Gimme Five: Walter White/Heisenberg scenes in Breaking Bad

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To pick only five scenes from Breaking Bad is like having 62 children, picking 5 favorites out of the 62 and then trying to name only one thing about them that you like. It’s almost impossible.

This show was hyper-serialized and carries the plot throughout each episode, through all of the seasons. For a fan like me, who watched every episode 10 times over, they all start bleeding into one another. So, the five best episodes of Breaking Bad will not necessarily correlate with the five best scenes. For example: “Salud” would be one of my favorite episodes, but there is no one scene I have extracted from it as a favorite.

So, I have made a list of my favorite Walter White scenes. I could’ve done a list of 20 of my favorite scenes, just for W.W. alone. To list my favorite scenes with all the great characters this show has given us, we might as well say 62 and pick one scene from every episode. Heck, for that matter, I can list five scenes from each of the 62 episodes that are great. The show was that good.

But there are two reasons for this list. First, even though Breaking Bad was filled with a variety of interesting and awesome characters, I love a protagonist. If you’re someone like me, you like to envision yourself walking in the shoes of your favorite character. Walter White has always been my favorite. This show was about Walt. It always was, and therefore, as I write my first Breaking Bad article, I wanted to first, write about him. The second reason for these particular five scenes is the way they resonate with me. They give me chills no matter how many times I see them. They leave me feeling satisfied when I watch them, and I find myself anticipating them when I re-watch the show.

Now, I know there are six scenes listed here but, in true Breaking Bad fashion, Season Five was broken up into two parts — and my No. 1 choice(s) are divided the same way.

No. 5 — SEASON 1, EPISODE 6: “A CRAZY HANDFUL OF NOTHING,” the fulminated-mercury scene: In this scene, Walter White meets with Tuco to try to make a deal with him to distribute his meth. In a previous scene in this episode, Tuco robs Walter’s partner Jesse of a pound of meth and beats him to a pulp, sending him to the hospital. Walter is a little more prepared than Jesse was. He brings a pound of meth with him to Tuco’s headquarters and demands not only the money for the pound of meth he previously stole, but also compensation for Jesse’s pain and suffering. Tuco laughs at Walter, thinking that this idiot is going to get the same treatment as Jesse. Walter lets Tuco in on a little secret: The pound of meth he brought is not meth. It’s fulminated mercury — with a little tweak of chemistry. Walt takes a little piece of the mercury and slams it to the ground, blowing up Tuco’s headquarters.

Why I love it: This is the first time Walt is a legit badass, with a freshly shaved head and superior IQ. The scene is a perfect example of how misdirection is used in the show. The entire time the scene is playing Walt looks like a mouse walking right into a trap. We fear for his life as he’s stuck with the dangerous Tuco. The great thing about Breaking Bad is, things are never as they seem. The other characters, including Tuco, are the trapped mice — and Walter White is the most dangerous guy in the room. Oh and it’s the first time he calls himself, Heisenberg.

No. 4 — SEASON 2, EPISODE 10: “OVER,” the stay-out-of-my-territory scene: The coolest thing about Vince Gilligan, other than fact that he is a mad genius, is that he knows how to open and close an episode. In this scene, Walter White is shopping for some supplies at a hardware store. He notices a shopping cart filled with items that one would use to set up a crude meth lab. Once the tweaker comes back to retrieve his cart, Walt explains to him that he is getting the wrong matches because the sulfur is found in the striker strips. He then continues by telling the tweaker that he shouldn’t be buying everything in one store. To not raise suspicion, he should buy a few items here and there. The tweaker gets paranoid and runs out of the store, leaving his cart. Walt kind of laughs to himself for a second — but then gets serious, drops the items he was buying and walks out the store with a stern look on his face. He sees the meth-head telling his much tougher-looking buddy what happened. Walt approaches them. The tough guy, a big burly-looking biker dude, approaches Walt and eyeballs him up and down. Walt stares right into the tough guy’s face and utters the best friggin’ line in the entire season: Stay out of my territory. The two get scared, jump in their vehicle and peel out.

Why I love it: This was another turning point for Walt. Up until now, if Walt is credited with any badassery, his chemistry was usually involved. Walt is the brains of the operation, not the brawn. However, in this scene, there is no science, no luck, and no crazy twist that would allow him to emerge victorious. No! This was Walter White using pure intimidation. He walked up to a guy who could obviously best him physically, and sent the guy running scared with five awesome words — and, all the while, the awesome TV on the Radio song “DLZ” is playing.

