Holy Mother of *@&#^$*!!!! Today we dedicate our Breaking Bad week article to the Most Shocking Moments, or more simply put, “Oh Shit!” The entire series has been chock-full of moments where we all found ourselves jumping off of our couches, yelling gibberish out of anger or confusion, or having to pause our Netflix to take a walk around the block because it got to be too much. Because there are so many moments like this in the series, you can bet your bottom dollar it was hard to compile a list of only seven moments. But these we all felt were the best of the best, or if you rather, the blue stuff of shocking moments.
7.) Your best course of action would be to tread lightly:
Vince Gilligan could have played it safe. Breaking Bad could have spent entire episodes tip-toeing and the fact that Hank knew that his own brother-in-law, the timid ex-chemistry teacher, had been the Heisenberg he had been chasing around Albuquerque for three plus seasons – and the fact that Walt knew he knew. Instead, both characters’ arrogance sends them colliding towards the most epic collision in the series to date; Hank closes the garage door behind Walt, then gives him the murder look before clocking walt square in the face. If this show was a chess game, Hank just flipped over the table and stabbed Walt with his bishop. What’s even better is that once Walt knows for sure he’s been outed, he doesn’t cut and run or backtrack – he threatens a federal agent and his own family member, telling him to “tread lightly.” Classic! It was a move that set the tone for the rest of the series and Breaking Bad has benefited from not pussy-footing around the discovery we knew, as viewers, had to happen. By not returning to status quo, we had a very tragic and definitive ending to a great show.
6.) “One Minute”
Now, while what we officially voted on for this shocking moment was “Hank vs. the Cousins,” there’s no way to simplify this thrill-fest of an episode to that one minute. The episode picks up with Hank pulling up at Jesse’s place after Hank finds out that the phone call about Marie’s car accident was just a ploy to lure him away from the RV scene. As Hank pulls up to Jesse’s house, Jesse is sitting by the door, mocking Hank and telling him he has nothing to say and that Hank can’t prove anything. But Hank didn’t come to talk, as we soon find out. He cold cocks Jesse in the face so hard that he flies back onto the hardwood floor, where Hank proceeds to pummel Jesse’s face until he is unconscious. I thought he might even be dead… but he wasn’t. What he was, though, was ready to bring Hank’s life down in flames and ready to rat out Walt if Jesse ever got caught again. The speech Jesse makes in the hospital bed is borderline frightening: “You’re my free pass, bitch.” Hank, meanwhile, is reeling from the realization that his career in law enforcement might be over. He is suspended from duty and relieved of his firearm.
All that happens before Hank is attacked in a supermarket parking lot by the two Salamanca cousins, Marco and Leonel. The suspense for these two crazy assholes had been building all season long and it came at a time when Hank was most vulnerable – both physically and emotionally. I was sure Hank wasn’t going to make it out alive, but the arrogance of Marco (and Gus for calling him in advance) gave Hank enough time to gain the advantage and take down the bad guys. Not only does this save Hank’s life and career, but it also serves as more personal motivation to complete the puzzle and take Gus down.
5.) Jesse learns a valuable lesson about HF Acid:
Breaking Bad’s second episode (“The Cat’s in the Bag”) deals with the aftermath of a crazy-yet-silly pilot episode. Upon returning to Jesse’s house, they returned with an RV that had just cooked in it and two bodies (one being the head Albuquerque meth distributor) that needed to be disposed of. This is just the first season; there is no Mike to clean up the mess, no Saul to find a guy who knows a guy (who ends up being Mike, but he might have known other people, too!), and no empire to delegate a responsibility like this to. This is a truly frightening! How the hell would you get rid of a body in this day and age? Walt knows! You just dissolve it in hydroflouric acid, supplied by your local high school (I’m not even going to get into why a high school has that much HF Acid in the first place). Jesse, as per the coin, gets the job of dissolving his former partner, Emilio, but is S.O.L. when he can’t find a plastic tub big enough. So Jesse does the next best thing in his mind, and uses the upstairs bathroom. As an engineer, this was my immediate reaction:
As Walt explains, “hydrofluoric acid won’t eat through plastic. It will, however, dissolve metal, rock, glass, ceramic. So there’s that.” Yeah, Walt, so there’s that. Even when Walt sees drips of fluid coming from the ceiling, I had no idea that a maelstrom of acid-soaked Emilio-chunks would tear through the house. From that moment on, I was a Breaking Bad lifer.
