Better Call Saul will end it’s pitch perfect fifth season run tonight, with a hopefully great conclusion. This season has even felt like they have upped the quality of last season (which was already fantastic), with the episodes, “Bagman” and “Bad Choice Road” already feeling like all-time classics. The show was spin-off from a small show you may have heard called Breaking Bad, one of – if not, the – best TV shows of all time. Both have some incredible moments and episodes, and there, I thought I’d rank my top 6 moments of each show.
Firstly for Breaking Bad:
Jane’s Death (in “Phoenix” – Season 2 Episode 12)
The moment when Breaking Bad, a pretty good show finally found it’s footing, and turned into one of the best shows of TV. The moment in question happens when Walt (Bryan Cranston) goes to confront Jesse (Aaron Paul) and his girlfriend, Jane (Krysten Ritter), who have been blackmailing him. Jane, drugged out of her head on heroin, begins to choke on her own vomit, and Walt, decides to not to help, and watches his blackmailer die. This is one of the most important moments of the show, especially in terms of Walt’s character development, and this is the moment where Walt changes forever. Sure, prior to this, he has killed someone in self-defence, and has been illegally been producing meth, but this is the first moment where he hurts an innocent person, just for his own gain.
Crawl Space (in “Crawl Space” – Season 4 Episode 11)
The moment where Bryan Cranston gives Joaquin Phoenix and Heath Ledger a run for his money, as he goes full-on Joker. It occurs when Walt is in deep trouble, and it looks like Gus (Giancarlo Esposito) will kill him off. He plans to run away, with the money he has gained, however, disaster strikes when Skyler (Anna Gunn) reveals that she has gave all the money away. Heartbroken, Walt breaks down, starting off crying and then bursts into high-pitched laughter. The moment is often touted as the birth of Heisenberg – the moment when the psychotic and conniving parts of Walt’s personality take over. It’s also a distilled example of the Breaking Bad’s tone – tense, thrilling, at times darkly funny, and always willing for everything to completely change in one scene. Also, Cranston’s performance is insanely good.
Gus’s death (in “Face Off” – Season 4 Episode 13)
One of the show’s most bad-ass moments comes when Walt and Jesse, with help from Gus’s enemy, Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis), concoct a plan to get Gus killed. Hector lures Gus to his room, and it is revealed that Hector has a hidden bomb, that goes on to kill him and Gus. Gus, the biggest and best villain of the show up till that point, was always destined for a dramatic death, but how exactly it would happen would be the suspenseful part. And, like it always did, Breaking Bad subverted our expectations to create a shocking and actually quite gruesome death. The image of Gus walking out of the room, with half of his face blown off, straightening his tie, then collapsing dead on the floor, will be an image you remember forever.
The Train robbery (in “Dead Freight” – Season 5 Episode 5)
By far, one of the best episodes of the entire show is the season 5 episode, Dead Freight, in which Walt, Jesse, Todd (Jesse Plemons) and Mike (Jonathan Banks) decide to rob a moving train to get a supply of methylamine. The heist sequence takes place in the last 10 minutes, and could almost be it’s own small short film, especially in how it has a complete beginning, middle and end. The scene is also racketed up with high amounts of tension and suspense, and marks one of the most entertaining and exciting sequences from the entire programme.
Hank figures it out (in “Gliding Over All” – Season 5 Episode 8)
Probably the biggest cliff-hanger in the show’s whole run has to be when Hank (Dean Norris), Walt’s DEA Agent brother-in-law finally discovers that Walt is Heisenberg, all while he is on the toilet, no less. This was the moment where a five-year story-line was finally paid off, in highly dramatic, suspenseful and shocking fashion. It may not seem frustrating for those who watched all of Breaking Bad in a large binge on Netflix, but for those who watched the show as it was released, they would of had to wait over 11 months for it to be resolved, becoming one of the most effective cliff-hangers of all time.
“We’re a family” (in “Ozymandias” – Season 5 Episode 14)
And, finally, we arrive at probably the show’s best episode, “Ozymandias”, one of the best episodes of television of all time. Although, there were a lot of big, important moments in this episode, from Hank’s death to Walt going on the run to Walt confessing to Skyler, his son, Walt Jr. (RJ Mitte) and Hank’s wife, Marie (Betsy Brandt) all of his crimes, but this moment remains the highlight. The moment in question occurs when Skyler physically attacks Walt with a knife, and in response, Walt Jr. saves her and calls the police. Heartbroken at how he has lost control of his family, Walt cries out “What’s wrong with you – we’re a family”. Brilliantly directed by Knives Out’s Rian Johnson and written by Moira Walley-Beckett, this moment is an utterly devastating depiction of a family that been torn apart by tragedy, and it will leave you heartbroken.