No. 3 — SEASON 3, EPISODE 12: “HALF MEASURE,” the “run” scene: For all of Walt’s baddest moments up to this point, he never went full-on gangster. The previous scene listed was one of intimidation and, though he killed Domingo “Krazy 8” Molina himself, there is a distinct difference in the way he did it. In this scene, Jesse is high on meth and ready to have a shootout with the two drug dealers responsible for killing his friend and his girlfriend’s brother. Anyone watching this scene knows the poor Jesse will be gunned down by the two dealers before he has a chance to fire off a bullet. But instead of Jesse meeting his maker, Walter White comes flying into the scene with his Pontiac Aztec and just smashes into the two drug dealers, violently. One of the dealers is immediately dead; the other is crawling on the ground, barely alive, moving toward his gun. Walt jumps out the car, grabs the gun and shoots him in the head. Jesse stands in shock with his mouth agape and Walter utters one word: “Run.”

Why I love it: Does this scene really need to be explained? Walt goes Scarface on their asses. When I saw this scene for the first time, it immediately became my favorite up to this point. I was shocked yet filled with a testosterone-induced excitement. The scene is filled with angst and tension, it slowly builds to a crashing crescendo. Another reason I love this scene is the reason behind Walt’s actions. Yes, he had to save Jesse. For the most part, I agree. He did it to save Jesse’s life. But there is a part of me that still thinks he did what he did, in part, to challenge Gus’ rule. In a previous scene, when Gus was chastising Jesse for wanting to harm the dealers, Walt gives Gus this look, as if he was thinking, who the BLEEP do you think you are? I think Walt wanted to be Gus. I think he wanted to be Scarface, the top dog, the head honcho. Whatever the reason truly was, it was one of Walt’s baddest moments, and I love it.

No. 2 — SEASON 4, EPISODE 6: “CORNERED,” the I-am-the-danger scene: By this point in the series Walt is actually at a low point. Gus, pretty much, has his number and is out-playing him in their chess game of wits. In the beginning of the first act, Skyler is telling Walt to go to the police because he is in danger and afraid. This sets Walt off into one of his best tirades of the entire series.

Why I love it: The funny thing about this speech is that Gus has Walt, well, cornered. He still manages to muster one of the most quoted lines in the show — just seconds after the opening credits finish rolling.

No. 1A — SEASON 5A, EPISODE 7: “SAY MY NAME,” the opening scene: Breaking Bad is a modern-day western. From the music, to the scenery, to the many showdowns in the desert, it has western written all over it. One of the many scenes that give weight to that assessment is the opening scene of “Say My Name.” To me, this is the best opening scene of any of the Breaking Bad episodes. Words don’t do it justice, but I will try: This is not Walter White; this is full on Heisenberg, sans the pork-pie hat. Instead of Mike and Jesse delivering 1,000 gallons of methylamine to Declan and his crew, they bring Heisenberg. Declan, of course, is not to happy and weakly tries to intimidate the three. What happens next is the best dialogue from Heisenberg in the whole series. He manages not only stiff them on the methylamine sale, but gets them to give up $5 million of their own money — and then to work for him, as distributors.

Why I love it: Simple — Walter White: Say my name. Declan: Heisenberg. Walter White: You’re goddamn right!

No. 1B — SEASON 5B, EPISODE 16: “FELINA,” the “Baby Blue” scene: I firmly believe that the true end of Breaking Bad acn be found the previous “Ozymandias/Granite State” episodes. I believe “Felina” was more of an epilogue. All was lost in “Ozymandias,” and I believe Heisenberg died in “Granite State” when Walt put on the pork-pie hat for one last time, and was too afraid to leave the secluded house where he was hiding. For all intents and purposes, Walt was set to die alone with a barrel of useless cash. However, though he ultimately lost everything, he decides to go out with one last hurrah. Fast forward to end. Walt is fatally wounded in the shootout with the Nazis. All his enemies are dead and Jesse is headed to Alaska to start a woodworking business. (Pinkman’s wood-working, bitch!) Walt, walks over to the meth lab that was of his design, with this look of affection on his face. He died where he felt his most prideful, his most relevant. As he bleeds out, the beautiful and fitting song “Baby Blue” by Badfinger plays. Walter White, and the show, reach their end.

Why I love it: The thing about a show’s ending is that it doesn’t have to be the best episode, it doesn’t have to be the best ending, and it doesn’t have to be filled with crazy twists and turns or misdirection. That can all be done during the journey, in the previous seasons and episodes. The only thing a final episode needs to be is: satisfying. Satisfying to the creator and satisfying to the fans. The reason I loved this scene so much is because when I watched it for the first time, I felt overwhelming joy, overwhelming sadness — and complete and total satisfaction.

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James Errigo

James Errigo

A Brooklyn native, Errigo writes about music, television and film from a varied interest base that includes everything from Led Zeppelin to Van Morrison, horror to comedy, Van Halen to Sam Cooke, Tarantino to Kubrick, and Joe Cocker to Disturbed. He started playing guitar at 13, joining a Nirvana cover band called Backwash not long after. Errigo later founded the Brooklyn group Goetia. Contact Something Else! at
James Errigo
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