4.) “Face Off”
Going into the season four finale, we just knew that Gus had to go. At that point, there was no hiding that Gus wanted Walt dead and Walt wanted Gus dead, but we still had no idea how it was going to happen and if anybody else would be caught in the crossfire. The beginning of the episode is the aftermath of Walt’s failed bomb attempt on Gus’ car. Walt, through some difficulty, meets up with Saul and discovers that Hector Salamanca is somebody that Gus frequently visits to taunt and devises a plan to mutually benefit both he and Hector. In the mean time, Jesse is detained by two officers concerning the ricin poisoning but it turns out that it wasn’t rice poisoning, it was caused by the ingestion of the Lily of the Valley flower. When Jesse runs out the hospital to tell Andrea of the news, he is tased and taken hostage into a van. Again, Gus’ pride and arrogance gets in the way when he decides to personally kill Tio after snitching to the DEA (or so they had thought), even as Tyrus offered to do it himself. Hector, feigning fear with Gus is inches away from him, begins violently ringing his bell, which it turns out is rigged to Walt’s bomb! I had the same reaction Gus did, with the exception of my face being blown off. We turn back to Jesse, who is being forced to cook at gunpoint. The doorbell to the lab rings, where it turns out Walt has come to rescue Jesse and totally obliterate the lab after telling Jesse “Gus is dead. We’ve got work to do.” It’s an insane episode that leaves the entire fifth season in doubt. But what shocked me the most, is that while the credits are rolling, they should a beautiful white Lily of the Flower in the Whites’ backyard.
3.) “Dead Freight”:
“Dead Freight” will go down as one of the best episodes of the series; heck, it already is touted as such. It was nominated for an Emmy this past Sunday, so it had to be pretty good (even though the Emmys suck). The entire episode is such a roller-coaster of stress on it’s own. From Lydia just being a bitch, to the introduction of Todd into the group and not being too sure of his intentions, to the entire train heist itself. The heist is one of the most suspenseful moments in the series. I’m pretty sure that everyone was inching towards their television sets by the minute, especially when the train starts to move and the water to replace the methylamine isn’t done filling in the train car and two of our robbers are still on or near the train. It’s pretty traumatic to watch Jesse lay down flat on the tracks to not get run over by a moving train. And just when you breath a sigh of relief and feel like you robbed a train with these guys, Todd commits the most game-changing murder in the series. The boy (Drew Sharp) from the beginning of the episode, who is really hard to remember after such a fantastic robbery scene, is watching the three men, Todd, Jesse and Walt from his motorbike. He waves and then Todd shoots him. Todd shoots a little kid. For no reason. If you didn’t jump out of your seat screaming obscenities at the TV as Vince Gilligan’s name flashed on screen, then you, dear sir, are not a good person. You support child murder. Yeah, I went there. The aftermath of Todd’s decision is still being played out a week before the series finale. What a Todd-Fuck (and yes that’s a shout out to good ole Derrick Comedy).
2.) Walt saves Jesse by going GTA on two drug dealers:
Jesse doesn’t handle it well when children become part of the game. It’s a fact. I could go on about the psychology that goes on behind that, but then again, I don’t know much about psychology. He finds out that his new love interest, Andrea, has a much younger brother, Tomas, who was forced into the neighborhood gang and also happens to be the boy who shot Jesse’s friend, Combo. Tomas was killed when Jesse and Walt made the deal with the thugs, who happened to be Gus’s men, that they would not sell meth on their turf as long as they didn’t use kids in the game. When Tomas dies, Jesse contemplates different ways to kill the two gang members who recruited and killed Tomas. Jesse ropes his part-time lover and full-time meth head friend Wendy into delivering ricin poisoned hamburgers to the two men, but the plan is foiled. In a last ditch effort to kill the men, Jesse waits in their neighborhood, smokes a lot of meth, and musters up enough courage to approach them in the same spot they killed Combo and Tomas. Just when Jesse starts to raise his shooting hand, the great Heisenberg a.k.a. Walter White runs the gangbangers down with his Pontiac Aztec, jumps out of the car, shoots the live one in the head, and turns to Jesse only saying “Run”. For Walt to do anything nice for anyone else was totally unexpected. For him to kill anyone for something beyond his own personal means was beyond expectation. This was the one time Walt deserved a “Father of the Year” mug. Except that it was for murder….. oh, well. It’s Breaking Bad.
1.) Hank finds Leaves of Grass while sitting on the shitter:
In BrBa fashion, it was only appropriate to culminate one of the most anticipated show-downs in television history by starting the domino effect with Hank taking a shit in Walt’s bathroom. The series leaves no loose end untouched, and Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass was one of those loose ends. It was a book long forgotten by the time season 5a came about (other than when we see a glimpse of it when Walt grabs a towel), but the conversation Walt and Hank had regarding the initial’s “W.W.” from the Gale Boetticher investigation was still fresh in our minds. But I don’t think anybody really believed that Hank would figure out who the Heisenberg was by looking for something to read while being indisposed for a few moments. So simple, yet so classic. And it definitely left the viewer in a moment of disarray and mouthing the words, “Oh, Shit…”
Written by Sherif Elkhatib and Adrian Puryear
All photos and videos courtesy of AMC Television.
Awesome emotional clips courtesy of Donald Glover and the good folks at NBC’s Community.