episode: … And the Bag’s in the River)
In a tactless bid to convince Walt Junior that marijuana represents the slippery slope to hardcore drugs, Hank Schrader (Junior’s uncle) calls upon the insight of a meth-addled prostitute to hammer home his message.
Hank: How much do you charge for a windy, Wendy?
Prostitute: Hey, I ain’t doin’ him. He’s a kid.
Hank: Jesus. Was that my question? Don’t think so hard, it’s gonna hurt your brain.
Krazy 8 Dies (Season One; Episode: … And the Bag’s in the River)
The moments leading up to Krazy 8’s demise remain firmly engrained within the minds of many a Breaking Bad fanatic. Walter is tasked with killing Krazy 8, out of necessity, believing that he will attempt to murder him in a act of revenge.
Walt makes the grave mistake of spending time getting to know his captive, who remains chained up in Pinkman’s basement, and even begins to sympathize with the subversive reprobate. Walt naively reasons to let him go, believing in Krazy 8’s false promises.
Beforehand, Walt makes his detainee a sandwich. Alas, whilst delivering the food, his lung cancer causes him to fall unconscious. Whilst Walt pieces together the fragments of the smashed plate, used to deliver the sandwich, he comes to the horrifying realization that he was duped. A shard of the plate is missing, and it becomes apparent that Krazy 8 planned to kill Walter all along.
What ensues, thereafter, is a seminal point in the series – the point of no return, where Walt’s moral compass starts to go badly awry.
Walt Destroys Tuco’s headquarters (Season One; Episode: Crazy Handful of Nothin’)
Throughout most of the first season, Walt is a feeble, dejected man, spending the majority of his waking life paralyzed with fear. This sensation only worsens when Walt is perpetually forced to deal with the many unsavory characters of the criminal underworld.
However, Walt undergoes a surprising transition. Physically, the man begins to look increasingly menacing, whilst his behavior adapts to outmaneuver his nemeses. When the ex-chemistry teacher saunters into the lair of Tuco Salamanca, a psychopathic drug baron, and casually demands $50,000 in payment, one naturally assumes he must have lost his mind. In one of the most shocking Breaking Bad scenes, Walter White proves that brains often defeats brawn.
The Methylamine Barrel Heist (Season One; Episode: A No-Rough-Stuff-Type Deal)
Up next is an inspired moment of comedy. In a bid to yield larger amounts of crystal meth, Walt and Jesse attempt to steal a barrel of methylamine from an industrial warehouse. Throughout the botched operation, the chemistry genius and his protégé incessantly bicker, as they sport absurd bobble hats to veil their identities.
Locking a patrolling guard in a porta-potty, the twosome nab an entire barrel and begin the arduous task of shuffling the heavy load from the premises.
Hank-Tuco Showdown (Season Two; Episode: Grilled)
In the battle between a testosterone-driven DEA agent and a drug-peddling lunatic, who will win? The next clip throws in more bullets than Scarface, and some of the typical Breaking Bad tension that we’ve all come to know and love.
The Tortoise-Riding Head (Season Two; Episode: Negro y Azul)
So, there Hank is on a stakeout in the Mexican desert, after having been promoted. Surrounded by fellow DEA agents, he thinks he sees something bobbing in the midday sun. Responding to the movement, the entire team hauls down to the sighting.
There, slowly traversing through the scorching desert, is the severed head of el Tortuga – a cartel member turned informant – affixed to the shell of a tortoise. But the surprise doesn’t end there.
The Heisenberg Song (Season Two; Episode: Negro y Azul)
I admit, when starting to watch the opening to Negro y Azul, I thought I’d inadvertently stumbled onto the wrong channel. Breaking Bad has always thrown in different conventions, themes and comedic elements, but the Heisenberg Song seemed like quite the departure from the norm.
However, no sooner does the audience become accustomed to the ways of the series, Vince Gilligan comes along and mixes it up. The catchy song actually tells an important story, and provides important clues to the audience that Walter is starting to get under the skin of the Mexican cartel.
Badger Gets Busted (Season Two; Episode: Better Call Saul)
Badger’s up next, proving that he’s not the sharpest tool in the box. Whilst talking to a potential client, Badger notices the telltale signs that he is being monitored by the police, remarking on the clichéd undercover vans and accusing the covert cop of attempting to trick him.
Despite this, he is very quickly hoodwinked into selling his stash of crystal meth product, and is quickly arrested for his idiocy.
Saul’s Kidnapping (Season Two; Episode: Better Call Saul)
Walt and Jesse, with their criminal ineptitude shining brighter than ever, kidnap Saul Goodman. Still sporting their bobble hat guises, the pair transport the corrupt lawyer to a remote location and threaten his life. A lawyer with an attitude, Saul then begins to barter with his captors in unorthodox fashion.
From this point onward, the interplay between Saul and his clients provides some of the highlights of the series.