Now for Better Call Saul:
Mike’s emotional confession (in “Five-O” – Season 1 Episode 6)
Mike was one of the best characters from Breaking Bad, but all he was known for was his crotchety one-liners, his rivalry with Walt and his fatherly relationship with Jesse. However, his role in Better Call Saul is much more expanded, becoming a real fully dimensional character. Five-O explores a real heartbreaking backstory for him, when Mike reveals how his son, Matt was killed to his daughter-in-law, Stacey (Kerry Condon). The heartbreaking monologue is beautifully written and brilliant performed by Banks, whose delivery of “I broke my boy” was devastating.
Jimmy and Chuck have a talk (in “Pimento” – Season 1 Episode 9)
When Better Call Saul first began, we all though that Saul/Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk)’s boss Chuck (Patrick Fabian), would be the show’s big villain. However, much like Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul established itself as a very shocking and subversive show from the get-go, as the real villain was actually, Jimmy’s brother, Chuck (Michael McKean), hiding in plain sight. It is is soon revealed that Chuck has purposefully been trying to keep Jimmy out of his law firm, and got Chuck do to it. Suddenly, Chuck’s character completely changes in shocking (yet still, believable) scenes, and includes an acting masterclass from both Odenkirk and McKean.
Chuck’s courtroom breakdown (in “Chicanery” – Season 3 Episode 5)
Most possibly the best episode of Better Call Saul is the season 3 mid-season episode, “Chicanery”. The episode in question takes place when Chuck and Jimmy’s court case comes to a climax, where Jimmy cross-examines Chuck. Chuck has an odd allergy to electricity, which has Jimmy and his partner, Kim (Rhea Seehorn) believe is all a psychological problem. Jimmy exploits this, having a battery planted on him, and in anger, Chuck goes on a rant, berating Jimmy, to a shocked response from the court. Again, the scene features brilliant acting from McKean, it was really shocking how he was never even nominated for an Emmy for his episode. His monologue is scary, heartbreaking and sad all once, the show is able to make us feel sympathy and hatred for him at the same time. An absolutely brilliant moment, not just for the show, but for television in general.
The Pill Swap (in “Expenses” – Season 3 Episode 7)
This moment is a real showcase for Nacho (Michael Mando), one of the most underrated characters from the show. Here, Nacho needs to get his evil boss, Hector out of the picture, so he plans to change his nitroglycerin pills to ibuprofen placebos in hopes of giving him a fatal heart attack. Nacho continuously practises it, and then finally does it, and just pulls it off. This scene is a showcase for something that both Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad did so well, in how they make us sympathise and align with morally dubious characters, and here, we really feel for Nacho and hope he pulls it off. It’s also just a really effectively tense scene that was very well directed.
“It’s all good, man” (in “Winner” – Season 4 Episode 10)
This moment has been a long time coming, but just because it was, it doesn’t make the moment any less satisfying. In this moment, Jimmy goes in front of a court, hoping to get his license back, and emotionally talks about the loss of his brother, Chuck. This is all revealed to he a ruse, however, as he reveals to Kim, in hopes of getting his license back. He walks away, saying he will now change his name. As Kim calls him back, he replies only with “It’s all good, man”, leaving Kim, alone in the hallway. Very much in the similar way to the Walt’s Crawl Space moment (in fact they happen around the same time, season and episode-wise), this is where Jimmy McGill died. Although, he had used the name before, the was really the moment where Saul Goodman was born.
Lalo confronts Kim and Jimmy (in “Bad Choice Road” – Season 5 Episode 9)
Better Call Saul has always been a lighter and softer show compared to Breaking Bad, however, this was not the case for this particular moment, which took place in the show’s most recent episode. Here, Lalo (Tony Dalton) confronts Jimmy about where he got his money, and refuses to let his now-wife, Kim leave, leading to an endlessly tense and suspenseful sequence, as we begin to believe that Kim will be killed. This is a time where Better Call Saul abandoned it’s light-heartedness to create a scene that rivalled the tension in any Breaking Bad scene. It was also a moment where Kim really got a chance to shine, and Seehorn got a chance to show her brilliant acting chops. It was a great scene that can only spell fantastic quality for it’s next episode and final season.