5 Father of the Year
S02E10 “Over” Following some excellent news about his cancer and (another) near death experience wasting away in the desert, Walt’s back at home enjoying a party thrown by his family. The lies about his methy affairs have been weighing on Walt, and he’s grown tired of hiding the hard-earned tough guy persona beneath the wimpy exterior normally familiar to his family. What’s worse, his son Walt Jr. seems to be looking to Hank as a father figure and one stop shop for cool tales of life in the concrete jungle. So Walt does what any disenfranchised secret badass would do, and gruffly commands his son to imbibe shot after shot of tequila — to the point of near abuse. With Hank even concerned, this awkward display of machismo would be the first time Walt let Heisenberg into his own home, and set in motion the melding of his two previously disparate worlds.
4 ATM Fee
S02E06 “Peekaboo” Business has been picking up for the rag tag bunch of crystal hockers, save for one pesky set of clients who refuse to pay for some stolen goods. It’s up to Jesse to make a statement to the streets by either retrieving the owed money, or murdering the tweaker culprits. However, like almost everything in Breaking Bad, the mission does not go at all as planned, and Jesse finds himself held hostage with his own gun in the company of the couple’s neglected child. With a whole day spent witnessing the effects of his trade on a blameless kid, not to mention psyching himself up for a career first kill, Jesse eventually comes out aces when a stolen ATM machine (also present) ends up squashing the head of his captor, while the other passes out high. The interaction between these sloppy bottom feeders and their greenhorn supplier earned Jesse and Walt the tough reputation necessary to turn the corner on the meth trade, while also foreshadowing larger societal damages to come.
3 Airplane Confetti
S02E13 “ABQ” All season long viewers were subjected to mysterious glimpses of debris being cleaned out of the White’s backyard pool — namely a bright pink, one-eyed teddy bear. In the season finale, the source of this unfortunate sky-junk was revealed: Jane’s father (whose daughter Walt let perish before his own eyes), was an air traffic controller and devastated by her recent death, let a mid-air collision occur. At the exact moment of combustion overhead, all of Walt’s selfish choices come raining down on his home in tangible form. With the closest thing to a sign from God that he’ll ever experience, Walt has already crossed the point of no return.
2 Shell Shocked
S02E07 “Negro Y Azul” What would this show be without some creative, oddball violence? Promoted to a big time, tri-state task force, a still frazzled Hank faced a bunch of scoffing new coworkers who laughed off his attempts to question cartel turncoat Tortuga (Danny Trejo). Feeling a bit over his “head” in a desert meet up, it was Hank’s squeamishness that saved him from Tortuga’s bomb-filled noggin gifted to the agency via a slow crawling turtle covered in the words “Hola, DEA.” The explosive surprise demonstrated how powerful the Mexican cartel was, forced Hank into a psychological retreat, and proved all over again that Breaking Bad was at the forefront of inventive, poetic violence.
1 Despicable Happenstance
S02E12 “Phoenix” Facing the prospect of a huge payday from new, chicken-peddling contact Gus Fring, Walt first has to get Jesse on the straight and narrow. However, Pinkman has taken up with his hottie neighbor Jane (Kristen Ritter) who is in the process of relapsing on heroine (mouth foaming, eyes rolled). Walking in on the passed out duo, Walt let’s fate play its course while Jane unconsciously asphyxiates on her own vomit. Certainly one of the most talked about moments in Breaking Bad history, as it revealed a new high (or low) of Walt’s mastermind ruthlessness and created the largest unresolved secret between himself and a self-reproaching Jesse.
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