During this scene, Walt is at a party, sitting around the pool with Hank and Walt Junior. Walt appears to be coming to terms with the news that his cancer is in remission. One would imagine this information would be met with rejoice, but Walt seems to be conflicted.
Overindulging his son with vast quantities of alcohol, Hank stoically steps in. What results is a pretty intense faceoff, and a remarkably ill Junior.
Walter’s Socially Inept Speech (Season Three; Episode: No Mas)
Following Breaking Bad’s season two finale, where Walt was indirectly culpable in the midair collision between two aircraft, he is encouraged to make a public speech to an assembly of downhearted students, coming to terms with the tragic events.
Walter awkwardly asks the grief-stricken students to “look on the bright side,” before launching into a speech about how the crash wasn’t that serious and would be quickly forgotten. My favorite part of Walt’s speech:
“Well, at any rate, what you’re left with, casualty wise, is just the fiftieth worst air disaster.”
The mic screeching, following Walt’s concluding remarks, sums up the moment perfectly.
ATM Crushing (Season Two; Episode: Peekaboo)
One of the ultimate highlights of season two involved the theft of an ATM by a pair of meth addicts. Jesse visits the couple’s ramshackle abode to retrieve some merchandise that they had stolen from one of his associates, only to find the dynamic duo had stolen an entire ATM, and parked it in their living room. Jesse threatens the pair with a pistol, before being overpowered.
The two junkies then attempt to crack open the machine to reap their rewards, but in typical Breaking Bad style, nothing ever quite works out as expected.
Pinkman’s Chemistry Test Result (Season One; Episode: Cancer Man)
Jesse Pinkman was never destined to become a rocket scientist, and this fact was made glaringly obvious in the fourth episode of season one. During the episode Cancer Man, Pinkman flicks through the results of an old chemistry test, regaling his days as a former layabout student, where he gained a not-so-surprising F. Close inspection of the exam paper shows his languid attempts in the field of science.
Some of my personal favorites:
Question 3. What describes the number and types of atoms in a compound?
Pinkman: I don’t remember. AKA I forgot.
Question 4. List the names and formulas for the three exceptions to the binary naming rules.
Pinkman: 1. I 2. Don’t 3. Care
Question 5. What type of compound has three elements, one electropositive and the others an electronegative group?
Walt Testing Jesse’s Scientific Aptitude (Season Two; Episode: 4 Days Out)
Perhaps explaining Jesse’s previous chemistry test result, here Walt tries to engage his former student in a spot of academia. In an act of futility, Walter attempts to eke out some rudimentary scientific knowledge from an educationally bankrupt Jesse:
Walt Misses the Birth of his Child (Season Two; Episode: Mandala)
Close to the conclusion of season two, Walt attempts to court Gustavo Fring, to push his meth business to the next level. When he finally lands a job, he is given just a single hour to deliver 38 pounds of his product. The problem with his mission? His associate, Pinkman, who is storing the crystal meth product, is entirely incapacitated after dosing himself to the eyeballs with illicit substances. To boot, Skyler is in labor and Walt is faced with a difficult decision – sealing a $1.2 million deal, or attending the birth of his daughter.
The decision he goes along with, although made with his family’s best interests in mind, sets the trend for the rest of the series.
The Teddy Bear (Season Two; Episode: Seven Thirty-Seven)
Use of the pink teddy bear was brilliant for a number of reasons. Gilligan was demonstrating to his audience that he had meticulously planned the entire season from start to finish. The pink teddy also cleverly alluded to season two’s end game, and was cryptically referred to throughout the main body of the season.
Draining the color of the footage, whilst keeping the vibrant pink of the prop, helped to set the ominous tone, whilst showing the eerie scenes to be set in the future.
Not only this, but many have speculated the bear to have even greater connotation, beyond the clever use of in media res conventions. Notice the missing eye on the teddy bear’s face; it’s speculated that the missing eyeball is a symbolic reference to Gus Fring’s ultimate fate.
Walt Fights Back Against his Carwash Employer (Season One; Episode: Pilot)
Going back to season one, we end the first part of our top moments and quotes on a lighter note. Walter White sticks it to his employer, after having endured months of grueling, unappreciated labor to provide for his family.
We hope you’ve enjoyed part one of our top moments and quotes from AMC’s Breaking Bad series. There is more in bound, so keep checking the site to see more. Meanwhile, a number of LV Guardian Express writers have been producing opinion pieces, news articles, previews and reviews on the show’s final season. Here’s just a small selection:
Last Dance with ‘Breaking Bad’ – Michael Blain
‘Breaking Bad’ set for a “Hamlet” Ending? – Michael Blain
Breaking Bad Heisenberg Hysteria – Michael Smith
Breaking Bad Is Jesse Really Old Yeller? – Michael Smith
Breaking Bad Walter White’s Heisenberg’s Evolution – Michael Smith
Breaking Bad Promotes Decline in Meth Industry – Angelina Bouc
If you’re interested in reading more, check out the search engine.
By: James Fenner (Op-Ed)